Fun Date Ideas San Francisco: Date Spots: Date Nights, First Dates, Outdoors, Drinks, Hikes, Walks, Coffee, Games, Bars, Romantic Restaurants, Best Date Ideas
As a professional photographer and dating consultant in San Francisco, I have scouted many areas for photoshoots, lifestyle images, branding sessions, date ideas and backgrounds for headshots and portraits.
It’s my job to create photos with the best conversation starters and iconic locations that invite people to learn more about my clients whether it’s for dating profiles, press releases, business profiles or personal branding efforts. Click here for press coverage in the NYTimes, WSJ & more.
When it comes to restaurants, bars, cafes and other date ideas, San Francisco has a range of options to satisfy any need (well except maybe good rooftop bars).
In any case, I have compiled an extensive list of places for first date spots, fun unique date ideas and romantic restaurants in the city. Come back and check out this list as it will be updated regularly with new openings and new tips.
San Francisco Date Ideas: Fun Date Ideas, Romantic Things To Do, Date Night
If you are new to town, don’t get out much or are unfamiliar with a neighborhood, planning a date can be difficult. Private events, noisy bars, crowded cafes with nowhere to sit, sold out shows and more are the last things you want to encounter on a first date.
As an online dating photographer and consultant here in the San Francisco Bay Area, my offerings go beyond photos to include wardrobe, bio/prompt critique, photo analysis, conversation starters, app strategy and first date ideas. If you are looking for social distancing date ideas, check out my other list.
Fun Places To Go, Date Ideas In San Francisco, Date Night San Francisco
Here are my favorite places around San Francisco neighborhoods for nearly every occasion, lifestyle on those early dates.
Please note there are many, many other places I recommend beyond those listed below including more intimate locations, seasonal or weekly one-off events, hidden gems and date ideas beyond early dates – these are exclusively available for my clients.
For my Marin County, Sonoma and Napa date ideas scroll to the bottom of the page.
For more tips on online dating first date etiquette, read this post: https://eddie-hernandez.com/online-dating-first-dates/
Lost Marbles – Inner Richmond
From the folks that brought you Barrel Head Brewhouse on Fultron comes this quirky brewpub with lots of nooks to sit, giant bar, fireplace, cocktails, and shuffleboard. Opened in 2022.
Lolo – Mission District
This is a fun, social restaurant and bar serving up interesting, Mexican dishes.
Li Po Cocktail Lounge
If you don’t like Chinese Mai Tai’s, well I cannot help you.
Andytown Coffee + Salesforce Park Walk
Snowy Plover Drink (Pellegrino, crushed ice, espresso, brown sugar-based syrup and homemade whipped cream) is a great choice on a warm day in the city. There is even a mini-tram ride to reach the park as well as a center courtyard area with board games and snack bar with beer and wine during select times.
Church of 8 Wheels, Alamo Square
Fun, festive, funky rollerskating rink inside a converted church.
Radhaus: Bavarian Biergarten – Fort Mason
Limited outdoor seats are actually less coveted than the indoor seats which feature big, beautiful window views of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge.
Land’s End Hike, Labyrinth
Scenic hikes that lead to the Legion of Honor, Labyrinth and beach, this set of trails is popular for outdoor dates.
Mr. Tipple’s, Live Jazz – Civic Center
This popular jazz club is no longer a secret for locals in SF. Come early and have backup plans because this place fills up. If you want my personal favorite act to check out here, bookmark Josh Jones (also performs at Cigar Bar) but great show all-around.
San Francisco Crosstown Trail
Club Deluxe – Haight-Ashbury
Great live music venue often overlooked on the Haight. With rotating but monthly repeating bands, this place has music all day long in 3 hour sets. Band to check out here is Barrio Manouche (flamenco gypsy jazz) and can’t go wrong with the fresh squeezed greyhound drinks.
Buena Vista Cafe – Fisherman’s Wharf / Pier 39
Upgraded coffee from Graffeo and handmade whipped cream make Irish Coffees the perfect drink when you realize you underdressed and are freezing cold with your family on vacation. A destination place even for locals.
Ocean Beach Walk / Golden Gate Park Bike Ride on Sundays
A large section of the park is off-limits to cars making it easier to ride bikes around the park. Stops to see the Bison as well as a stop at Park Chalet or Trouble Coffee or bites at Hook Fish are a great way to round out a date.
Colibri took over the old Arguello spot in the Presidio.
First Date Spots San Francisco: Fun Date Places in SF, Best Date Spots San Francisco
High Treason, Inner Richmond Wine Bar
Cozy, industrial chic wine bar playing vinyl, serving craft beer and small bites with ample space without seeming pretentious or stiff. A neighborhood favorite that is great for first dates and date night alike.
Fool’s Errand, NOPA
This social, fun wine bar also features an incredible craft beer selection, outdoor seating and cheese & charcuterie plates alongside canned fish options for your liking.
Tofino Wines, USF
Known for their retail business, this spacious natural wine spot has tables, bar seats and ample lighting up front. 2 beers on tap and a few random offerings in the fridge coupled with cheese, meat and tinned fish offerings make this a good date spot or convenient spot to meet up with friends.
Breck’s, Inner Richmond
This casual corner coffee shop a good amount of outdoor seating is located next to Arsicault, features Verve Coffee and has great prices on wine and beer on tap. They also have a few small plates as well including cheese/charcuterie board, avocado toast, sandwiches.
Boba Guys Boba Tea + Hayes Valley Neighborhood Walk
Lots of boutiques, murals, green space and a biergarten make this area a popular place to walk around.
Holy Water Craft Beer Bar and Cocktails – Bernal Heights
Craft beer bar and cocktail bar, this establishment does both well which is rare even in San Francisco. The favorite cocktail on the menu is the Zombie (limited to two person). If you like a good stiff cocktail, this is the drink for you.
Philz Coffee Truck Marina + Wave Organ – Marina Green / Crissy Field
Great area to walk and explore on a clear day. Views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island and the San Francisco skyline.
Victorian House Tour + Ice Cream Bar Sundaes – Cole Valley
Many of the popular Victorian homes are located on Waller, Cole and surrounding streets of the Upper Haight and Cole Valley. After a long walk, there is nothing quite like a refreshing sundae or scoop of ice cream at this old school ice cream bar.
Spark Social SF Drinks, Food and Games – Mission Bay
For those that like games, food trucks and people watching, this is a popular date spot. Activities include mini-golf, fire-pits and areas to watch sporting events.
Bear vs Bull Cocktail and Craft Beer Bar, Alamo DraftHouse – Mission District
Bars like this make going to the movies tolerable. A great craft beer selection as well as delicious cocktails in this dimly lit bar at the Alamo make it a destination place worth checking out. Don’t forget to check out the arcade games upstairs while there.
San Francisco Ferry Building Farmer’s Market
There are endless sampling of food and snacks at the Farmer’s Market as well as the permanent vendors in the building. Some favorites are the empanadas and pork buns. If craving Blue Bottle, go to the outside location for shorter lines.
El Techo Rooftop – Mission District
This popular destination in the Mission fills up quickly on weekends and after work on warm days so plan ahead. With great margaritas, this place is the place to be when temperatures hit 70 and skies are clear in the city.
Blackbird Cocktails – Castro
This unpretentious cocktail bar is a perfect place for first dates.
Dandelion Chocolate Tour – Mission District
For you chocolate aficionados, Dandelion offers chocolate samples, chocolate beverages and tours (these fill up fast so make reservations in advance).
Padrecito – Cole Valley
The upstairs bar area is a cozy spot which fills up on evenings and weekends. Favorites here include the margaritas, chips+salsa and the duck tacos.
Jackson Place Cafe – Jackson Square
Hidden exposed brick courtyard cafe only open during business hours during the week. Popular among coffee breaks with colleagues, investor meetings and first dates.
Absinthe – Hayes Valley
Mostly known as a neighborhood restaurant, this is one my favorite places in San Francisco whether grabbing a pre-show meal, having a New York dinner snack (cocktail and fries), meeting with friends or people watching during the Dickens Fair and Edwardian Ball this place is pretty versatile and classic.
Samovar Afternoon Tea – Yerba Buena Gardens
Nothing beats rainy day tea from this location. Also, great for warm days outdoors as well.
Alembic – Haight-Ashbury
Great bar in the Haight known for the cocktails, craft beer selection and bar snacks. I am a big fan of bars with small, shared plates for snacking or larger plates if you get hungry – having options is key. Dimly lit and a variety of areas to sit including the back and side booths for a more intimate feel.
Peacekeeper, Russian Hill
This new spot features fun cocktails, communal tables and upstairs seating for some great people watching.
Palm City Wines, Outer Sunset
This husband and wife owned wine bar is more than just a wine bar. A great selection of craft beers from the likes of Cellarmaker, Alvarado, Sante Adairius, Moonlight, Wondrous & more. but they didn’t stop there. Now they have people lining up for their delicious hoagies. Don’t snooze because they sell out quickly.
Buddy Bar, Mission District
With an experienced crew of bartenders opening this place, few words are needed here. Read the commentary on Eater, SF Chronicle on your way over here. Excellent cocktails, fun bites (did someone say fried mortadella sammy?), natural wines, what are you waiting for?
Mothership, Upper Mission (old Virgil’s)
Blue Bottle Coffee and Downtown San Francisco Architecture Tour
A do-it-yourself walk will reveal how much effort your date planning skills.
San Francisco Date Night Restaurants – Romantic Date Ideas In SF, Fancy Date Ideas
Foreign Cinema, Mission District
Quintessential San Francisco restaurant with a beautiful interior and fun, cozy bar area for drinks and bites.
Bix, Jackson Square
Another classic restaurant, this place has a beautiful alley set up for outdoor dining.
Chapeau, Inner Richmond
This timeless San Francisco restaurant is not only a neighborhood staple but a destination place for those seeking something more relaxing than downtown spots that are a bit louder.
Kokkari Estiatorio, Jackson Square
Another San Francisco favorite, come with an appetite.
Bellota, Design District
This newer Spanish restaurant is a great date spot with fun, social romantic vibe in the bar area.
Zuni Cafe, Hayes Valley
Classic San Francisco restaurant with beautiful industrial interior feel, classic dishes and classy vibe. The 1 hour chicken is a must so be patient and enjoy your time there.
Tosca Cafe, North Beach
After a few changes in ownership over the years, this rustic establishment with dimly lit vibes is back open. Their house cappuccino cocktail is a crowd favorite, but bites at the bar are fun too if you want something more casual.
Kitchen Istanbul, Inner Richmond
This place has blown up since the Chronicle did a story about them, but even before that, this place had a buzz from wine professionals in the industry. From natural wines to varietals from far away places, this is a place not to be missed.
The Tailor’s Son
Fun classic Italian dishes with an impressive amaro selection (did someone say Black Manhattans?)
Cheap Date Ideas SF, Free Date Ideas San Francisco
Botanical Garden – free for SF residents
Conservatory of Flowers – free 1st Tuesdays
Japanese Tea Garden – free hour, M/W/F
Street Art Self-Guided Tour, Mission District
Hike The Presidio, Marina Green
Dating Coach Services - Men & Women
First date ideas, wardrobe styling, places to meet singles, where to sit at bars and restaurants, body language, vocal intonation, eye contact, conversation skills, how to flirt over text, how to be more approachable and get people to start conversations with you, mock dates and more.
-As seen in the NYTimes, Wall Street Journal & More
Romantic Things To Do In San Francisco, Romantic Things To Do In SF, Things To Do At Night San Francisco, Romantics Places In San Francisco
Aside from dinner places, San Francisco is filled with great date ideas year-round or during seasonal occasions.
These are often overlooked by tourists as they are particularly enjoyed by locals and even then, locals forget about these timeless classics given all the hype around new openings, celebrity chefs etc.
Clients of mine receive access on places to go, best times to visit, what to order, strategy on getting best seats in the house and other customized date ideas based on their lifestyle.
Additional Date Ideas Bay Area: East Bay, Marin County, Napa, Sonoma, Peninsula and South Bay, Bay Area Date Ideas
East Bay Date Ideas (Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda)
Napa and Sonoma date ideas
Marin County date ideas
About Eddie Hernandez
Eddie Hernandez is a dating consultant & professional photographer based in San Francisco, servicing clients in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and beyond as featured in the NYTimes, SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle.
In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice, date planning, screening profiles, ID'ing red flags, offline techniques for meeting people organically, naturally.
San Francisco Happy Hour List: Bars, Restaurants, Drinks, Food, Hotels & More, Best Places For First Date San Francisco
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