In San Francisco, love is love is love. In a city known for romantic landmarks and world-class cuisine, you have lots of ways to spend time with your favorite person or a new love interest. Impress a first date with craft cocktails or celebrate a milestone in style. Dating in San Francisco can be intimidating, so we’re here to take the guessing out of a great first date, anniversary, or last-minute meetup.
We’ve got some new date ideas for locals, and if you’re looking to visit for the first time, book one of our romantic San Francisco vacation packages and keep reading.
Where can I take a first date in San Francisco?
Wherever you’re at in your relationship and however long you’ll be in the city, there are plenty of great date ideas in San Francisco. You might be tempted to pull out all the stops for your first date in San Francisco, but this city is all about playing it cool. Save the grand gestures for a special occasion and stick to fun date spots, like a quirky bookstore, a neighborhood bar, or a quiet restaurant. Get to know someone new with these conversation-sparking date ideas:
Looking for places to go on a date with a fellow bibliophile? We can’t think of a better way to start a great conversation than poring over the shelves at City Lights Booksellers & Publishers followed by a classic cocktail at Vesuvio Café. Impress any well-read date with your knowledge of SF’s lively literary scene as you cross cozy Jack Kerouac Alley to sip sloe gin. City Lights hosts author readings, so check their events calendar before you visit.
Samovar Restaurant & Tea Lounge at Yerba Buena Garden
San Francisco is home to four Samovar locations, and each one is a unique experience for tea lovers. Traditional tea rituals help you slow down and savor time with your date. Make a connection in the Yerba Buena Gardens at Samovar’s rooftop tea experience. The menu is elegant and minimalistic with flavorful options for omnivores and herbivores alike.
Are there any date night restaurants in San Francisco that don’t need reservations?
There are so many nice restaurants in San Francisco, but finding a good date spot while on vacation can be tricky. You want to be inspired by the city while still getting a fabulous meal. Try these locally loved and critically acclaimed eateries that don’t require reservations.
You can get reservations at this innovative pasta maker. However, Flour + Water keeps their bar and communal seating area available for walk-ins, so don’t stress if you’re playing the evening by ear. Order from the classic dinner menu or go all-in on the chef’s six-course pasta tasting menu. The brilliant team even whips up an entirely vegetarian tasting menu, and it’s out of this world.
When you want delicious San Francisco date ideas on the fly, add this Haight Street hot spot to the top of your list. Craving tapas? Cha Cha Cha serves up Caribbean cuisine for lunch and dinner. From guava-chipotle chicken wings to spinach empanadas, these small plates are packed with big flavors. Vintage mirrors and dynamic portraits fill the already tomato-red walls with lots of character. If you want to make a bold impression, bring your date to Cha Cha Cha.
Few things could be more charming than wandering around San Francisco’s waterfront and finding a cozy table in a French neighborhood bistro. In French, the word “Gamine” means cute and boyish, and this lovely local eatery is exactly that. The setting is simple and the menu invites you to stay awhile with classics like mussels, crème brulee, and perfect omelets. There’s no need for reservations—just stop in and make yourself at home.
Where are secret romantic spots in San Francisco?
In a city as busy and popular as San Francisco, you might be worried that all the secret spots have been found out. Not a problem! Vintage speakeasies, local haunts, and natural retreats make the City by the Bay a lovely place to escape with your sweetheart.
You can’t get more San Francisco than a secret bar inside another secret bar. Wilson and Wilson and the equally chic Bourbon & Branch are poorly kept secrets around here, but that doesn’t dim the enchantment and mystery of these reservations-only experience. Simply contact the speakeasies for exclusive details. If you want to imbibe craft cocktails at home, sign up for a tutorial at Beverage Academy and shake things up—now that’s a sexy date. Staying in one of the romantic San Francisco hotels? You’re one date away from becoming a mini-bar magician.
Marshall’s Beach + Fort Point Beer Co.
Surround yourself with stunning scenery at Marshall’s Beach. It’s a surprisingly uncrowded stretch of sand with direct views of the Golden Gate Bridge. After a long walk on the beach (we know you included that in your dating profile), take your date to tour one of the best breweries in San Francisco. Fort Point Beer Co. is located a little more than 1 mile from Marshall’s Beach with views of Crissy Field.
What are some great cheap date ideas in San Francisco?
You don’t have to break the bank for great date night ideas in San Francisco—really. Expansive green spaces and mural-splashed streets fill SF with beauty with no cover charge. With these romantic recs, you and your partner can save on a fabulous date and feel like you’re splurging.
Conservatory of Flowers + Picnic in Shakespeare Garden
Golden Gate Park
When you’re meeting someone for the first time, a daytime date can help you feel comfortable and casual. Not sure if you should bring your date flowers on the first date? Why don’t you bring them to see flowers instead? Problem solved! Conservatory of Flowers is located on the northeast side of Golden Gate Park and it’s stunning in all seasons. General admission costs $9-11 per person. Next up, walk to Shakespeare Garden for a peaceful picnic (the garden is free to the public). The walking paths are paved and wheelchair friendly.
Hawker Fare SF + Clarion Alley Street Art
If you haven’t been to a Lao restaurant, this is a great opportunity to try new things with your partner. Hawker Fare’s perfect alchemy of Lao and Northern Thai food is bright, aromatic, and oh, so satisfying. Plus, every dish on the menu costs $18 or less. Dig into a light papaya salad, saucy Isaan barbecue, and noodles you just might have to slurp in public. When you’re full of colorful cuisine, walk to nearby Clarion Street Alley and check out the collection of murals that celebrate the many cultures that infuse the Mission District.
From Golden Gate Bridge to Crosstown Trail, the City by the Bay will woo and wow your special someone. Considered your date night in San Francisco planned.
Header image attribution: Via f11photo/Shutterstock.com