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25 Fun Things to Do in San Francisco at Night

In today’s guest post, travel writer Amy shares the top late-night San Fran activities for you to enjoy! We’ve got something for everyone with these 25 fun things to do in San Francisco at night.

From the golden pagodas in Chinatown to the sandy shores of Baker Beach, the city is brimming with must-see attractions.

As the crown jewel of Northern California, this hilly, compact city, steeped in history, is a hub of excitement that has witnessed some of the US’s most influential cultural moments. 

San Francisco is where the fortune cookie came to life, the term ‘sugar daddy’ was derived, and where the most crooked streets lie. You’re sure to find some fascinating things you didn’t know about San Francisco on your adventure through the bustling city.

Take pictures of the famous Golden Gate Bridge, go shopping at the Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, or uncover secrets at Alcatraz Island. 

Besides all the weird and wonderful ventures to do during the day in The Golden City, its San Francisco night activities you won’t want to miss out on.

So, what to do in San Francisco at night? Filled with history, colourful cuisines, and an array of exciting activities, let’s take a look at the top fun things to do in SF at night. 

Alcatraz Night Tour

Get the Shivers on an Alcatraz Night Tour 

One of the most popular attractions in San Francisco is heading to the historic Alcatraz Island. Before visiting the island, there are a few things to know about Alcatraz.

Such as, what was once a federal prison in the 1930s – 1960s, is to today a booming tourist interest and part of the National Park Service.

It’s a short ferry ride from the city and gives visitors a glimpse of where the most notorious criminals were once imprisoned.

To give you an idea, Alcatraz’s popular residents included George “Machine Gun” Kelly and Alvin “Creepy” Karpins. 

Many visitors opt to go for an Alcatraz day tour. However, those who are willing to get the spooks should join an Alcatraz night tour

Find out more and check availability here.

Psst…As a bonus, the San Francisco night tours give visitors access to programmes and presentations that are closed off to day visitors. 

READ MORE: Things to Know Before Visiting Alcatraz

Rollerblade in a Church 

A hidden gem, and one of the most fun things to do in San Francisco nighttime, is the Church of 8 Wheels – a retro roller rink housed in what used to be a church.

Gather your friends and family around and head back in time, to the 1970s at this retro rink for a night of fun. 

Dance and skate the night away in the groovy ambience with festive costumes accompanied by neon lights while DJs play old school funk. It’s one of the most unconventional and funky ways to enjoy a San Francisco night. 

Tickets cost $10 and it’s a further $5 for skate rental. Find out more about Church of 8 Wheels on their website here.  

Get the Spooks on a Haunted San Francisco Tour 

If you’re looking for another spooky kind of exploration, San Francisco will not disappoint. In a city rich in history, there’s plenty of haunted spots to visit, from Alcatraz Island and the Gold Rush era to the devastation that followed the 1906 earthquake. 

Get the chills and explore the darker side of night San Francisco on a walking tour through Nob Hill and Union Square, down narrow streets and alleyways.

During your tour, your local guide will share stories of unexplained deaths, paranormal activities, brutal massacres, and more. 

Discover haunted hotels, clubs, and office buildings of downtown San Francisco as you learn about the happenings from the past. 

Find out more about check tour availability here.

Devour a Golden Boy Pizza 

Located in North Beach, San Francisco, Golden Boy Pizza is another place that takes you back in time, serving satisfied customers with every slice since 1978.

You’ll be welcomed at the door with an array of their signature trays of the famous square-shaped pan pizza lined in the windows. 

Known for their swoon-worthy, scrumptious, pizzas, they set themselves apart from the rest.

How? Made with love, the crusts are fluffy, with crunchy, crispy edges, filled with ooey-gooey cheese, and topped with tangy sauces. They keep it classic by serving toppings like cheese, veggies, and sausage. 

So, once you’ve worked up an appetite at one of the fun San Francisco night events, head to Golden Boy Pizza for your square cut slice of heaven. 

Address: 542 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94133
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 12:30/2:30am 

Explore the California Academy of Science Nightlife 

If you’re on the hunt for some fun night events in San Francisco with friends, this one is something you won’t want to miss.

Located inside Golden Gate Park, the planetarium, aquarium, and natural history museum provides a variety of programs. It offers all sorts of fun, from sensory-focused rainforest rooms to psychedelic plants. 

Every Thursday night, from 6 pm – 10 pm, the California Academy of Sciences transformers into a groovy venue.

You’ll get to enjoy an array of activities from proactive sciences, hands-on creative crafts, and colourful drinks – created by their very own in-house mixologist. Each opening has a different theme and presentation, with live bands and DJ’s, and a dance floor. 

Enjoy the starry planetarium display, marvel at the aquarium’s sea life, or uncover history at the museum. See the Night Bloom at the Conservatory of Flowers – it’s one of the unique night events in San Francisco and a must-do. 

Psst…Visitors need to be over 21+ years of age, so bring a valid ID. 

Find out more and check ticket availability here.

Address: 55 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118
Website: www.calacademy.org/nightlife

Novella, a bar to visit in San Francisco at night

Quench Your Thirst on Literary Cocktails at Novela 

Hit up your Friday night in SF at Novel, a library-themed bar surrounded by walls lined with books and in an assortment of colours.

Like its sister, the Library Bar in LA, you’ll find the space tastefully decorated in design, with inspiration drawn from literary characters.  

Sip on handcrafted cocktails and traditional punches-on-tap, with unconventional drinks such as the Jay Gatsby, Leopold Bloom, or the Huckleberry Finn. You can taste the discrete notes of the character’s personality.

It’s dubbed as one of the coolest themed bars in San Francisco – this is for sure where superheroes come to drink. 

Address: 662 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105
Opening Hours: 4pm to 1am every day
Website: https://www.novelasf.com/

Treasure Island San Francisco at Night

Be Awe-Inspired on a Treasure Island Night Tour 

If you’re looking for unbeatable views of San Francisco at night, you’ll undoubtedly want to find yourself on a Treasure Island night tour.

Created in the 1930s, the manmade isle offers fun activities to enjoy the isle during the day with bikes, cocktails, wineries, but for incredible photos, you’ll want to visit it during San Francisco night. 

This spot boasts the San Francisco night skyline, with incredible panoramas of pitch-black darkness as the backdrop to shimmering lights. It’s the perfect tour to appreciate SF light up at night. 

Cable Car San Francisco

Take a Ride Through History in a Cable Car 

Travel through San Francisco on a one-of-a-kind trip. It will take you up and down the city’s steep hills, over the Golden Gate Bridge, as you explore the streets with unbeatable views.

As the last manually-operated cable car system in the world and one of the city’s most recognisable symbols, you’ll undoubtedly not want to miss this iconic ride. 

Formerly, there were 23 cable cars, but, today, only three remain functioning. These lines include two routes that run from downtown, near Union Street and continues to Fisherman’s Wharf, and the third line also runs along California Street. 

Find out more about the cable car routes here.

See a Show at the Orpheum Theater

One of the best things to do at night in San Francisco is to head to the theatre, with dozens of venues and dramatic productions available.

However, at the Orpheum Theater, you’ll find the biggest Broadway blockbusters, such as the Tony Award-winning musicals. 

Built-in 1926 as a showcase theatre for Alexander Pantages, the opulent Orpheum Theatre boasts impressive French Gothic architecture, stunning interior features, and a vaulted ceiling. 

Originally the Pantages Theatre, it seated 2,197 people and presented vaudeville, silent films, motion pictures, musical comedies, and many other theatrical entertainments.

Today, after a $20 million reservation, it showcases quality Broadway shows and is registered as an official San Francisco Historical Landmark.

It’s something genuinely remarkable you won’t want to miss out on a San Francisco at night. 

Get tickets on the BroadwaySF website here.

Attend a Concert at the Fillmore Auditorium

One of the staple musical venues around is The Fillmore auditorium. Built-in 1912 as a dance hall, it evolved into a roller rink, and finally a music hall that hosted iconic figures such as Led Zeppelin, The Who, Elton John, Black Sabbath, and many more. 

Step inside the venue for some fun, and see where the modern-era of rock was first ushered and where the hippie counterculture transformed.

When your legs give out on you, find the full bar and tables at the general admission floor, so that you don’t miss a wild San Francisco night of fun. 

Check out who’s playing and get tickets from the Fillmore website.

Explore the City on a Segway

A cool way to explore San Francisco by night is joining in on a segway tour. Glide along the streets and feel the cool evening air as you discover the city.

Enjoy panoramic views of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, Washington Square Park, Coit Tower, North Beach, and Ghirardelli Square. 

Most tours run for around 2.5 – 3 hours and include a training session on how to operate the vehicle safely. After that, the local guide will lead the way on a fun and insightful tour to see San Francisco by night on two wheels. 

Find out more about San Fran segway night tours and check availability here.

Experience Friday Nights in SF at the De Young Museum

If you’re looking for something fun for your Friday night in SF,  during spring and fall, the De Young will provide you with festive activities on Friday nights in the Golden Gate Park. 

Each week the museum hosts different themes, and best of all, it’s free admission! It features music, dance performances, exhibition tours, films, and lecture presentations.

This also includes the museum’s famous Observation Tower, where you’ll get an unobstructed 360 view of San Francisco night skyline and the bay area. 

Psst…There’s a cash bar serving food and drinks at the museum’s cafe. 

Address: 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118
Website: deyoung.famsf.org

Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory

Take a Tour Through Chinatown

San Francisco’s Chinatown is a must-see when touring the city. It’s one of the oldest Chinatowns in North America, and moreover, it’s the largest one outside of Asia. Spend the evening here browsing the many shops, bakeries, and karaoke bars. 

You’ll find plenty of beautifully decorated temples, including the monumental Tin How. Covering only 24 city blocks, this area shows off a fascinating charm and offers fun things to do in San Francisco by night.

Make sure you visit The Chinatown Dragon Gate and The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory here. 

There are plenty of tours to join in on and explore Chinatown, such as: 

  • Chinatown Segway Night Tour: Glide through the lantern-lit streets as you learn interesting facts about the different sights you see. 
  • Food Tour in Chinatown: You cannot visit San Francisco’s Chinatown without trying out some divine, authentic Chinese cuisine.

Think Clever on a Scavenger Hunt

Explore San Francisco on a whole new level by choosing from a selection of engaging scavenger hunts, which will take you to different parts of the city.

Challenge your mind and creativity as you embark on a quest in search for objects throughout the city – with the help of your smartphone, of course!

These “objects” would include statues, monuments, and other significant points of interest as you walk for around 2 miles. It’s a fun and engaging activity that enables you to see the city while challenging your navigation skills. 

Find out more about the scavenger hunts and check availability here.

Hop on a Panoramic Night Sightseeing Big Bus Tour

Discover this spectacular city on a double-decker open-top bus tour at night, starting and ending at ever so popular Fisherman’s Wharf. Experience San Francisco in night mode, after the sun goes down and the stars come out to play. 

You’ll cross the Bay Bridge to get to Treasure Island, where you’ll get plenty of opportunities to take some memorable photographs of the city. You’ll also see popular places such as Nob Hill, Union Square, the Golden Gate Bridge, the incredible Grace Cathedral, and more. 

City Lights Booksellers at Night

Evening SF Night Events at City Lights Bookstore 

City Lights Bookstore is a place not only book lovers will want to visit but anyone looking to window-shop, read, and soak in the ambience of a literary landmark.

As the United States’ first all-paperback bookstore, you’ll find three floors filled with an extensive and in-depth selection of hardcovers and quality paperbacks, old and new. 

Acting as both a publisher and bookstore, this is the place to find new titles being released.

This bookstore holds significant literary connections to the Beat Generation and is responsible for publishing Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg.

They host weekly events, making it a must-visit for anyone who appreciates good books. 

Address: 4519, 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133
Opening hours: 10am – 12am every day  
Website: http://www.citylights.com/

Walk Through the Dungeon in San Francisco by Night 

The San Francisco Dungeon was the first installation of theatrical attractions in North America. Enjoy captivating storylines and 360-degree sets used for the performances.

The tour is presented through 10 different rides and shows are displayed by the actors using special effects. 

Here you’ll get to experience the olden days, back in the Gold Rush era. You’ll also get to see the criminal gang activities on Barbary Coast and Alcatraz Island.

Before you go, prepare yourself to scream, laugh, get frights on a thrilling adventure experience through time. 

See a Baseball Game at Oracle Park

Grab a jug of beer and a hot dog, and join in on the fun at the Giants’ expansive ballpark.

Nighttime baseball games are all-around traditional fun, just about anywhere, but finding yourself in San Francisco at night, you will certainly want to attend a game in Oracle Park.

It’s one of the most exciting and fun things to do in San Francisco at night.

The team also hosts a few different events throughout the summer. Whether you’re a sports fan, a foodie, or simply looking to experience local culture, a Giants game is a must-see for visitors to San Francisco. 

Find out more on the MLB website.

Feel the Love on a 1970s VW Hippie Bus

What a fun way to explore San Francisco nighttime vibe in a 1970s VW Hippie bus. Painted in bright colours and doodles, this funky bus will take you to some of the city’s best spots – loved by its locals and tourists, alike. 

The Volkswagen bus oozes authentic irie energy, with interiors bringing you out of the 2000s and back to the 70s, with neon blue seats, shag carpets, and beaded curtains.

On your tour, you’ll get to see famous sights such as Chinatown, the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, and the Castro in a unique and fun way.  

Find out more about the San Francisco Love Tour here.

San Francisco by Night Pub Crawl 

As “The City That Knows How”, San Francisco definitely knows how to party. Explore different bars and pubs with an experienced guide, ready to take you around popular watering holes, steeped in Italian heritage.

Pub Crawl San Francisco is a company offering tours to bars and some of the best nightclubs in San Francisco in and around Nob Hill on Friday and Saturday nights. 

Tickets are around $20 per person for a fun night out in SF. Get exclusive drink deals and meet amazing people from around the globe with VIP admissions. 

Find out more on the Pub Crawl San Francisco website.

Sample Delicious Craft Cocktails 

Quench your thirst at some of the best craft cocktail bars in San Francisco on a fun and engaging cocktail tour with your local connoisseur guide.

Watch as your beautifully mixed concoction is made by award-winning bartenders and mixologists – some of the most innovative in the city. 

Renowned for using fresh produce with customised blends, your cocktail party will kick off at 6 pm with a menu design workshop and an evening of fun.

Learn about the art of making craft cocktails while following a recipe. You can experiment with tinctures to create your own blend to take home.

While you’re there, indulge in a couple of food tastings and some of the bar’s signature drinks. 

Find out more about this craft cocktail tour and check availability here.

Feel an Adrenaline Rush on a 7D DarkRide Experience

Find your seat in this indoor 7D DarkRide Experience theatre located at Pier 39. An interactive motion auditorium offers you a chance to battle fearsome monsters and robot bandits.

You’ll encounter heightened excitement, featuring a large movie screen and 20-seater theatre, cutting-edge 3D technology, sound, and motion effects. 

Choose your adventure, grab your laser blaster, and buckle up for a virtual reality hunt to take down your competitors.

You’ll have a burst of an adrenaline rush, thrill, and excitement on this rollercoaster ride with blasting games. 

Check availability and grab your tickets to 7D DarkRide here.

The Exploratorium After Dark

With over 600 hands-on exhibits to inspire your creativity, you’ll be intrigued by the world around you in this interactive learning laboratory exploring life through art, science, and human perception, located at the Embarcadero. 

The Exploratorium stays open late, “After Dark” every Thursday, for an adults-only evening of interactive exhibits, science, and occultism. Each week offers different themes for fun and engagement like no other. 

Get your tickets to Exploratorium After Dark here.

See Picturesque Views at Battery Spencer 

A picture of the Golden Gate Bridge at night time is something you’ll want to capture. It’s one of the most photographed landmarks in San Francisco, and iconic in history.

With 746-foot tall towers and its notable orange colour, this suspension bridge is truly magnificent. 

There are different spots to go to get the best view of the bridge, such as Baker Beach, Fort Point National Historic Site, Crissy Field. One of the best views of the bridge at night would be at Battery Spencer. 

It’s a short 0.25-mile walk to get to the viewpoint. There you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the glowing bridge and the San Francisco skyline at night.

If you’d prefer to take an organised tour, check out this sunrise photography tour of San Francisco.

Psst… Because you’ll be rather high up, it can get rather chilly. So, take a warm jacket with you. Also, it’s dark, don’t forget to take a flashlight.

Address: Conzelman Rd, Sausalito, CA 94965, United States

Strike a Pose at Madame Tussauds 

Get your cameras ready to snap pictures with your favourite celebrities in wax figures at Madame Tussauds. Here you’ll see international sports legends, pop icons, A-list movie stars, business and political leaders, and famous musicians all in one place. 

There’s also an interactive zone featuring the city’s history and contemporary culture milestones. Race against the clock to decipher clues to break out of ‘Alcatraz’, where you’ll have one hour to escape.

Rock ‘n Roll in style with Jimi Hendrix on stage or perform with Taylor Swift. Your San Francisco night is one for the taking here at Madame Tussauds. 

Get your Madame Tussauds tickets here.

A Footnote on the Fun Things to do in San Francisco at Night 

While you’re on a sunny trip in California, you’ll undoubtedly want to stop over in San Fran to experience its evening wonders.

From the assortment of concerts, bars, clubs, theatres, museums, and large spaces to cheer on local sports teams, San Francisco does not stop when the sun sets! 

As you explore San Francisco, you’ll come to discover that every neighbourhood has its own individual personality.

So, it’s time to feel these unique vibes for yourself and enjoy what this amazing city has to offer. Grab your cameras, a comfortable pair of shoes, and get ready for a fun night in San Francisco. 

Where to Stay in San Francisco

Booking.com

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