What to Do in San Francisco at Night

This post offers suggestions for the best things to do at night in San Francisco, including a top 10 list, night tours, dinner cruises, late-night museums, rooftop bars, and more. 

 

 

Disclosure: While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small share of sales through some of the links below at no cost to you. See the full text.

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN SAN FRANCISCO AT NIGHT 

Below are our top 10 things to do in the evening in San Francisco.

For even more ideas on spending time in the city, check out our master post on things to do in SF or read the other sections of this post.

 

 


1. TAKE AN ALCATRAZ NIGHT TOUR

Alcatraz is one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco, but not that many people know that you can actually visit it at night!

Evening tours depart twice daily: 5:55 pm & 6:30 pm, Monday-Thursday.

 

 

In addition to offering guided tours from specially trained National Park Rangers, Alcatraz also hoses talks and lectures in the evenings.

Learn more about visiting Alcatraz at night.

Tip: The Alcatraz Night Tours tend to sell out in advance due to their limited availability, so be sure to book your spot in advance!  


2. GO SEE A BROADWAY SHOW IN THE THEATER DISTRICT

Though Broadway might be more well known, San Francisco’s Theater District offers a wide variety of award-winning shows such as Hamilton, An American in Paris, Book of Mormon, Fun Home, and much more.



If musicals aren’t your thing, there are several dance and opera performances to choose from as well.

View a full list of performance art events in San Francisco.

Many nice restaurants and bars are also found in this neighborhood, so be sure to allow time for a quick bite to eat before or after the show! 


3. ENJOY A DINNER CRUISE 

One of the best ways to spend an evening in San Francisco is to take a dinner cruise around the Bay.

 

 

Check out our full post comparing all of the San Francisco Bay cruises to learn more!

Hornblower Cruises offer a 4-course dinner cruise that is very popular with many visitors to the city (read the reviews).

The cruise departs from Pier 3, which is near Market Street. 


4. SEE THE BAY LIGHTS ON THE BAY BRIDGE

The Bay Bridge is one of the most iconic sites in San Francisco and there’s no prettier time to visit it than at night!

There is a spectacular light show every night from dusk until dawn.

 

 
Leo Villareal, one of the most well respected light artists designed and orchestrated The Bay Lights.  

We have 50 more ideas for free things to do in San Francisco for you to discover, many of which can be enjoyed in the evening. 


5. ENJOY LIVE MUSIC

From small venues to large arenas, a world-class city like San Francisco has lots of options for those who need to rock it out.

There are too many to list here, so be sure to see this full list of performances taking place in town.

Some of the more popular venues include:


6. HAVE A NIGHT ON THE TOWN IN NORTH BEACH

There are many fun bars and clubs in North Beach for those who would prefer to check out San Francisco’s nightlife.

Some of the most popular watering holes include Church Key, Red Jack Saloon, and the Boardroom.

Views of the Bay are fantastic in this area so be sure to allow time to stroll along the waterfront! 

We also visit this popular neighborhood on our North Beach/Little Italy tour!


7. CELEBRATE SF’S AMAZING CULINARY HISTORY

San Francisco is known worldwide for its high quality and a vast variety of cuisines.

During your visit to the Bay, you have the opportunity to visit some of the best ethnic and international food in the world.

Some of the most popular cuisines that every foodie should try are Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and Mexican.

 

 

Learn more about the best international dishes in San Francisco in our full post here. 

If you’d like to know more about the history of some of these neighborhoods, join us on our North Beach/Little Italy Tour or Chinatown Tour.


8. CHECK OUT A SPORTING EVENT

Regardless of which team you support, it’s always fun to go to a baseball game. AT&T Park is an impressive stadium that offers beautiful views of the Bay.

Click here for ticket information

See our full post on how to get tickets to a Giant’s game here. Or, consider tickets to see the A’s baseball team in Oakland.

Of course, there are also NBA basketball games with the Warriors or you can catch a Sharks NHL hockey game in San Jose.


9. EXPLORE CHINATOWN

Chinatown is a great neighborhood to visit at night and in the day.

We offer a daytime tour of Chinatown for those who would prefer to visit then, but it’s also a fun area to explore after dark. 

 

 
As we noted above, San Francisco has some of the best Chinese food in the country, so it’s a fantastic place to visit for dinner.

It’s also fun to just wander through the colorful streets and do a bit of shopping. 


10. VISIT THE EXPLORATORIUM AFTER DARK

The Exploratorium After Dark is often rated as one of the best things that you can do in San Francisco at night.

The popular science museum opens its doors on the first Thursday of every month to adults only from 6 pm – 10 pm.

 

 

Enjoy a drink while you explore their pitch-black dome to a fog bridge, a large-scale kaleidoscope, dazzling light displays, mind-bending mirrors, and more!  

Tickets to the Exploratorium are included for free with more than one San Francisco tourist attraction discount pass, allowing you to save some money on admission.


HONORABLE MENTION

Go to The Escape Room

Escape rooms are one of the most popular forms of group entertainment and The Escape Game has five unique escape rooms. You and your friends or family must work together to find clues and solve puzzles in a set amount of time.

If you succeed, you get the ‘keys’ to get out of the room. If you fail, well, they still let you out and you will have had a great experience! Find out more about this great activity here.

 


MUSEUMS OPEN LATE 

Several different museums offer late-night entrance once a week. Most are on Thursday or Friday nights and feature special lectures, performances, and music.

Food and drinks are also served at some of the museums.

Admission to a majority of these museums is included for free with multiple San Francisco tourist attraction discount passes, so you might not even have to pay full price! 


California Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences is a science museum and educational institution that offers late-night entrance every Thursday from 6-10 pm.

Fascinating talks on science, as well as entertaining live music performances, are featured. You must be 21 years or older to attend. 

  • Hours – 6 pm – 10 pm on Thursdays 
  • Cost – $15 per person 


de Young Museum 

The premier fine art museum in San Francisco, de Young Museum is open late every Friday from 5:30-8:45 pm.

Admission is free, and food and drinks are served at the cafe bar. Enjoy the live museum, special talks, demonstrations, and dance performances. 

  • Hours – 5:30-8:45pm on Fridays 
  • Cost – FREE

Click here for ticket information


Exploratorium 

The Exploratorium After Dark is a fun, adults-only night out that features interactive exhibits, live music, and a bar.

They do a fantastic job of really transforming the place after dark, so definitely don’t hesitate to visit even if you’ve been before. 

  • Hours – 6-10 pm on Thursdays 
  • Cost – $15 per person, $10 for members

Click here for ticket information


Asian Art Museum 

Every Thursday the Asian Art Museum keeps its doors open until 9 pm for special exhibitions, talks, and opportunities to meet the artists themselves.

There is a cash bar serving drinks, as well as a DJ playing music.  

  • Hours – Thursday until 9m
  • Cost – $5 after 5pm 

Other museums with late-night entry: 

  • Auto Desk Gallery
  • California Historical Society 
  • Chinese Historical Society of America Museum 
  • Contemporary Jewish Museum 
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium 
  • Museum of Craft and Design 
  • Museum of the African Diaspora
  • Oakland Museum of California
  • Presidio Dialogues and Sessions
  • Tenderloin Museum 
  • Yerba Buena Center

 


NIGHTLIFE 

The only downside to San Francisco’s fantastic nightlife is the challenge of choosing where to go out! There are several different neighborhoods that are worth visiting.

Some of our favorite places to grab a drink are in Union Square, Mission, North Beach, and SoMa. 

 

 


RESTAURANTS AND ROOFTOP BARS 

San Francisco has several dozens of fantastic restaurants and bars, but nothing quite beats drinking cocktails on a rooftop with a beautiful view.

These are some of our favorite places to grab a drink outside. 

El Techo de Lolinda – A Mexican bar that offers spicy cocktails made of mezcal, honey, lime, and chipotle bitters. They have large umbrellas to shade you from the sun, as well as heating lamps to warm you up during the winter.

Their food is also excellent, so be sure to come hungry!

Dirty Habits – Located on the 5th floor of Hotel Zelos, this little cocktail bar is a real hidden gem.

The decor is simple yet elegant, featuring candles and string lights. Food and cocktails both come highly recommended by visitors. 

Jones – Located in the heart of the Tenderloin, one of the trendiest neighborhoods in San Francisco, is this simple rooftop bar.

Though you won’t be able to see the waterfront or Golden Gate Bridge from here due to the tall buildings surrounding it, Jones does allow you to enjoy watching the action happening on the streets below. 

 


SIGHTSEEING TOURS AT NIGHT

There are 3 bus companies and 2 segway companies currently offering night tours of San Francisco.

Both bus tours are fairly similar in terms of the route they take and the neighborhoods they visit, but they differ slightly in regards to the duration and price.

You could also read our full blog post on San Francisco bus tours, including a section on night tours.

 

 


City Sightseeing

A live guide narration of San Francisco’s most beloved sights. The bus visits the Financial District, Chinatown, North Beach, Nob Hill, Alamo Square, and Embarcadero.

Reviews are extremely positive for this tour, with many praising both the driver and the guide.

Night Bus Tour

  • Cost – $31|adults and $21|Child
  • Duration – 1.5 hours

Big Bus Tours

This open-top bus tour departs at Fisherman’s Wharf and ends at Union Square. Enjoy views of Grace Cathedral, Golden Gate Bridge, AT&T Park, Treasure Island, and many more sights.

Reviews are generally very positive. Many praise the guides for being funny and informative. 


THE LOVE NIGHT TOUR

This 2-hour tour may be more expensive than the others, but it is sure to be an experience you won’t forget. 

The tour bus is a 1970s Volkswagen Bus, decked out as it would have been in the era of hippies. 

The tour is a very small group of just 6 guests so you’ll get to know one another as you get to know the city. 

You will cover all the major sights of the city: Fisherman’s Wharf, Marina District, the Presidio, Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Haight & Ashbury, the Castro District, Mission District, Chinatown, Little Italy, North Beach and more. 

Best of all, because this is a small vehicle, you will get to drive down Lombard Street, the curviest street in the world!

Price: $65 per person. You must have a minimum of 2 people in your group but no more than 6.

Tours run every night at 7:30 pm. Purchase tickets here.


Night Segway Tours

Segway tours are another great way to explore the city at night! 

San Francisco Electric Tour Company

SF Segway Night Tour

  • Cost – $105
  • Duration – 2.5 hours
  • Visit North Beach, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s Wharf.

Lucky Tuk Tuk Craft Beer Crawls 

If you’re looking for a unique tour of the city, these outings are an interesting alternative to other San Francisco bus tours.

 

lucky-tuk-tuk-san-francisco-craft-beer-tasting-2160-1080

 

A Tuk Tuk is essentially a modified electric motorcycle that has been extended to provide seating for up to 5 people (on average). Think of it as a modern rickshaw!

Lucky Tuk Tuk’s Beer Tasting Crawls include stops at 3 craft breweries.

Visitors will receive a free drink at each stop and enjoy karaoke on board while traveling between each brewery.

 


NIGHT ACTIVITIES INCLUDED IN TOURIST PASSES

Getting a tourist pass can save you considerable money and time, especially when it comes to night activities.

Be sure to read our post comparing the different tourist discount passes.  

 

 

Below are the Top 5 nighttime attractions included in San Francisco tourist passes. 

  • 7D Experience – Ride & Maze Combo
  • Asian Art Museum
  • Madame Tussauds
  • San Francisco Dungeon
  • Citysightseeing Night Bus Tour

Before buying tickets to any of the above attractions, take a look at our post which compares the different San Francisco tourist attraction passes available to you.

 

About the author

Manager | San Francisco

Britt is a San Francisco Bay Area native, and has spent 25 years in this magical city. He has traveled to over 30 countries, and has never found a place he loves as much as this one! If you come to San Francisco, you might join one of Britt's tours of the city.

A graduate of the University of Maryland and University of Southern California, he has been leading tours for Free Tours by Foot since 2015.