San Francisco Night Tours

This post will provide details on San Francisco night tours, including trips through the city, cruises, ghost tours, and even Alcatraz outings!

 

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DOUBLE-DECKER BUS NIGHT TOURS

There are multiple bus tours that provide a look at the city of San Francisco after dark.

Most of them are on open-top, double-decker buses which will allow you to see as much of the city as possible. 

These aren’t the same as hop-on hop-off bus tours as they have closed routes and you can’t jump off wherever you want.

That said, you will have many opportunities to take photos as you learn about the city at night.


Big Bus Tours

In addition to their daily hop-on hop-off bus tours, this company also offers a night bus tour which covers a lot of the most popular neighborhoods in San Francisco.

With tours starting at either 6:30 pm or 7 pm, you’ll have the chance to see sites such as Fisherman’s Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, and more as the sun goes down.

NOTE: This tour is included for free with both the Premium and Deluxe tickets which include a hop-on hop-off bus tour, a guided walking tour, and more.


Skyline Sightseeing

This tour is offered by the other major hop-on hop-off bus tour company in San Francisco, and they provide almost exactly the same service, right down to the departure times of both 6:30 pm and 7 pm.

Much like their competitors, they visit mostly the same sites, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, and more.

One notable difference is the price, which is a bit more affordable though Big Bus has a better review profile.

NOTE: This tour is included for free with some hop-on hop-off bus tickets from City Sightseeing (Skyline). To learn more, check our post about San Francisco Bus Tours.


Gray Line

If you’re looking for a longer outing, this company offers an open-top bus tour after dark which actually starts a little later than their competitors at 7:30 pm and lasts twice as long!

Tickets are a bit more expensive because the tour is much longer.

 


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NIGHT BAY CRUISES

There are a variety of cruises you can take on the San Francisco Bay during the sunset and even after dark. 

While some of these outings are traditional sightseeing tours, others are dinner cruises which include a meal and often music/dancing.

 

San Francisco Night Cruise
 


Red and White Fleet

This is one of the most historic and popular cruise companies in the Bay Area, and they offer a sunset/twilight cruise which begins at 7 pm each night and lasts for a couple of hours.

In addition to seeing the skyline from the water after dark, you’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy live music, an appetizer buffet, and a complimentary drink!


Hornblower Cruises

If you’re looking for a full meal on your evening cruise, this company offers a service with four-course dinners, live music, and dancing.

Wine and cocktails will also be available for purchase onboard.

Although prices for this dinner cruise are definitely higher than some competitors, you’re getting a lot more bang for your buck and the outing also lasts a bit longer than other services.


Adventure Cat Sailing

This is actually the cheapest cruise option on our list, and it might also be more favorable for some tourists, as this sunset cruise takes place on a catamaran.

If you’d rather experience a sunset sail than an evening or dinner cruise, this is an excellent alternative.

Although this service is shorter, you will receive some appetizers and complimentary drinks with your ticket.

 


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ALCATRAZ NIGHT TOUR

Did you know you can actually visit Alcatraz at night?

Visitors who have some of the last tickets of the day are allowed to stay until after dark and see the island as they begin to shut everything down.

 

Alcatraz Night Tours

 

The park rangers at Alcatraz will even tell you special stories and show you some of the spookier things on the island during this time to make the experience even more memorable.

This tour is only offered twice a day every Thursday – Monday, and prices are a bit higher than standard ticket prices, but they’re still less than $50 per person.

These tickets can be difficult to obtain, and in the busy season you can expect them to sell out months in advance, so we recommend planning out this activity as much as possible.

Be sure to read our post on Alcatraz night tours as well as our post on visiting Alcatraz during the day.

 


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TUK TUK, SEGWAY, AND BIKE TOURS AT NIGHT

If you’re looking for a different way to see the city after dark, there are two options you may want to consider which will provide a unique look at San Francisco.

Each service is a bit longer than usual at an average of 2 ½ – 3 hours in duration, so even if they cost a bit more, it might be worth the price if you’re looking for an interesting experience.


Electric Tour Company

This tour will allow you to discover San Francisco after dark and use a segway to get from one site to another.

Guests can expect to visit 3 different neighborhoods: Chinatown, Embarcadero, and the Waterfront.

 

San Francisco Segway Tour Picture

 

Before the tour begins, you’ll be given a 45-50 minute training session to help you become familiar with the segway.

You’ll also be given helmets and safety vests to ensure your safety. You must be over the age of 12 to ride.


Lucky Tuk Tuk Tours

This company currently offers two different tours after dark: a San Francisco lights tour and a craft beer crawl.

If you’re wondering what a Tuk Tuk is, think of it as a moped with extended seating.

Each tour is limited to 5 people (6 with kids), so tickets can be a bit more expensive.

 

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While their San Francisco lights tour is more of a sightseeing trip, the craft beer crawl is all about sampling different local brews.

Needless to say, the beer crawl is a bit more expensive than the sightseeing option.

San Francisco Lights Tour

San Francisco Craft Beer Crawl


The Essential SF Night Bike Tour

If you’re looking for another interesting way to see the city after dark, it’s hard to beat riding a bike lined with decorative lights!

In addition to seeing all the major sites in San Francisco, you’ll also learn about some of the best places to grab a pizza and the most fun backroads to ride on a bicycle.

Beginning at 6 pm, this bike tour is a few hours long and it covers several neighborhoods such as the Embarcadero, South Beach, Mission Bay, and many others.

 


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COCKTAIL TOURS

In addition to the beer crawl offered by Lucky Tuk Tuk tours, there is also at least one cocktail tour you can take which will allow you to try some of the best drinks in San Francisco after the sun goes down.


Edible Excursions

This company offers a craft cocktail tour that covers a variety of different drinks you may have never even heard about before. The tour begins in the evening and lasts for a few hours.

In addition to attending a workshop on cocktail party menus and designs, you’ll also have an opportunity to try 4-5 different cocktails and even enjoy a few bar bites.

 


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SAN FRANCISCO GHOST TOURS

If you’re interested in learning about the darker side of San Francisco, there are some ghost tours that cover a variety of disturbing subjects from throughout the history of the city.

These services are typically shorter than a sightseeing tour, but they are a great way to learn about the more twisted aspects of historic neighborhoods in the area.


Colonial Ghosts

This ghost tour covers a lot of notable locations in San Francisco including Nob Hill, Union Square, the Sutter building, and more.

While walking around the city with your guide, you’ll discover potentially haunted hotels, streets, clubs, and more.

Although this outing is only an hour-long, it includes several photo opportunities and a lot of historical information you might not hear about on your average sightseeing tour.


San Francisco Ghosts

The extended tour offered by this company is an excellent alternative to other options if you’re looking for something a bit longer, and it covers a lot of the same subjects and locations in San Francisco.

Over the course of more than an hour, you’ll visit locations like Nob Hill and the Sutter Building where you’ll hear about the potentially haunted history of each site.

 


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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.