San Francisco is full of lovely romantic places to have a date, from fine dining to intimate outdoor adventures. Are you looking for cozy, fun date ideas in the Bay Area with a partner this fall? Read on to get inspired, and see our list of solo date ideas if you just want to treat yourself.
1. Heighten your senses at SF’s new Dining in the Dark experience
San Francisco Mexican restaurant Copas is hosting the ultimate bucket list dining experience this October. Don a blindfold and sit down to a mysterious ninety-minute meal where you can appreciate three carefully-prepared dishes using only your senses of taste, touch, and smell. Tickets are limited for the experience on October 7 and 28, so make sure you get a spot soon.
2. Enjoy classical music by candlelight at these intimate concerts
The extremely popular series known as Candlelight is wowing crowds in San Francisco. Experience beautiful classical concerts featuring everything from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to a Hans Zimmer tribute, all in the lovely glow of thousands of candles.
- Candlelight: The Best of the Beatles
- Candlelight: A Tribute to Adele
- Candlelight: A Tribute to Taylor Swift
- Candlelight: The Best of Hans Zimmer
- Candlelight: A Haunted Evening of Halloween Classics
- And more
3. Warm up by a cozy fireplace
A homey, roaring fire is a hot commodity during winter (and basically any other season) in SF’s characteristic foggy weather. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite fireplaces in San Francisco, ranging from outdoor patios to neighborhood bars to fine dining restaurants. Read on to discover your next cozy haunt.
4. Browse some local bookstores
Many a San Franciscan loves to curl up with a good book and sip on a cup o’ joe from one of SF’s legendary coffee shops. Not sure where to find your next good read? These famous bookstores around the city are musts for any local bookworm.
5. Find some fall foliage
Fall foliage is truly a sight to behold. Familiar shades of green give way to red, orange, yellow, and brown during an incredible seasonal display. We might not have the vast color-changing forests that the East Coast loves to brag about, but here are a few excellent local spots to enjoy this seasonal show.
6. Take in the views on a local hike
Whether you’re looking for a quick stroll in the city or a more strenuous day hike in Marin, you’ll love these incredible hikes for a chance to stretch your legs.
7. Pick the perfect pumpkin
Did you know that Half Moon Bay is considered the pumpkin capital of the world? These excellent Bay Area farms and pumpkin patches make for a perfect fall outing whether you’re there to drink cider, find the best photo ops, or stock up on jack-0-lantern equipment.
8. Enjoy a nice meal on a romantic outdoor patio
The perfect romantic date spot can take a variety of forms, but a night of upscale dining al fresco is a classic go-to. These restaurants have magical outdoor patios to enjoy a variety of delicious food options, creative cocktails, and much more.
9. Test your bravery at a haunted house
If you’re looking for something a bit more spooky, you’re in the right place. We’ve rounded up some of the best haunted houses in the Bay (in no particular order) plus some ghost tours for those wanting a tamer experience.
10. Check out NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences
NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences is one of our favorite ongoing events. The popular adults-only Thursday night events feature live DJs and music, outdoor bars, and ambience lighting. Keep your eye out for rotating themes, many of which feature fantastic local community partners and a variety of activations. Activities include hands-on crafting, science talks, silent discos in the aquarium, fashion shows, and more.
11. Go whale watching at these beautiful Bay Area viewpoints
California’s coastline is the perfect spot to catch several whale migration seasons – gray whales from January through April, orcas between February and May, and humpbacks between April and December. Even from land, you’re likely to see them spouting, slapping their tails (known as “lobtailing”) or even breaching. If you want to see them up close, a whale watching tour will do the trick. Check our article about whale watching spots to point you in the right direction!
12. Find a new perspective on an unconventional city tour
Even native San Franciscans have a thing or two to learn from these city tours! Take your date on a fun tour of the city for a unique night out.
- Fort Point Candlelight Tour: A unique night tour of Fort Point National Historic Site.
- Self-guided light art tour: 11 of the best light art installations in the city, reaching from the Bay Bridge to the Castro.
- SF Ghost Hunt: You’ll see the haunted trees of abolitionist Mary Ellen Pleasant, learn about the Chambers Mansion poltergeists, and more
- Outdoor spots for history lovers: Our roundup of outdoor spots for history lovers isn’t technically a tour, but save the map so you can check these places out when you’re in the neighborhood.
13. Try out a new bar
It’s never a bad time to discover an amazing new bar in the city, whether it has excellent craft cocktails, a unique ambience, stellar service, or an awesome view.
14. Discover a new sunset viewing spot
There’s truly no shortage of excellent places to see a sunset in the Bay, but we wanted to get to the bottom of where locals love to watch the sky light up. These key sunset viewing spots are recommended by locals!
- Palace of Fine Arts
- Twin Peaks
- Ina Coolbrith Park
- And more
15. Explore a fascinating local tide pool
If you’re a California native lucky enough to live on the coast, then you know that tide pooling is an awesome way to enjoy the beach! We’ve put together a list of great tide pools to visit around the Bay Area, so put on your best waterproof shoes and get ready to explore.
16. Treat yourself and your partner at one of SF’s most affordable Michelin-starred restaurants
If you’re looking to treat yourself to a Michelin-starred meal, we’ve put together a list of the most affordable restaurants in San Francisco that have made it into the coveted Michelin Guide.
17. Take a brisk fall stroll through one of these romantic spots in the city, recommended by San Franciscans
We asked our Instagram followers for their favorite romantic spots in the city, from the beach to restaurant patios. Here are their recommendations!
- Pier 7
- The Embarcadero
- Coit Tower
- And more
18. Step up your “dinner and a movie” at this cozy theater in Oakland
Oakland’s iconic New Parkway Theater might fly under the radar for most San Franciscans, but it makes quite the statement. Guests pile onto big squashy couches, bean bags, and vintage chairs to watch everything from cult classics to the Super Bowl. Their café serves local beers and wines, house-made comfort food on a rotating menu, and more.
19. Go for an adventure on one of these spectacular day trips
We love San Francisco for its countless activities to enjoy everywhere you go. But anytime there’s a long weekend or a free day, we’re quite well-located to check out some neighboring California gems.
20. Skate the night away at this groovy 19th-century church turned roller disco
Have you heard of this amazing roller disco near the Painted Ladies? The Church of 8 Wheels is the ultimate hidden gem, hosting San Francisco’s most avid skaters within a 120-year-old abandoned church. You can zoom around the rink before a backdrop of stained-glass windows featuring Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Disco music and neon lights bring the party to this unconventional skating experience!
21. Take a lap around the Ferry Building
San Francisco’s Ferry Building is one of the city’s most iconic buildings, serving as a hotspot for tourists and locals alike. It’s a center for events, pop-ups, a farmers’ market, and countless excellent merchants who sell their wares daily in the building’s many stalls. When’s the last time you explored this beautiful and famous landmark? Read on to learn more about the Ferry Building’s history, plus some essential stops you should make on your next trip.
22. Step up the competition at an arcade bar
Looking to shake up your weekend plans? It could be as simple as finding a great pinball machine! No matter how you want to keep yourself entertained, there’s something for everyone at these awesome arcade bars in the Bay Area.
23. See a new museum exhibition
Each month in San Francisco, local museums refresh and replace their temporary exhibitions. Now’s a great time to take stock and plan ahead to see some of these wonderful displays before they’re gone. Check our running list of current and upcoming museum exhibitions so you’ll never miss one again.
24. Explore the Bay’s best saunas and spas
San Francisco is known for its famously chilly weather but is luckily also home to some world-class saunas and spas. Whether you’re looking for an intimate spa day with your partner or a or a more casual environment to chat and relax, there’s a sauna for every occasion.
25. Go shopping at these popular vintage stores
Vintage clothing is always in. Whether you’re trying to channel the bright ’80s vibe of Stranger Things, nail that ’60s Summer of Love look, or want to step into a hip speakeasy in your best ’20s flapper dress, San Francisco has a vintage clothing store for that.
26. Have dinner with a view at a waterfront restaurant
San Francisco has a fantastic collection of restaurants, bars, and cafes with ocean views. It’s hard not to enjoy a weekend brunch on the water or a cocktail with an ocean sunset background, and that’s why we’ve rounded up 10 of our favorite waterfront eateries around the city.
27. Pack a lunch and enjoy the sights at these essential picnic spots
San Francisco is home to some of the best parks and gardens in the world, so there’s no shortage of awesome picnic spots for you to enjoy a meal outdoors. Whether you want to support a local cafe and get some amazing food to go, or you prefer to pack your own delicious recipe to enjoy out in the sunshine, you’ll love all of these great options. Some are SF staples, and some are a little less well-known.
- Old Speedway Meadow
- Pine Lake Park
- Precita Park
- And more
28. Have a WFH/study date at these local workspaces
Whether you’re a student looking for somewhere to crank out an essay, or you work from home and want a change of scenery, here are some great spots to visit and focus up. They’re even better with a friend or date!