Looking to spice up your social life? Make amends to a jilted lover? Wow a lady- or man-friend with your exceptional planning prowess? Whatever the reason, look no further than beautiful San Francisco to cast off your dinner-movie-repeat doldrums in exchange for an unforgettable experience with your SO in the foggy city.
Whether you’re looking for a full day of activities, prefer full-on extravagance, or are just sick of hitting the same bars in the Marina over and over, we have a few solid options for you below:
For work nights: tacos and mini golf
There’s nothing quite like a well-constructed taco and horchata after a long day of work — and the Mission District is teeming with viable options. Rip off that tie, grab your lady, and head down to Taqueria San Francisco on the corner of 24th and York for some of the best carnitas in town.
Next up, indoor mini golf at Urban Putt — also in the Mission — is just $12 per person for some of the most detailed and technically-intricate mini golf you’ll ever encounter. If you’re feeling less than confident about your mini golf skills – never fear! — the 14-hole course includes a bar. Try the Moscow Mule on tap, or a Pickle Back shot (we hear copious amounts of alcohol helps with hand-eye coordination). If you find yourself hungry again after what will surely be a rigorous and physically-taxing round of golf, the Urban Putt bar has a variety of small plates to choose from, including their renowned chipotle pulled pork bites.
For a bougier Friday night:
A modern twist on a dinner and a movie
First things first: there’s nothing quite like rolling up to your date’s apartment in full-fledged Mr. Big-Sex-and-the-City mode with a beautiful town car for the night. If you’re dressed to the nines and ready for a romantic evening, an Uber or Bart just don’t quite cut it. Immediately set the mood by arriving in a town car (or even a limo) and announcing that “Honey, this is our driver for the night, and he can take us anywhere.”
For a pre-dinner drink, have your driver take you to Top of the Mark in Nob Hill. If you time it right, you’ll be sipping on a cocktail in the Top of the Mark penthouse lounge with a breathtaking 360-degree view of the city as the sun sets. Thanks to your town car, you won’t have to worry about ordering that second martini.
For dinner, drive down to Foreign Cinema in the mission and enjoy champagne, oysters on the half shell, and whatever happens to be that evening’s feature film. Try to sit in the patio for the complete experience (that’s where they show they movie), and don’t worry about needing to yell over the dialogue, it mostly just plays in the background. Make sure to order their award-winning Serpent’s Kiss cocktail — a combo of rum, passionfruit, orange juice, and mint.
To end the night, have the car drop you off at the Palace of Fine Arts for a nighttime stroll. The palace is beautifully lit up at night, and you’ll definitely be able to finagle some hand-holding as you meander through the Roman architecture.
For the all-day affair:
Beignets, beatniks, bonsai, and Beach Blanket Babylon
The following is a whole day’s worth of activities that both showcase the city, and are bound to keep your data entertained and impressed. You can schedule this out specifically, or mix and match activities as you see fit. If you’re looking to make the most of your time, consider hiring a town car so you don’t have to waste a second waiting on Muni, Bart, or an Uber to arrive. Feeling extravagant? Make that town car a limo.
Brunch at Brenda’s French Soul Food is the only way to start your day (the crawfish beignets are a must). Be warned: Brenda’s doesn’t take reservations and the crowd is typically daunting, so try to get there early. If the wait is too long, try Rusty’s Southern just a few blocks away — they have an equally drool-worthy chicken biscuit.
Dazzle your date with your post-brunch literary prowess at renowned bookstore-publisher combo City Lights Bookstore. Famous for its publication of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, this historic beatnik hangout has exerted a powerful influence over American poetry for decades. If you’re a Kerouac fan, don’t miss the Vesuvio Cafe right next door, which the poet himself (along with On the Road’s Neal Cassady) frequented often. Be sure to order the “Jack Kerouac” cocktail — a mixture of tequila, rum, and juice that’s bound to get you waxing your own poetic.
If you’re reading this and wondering what in god’s name a beatnik is, try the SFMoma instead. It’s a cheap and beautiful option that will similarly display your finely-tuned cultural affinity.
Need a late afternoon break? Head to Golden Gate Park’s Japanese tea garden, and stroll through a scene straight out of Japan. We recommend bringing a book, and taking an hour or so to sit down at their in-garden tea house to read, sip tea, and try some udon noodles or mochi.
If you’re feeling a little more Marie-Antoinette, head to the Palace Hotel instead for their historic high tea. Read up on the hotel’s history (the current structure has been around since 1909), and share it with your date over fine china, adorable tea sandwiches, homemade scones, and a variety of fancy teas. Please note: the Palace’s high tea is only on Saturday’s, and it’s a good idea to make a reservation on their website ahead of time.
Drinks and a show:
If it’s baseball season and the timing’s right, there’s no better way to end the night than at a Giant’s game on the water. Go down the Coca Cola bottle slide, and don’t scrimp on the garlic fries (Gilroy’s own!).
If the timing’s off, then remember that, while baseball season comes and goes, Beach Blanket Babylon is forever. The world’s longest running musical revue (over 43 years), Beach Blanket Babylon spoofs pop culture and current politics, offers beer and wine throughout the show, and is fairly cheap with tickets starting at just $25.