New Year's Eve in San Francisco

Ways to Celebrate New Year's Eve in San Francisco, California

New Year's Eve in San Francisco
Christopher Michel/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

If you want to celebrate New Year's Eve in San Francisco, you can find plenty of things to do. All the big hotels and large event spaces will have parties. They're fun but expensive. A list of some of the best of them is below.

The rest of this guide highlights alternative ways to celebrate that don't cost an arm or a leg and don't require buying a fancy pants outfit, either.

New Year's Eve Fireworks in San Francisco

The big event to ring in the New year is the Embarcadero Fireworks Show. It goes off at midnight above the Ferry Building. To view it from the street, stand near the end of Market Street at The Embarcadero.

You can also watch the fireworks from inside at hotels with a good view, especially the Hotel Vitale, Harbor Court and the Hyatt Regency, but you'll need to make reservations well in advance.

Celebrate the New Year for Free

Celebrate like a San Francisco resident and build a bonfire on Ocean Beach. You have to bring firewood - and a few blankets might be helpful for staying warm.

San Francisco residents also enjoy a New Year's Eve late afternoon picnic in Dolores Park at Dolores St and 19th Street. They usually show up at sunset with champagne and beer to toast the end of the year while enjoying the park's gorgeous city views.

New Year's Eve Cruises

You can take a sail around the bay, have dinner, and dance the night away on a Hornblower's New Year's Eve Cruise, aboard the paddle wheeler San Francisco Belle or the Commodore New Year's Eve Fireworks Dinner Cruise, which departs from Alameda's Mariner Square.

The Speakeasy New Year's Eve Cruise is one of the first San Francisco celebrations to sell out every year, with music and blackjack tables to keep you entertained when you aren't looking at the scenery.

New Year's Eve Parties

The most exciting and interesting thing about the New Bohemia New Year's Eve is the location in the Old San Francisco Mint. Also exceptional is the staging by Vau de Vire, who draw edgy artists whose works would be at home at Burning Man, along with a great lineup of musical performers.

Another fun idea is the annual celebration on the USS Hornet. The old aircraft carrier is docked in Alameda, where you can countdown to midnight from the Flight Deck, with a gorgeous San Francisco view.

If masquerade balls are more your style, try the San Francisco Symphony annual gala. It starts with a concert, followed by beverages and snacks, then dancing until midnight.

More Ways to Celebrate

It's not exactly a party, but you can also get a jump on the celebrations by going to the New Year's Eve performance of Beach Blanket Babylon

City Kayak takes just 30 experienced paddlers out for midnight outing. The lucky group, led by guides in a motorboat, paddle out for a front-row fireworks view and a glass of ice-cold champagne.

Getting Around San Francisco On New Year's Eve

BART extends their service until 3 a.m. on New Year's Eve, with extra trains running right after the fireworks show ends. Caltrain also provides free service, with four post-fireworks trains. 

AAA provides a complimentary ride and vehicle tow up to 7 miles from the point of pickup to drivers who have consumed alcohol. Ask for a Tipsy Tow by calling 1-800-400-4222. This service is available whether or not you're an AAA member.