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Things to Do in San Francisco After Dark
But what if you don't like those typical after-hours pursuits or are traveling with a family? Never fear, there's still plenty you can do in San Francisco after the sun goes down. I stayed up late in San Francisco to check them out and to find the things you might enjoy.Continue to 2 of 14 below.
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Get Off to a Glitzy Start
Kick off your event at the swanky, swoon-worthy JCB Tasting Lounge at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. This jewel box of a lounge seats about a dozen people in an eye-popping setting of black and gold, animal prints and glittering crystal.
Order a glass of passionate, provocative No. 9 sparkling wine or flirt over the flamboyant, sensual (and oh-so-yummy) No. 69 Pinot Noir. When this place fills up all their Baccarat crystal glasses, they won't accept another single soul, no matter how much you beg. Make reservations to avoid that disappointment.
For a gorgeous view from slightly less opulent surroundings, you can't beat the Top of the Mark at the Mark Hopkins Hotel. It's so romantic that I once ended up performing an ad hoc marriage vow renewal for friends there while we sipped our bubbly.Continue to 3 of 14 below.
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Bay Bridge: Bay Lights
At sunset, the otherwise utilitarian San Francisco Bay Bridge transforms into a sparkling, LED light sculpture. Use the Bay Lights Guide to find out more about it - and the best places to see it from.Continue to 4 of 14 below.
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Take an Evening Tour
Guided tours don't stop when the sun goes down, and these fun tours are some the best.
I love the San Francisco Night Tour with Vantigo. Vantigo is no pack-'em-in-like-sardines experience. Instead, you'll ride around in a cute, restored Volkswagen van that seats six max. In two hours, you'll see the city at its sparkly, glittery best. Beer and wine are included in the reasonable tour price (assuming you can drink them legally). Reserve your spot on their website.
Take a Segway Tour: Why let your feet get tired when you can use a Segway Human Transporter to explore the cityscape at night? An evening tour with the San Francisco Electric Tour Company is more fun than you can imagine. Reservations required.
Go Ghost-Hunting: The San Francisco Ghost Hunt promises to introduce you to San Francisco's most notorious ghosts. Reservations required.
Take a Foodie Tour: On a Local Tastes of the City tour, you'll sample the city's best coffee, Dim Sum, and other foods on a... two-hour culinary tour. Reservations required.Continue to 5 of 14 below.
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Alcatraz at Night
I discourage people from taking the Alcatraz tour during the day. It takes up too much time that could be spent elsewhere. But visiting at night extends your sightseeing into the evening hours. And even better, it also includes special programs and activities not offered during the day.
The night tour operates year-round Thursday-Monday evenings. Reservations required. You can buy your tickets in advance on the Alcatraz Cruises website.Continue to 6 of 14 below.
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Warm San Francisco Nights: Summer Only
Longer days and warmer summer temperatures bring out a few evening activities that you can't do any other time of year. Use the Guide to San Francisco Summer Nights to get some ideas for a warm San Francisco night.Continue to 7 of 14 below.
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Entertainment That's Uniquely San Francisco
Every city has theaters and movie houses, nightclubs and symphonies. You can find them in San Francisco, too, but why be boring? Try one of these Only in San Francisco evening entertainments that are far more intriguing.
Beach Blanket Babylon is the longest-running musical revue anywhere. They're famous for their enormous hats and social satire. It's not award-winning fare, but it is a chance to let your hair down and not think much for a while.
Discover Something Different: We Players stages site-integrated performances in dramatic outdoor locations. Or check what's going on at zSpace, an art gallery and performance space where you can discover some interesting and cutting-edge works.
Discover Something New: I love Goldstar for deeply discounted tickets to a variety of performance events and other things to do, and you might discover something there that you hadn't thought about doing before. Get all the details in the Guide to Using Goldstar.
The Speakeasy: Not to be... confused with a brewery of the same name that is now closed, The Speakeasy is an immersive performance experience, which means you don't just watch, you participate. You might be in a brief public scene or get pulled into a private, one-on-one encounter with a performer. Or something entirely different might happen. That's the fun of it. Schedule your appointment on their website.Continue to 8 of 14 below.
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Visit Treasure Island for This View
This picture was taken from Treasure Island. It's possibly the best place in town to watch the city lights come up at Sunset. To get there, take the Bay Bridge toward Oakland and exit halfway across.Continue to 9 of 14 below.
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Go to the Marin Headlands
This picture was taken from the Marin Headlands, on the northwest side of the Golden Gate Bridge. The city lights behind the bridge are truly magical. To get there, go north across the Golden Gate Bridge, exit just past the north vista point and turn left to drive up the hill.Continue to 10 of 14 below.
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Pier 7 and City Skyline
You'll find Pier 7 on the San Francisco waterfront between Washington Street and Broadway. A short walk to the end gives a beautiful city lights view.Continue to 11 of 14 below.
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Coit Tower Night Views
Go to Coit Tower for a view of the city or photograph it from somewhere else. This view is similar to what you can see from the top floor of the parking garage above the police station on Vallejo Street.Continue to 12 of 14 below.
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Transamerica Building at Night
The iconic Transamerica Building wasn't as well liked when built as it is now, but its profile has always been distinctive. In this view, taken from a hilltop in the middle of the city, it stands against the lights of Berkeley across the Bay.Continue to 13 of 14 below.
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Chinatown Shines at Night
As soon as the sun goes down, Chinatown nearly turns into a ghost town. The few people who walk through it never seem to look up to see all the neon-lit signs or the glowing, red lanterns against the twilight blue sky. That is unless they see me pointing my camera lens at them.
Don't be dull like everyone else, just take the short walk along Grant Avenue from Bush Street to Columbus just after the sun goes down. And don't forget to look up.Continue to 14 of 14 below.
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More Things You Can Do in San Francisco
There's a lot more to do in San Francisco day and night. If you're a contrarian traveler who seeks out the undiscovered spots, then don't miss these Things You Didn't Know You Wanted to Do in San Francisco. And of course, you'll want to take a look at the top things to do in San Francisco.
Do you want your kids to have fun in San Francisco? Here's where to take them.
San Francisco is one of California's best places to have fun without spending a penny. Just use the Guide to Things to Do for Free in San Francisco.
It might rain in the winter. Here's what to do in San Francisco when it's raining. And if it's summertime when you visit, you'll definitely want to know What to Do on a Summer Night in San Francisco.
What Not to Do
You don't want to sound and look like a dumb San Francisco tourist or waste your time on trashy tourist spots. Whatever you do, don't do these 16 things when you go to San Francisco.