San Francisco Night Tour Recommendations

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Updated: March 27, 2024

A San Francisco night tour is a great way to learn about the city after dark. You will find tours that range from chilling ghost walks to our famous sunset bay cruises to outings with food or drinks or both!

One of my favorites is the night tour of Alcatraz. On this tour, you get to see what it was like to be inside this former federal prison at night. Since they limit the number of people on the night tour, you have more opportunities to move around and get a feel for the stories and events that happened there. 

Whether you set sail on the bay, head out on foot, or cruise around in an open-air bus, below you'll find top options for viewing the city lights and more.

San Francisco City Hall in Orange at Night

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

1. Alcatraz Night Tour

The most popular San Francisco night tour is the tour of Alcatraz. From my experience, this is the best way to see the real Alcatraz. 

During the Alcatraz night tours, they limit the number of visitors. This allows them to open several additional areas of the prison for you to visit.

The last time we were there, they opened the upstairs hospital for visitors. This is where some of the most infamous prisoners of Alcatraz lived out their last days.

These tours are only available a few nights a week.

>> Learn more about the Alcatraz night tour

Insider's Tip: Don't forget to dress warm and bring along your jacket. Even in the summer, the nights here are cool and windy, so the extra layer will allow you to enjoy your San Francisco night tour even more! 

2. Double Decker San Francisco Night Tour

If you want to sit back and relax as you soak in the lights of San Francisco, then this night tour is for you! Sit in the open-air top deck of this double decker bus as your driver takes you past all of our best sights.

The tour starts in Fisherman's Wharf. You will then cruise through North BeachChinatown, and Nob Hill. Admire the Bay Bridge lights as you cross over to Treasure Island for a photo stop. This tour also includes a ride through Union Square and along the Embarcadero.

In 60 to 90 minutes, you will see most of what SF has to offer. This tour leaves at 6:30 pm. This means that during the winter months it will be after dark and during the summer the sun will still be shining.

>> Get more details about this popular tour and pick up tickets

3. San Francisco Bay Sunset or Twilight Cruise

This San Francisco night tour starts with a ride by Alcatraz Island. You will then cruise around Angel Island and along the shores of Tiburon, Belvedere (an island with some of the most expensive homes in the US), and Sausalito.

You will watch the sunset or the evening lights as you cruise over to and under the Golden Gate Bridge. On your way back, you will ride along the shores of San Francisco while taking in the stunning skyline.

Food and drink are available for purchase onboard this two-hour tour.

This sunset cruise is available from April to November. In the winter months (November to March), this cruise still runs, but with some slight modifications. Since the sun goes down earlier, you will not catch the sunset, but you will still get to enjoy the beautiful scenery as you cruise around the bay. 

>> San Francisco Bay Sunset Cruise

4. Sunset Photography Tour

Have you always wanted that perfect picture of the Golden Gate Bridge at night? If so, then this Sunset Photography Tour is your chance!

You will head out to several scenic locations, including Baker Beach and the Palace of Fine Arts near the Golden Gate Bridge. Bring along your camera and your expert photography guide will help you capture that picture-perfect moment in the golden hour.

This tour runs most afternoons (just before dusk) during the week and lasts for 2 to 3 hours.

>> Visit Viator to learn more and pick up your tickets today

5. Walk with Spirits: A Haunted Pub Crawl

This fun and unique tour is part bar-hop and part ghost tour. The spirits that you taste will be accompanied by spirits that have haunted SF's downtown streets since the Gold Rush era and the famous earthquake and fire of 1906.

Your guide will walk you through Jackson Square, "Devil's Acre," and the Barbary Coast, and finally you'll end up in Chinatown.

Along the way, you'll enter four ghost-ridden bars, and hear about the tragic stories of the miners, sailors, and women who walked there before you.

This tour starts at 6:30 pm. It runs Fridays and/or Saturdays, depending on the week. Drinks are not included.

>> Find out more and make your reservation for this fun and spooky tour

6. True Crime Tales from the Haight

The Haight Ashbury District has a lively past. It was once home to the Summer of Love, tie dyed t-shirts, and music in the park.

It's also seen its share of serial killers, ghosts, and murders.

On this two-hour tour, you'll learn more about where Charles Mason and Jim Jones spent their time here. You'll also hear about the Zodiac Killer and the murders of Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk. 

The guide for this tour is great and will also tell you more about famous musicians such as Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, and others that used to live here.

This two-hour tour is offered most days of the week at 5 pm. 

>> Get tickets for all dates on Get Your Guide

7. SF Ghosts: Gold and Ghouls Tour

Do you love to chase ghosts? On this one-hour, one-mile walking trek, you will visit eight spine-chilling, historical and haunted places in San Francisco. Some of the dark stories you'll hear date back to the Gold Rush days.

You will visit both the Nob Hill and Union Square Districts as you learn about infamous crimes that took place there. You'll hear about some of our famous haunted hotels, streets, and what really happened in the Sutter Building.

This tour is offered most nights of the week at 8 pm.

>> Get tickets for all dates on GetYourGuide

8. Luxury Dinner Cruise on the Bay

The San Francisco Dinner Dance Cruise is a long running bay cruise. This 2- to 2.5-hour San Francisco night tour includes a formal dinner with music.

During the cruise, you will get the chance to watch the sunset over the San Francisco Bay. You will also cruise past several popular SF attractions such as Alcatraz Island, Sausalito, and the Golden Gate Bridge. 

Throughout the tour, you will feast on a three-course meal made with local ingredients. The meal is prepared on board. 

There will be DJ entertainment for dancing. Coffee, tea, and water are included. Alcoholic drinks will be available for purchase at the bar.

The dinner dance cruise is available several nights a week throughout the year.

This is a more formal setting than the above-mentioned sunset cruise. The attire is nice, business casual dress. No jeans allowed.

>> Find tickets for upcoming cruises

9. North Beach: Gourmet Ghost Tour

Both a food and a ghost tour of one of SF's most iconic districts—what could be more fun for an evening walk around town?

This tour includes a full meal: an antipasto platter, a focaccia sandwich, pizza, and cannoli for dessert. You'll munch at different stops as you listen to the mysterious tales of North Beach's past and present.

Your encounters will include the resident ghosts at the San Remo Hotel to the landmark Washington Square, to the kidnapped sailors that haunt The Saloon to a modern ghost story at the Condor Club. 

You'll even make a stop in the haunted labyrinth of streets that make up Chinatown. 

>> Find available dates and tickets on Viator

10. City Sunset Tour by Vintage Sidecar

One of the coolest ways to check out the streets around San Francisco is on this City Sunset Tour by Vintage Sidecar.

You and others in your group will ride in sidecars as your drivers and guides show you interesting places all around the city.

You'll see parts of Union Square, Civic Center, and North Beach. My favorite part of the tour is riding down Lombard Street and checking out the sunset at the Golden Gate Bridge.

This tour is about two hours long and is a unique way to get to know SF! 

>> Search for specific tour dates and buy tickets on GetYourGuide

Guided Walking Tours: What are the best guided walking tours? Here you will find some of the most popular ones, including the Flower Power Walk of the Haight-Ashbury, the Fisherman's Wharf Walk, and the Golden Gate Bridge Walking Tour. You can also find a current list of discounted tickets. 

Wine Tours from San Francisco: Do you love wine or want to learn more about it? Here you will find a list of some of the top tours from San Francisco to wine country. These tours visit Napa Valley, Sonoma County, or both. Click through to learn more!

North Beach Walking Tours: Discover secret spots or sample authentic Italian treats on one of these North Beach walking tours. You'll also learn more about its famous residents, this neighborhood's role in the founding of the city of San Francisco, and other great SF attractions.

Chinatown Walking Tours: This is another popular, yet sometimes mysterious neighborhood. On these walking tours, you can also sample a variety of traditional Chinese delicacies, savor healing teas, and see how fortune cookies are made. You will also learn about the local culture and why Chinatown is considered a 'city within a city.'

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?

I would love for you to join me in my private Facebook group

It's a great place to interact with me and others who know the area well.

You can ask questions, get advice for your upcoming stay, and then share your photos and advice with others when you return home. It's a great community and the fastest way to get answers to those nagging questions about your visit!

Come join the fun here!

San Francisco Night Tours Pin

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Exclusive Member of Mediavine Travel

Copyright © 2009-2024 by All rights reserved.

This website does not sell any personal information. (See privacy policy)