San Francisco Nightlife: Enjoy the SF Nightlife Like a Local

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Updated: March 26, 2024

San Francisco nightlife is as varied as its residents. From grabbing a drink or two at a local bar to catching a performance at the theater, you will always find something unique and interesting each night in the city.

Additional things to do at night in San Francisco include concerts, guided tours, dance clubs, and museum events. You can also head to the ballet, symphony, and other shows.

You will find recommendations near Union Square, in Fisherman's Wharf and throughout our top districts.

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

Concerts & Live Music

Concert at the Chase Center in San Francisco

Concerts and live music are both popular San Francisco nightlife options. SF hosts many popular bands every year. You can find a great show almost any night of the week. 

Some of the biggest shows are at venues such as the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, the Fillmore, the Warfield, and the Masonic Center. You will also find some great shows at smaller places all around town.

Click through for live music recommendations as well as a calendar with some of the top performances scheduled for each month. Calendars are typically updated about four to five months in advance, but I update them often as new shows are announced.













Sporting Events

One of my favorite San Francisco nightlife options is heading to a sporting event. San Francisco and the Bay Area have several professional teams, including football, baseball, and hockey. You will find most games in the evening with a game almost every night of the week. 

Baseball at Oracle Park

Our most popular teams include the San Francisco Giants, the Golden State Warriors, the Oakland A's and the San Jose Sharks.

Broadway & Other Theater Shows

Heading to a Broadway show or theater performance is another one of the fun San Francisco nightlife options. Both the Orpheum Theater and the Golden Gate Theater offer performances straight from Broadway. These performances include newly released shows, revivals, and top hits such as Hamilton, The Lion King, and Wicked.

You will find other shows on stages all around the city. The theater calendar is packed full of options, so make sure to check it out for a fun night on the town while you are here.

Sunset & Dinner Cruises

SF is surrounded on three sides by water, which offers plenty of opportunities to head out on a cruise. Some of the most popular are our sunset and dinner cruises. Read on for few ideas.

California Sunset Boat Cruise

This casual two-hour evening cruise leaves Fisherman's Wharf nightly. Each cruise offers amazing views around the SF Bay. You will cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge, past Alcatraz, around Angel Island, and along Tiburon and Sausalito.

Find tickets for this nightly cruise.

San Francisco Bay Sunset Sailing Cruise 

Want a more intimate option? Head out on a 55- or 65-foot catamaran to watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Each ticket includes a 1.5-hour cruise, a complimentary drink from the bar, and incredible views of the SF skyline at twilight. Each catamaran has a protected viewing area as well as canvas trampoline nets for the more adventurous.

Buy your tickets in advance through GetYourGuide.

>> Find additional evening cruises

Other Night Tours

In addition to our sunset and dinner cruises, you will find some other great night tours as well. They include bus and walking tours, and even a chance to chase ghosts. These are just some of the best San Francisco nightlife tours.

Night Lights Bay Bridge

SF Double Decker Night Bus Tour

If you prefer to sit back, relax, and let someone drive you around town, then check out the SF Double Decker Night Bus Tour. It will take you past the best attractions at night so you can get that picture-perfect view from the open top.

This night tour leaves at 6:30 pm from Fisherman's Wharf every night. You will drive through Chinatown, Nob Hill, and the Civic Center, along the Embarcadero, and across the magnificent Bay Bridge to Treasure Island for a photo stop.

In addition, the fun, informative narration is available in multiple languages.

The tour runs for 60 to 90 minutes. Find tickets for this tour on the GetYourGuide site.

Ghosts, Gold, and Ghouls Guided Walking Tour

Want do to a little ghost hunting around San Francisco? This fun tour offers you the chance to hear stories about locals ghosts and other dark events in the Nob Hill and Union Square districts.

On this one-hour, one-mile walking tour, you'll hear about famous tragedies in some of our historic hotels, characters that came to SF to strike it rich during the Gold Rush, and what happened during the 1906 Earthquake and Fire (including the aftermath).

>> Find out more about this popular evening ghost tour

Performing Arts: Ballet, Opera & Symphony

In addition to the theater, our performing arts calendar also offers a large number of ballet, opera, and symphony shows. All three feature shows in the Performing Arts Center in the Civic Center district.

The SF Ballet is world famous as they were the first to perform the Nutcracker in the US. Today, this show is still one of their bestselling performances and runs for around two and a half weeks every December. In addition, they also feature classic and modern works from January to early May.

The SF Opera shares the War Memorial Opera House with the ballet, so they also perform during just part of the year. They offer two to three shows each summer in June and early July. They also have a full season of around six to seven shows between September and early December.

The SF Symphony performs in a dedicated venue and offers performances all year long (with a short break in July and early August). You will find more than a dozen shows each month including classics from composers such as Tchaikovsky, Brahms, and Bach. They also play fun movie scores from films such as Star Wars, Batman, and Jurassic Park. If you are traveling with kids, make sure to check out their family-friendly shows.

Comedy Clubs

Comedy clubs are another top San Francisco nightlife option. Our comedy clubs attract some of the best comedians from around the world. We also have some great local acts that perform regularly. In addition to standup, you will also find some great improv several nights a week.

Here are a few places to find some of our regularly scheduled comedy shows:

Cobb's Comedy Club: This is one of the best places to check out rising stars. Several top comedians such as Robin Williams, Patton Oswalt, and Margaret Cho performed here in their early days. 

Punch Line Comedy Club: This spot in the Financial District has also hosted comedy greats such as Ellen Degeneres, Wanda Sykes, and Chris Rock.

Bats Improv: Catch one of their regular shows of themed improv, unconventional storytelling, audience participation, and more on Fridays and Saturdays at the Fort Mason Center.

>> Current comedy show schedule

>> Upcoming shows at Cobb's

>> Schedule of upcoming performances at the Punch Line

Nighttime Events at Our Top Museums

Two of our top museums offer adult-friendly evenings where you can explore their exhibits and mingle with like-minded people. The two museums are the California Academy of Sciences and the Exploratorium.

Adult Museum Parties in San Francisco

The San Francisco nightlife at the California Academy of Sciences is most Thursday nights starting at 6 pm. Each week offers a new theme with activities dedicated to teach more about it. Some of the most recent themes included National Women's History Month, the diversity of life from jungles to cities, and space. 

In addition to learning about the focused nightly topic, you can also visit this museum's exhibits and enjoy a cocktail or two. This 21+ San Francisco nightlife event is very popular.

The other San Francisco nightlife event at a museum is After Dark at the Exploratorium. This one is also on Thursday nights for adults 18+ and offers attendees the chance to interact with their exhibits. You'll also find cocktails, beer, and wine available for purchase, as well as performances and art installations.

Other Museums Open Late

Other San Francisco museums that stay open a little later than most include:

  • Asian Art Museum: Open until 8 pm on Thursdays (closes at 5 pm other days). 200 Larkin Street in the Civic Center district.
  • SF Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA): Open until 8 pm on Thursdays (closes at 5 pm other days). 151 Third Street in the SoMa district.

Bars & Dance Clubs

Bars and nightclubs are also popular San Francisco nightlife ideas. You will find historic spots to grab a drink as well as romantic wine bars for a night out on the town with your sweetie.

Top Bars

To help you find some of our best bars, I've pulled together a list of my favorites. On this list are some historic spots in our top districts as well as a few gems the locals love.

Check out my full list here.

SF Breweries

Spend some time sampling some of our best locally brewed beers. My list of 13 offers you some of the best options all around town including my recommendations on some of the top beers to try!

Find my list here.

Happy Hour

If you're heading out a little earlier for happy hour, you're in luck. You will find great options in every corner of San Francisco.

I've pulled together a list of my favorites to get you started.

Sports Bars

Are you looking for a place to watch the big game? Check out my list of 20 of the best sports bars all around San Francisco.

Wine Bars

Since we are so close to Napa and Sonoma, you cannot leave without spending an hour or two in some of our top wine bars. You can sample a flight or just sit back to enjoy a full glass of wine. Find my favorite spots here.


If your idea of a fun night out on the town is to go dancing, then you are also in luck!

The city's lounges and clubs play a variety of music genres. Check out this list of top spots to find the right one for you!

More Great Bars Around San Francisco

Alcatraz Night Tour

One of my favorite times to visit Alcatraz is at night. Their evening tour starts in the late afternoon and allows you to spend some time exploring with fewer people on the island.

The tour starts with a ferry ride across the SF Bay to the island. You will then learn more about the island and its prisoners as you slowly walk up the ramp to the main cell house building.

Your visit continues with a self-guided audio tour followed by a chance to walk around certain parts of the building that are not typically open during the day.

>> Find out more about the evening tour to Alcatraz and where to get tickets

Other Attractions Open Late

Other things to do at night in San Francisco include visiting some of our top attractions. These are just a few options that are open until late in the evening. Several of these are in Fisherman's Wharf and a great option for some fun San Francisco nightlife.

San Francisco Nightlife at Ripley's Museum in Fisherman's Wharf

7D on Pier 39

The 7D Experience is like no other. It's part video game, part movie, part roller coaster ride—and a lot of fun. The audience works as a team as you take down the bad guys on the screen.

Each seat is equipped with a gun and moves as the screen takes you from place to place.

It's open until 9 pm daily.

Aquarium of the Bay

This living museum is another fun San Francisco nightlife option. The Aquarium of the Bay stays open until 8 or 9 pm most nights of the week, which gives you plenty of time to explore and enjoy a nice meal out on the town before visiting.

Pier 39

You will find both of the above options at Pier 39. In addition, this top SF attraction also has plenty of restaurants, bars, and other fun activities. Many are open until 8 or 9 pm, or even later.

Ripley's Believe It or Not

A couple blocks down from Pier 39, you will find Ripley's Believe It or Not. This fun museum offers you a chance to look at items from Ripley's years of travel.

You get a chance to see them for yourself and hear stories about his experiences along the way. They are open daily until 6 pm, and Fridays and Saturdays until 8 pm.

This one is located at 175 Jefferson Street in Fisherman's Wharf.

Escape Rooms

EscapeSF is open daily until 11 pm. This is a great activity if there are at least two people in your party.

You can choose from various themes to book your private escape room, ranging from Escape from Alcatraz, King Arthur's Legacy, Sabotage, and more. 

Find this San Francisco nightlife attraction at 602 Kearny Street in the Financial District. 

Bowling at Yerba Buena

If you're in the mood for a good old-fashioned game of bowling and maybe some pizza, head over to the Yerba Buena Ice Skating & Bowling Center, where lanes are open late. 

On Wednesdays and Thursdays, they close at 9 pm. On Fridays and Saturdays, they close at 10 pm. 

It's adjacent to the Yerba Buena Gardens at 750 Folsom Street in the SoMa District. 

Twin Peaks

You will find some of the best views of the San Francisco Bay from above at Twin Peaks. This popular attraction is in the heart of the city with views of the Golden Gate Bridge, City Hall, Alcatraz, and the Pacific Ocean.

Most people come up during the day, but the parking lot is also open at night.

You can catch the views here until closing at midnight.

Other Noteworthy Stops

More San Francisco Nightlife Ideas

Are you looking for additional San Francisco nightlife ideas for your stay? Check out my recommendations on other things to do at night in the city. SF is great during the day, but it's really special in the evenings because of all of the fun events, activities, and more.

More: Fun things to do each night

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?

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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!

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