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Dating IRL
Photograph: Clara Rice

The best date ideas in San Francisco

Why settle for the standard dinner and a movie when you could try out one of these unique date ideas in San Francisco?

By Joel Riddell and Shoshi Parks
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While coffee shops and wine bars are fine date options, thinking out of the box can do wonders to woo your boo or show your partner that you’ve still got it. You’ll really stand out from the pack after taking your boo on one of these quirky outings. Admire views of the bay, learn new skills at a class or get an earful (or eyeful) of something shocking on our 10 favorite date ideas in the San Francisco Bay Area.

RECOMMENDED: Most romantic restaurants in San Francisco 

Date ideas in San Francisco

Quarry Beach
Photograph: Flickr/ Steve Pinnick

1. Angel Island State Park

Things to do Camps Tiburon

Angel Island, the former Ellis Island of the West, is today a beautiful, rugged land crisscrossed with hiking and biking trails. Take the 12-minute ferry from Tiburon then head out on foot or rent a bike (or electric bike) with the Angel Island Company. Trails around the island vary from easy to challenging and many pass by fascinating remnants of the island’s history. Stay for the day or up the ante with an overnight backpacking trip to one of the island’s romantic waterfront campsites.

2. Treasure Island

Things to do San Francisco

The last weekend of the month, Treasure Island explodes with TreasureFest, an event that is part flea market, part food-truck feast and part entertainment. Search for gems and oddities among the new and used merchandise of over 400 vendors or sip craft cocktails and do a little people watching. When you and your boo have had enough shopping, make a stop at one of Treasure Island’s many wineries, all of which are an easy walk from the festival.

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3. Nightlife at the museum

Museums Science and technology Golden Gate Park

Like art? How about science or history? The best way to see it is Thursday and Friday nights with your beloved when several of the Bay Area’s best museum open for 21+ fun. On Thursdays, head over to the Exploratorium or the California Academy of Sciences where themed events like “the fungus among us” (Jan 10) and Sketchfest (Jan 17) offer a little something extra alongside the museum’s regular exhibits. Friday nights the action is at the de Young Museum and the Oakland Museum of California, which features food trucks, music, and dance lessons.

Chabot Science and Space Center
Photograph: Yelp/Gerald H

4. Chabot Space & Science Center

Things to do East Bay

At the Chabot Science and Space Center at night, stargazers get a unique look at the heavens above. The observatory in the Oakland hills hosts a number of events that coincide with the movement of the celestial bodies including regular telescope nights and meteor shower viewing parties. On January 20, bring chairs, wrap up together in soft, warm blankets and set up to get a stunning view of the total lunar eclipse viewing between 6pm and 12am, hot chocolate included.

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Wild SF Walking Tours
Photograph: Yelp/Wild SF Walking Tours

5. Go on a historical walking tour of SF

Guided walking tours are the stuff of dreams for history loving couples. San Francisco City Guides offers a surprisingly wide variety of free tours daily that dig deep into the past of neighborhoods like Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf and historical epochs like the Gold Rush. With Wild SF Walking Tours, history comes alive in a handful of tailored talks like the Free Love Tour, an afternoon meant for enjoying with someone you (might) love (someday).

6. A day in Golden Gate Park

Things to do Golden Gate Park

If you've booked a daytime date, there aren’t many places more magical than Golden Gate Park. Choose activities like boating on Stow Lake and wandering the botanical gardens on the fly or plan ahead for a romantic picnic before visiting some of the park’s most beloved landmarks, such as the 140-year old Conservatory of Flowers. On our to-do list? Heading to the top of the observation tower at the de Young—you don't need a museum ticket to check out the dramatic view.

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The Civic Kitchen
Photograph: Courtesy The Civic Kitchen

7. The Civic Kitchen

Things to do Classes and workshops Mission

Making dinner for someone is a commitment, but cooking with them can be an amazing way to connect, especially if you choose a class that includes wine pairings. This Mission cooking school offers hands-on classes for aspiring home cooks including how to make everything from Indian street food and pickled vegetables to wonderful wontons and festive cakes.

Presidio Bowl
Photograph: Nena L. / Yelp

8. Presidio Bowl

Things to do Presidio

This hidden gem has a small-town feel with some serious tech upgrades you didn’t even know you wanted. For the selfie-obsessed, touch-pad screens take photos of each guest and projects them onto fun animations that do things like cry after an embarrassing streak of gutter balls. The food is typical bowling alley fare (hot dogs, pizza, and fries), but the chicken wings are a must-have.

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The Ferry Building at sunrise
Photograph: Julian Bialowas

9. Ferry to Sausalito

Meet up at the Ferry Building, grab a snack at the non-profit women entrepreneur-supporting La Cocina, Japanese takeaway at Delica or a sweet treat at the Donut Farm, and head for the dock. The Sausalito ferry is much more than just commuter transportation: spending some time on the Bay can be a beautiful opportunity to snuggle up to your bae. While in quaint Sausalito, rent a couple of bikes and play tourist on a mini-vacay built for two.

Four people dancing on stage
Photograph: Yelp/Jenna G

10. ODC Dance Classes

Theater Performing arts space Mission

Whether your plan is to get close to a new friend or spice up date night with a tried-and-true flame, dancing is a great way to escape the ordinary. ODC offers more than 200 classes a week for both dancers of all skill levels, not one of which requires advanced registration. Drop into an hour of samba, salsa, flamenco or a variety of other fun options, most of which cost only $15/person.

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