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View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach
Photograph: Julian Bialowas View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach

The most romantic things to do in San Francisco

From scenic hikes to whiskey flights, woo your boo with one of these romantic things to do in San Francisco

By Lauren Sheber

It’s easy to leave—or lose—your heart in San Francisco, as Ol’ Blue Eyes knows well. And luckily, you can find romantic things to do in San Francisco on any budget, whether your idea of a swoon-worthy date involves a candlelit table for two in a romantic restaurant, a rooftop hot tub with a view of San Francisco, an oceanfront bonfire at one of SF's best beaches, or a stiff cocktail. These 10 spots are sure to set the mood on Valentine's Day and every day of the year. 

RECOMMENDED: The most romantic restaurants in San Francisco

Romantic things to do in San Francisco

1. Corona Heights Peak

Things to do Corona Heights

This craggy perch sparks instant romance; you just have to get up there first. Skip the paved staircase in favor of the less populated trail off 15th Street. (It starts at the tennis courts, then winds steeply uphill among the trees.) Clamber up to the top of the hill’s distinctive red rock and you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views stretching from downtown to Twin Peaks. It’s an ideal spot for watching sunrises and sunsets wash over the city. BYOB, but be discreet.

Wilson & Wilson
Photograph: Courtesy Wilson & Wilson

2. Wilson & Wilson

Bars Tenderloin

Bourbon & Branch is the quintessential San Francisco speakeasy—an unmarked door in the Tenderloin where a password is whispered into an intercom to gain entry. But Wilson & Wilson, an intimate, reservation-only bar tucked away from the main room, takes the intrigue to the next level. There, you’ll find cozy two-tops, candlelight, pressed tin ceilings, and an extensive drink menu. Cocktails are served in teapots—a nod to Prohibition—alongside a sprawling selection of scotch and bourbon.

Spa Vitale
Photograph: Courtesy Spa Vitale

3. Spa Vitale

Shopping SoMa

This spa atop the Vitale Hotel isn’t huge with just three massage rooms, but its intimacy is part of its appeal. Book a bathing ritual for two on the open-air roof, where a pair of deep-soaking infinity tubs are lit by lanterns and strewn with rose petals. The treatment is entirely self-driven—you control everything from the temperature to the bath salts to the tea. When the sun goes down, scope out the glittering Bay Lights views from the patio.

Ocean Beach
Photograph: Flickr/James Carnes

4. Ocean Beach

Things to do Outer Richmond

This 3.5-mile beach spans the far west side of the city, from the Outer Richmond to the Outer Sunset. The sandy strip has a community feel like no other, where local surfers, artists, and old-timers know each other (and their dogs) by name. The southern side is home to hardcore surfers who brave the frigid waves, while farther north, you’ll find tourists and regulars who make the beautiful trek from Sutro Baths and Lands End. Bonfires are permitted in 16 designated fire pits, March through October. Get there early to snag one, as it’s first-come, first served—then watch the sun sink behind the horizon.

Foreign Cinema
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Dave Whelan

5. Foreign Cinema

Restaurants Californian Mission

Though it’s been a Mission standby for nearly two decades, Foreign Cinema remains one of the most stunning restaurants in town. The seasonal California fare is sourced from farms in Bolinas, Sebastopol, Healdsburg, and Olema, complemented by an impressive 2,000-bottle wine list. Inside, you’ll find an elegant expanse of marble, stone, and exposed beams under 18-foot ceilings. But the real draw is the outdoor patio, warmed by heat lamps and twinkling with string lights. The “cinema” comes in the form of the huge projector screen, where classic and contemporary movies play nightly.

Linden Room
Photograph: Courtesy Linden Room

6. Linden Room

Bars Hayes Valley

Nightbird chef Kim Alter created this 8-seat bar with the same attention to craft and ingredients as her restaurant next door. The spot has a refined living room feel, with Yves Klein blue walls, studded leather chairs, and a well-appointed shelf filled with records beside the backlit liquor. The craft cocktails are spirit-forward and seasonal, with an emphasis on fresh fruits and herb infusions, and the bartenders are akin to chemists, drawing from a supply of tinctures and liqueurs. Inventive drinks are served in vintage glassware, like the Kilt Dropper, a sweetly buzz-inducing concoction of scotch, aquavit, elderflower, and Peychauds bitters.

Baker Beach
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Tom Thai

7. Baker Beach

Things to do Presidio

There’s a reason this sandy stretch is a sought-after spot for engagement and wedding photos. The Golden Gate Bridge is visible in the distance, while gray-green serpentine cliffs rise behind you, dotted by the mansions of the Seacliff district. Several trails lead down to the beach from the Presidio, including Bluff Trail, Bay Ridge Trail, and Park Trail. Take the sand ladder stairway for a birds-eye view of the beach and, if you’re lucky, a glimpse of dolphins playing in the surf.

Top of the Mark
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Travis Wise

8. Top of the Mark

Bars Hotel bars Nob Hill

Originally opened in 1939, the Top of the Mark is a stately, storied old bar. It was once a tradition for U.S. Navy officers to belly up for a send-off drink before shipping out during World War II. (The northwest corner, dubbed the “Weepers’ Corner,” is where their girlfriends would watch the ships depart the bay.) The vibe has changed significantly since then, but the rich history and stirring view remain, encompassing the Financial District, Bay Bridge, Chinatown, North Beach, and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Photograph: Bonjwing Lee

9. Angler

Restaurants Seafood SoMa

This hotspot uncommonly cozy: All the cooking revolves around an open wood fire and fireplace. Chef Joshua Skenes grew up hunting, fishing, and cooking over campfires in rural Florida, and that sensibility carries over into his restaurants. Angler’s cuisine focuses on seafood with a high-end twist. It starts with private-batch caviar and progresses to an eclectic raw bar menu (think antelope tartare, purple sea urchin, and  more). The main dishes are all roasted over the embers of an open fire. On any given night, that might include giant octopus, California king crab, 28-ounce porterhouse steaks, or grilled rabbit. It’s all hyper-seasonal and locally sourced from Bay Area fishermen, hunters, gatherers, ranchers, and farmers. The decor is as rustic as it is beautiful: bunches of dried herbs and flowers hang overhead and taxidermy adorns the walls.

Hard Water
Photograph: Noelle Chun

10. Hard Water

Restaurants Cocktail bars Downtown

This ritzy, New Orleans-inspired bar by the team behind the Slanted Door is known for its rare whiskies. Spirits-lovers can sample liberally with the bar’s wide range of whiskey flights, led by a knowledgeable bartenders. Flights start at around $30 for themed or distillery-focused tastings (say, craft distilleries or single malts) and run upwards of $300 for special aged samples like 23-year Van Winkle and 25-year Rittenhouse Rye.


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