Whether you’re a lover or a fighter, February 14 can be a fairly stressful day. Survive Valentine’s Day in San Francisco with our guide, including the best date ideas, dinner specials and gifts to give. Big spenders may want to wine and dine the object of their affection (complete with a huge bouquet of flowers), but we've also got plenty of cheap date suggestions for a more low-key evening. There's something for everyone this February 14th.
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Valentine's Day events
San Francisco’s best Valentine’s Day tradition is proof that love hurts. The annual pillow fight in Justin Herman Plaza draws hundreds of pillow-wielding players for a raucous free-for-all that can go on for hours. The feathers fly at the stroke of six; bring your own pillow, preferably a synthetic one to minimize clean-up after the event.
Justin Herman Plaza, 5:50–9pm; Free.
The San Francisco Ballet’s Valentine’s Day program transcends space and time with three short avant garde performances from different choreographers. The night includes the sleek, neoclassical The Fifth Season, Snowblind, a study of a doomed love triangle in a New England winter, and a complex crescendo of 39 dancers in Etudes—rapid-fire pieces intriguing enough to captivate the most hard-hearted dance skeptics.
301 Van Ness Ave at 7:30pm (sfballet.com); $29-375. Through Feb 24.
No matter how you slice it, love is complicated. But this Valentine’s Day, it doesn’t have to be, thanks to the help of experts Daniel Jones, editor of the NYT’s Modern Love, Myisha Battle, host of the sex-positive podcast Down for Whatever, and Bumble sociologist Jess Carbino. Head to The Commonwealth Club for a spirited on-stage discussion of love, sex and relationships, and stay for drinks and activities designed to keep the conversation flowing.
110 The Embarcadero at 6:30pm (commonwealthclub.org); $30-$40.
Head over to The East Cut’s Pop Up Gallery for a goat-stravaganza to suit the “bleating” and cold-hearted, alike. Tuck inside the night’s transformed vacant retail space to check out local art, sip wine and snuggle goats from the San Francisco’s City Grazing program, a landscaping non-profit. Surprise musical performances round out the night.
302 Folsom St at 4-8pm (eventbrite.com); Free with RSVP.
Celebrate the dark side of love with Uptown Nightclub’s goth-style tribute to Valentine’s Day. Fill your earholes with Bowie and Nine Inch Nails tribute bands while you feast your eyes on burlesque performances from Maggie Motorboat and Dorian Dietrich. A night to delight both fans and critics of this dedicated day of love.
1928 Telegraph Ave at 8pm-12am (uptownnightclub.com); $8-$10.
The San Francisco SPCA’s month-long pop-up at the Embarcadero Center is for couples and lone wolves in search of puppy love this Valentine’s Day. Visits to the cat cafe filled with adorable adoptable kittens are free from 11am-7pm, and $10 will get you 10 minutes of doggo snuggles in the cuddle experience. During Yappy Hour, from 4:30-6:30pm, wine and appetizers will be served alongside a special animal-themed presentation.
1 Embarcadero Center at 11am-7pm (sfspca.org/give-popup); Free to attend, $10 to cuddle puppies.
On February 14, the Exploratorium’s weekly adults-only After Dark event gets festive with a chocolate-themed night of fun. Taste, pair, and learn all about how the quintessential Valentine’s Day treat is made while experimenting with hundreds of hands-on science exhibits.
Pier 15 at 6-10pm (exploratorium.edu); $19.95.
If the thought of Valentine’s Day has you cringing in pain, the Roxie Theater knows just how you feel. That’s why they’ve come up with the ultimate ode to Valentine’s Day: A 1980s power-ballad sing-a-long. Join your fellow jaded and heartbroken hair band aficionados for a night of mass karaoke to music videos by Guns ‘n Roses, Bon Jovi, Warrant and more.
Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St at 9:15pm (roxie.com); $13-$15.
Try connecting with your beloved in a new way on the year’s most romantic evening. At the Valentine’s Night Couples Massage Workshop, students will learn from trained massage therapists and healers how to use touch to communicate and create intimacy. Each partner gets two-rounds of massage, champagne and light snacks.
344 20th St, Oakland at 6:30-9:30pm (eventbrite.com); $170-$200.