Top 12 Romantic Things to Do in San Francisco

Last Updated on February 22, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Igniting Passion in the City by the Bay – San Francisco’s Most Romantic Experiences

With its iconic bridges, storybook Victorian architecture, and sweeping bay views, San Francisco flourishes as one of the world’s most romantic cities.

ActivityDescription
Presidio PicnicEnjoy nature and views at the Presidio.
Make MacaronsTake a couples class at Chantal Guillon.
Sunset SailPrivate or small-group bay cruise.
Ocean BeachRomantic beach stroll and sunset views.
Gondola RideSerenade along the canals.
Top of The MarkCocktails with panoramic city views.
Chinatown LanternsHang wishing lanterns together.
Japanese Tea GardenWalk through the “Tunnel of Love”.
Epic SteakWaterfront dining experience.
Ghiradelli SquareShare a dessert at the historic square.
Tank HillWatch the moonrise with cityscape views.

From intimate cafes to secluded parks and moonlit gondola rides, California’s City by the Bay sets an alluring ambiance sure to inspire passion and connection. Keep reading to discover the top 12 romantic experiences San Francisco has to offer lovebirds from near and far.

Presidio Picnic Amongst Forested Hills

Name and Location: The Presidio is a national park site located within the city, offering forested areas and scenic overlooks perfect for picnicking.

History and Significance: The Presidio was a military base for centuries before becoming part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in 1994, known for its beautiful preserved lands.

What to Expect: Pack a picnic basket filled with local eats and select from dozens of grassy knolls, meadows or secluded wooded spots offering romantic backdrops of the San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate Bridge or the Pacific Ocean.

Visitor Information: Picnic areas available daily sunrise to sunset. Main Presidio Visitor Center open 10am-4pm to provide maps. Bring blankets and layers for the weather.

For a romantic outdoor escape surrounded by nature, pack a picnic lunch and head to the Presidio. This National Park Service site encompasses over 1,400 acres of forests, trails, scenic overlooks and vibrant habitat spanning across the San Francisco peninsula. Find a sunny glade or shady bench before indulging in wine, cheese and fruit while soaking up spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. Afterward stroll wooded trails hand-in-hand, stopping to steal the occasional kiss amidst spectacular scenery.

Make Macarons Together at Chantal Guillon

Name and Location: Chantal Guillon French Patisserie at 437 Hayes Street in the Civic Center neighborhood offers macaron decorating classes.

History and Significance: The shop opened in 2011, owned by acclaimed French pastry chef Chantal Guillon known for delicate French desserts like macarons which students can learn to decorate.

What to Expect: Couples decorate pre-baked macaron shells with colorful buttercreams and candies in two-hour sessions with an instructor’s guidance, working side-by-side at individual stations, then enjoy eating treats together afterwards. Private sessions available.

Visitor Information: Classes offered Saturdays and Sundays, schedule online. $110 per couple, includes tools, personalized packaging to take home a dozen decorated macarons.

Learn the delicate art of French macaron making alongside your sweetheart with a couples class at Chantal Guillon. The renowned SoMa patisserie teaches essential techniques for crafting the trendy Parisian cookies in an array of sweet and savory flavors. Chat over sips of wine while mastering meringue smoothing, piping pretty shapes, and creating your own unique macaron flavors. Leave with a box of treats made by hand in tandem – the perfect edible token to commemorate your romantic date.

Sunset Sail on the Golden Gate

Name and Location: Golden Gate sailboat rides depart from the San Francisco Marina or Sausalito harbor for sunset cruises with breathtaking bay views.

History and Significance: Experiencing the wind and waves while admiring the City’s iconic skyline and bridges makes for quintessential San Francisco romance.

What to Expect: Snuggle close to keep warm on the peaceful, scenic journey across the Bay just as vibrant colors paint the evening sky, complete with champagne to toast an unforgettable evening.

Visitor Information: Sunset sails last 2 hours, offered daily by various companies like Adventure Cat Sailing. Recommended to book well in advance online, dress warmly in layers.

Watch the setting sun gild San Francisco’s iconic landmarks during an intimate sailing charter on the San Francisco Bay. Choose a private cruise or small-group sunset excursion to take advantage of unparalleled views with few crowds. Hoist the mainsail together before popping a bottle of champagne and toasting the sunset with your special someone. Capture selfies with the Golden Gate Bridge lit by dying rays while snuggling close against the evening chill. No San Francisco romance is complete without a sunset sail.

Beachside Stroll at Ocean Beach

Name and Location: Ocean Beach runs 3.5 miles along San Francisco’s rugged Western shore from Cliff House to Golden Gate Park.

History and Significance: The often windswept strand with panoramic ocean views makes a romantic setting for couples to connect.

What to Expect: Hand-in-hand walks along the sand with crashing waves, the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. Stop to observe limited beachcombing, wildlife and striking sunsets over the sea.

Visitor Information: Beach access sunrise to sunset daily via Great Highway or paths from Golden Gate Park. Dress very warmly for wind and bring a blanket.

Hand-in-hand beach strolls inspire romance, making Ocean Beach one of San Francisco’s most beloved date destinations. Pacific waves crashing on sandy shores set an alluring atmosphere for leisurely walks interspersed with passionate kisses. Gather seashells, admire shorebirds hunting the surf, or just find a remote spot to lay a blanket and cuddle while savoring sunset views. End your romantic beach day with a cozy bonfire complete with s’mores ingredients for the quintessential California courtship experience.

Gondola Serenade Along the Canalways

Name and Location: Gondola rides navigate canal waterways and islands of Stow Lake in beautiful Golden Gate Park.

History and Significance: Echoing Venice’s romantic canals on a smaller scale, the lake offers a taste of Italy nestled in the lush surroundings of the renowned urban park.

What to Expect: Recline and relax on plush cushions aboard the authentic Venetian-style craft while your gondolier softly sings Italian love songs to set the mood. Toast with sparkling cider and take in the peaceful, verdant views.

Visitor Information: Gondola rides operate daily 10am-4pm weather permitting, boarding east of boathouse. Reservations suggested for $45 per couple for a 30 minute experience.

Recreate the romance of Venice along San Francisco’s scenic Napa canals and lush Alameda gardens with aHistoric Napa Creek gondola cruise. Glide past quaint waterfront homes while being serenaded by your personal gondolier. Sip champagne, indulge in artisanal chocolates, and soak up sweeping waterway views of islands, bridges, and flowering backyard gardens during your intimate cruise for two. For Venetian-style romance without the trans-Atlantic flight, embark on a San Francisco gondola adventure.

Cuddles Over Cocktails at Top of The Mark

Name and Location: Top of the Mark lounge on the 19th floor of the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel at 999 California Street.

History and Significance: For over eight decades, this cocktail bar with unparalleled panoramic vistas has been dubbed one of the world’s most romantic see-and-be-seen spots.

What to Expect: Sip creative drinks together and snuggle close while soaking in the sweeping scene: Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Coit Tower all shimmer below at sunset and into starry evenings. Dance bands play after 9:30pm nightly.

Visitor Information: Cover charge applied after 7pm for lounge seating. Cocktail attire recommended but not required. Open nightly 5pm-close. Valet parking available.

With upscale vintage vibes and nearly 360-degree views of San Francisco from 19 floors up, the Top of the Mark lounge sets an ultra-romantic scene for cocktails with your sweetie. Sink into a leather couch or snuggle at the fireplace with artfully crafted drinks in hand as live jazz plays. Gaze through expansive windows together, picking out landmarks like Coit Tower and the Transamerica Pyramid. Mingle with hotel guests and locals while toasting your romantic rendezvous at this beloved Union Square haunt.

Chinatown Wishing Lanterns

Name and Location: Waverly Place in San Francisco’s historic Chinatown district.

History and Significance: The street is considered one of Chinatown’s most picturesque with traditional Chinese architecture, colored lanterns and winding alleyways that couples can explore.

What to Expect: Strolling hand-in-hand, discover good luck gifts to exchange like jade bracelets or fortune cookies. Write a love note on a lantern to hang together hopeful for your wishes to come true.

Visitor Information: Shop and explore Chinatown daily, ideally avoiding busy weekends. Romantic lighting best after sunset. Use rideshares or public transit due to limited parking.

Strolling through Chinatown’s brightly colored alleys and shopping corridors feels like wandering into another world. For romantic intrigue, visit a souvenir shop together to select decorative lanterns. Find a quiet public garden, church courtyard, or alleyway to hang your lanterns while taking turns making wishes for your relationship’s future. Steal a kiss before sending lanterns afloat into the evening sky, taking photos to commemorate your timeless romantic gesture.

Tunnel of Love at Japanese Tea Garden

Name and Location: Japanese Tea Garden located inside Golden Gate Park at 75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive.

History and Significance: These historic gardens have enchanted couples with oriental plants, tranquil walking paths and iconic drum bridge set before a picturesque pagoda since 1894.

What to Expect: Linger hand-in-hand strolling through the lush landscape, admiring cascading waterfalls and bright koi fishponds. Pause embrace under the red torii gate for luck and sweet kisses.

Visitor Information: Open daily 9am–6pm. Adults $10 weekdays, $12 weekends. Teahouse offers traditional matcha and fortune cookies.

Nestled amidst Golden Gate Park’s lush foliage and koi ponds lies a “Tunnel of Love” straight out of a fairy tale. Enter the historic Japanese Tea Garden before meandering hand-in-hand down a secluded path flanked by bamboo. Stop under willow bowers for tender moments and sweet snuggles along the aptly named romance passageway. After emerging back into sunlight, relax over green tea and Japanese confections from the garden’s tea house, punctuating your romantic tunnel sojourn.

Harborview Dining at Epic Steak

Name and Location: Epic Steak restaurant on 3rd floor of historic Ferry Building overlooking the Bay at 1 Ferry Building.

History and Significance: With dazzling harbor views, refined ambiance and melt-in-your-mouth steaks, this fine dining spot makes Valentine’s dinner unforgettable.

What to Expect: Indulge in premium cuts like dry aged bone-in ribeye alongside decadent sides and an extensive wine selection. Sunset seafood towers on the patio offer epic romance with the shimmering waterfront as your backdrop.

Visitor Information: Main dining room and bar seating nightly 5–10pm, patio open seasonally. Reservations strongly recommended via OpenTable. Valet parking available.

Treat your special someone to sophisticated waterfront dining at Epic Steak, overlooking sweeping views of the Bay Bridge, Treasure Island, and sparkling San Francisco Bay. Toast one another through an extensive wine list before indulging in premium cuts of steak and decadent sides. Savor the ambiance of flickering candles and dark wood accents paired with glorious floor-to-ceiling views of San Francisco’s glittering waterfront. Epic Steak sets the scene for refined intimacy and gourmet cuisine guaranteed to delight your darling.

Sweetheart Dessert at Ghiradelli Square

Name and Location: The historic Ghirardelli Square located at 900 North Point St. contains the flagship ice cream shop and chocolate factory outlet.

History and Significance: Iconic local chocolatier crafting delicious treats since 1852. The legendary hot fudge sundae originated here in 1968.

What to Expect: Indulge together in a gooey sundae topped with hot fudge, whipped cream and a cherry. Enjoy people watching in the lively square or find a romantic corner to spoon-feed each other molten chocolate from the source.

Visitor Information: Shop and soda fountain open daily 9am-9pm. Outdoor seating when weather permits. Validate parking ticket for reduced rates.

No trip to San Francisco is complete without partaking of Ghiradelli chocolates, one of the city’s signature treats. Visit Ghiradelli Square with your honey before indulging in a decadent ice cream sundae or chocolate cocktail at the on-site soda fountain and café. Share a legendary “Earthquake” brownie sundae piled high with hot fudge before toasting your sweet romance with the establishment’s specialty chocolate liqueur drinks. Take home a heart-shaped chocolate sampler as the ultimate edible memento.

Moonrise from Tank Hill Viewpoint

Name and Location: Tank Hill park overlook atop Twin Peaks at 95 Twin Peaks Blvd offers panoramic city to bay views.

History and Significance: Once holding water tanks, now a peaceful spot to watch the sun sink behind the Golden Gate Bridge with a glowing moonrise over the East Bay.

What to Expect: Trek up the short paved path hand-in-hand through wildflowers to the sweeping viewpoint over downtown. Soak in silver moonbeams blanketing the twinkling lights below in romantic solitude.

Visitor Information: Daily 6am-10pm. Dress warmly and in flat shoes for the steep walk. Portable telescopes perfect for stargazing together after dark. Flashlights recommended.

Watch the full moon rise over the San Francisco cityscape from Tank Hill’s scenic overlook in Cole Valley. This lesser-known vista point offers bench seating amid wildflowers and fairy lights, making it an idyllic spot for romantic sunset and moonrise watching. Bring a bottle of wine and snacks to savor as dusk fades to twilight. Gaze over the lights of Haight Ashbury and Golden Gate Park before stealing kisses in the moonlight. End your night at a cozy neighborhood restaurant to toast an unforgettable romantic evening.

From vintage cocktails bars to secluded garden paths, San Francisco sets an undeniably alluring stage for romance. Woo your sweetheart by embracing all this spectacular city has to offer.

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