San Francisco Nightlife

After hours, the city’s business folk and workers give way to costume-clad partygoers, hippies and hipsters, downtown divas, frat boys, and those who prefer something a little more clothing-optional. Downtown and the Financial District remain pretty serious even after dark, and Nob Hill is staid, though you can't beat views from penthouse lounges, the most famous being the Top of the Mark (Hopkins).

Nearby North Beach is an even better starting point for an evening out.

Always lively, North Beach's options include family-friendly dining spots, historic bars from the city's bohemian past (among them Jack Kerouac's old haunts), and even comedy clubs where stars such as Robin Williams and Jay Leno cut their teeth. In SoMa there are plenty of places to catch a drink before a Giants game and brewpubs to celebrate in afterward. SoMa also hosts some of the hottest dance clubs, along with some saucy gay bars. While Union Square can be a bit trendy, even the swanky establishments have loosened things up in recent years.

Heading west to Hayes Valley, a more sophisticated crowd dabbles in the burgeoning "culinary cocktail movement." Up-and-coming singles gravitate north of here to Cow Hollow and the Marina. Polk Street was the gay mecca before the Castro and still hosts some wild bars, but things get downright outlandish in the Castro district. Indie hipsters of all persuasions populate the Mission and Haight districts by night. Keep in mind, though, that some of the best times San Francisco has to offer are off the beaten path. And a good party can still be found in even the sleepiest of neighborhoods, such as Bernal Heights and Dogpatch.

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SoMa and Civic Center 36


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SoMa 24

Tenderloin 4

Mission District 22


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The Haight, the Castro, and Noe Valley 17


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Haight 5

North Beach 12

Nob Hill and Russian Hill 11


Nob Hill 4

Polk Gulch 7

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Chinatown 1

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On the Waterfront 9


Embarcadero 3

Financial District 4

Fisherman's Wharf 2

The Marina and the Presidio 7


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Marina 3

Pacific Heights and Japantown 5


Pacific Heights 1

Western Addition 4

Western Shoreline 3


Sunset District 1

The Richmond 2

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Bars/ Pubs 83

Brewpubs/ Beer Gardens 4

Cabaret 2

Comedy Clubs 4

Dance Clubs 9

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Music Clubs 16

Themed Entertainment 3

Wine Bars–Nightlife 10

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Gay and Lesbian 22

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San Francisco Nightlife

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15 Romolo

  • Bars/Pubs

Easy to miss and overshadowed by the neighboring girlie shows, this watering hole serves up artisanal drinks—including riffs off your...

21st Amendment Brewery

  • Bars/Pubs

This popular brewery is known for its range of beer types, with multiple taps going at all times. In the spring, the Hell or High Watermelon...


  • Bars/Pubs

The popular restaurant's 30-plus specialty cocktails—or even just a plain old Manhattan—make a trip just to the bar worthwhile. ...


  • Bars/Pubs

Shirts off! If a sweaty muscle sandwich sounds like your idea of a good time, head to Badlands, where serious party boys come to grind...

Balboa Cafe

  • Bars/Pubs

Here you'll spy young (thirtysomething) and upwardly mobile former frat boys and sorority girls munching on tasty burgers—considered...

Beach Chalet

  • Bars/Pubs

This restaurant-microbrewery, on the second floor of a historic building filled with 1930s Works Project Administration murals, has a...

Big 4 Bar

  • Bars/Pubs

Dark-wood paneling and green leather banquettes lend a masculine feel to the bar at the recently remodeled Scarlet Huntington Hotel,...


  • Bars/Pubs

The retro-chic martini-bar craze keeps going strong at this glam, gorgeous, spirited yet refined supper club. Jazz combos provide the...


  • Bars/Pubs

This neighborhood hangout tries too hard to be hip and cool, but it's a lot of fun. The crowd is less casual than others in the Castro,...

Bourbon & Branch

  • Bars/Pubs

Bourbon & Branch reeks of Prohibition-era speakeasy cool. It's not exclusive, though: everyone is granted a password. The place has...


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