Take a romantic stroll down Embarcadero to Cupid’s Span. (Courtesy SF Travel)
In San Francisco, romance means many things. For some, it’s a candlelight dinner at a trendy bistro or bling by a local jeweler. For others, it means exploring this landscape of summits, scenic coastline and swoon-worthy sunsets. This Valentine’s Day, sample San Francisco’s intoxicating blend of dreamy date options. Whether you and your darling are starry-eyed sweethearts or a couple celebrating a lifetime of love, you’ll find something sure to set your hearts aflutter.
For Wine and Cocktails
After dinner, relax over thoughtful wine and dessert pairings in a quiet corner at Noeteca. For wines on tap and elevated small plates, try SoMa’s Jamber Wine Pub. Nearby, Bluxome Street Winery offers an urban take on the traditional Wine Country experience, and Press Club pours an ambitious wine and craft beer selection in sophisticated quarters. Looking for an only-in-San Francisco option? Order the House Cappuccino or White Nun at North Beach’s buzzy Tosca Cafe.
For Fine Dining
San Francisco has no shortage of upscale restaurants known for local ingredients, sought-after wines and warm service. Longtime favorites like Foreign Cinema, Jardinière and the Cliff House present memorable menus and one-of-a-kind experiences. Choose a window seat at Mason Pacific and dine with a cable car view, or opt for a more modern setting at Michael Mina’s RN74. Cozy L’Ardoise brings elevated French fare to Noe Valley, while La Ciccia earns high marks for its Sardinian spin on seafood, pasta and dessert. Over in the Castro, Canela Bistro & Wine Bar takes its cues from Spanish traditions.
For Casual Eats
For flirtation without the formality, grab an outdoor table and enjoy brunch at Cole Valley’s charming Zazie. Then, get cozy at the neighboring Ice Cream Bar and split a milkshake (or splurge on boozy dessert drinks) in old-school soda fountain style. Bi-Rite Creamery is another favorite for creative scoops, while a cable car ride to Swensen’s Ice Cream on Russian Hill is classic San Francisco. In the Mission, 20 Spot serves wine and small bites in a stylishly renovated 1885 Victorian.
For Active Exploration
For a memorable coastal ramble, park at the Palace of Fine Arts and head toward the Crissy Field shoreline. Or, rent a tandem cycle from Blazing Saddles and pedal across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. Angel Island also offers picturesque biking and hiking trails, and the ferry over to the island ups the adventure quotient. Adventure Cat Sailing Charters welcomes guests on sunset sailing outings, and Seaplane Adventures runs sunset sightseeing flights with Champagne. Back on land, explore a fern-lined trail in Golden Gate Park on your way to the gardens at the Conservatory of Flowers, and follow that with rowboat trip around Stow Lake. On rainy days, take your date indoors with an afternoon of rock climbing at Mission Cliffs or a round of mini golf and cocktails at Urban Putt.
For Cultural Excursions
Put a spirited spin on the traditional museum trip by attending after-hours parties like the Exploratorium After Dark or NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences. During daytime hours, one ticket provides same-day general admission to both the Legion of Honor and the de Young Museum. While in Golden Gate Park, don’t miss the secluded Shakespeare Garden. To explore the city’s tastier side, book a chocolate tour for a neighborhood food outing with Gourmet Walks.
For Scenery and Sunsets
While Twin Peaks is a popular favorite for panoramic vistas, Tank Hill offers a quieter alternative with Instagram-worthy shots of Golden Gate Park, the Presidio and downtown San Francisco. Ascend a colorful mosaic stairway to access Grandview Park, or take the pups out to dog-friendly Bernal Heights Park. Bustling Dolores Park and Lafayette Park, a quieter Pacific Heights spot, provide pretty backdrops for picnics, as do Inspiration Point and Baker Beach in the Presidio. Ina Coolbrith Park in Russian Hill is a hidden gem with sweeping San Francisco Bay views. Walk along the Embarcadero at night to take in the twinkling Bay Lights display on the Bay Bridge. By day, don’t miss the Cupid’s Span sculpture, south of Pier 14.
For Local Treats
Spoil your favorite chocolate lover with some small-batch candies this Valentine’s Day. Charles Chocolates carries truffles, caramels and other decadent offerings in a cute Mission neighborhood spot with outdoor seating, while Dandelion Chocolate also serves pastries and hot chocolate in its cafe and retail space. For macaroons, cookies and elegant cakes, try Tout Sweet Patisserie, or choose Choux Bakery for authentic French cream puffs. Not into chocolate? Visit 24th Street Cheese Co. for cheese, wine and gourmet goods, and bundle that with a bouquet from one of the city’s locally owned flower shops.
For Spa Treatments and Relaxation
Onsen, one of San Francisco’s newest spa retreats, brings a classic Japanese bathhouse experience to the city—complete with a steam room, sauna and several private treatment rooms. Tucked in the Scarlet Huntington Hotel, the Nob Hill Spa has an infinity pool, fireplace reflection lounge, whirlpool and a full menu of treatments, including options for couples. Kabuki Springs & Spa is another popular oasis with communal baths and several pampering packages. After a treatment, couples can take in a movie at the nearby Sundance Kabuki, or catch a lively sing-along screening at the Castro Theatre.
For Luxury Goods
For distinctive jewelry by independent designers, look to neighborhood standouts like the Mission’s Love & Luxe and No. 3, along the Powell-Hyde cable car line. Gallery of Jewels displays the work of more than 100 artists across its three San Francisco galleries. At Aricie, look for lingerie and hosiery by several high-end European labels.