Dating in San Francisco is certainly a challenge these days, and it doesn't get any easier anywhere else in the Bay Area either. On the same hand, there are plenty of opportunities to find a new relationship when it comes to finding attractive singles. Despite this potential, however, meeting new people and having successful dates has only become more competitive in the post-pandemic San Francisco dating scene.
From Outer Richmond to Hunters Point (if you want to get mugged) we can help!
Is there good news? Of course, there is. With some effort, patience, and - above all - planning on your part, finding a date in San Francisco is substantially easier than in other urban areas (NY and LA, we’re looking at you!). The catch is that you just might need to leave the comforts of your neighborhood, explore the vast San Francisco dating scene, and make things happen! We promise that after reading this guide, you will be surprised at the results!
In this in-depth guide, we'll provide some of the most reliable recommendations on where to meet San Francisco singles, great date ideas to get you started, and some of our favorite date spots around San Francisco that set the scene for thousands of successful dates.
Table of Contents
What Dating in San Francisco Is Like Right Now
In all honesty, the dating scene in San Francisco has always been full of opportunity, but the pandemic certainly made things worse. Many young singles choose San Francisco for its proximity to the city’s rich cultural heritage, numerous opportunities in tech, and an abundance of natural landscapes to enjoy within a short drive.
Many people come to San Francisco to find work in the city’s leading industries, with Silicon Valley and many startups calling the city home. Plus, aerospace and electronics are also a primary draw, for new people to move to San Francisco for its high-paying opportunities.
There’s also quite a bit of variety in the type of partners you can find here, especially for the West Coast, which makes finding what you are looking for more attainable - of course, you’ll need to be willing to put in a little bit of effort and foresight.
If you look at the total number of singles out there right now in the San Francisco dating scene, you might be surprised to realize just how much opportunity is out there. Of San Francisco’s 888,653 residents, there are 187,000 single women and 209,000 single men, accounting for nearly 45% of the total population.
That means there are PLENTY of singles out there, and you only need to find the right one to find the right relationship.
Where to Meet Someone to Date in San Francisco
In all honesty, it is impossible to make a list of the best places to find someone to date in San Francisco that covers everything the Bay Area has to offer. Depending on the type of partner you're looking for and where you search, be prepared to explore different neighborhoods in San Francisco, as well as the rest of the Bay Area like Berkeley and Oakland.
Instead, I'll share great starting points to meet San Francisco singles that are looking for more than just a one-night stand (we have a comprehensive list of suggestions on where to find San Francisco hookups if that’s your end-game). These places generally have attributes that provide the backdrop for finding serious relationships:
- Plenty of available singles
- Fun atmosphere
- Easy to mix and mingle with new people
- Quiet enough to actually have a conversation
- Alcohol is a plus
- Relatively inexpensive
In my honest opinion, those six (6) characteristics are the most useful when meeting up with other available San Francisco singles.
That being said, before we get into some specific dating spot recommendations, let's quickly turn our attention to the digital space:
Why you should be using at least one app
Got apps? If you're not on at least one app right now then you're really at a disadvantage in San Francisco’s tech-competitive dating scene. With all the social distancing that's happened over the past few years, more and more people are relying on using apps to meet people - and a majority of singles in S.F. ONLY use apps to meet others!
Can you still find success without them? Sure, but it can be a real struggle if you have a busy life, value your free time, or feel you’re a pretty social person in general.
If you've struggled in the past with choosing which app works for you, check out our rankings of the best dating apps in San Francisco to get a sense of what apps are the best fit. From career-oriented singles, conservative religious people, and those just looking for the most compatible option out there, there are a lot of options among apps that have their own unique user base. That’s why it’s understandable if you’ve been frustrated - and who isn’t these days?
If you're too lazy to read the full article above, these apps are the best choice overall:
- eHarmony (try for free) is the best option for relationships, as eHarmony has the highest match rate of all dating apps
- AFF (try for free) - your best bet for casual fun and exotics kinks in San Francisco
After trying out 100s of dating apps, we've got a pretty decent idea of what's working out in the “real world”. Click above to see our full rankings and get you started on what’s a good choice in San Francisco.
Now, let's talk about our favorite spots around the city.
The best singles bars in San Francisco
Using the criteria above, BeyondAges has narrowed the best bars in San Francisco for singles down to a shortlist. These bars are the “best of the best”, offering singles the best chances to meet up, have a refreshing drink, and enjoy the ambiance while chatting up available men and women.
This isn't by no means a complete list of all the bars in San Francisco, just the ones worth trying first:
- Wilson & Wilson Private Detective Agency in the Tenderloin - 505 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102
- The Black Horse London Pub in Union Street - 1514 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94123
- Mister Bing's in Chinatown - 201 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
- Mission Bar in the Mission District - 2697 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
- Mucky Duck in Haight-Asbury - 1315 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122
- Toronado in Mint Hill - 547 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117
- Novela in Soma - 662 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105
- Cat Club in the Theater District if you want to meet a San Francisco cougar - 1190 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Feel free to give these bars in San Francisco a try. Plus, don’t be afraid to scope them out during different days of the week or times of the day. Some bars are dead at night, but come alive during the day (and vice versa), And you need to factor in whether they have live entertainment, the preferred choice for attractive clientele (within your sexual preferences), or just have great bartenders.
(If you have any suggestions about the best singles bars in San Francisco, leave them in the comments below.)
A few other great places to find a date in San Francisco
San Francisco has always had a reputation as a heavy-drinking kind of town. Despite this, there’s still plenty to do beyond bars and boozy nightclubs. Best of all, you’ll actually end up spending less money and having a better time.
The trick is this: In order to be interesting, you must be interested.
Anyone can go to a bar, but you’re more likely to find something in common over a shared book in the coffee shop or sharing a table at a shisha lounge.
As with anything dating-related, keeping an open mind puts you at an advantage in the fierce competition of San Francisco. Spending time in these places increases the chances of finding someone you might not find on a bar stool:
- Saint Frank Coffee in Polk Gulch - 2340 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109
- Sightglass Coffee in the Mission District - 3014 20th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
- Home Coffee Roasters in Central Richmond - 2018 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121
- Arabian Nights in the Mission District - 2345 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
- Laguna Cafe in Haight-Asbury - 1821 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117
- Cruise down the aisles of Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and even the fancier aisles of Safeway - trust us, attractive people shop upscale and organic! There are also plenty of ethnic and specialty groceries to find what you’re looking for. Looking for a partner that’s into yoga? Chances are you might find them in the kombucha aisle
- Meetup groups - There are tons of groups that are full of eager singles looking to share their interests, including music, tech, sports, and even singles mixers
- Again, apps and sites are a good option for just about anyone (check out the best dating sites in San Francisco here)
What about speed dating in San Francisco
If you thought speed dating was just a fad, you’d be surprised to find out just how popular it has gotten in San Francisco since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic!
If you're busy and have some spare cash (events usually cost about $50 - $100 to attend, more so for exclusivity), speed dating can be a very efficient and cost-effective way to meet between 15 to 20 other singles in the space of an hour-plus.
To the uninitiated, nearly all speed dating events follow the same flow.
- First, you show up and go on a bunch of "mini-dates" where you talk to another single participant for about 5 minutes.
- Once 5 minutes are up, the men get up and move to the next table where a woman is seated. The idea is that first impressions tend to be a good indicator of whether you have any chemistry.
- As the night progresses, you make a list of the people you want to see again (the other speed daters are doing the same to you, too).
- Once the event concludes, the answers are given to the event coordinator. If two people want to see each other again by indicating “yes”, the speed dating coordinator gives you the other match’s contact info to start chatting.
If this sounds like a fun way to meet new singles in the city, the following are the best San Francisco speed dating groups worth checking out:
Now that you’ve read up to this point, all of the suggestions we’ve covered above should give you a great start for finding someone interesting and available to date in San Francisco.
Our Best Date Ideas in San Francisco - and Why They’re So Great
Once you've met someone interesting, it is now time to plan a great date to see if they’re a good long-term prospect.
One common mistake that newbies to the San Francisco dating scene is taking their date to a “dinner and a movie”-style date. Big mistake! A dinner date between two people who just met risks turning the new encounter into a pseudo-interview. Asking questions back and forth gets boring fast and feels like work - and no one wants to work during their free time, do they?
Instead, we have a few ground rules that all of our date ideas generally follow. A great date idea tends to be one that:
- Has a fun and upbeat energy, or even a hint of danger
- Things are going on around you that you can talk about
- Doesn't involve you sitting face-to-face for long periods of time
- Has you both moving around a bit
- Isn't too expensive
- Doesn't last for hours and hours so you can cut it short if there isn't any chemistry
- Allows both of you to feel comfortable
- Has a little friendly competition
It helps to know what your date is into beforehand or what type of activity you’ve done before. For example, if your date enjoys the outdoors, choosing an activity where you can get the blood pumping and show off your physical prowess is always a guarantee of success. Even for activities that you’ve both never experienced but want to try, it’s best to keep an open mind and do things that would create a shared experience that makes memories (even if it goes poorly).
To get you started, here are a few dating ideas in San Francisco for you to try:
- Ice skating
- Take a dance class together
- Hit some targets at an archery range
- Visit Fisherman’s Wharf
- Hike through Golden Gate park
- Take pictures outdoors
- Go to the driving range
- Play frisbee golf
- Hit up the zoo or wildlife refuge
- Check out a street fair (San Francisco has tons)
- Going to a farmer’s market
- Axe throwing
- Escape rooms
- Wine tours/Brewery tours
- Take a walk with your dog somewhere fun (if you have one)
- Painting class (preferably with some adult beverages)
- Hit up a botanical garden
This is a somewhat short list, but it should give you an idea of where to start for dating idea in San Francisco. All of these are in a way active, fun, and usually pretty easy to learn. And always remember to set expectations that you're just going to have some fun. After all, who doesn’t love fun?
The first date idea that we always recommend
The ideas above can be great first dates but we have a better idea. When people ask our team what the best first date in San Francisco is we always tell them the same thing, meet up at a laid-back lounge or coffee shop and get to know each other a bit.
A full-blown date is a lot of pressure and isn't cheap. It takes time to plan and might involve you taking a bus around town to get there. Before you make that kind of investment you want to know that you and your interest have at least some level of compatibility. The last thing you want is to get stuck for hours on a date that you knew 10 minutes in, wasn't going anywhere.
Instead, tell them that you're really busy but would love to meet up for a drink to get to know each other a bit. If things go well you can always extend the date to one of the activities above. If it doesn't, you haven't lost much. This also takes a lot of pressure off both of you so you can both relax and be yourselves.
Best Date Bars in San Francisco (Especially for Fun First Dates)
Who doesn’t love to go out to some of San Francisco’s great bars or enjoy barhopping in the city’s lively neighborhoods? With alcohol in the mix, dating is just plain easier and you’ll find yourself crossing paths with people you’d never meet otherwise.
Finding a great date bar in and around San Francisco is pretty easy since you have a wealth of options to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a dive bar by the Bay or for something a bit more sophisticated, San Francisco has it all for you.
To help you find these bars, I’ll list down a collection of bars that offer great drink specials, typically have a fun crowd, and won’t break the bank.
The best date bars around San Francisco include:
- Emporium San Francisco in the Lower Haight - 616 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117
- Marina Lounge in the Marina District - 2138 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123
- Lush Lounge in Nob Hill - 1221 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109
- Sugar Lounge in Nob Hill - 377 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102
- The European Bar & Lounge in Belden Place - 490 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102
- Buddha Lounge in Chinatown - 901 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94108
- Tope Lounge in Telegraph Hill - 1326 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
- Laughing Monk Brewing in Bayview - 1439 Egbert Ave unit a/b, San Francisco, CA 94124
This is a great starter list to help you set the scene for a memorable date. Remember, every neighborhood in San Franciso has its own share of hidden gems that only the locals know about. Don’t be afraid to hit up another venue if you get a recommendation from waitstaff or try exploring another neighborhood if you’re looking for a different vibe as the date progresses.
Best Date Night Restaurants in San Francisco that Should Be Your First Choice
When it comes to the first few dates, we tend to recommend avoiding a traditional dinner date until you’re well-acquainted with this new person in your life. Dinner dates usually tend to make it difficult to establish a real connection with a relative stranger in between ordering, eating, and picking up the tab (always a source of tension). Plus, you're locked in a face-to-face conversation for 2 hours that’s interrupted by chewing food and sipping drinks in a loud setting - plenty of opportunity for something to go wrong! Even if you are a world-class conversationalist, dinner dates can go sour quick (pun intended).
That being said, if you’ve become acquainted with your date or just want a date night restaurant in San Francisco to fuel your date before doing something more conducive to fun, we've got some solid choices for you that won't blow up your bank account. After all, there are plenty of pricey restaurants that are around every corner in this culturally-rich city!
Let’s look at date night restaurants in San Francisco that offer delicious food and an inviting atmosphere that’s the perfect backdrop for a new romance:
- Starbelly in the Castro - 3583 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94114
- Brenda’s French Soul Food in Little Saigon - 652 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94102
- CreoLa in Haight-Asbury - 900 Stanyan St, San Francisco, CA 94117
- Soma Restaurant & Bar in SoMa - 85 5th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
- Chez Maman East in Portrero Hill - 1401 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94107
- Don Ramon's Mexican Restaurant in Civic Center - 225 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
- Nob Hill Cafe in Nob Hill - 1152 Taylor St, San Francisco, CA 94108
- Boho Restaurant in Marina District - 3321 Steiner St, San Francisco, CA 94123
More Date Spots in San Francisco We Love
The quality of your date comes down to more than just eating great food and imbibing some adult beverages. With all that San Francisco and the Bay Area have to offer, there are almost infinite activities to experience with your date. Plenty of people have great dates at the places we’ve chosen and we're confident you can do the same.
Keep in mind that the season will make a difference with some of these recommendations. Being outside in the scorching summer months or the wet winter rain doesn't always make for a great date), so choose accordingly!
- Go roller skating at 6th Avenue Skate Park
- Watch the Giants play at Oracle Park
- The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Exploratorium offer great exhibits and events for adults (drinks, too!)
- Check out some fascinating wildlife at the San Francisco Zoo and Gardens
- Try a group dance lesson together at Glow Dance
- Shoot some targets together at Golden Gate Park Archery Field
- Go hiking at Bernal Heights, Golden Gate Park, and Presidio of San Francisco
- Shop for the freshest groceries and taste local food at the Castro Farmers Market
- Solve a puzzle at The Escape Game San Francisco
- Catch live music at The Regency Ballroom