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Valentines Day in San Francisco: Top Picks

January 18th, 2012 · 3 Comments · Holidays in San Francisco

san francisco valentines day

Photo By: JC Cristobal

San Francisco is a wonderfully romantic city. Its breathtaking views that constantly catch you off guard are like surprise kisses from a long time lover. The magic of this city brings fresh joy to your life whether you’re a first time visitor or a long time resident. So what better place could there possibly be than San Francisco for your Valentine’s Day holiday? Just be aware that you may go home at the end of the holiday but there’s a good chance that your heart will get left behind in San Francisco!

San Francisco Valentines Top Picks

 The wonderful thing about San Francisco is that it offers activities for everyone from the small town tourist family to those looking for some naughty San Francisco style action. We’ll keep our recommendations here clean and ready for the average romantic couple but know that you can find both extremes in San Francisco and everything in between.

Top picks for a San Francisco Valentine’s Day:


  • Get married at the Eternity Ball. 2012 marks the launch of a new annual event that’s great for black-tie romance. It’s the Eternity Ball where you are encouraged to come wearing a wedding dress or ball gown (or tux). You’ll enjoy food, music, dancing and more. There’s even a private chapel for people who want to get married or renew their vows during the event.
  • Helicopter Rides. San Francisco isn’t one of the cities known for the popularity of its helicopter rides; this isn’t the Grand Canyon after all. Try one, though, and you’ll be glad you did. Seeing the water, the Golden Gate Bridge and the city skyline from above is absolutely breathtaking. Many helicopter tours offer a stop-off for lunch or dinner in Sausalito, which can also be a cute, romantic spot.
  • Ride the cable cars. Yes, this is that cheesy thing that every tourist waits in line to do when they come to San Francisco for the first time. But let me tell you as someone who lives here that there’s nothing more romantic than standing on the edge of that open historic car with someone you adore as it steadily climbs to a great view.
  • Take a couples’ cooking class. These are really popular in San Francisco and many different places offer them on and around Valentine’s Day. For example, in 2012 you can take the cheese lover’s cooking class at the Cheese School of San Francisco or learn to make sweets together at La Cocina Community Kitchen.

 Annual Valentine’s Day Events in San Francisco


  • The Big Pillow Fight. This annual event absolutely epitomizes the silly side of romance that many playful San Franciscans love. As its name suggests, this is a humongous group pillow fight that takes place almost flash mob style in a public place. (In 2011 it was held at Justin Hermann Plaza). Bring a pillow, wade into the sea of people and get silly!
  • Mortified Doomed Valentine’s Show. Mortified is a live performance where people read the private thoughts from their diaries. They always do a show on or near Valentine’s Day called Doomed, which reflects on embarrassing romance. In 2012 this show is on February 10th at DNA Lounge. This is a great Valentine’s activity for singles to go to as a group but it can also be a fun date.
  • Woo at the Zoo. This event takes place at the San Francisco Zoo and combines romance with a little wild hanky panky. You enjoy brunch or dinner along with a presentation about animal sex. You get to see a live animal encounter (no animal sex promised!) and drink some cocktails. Roar!


Additional Options for Romance in San Francisco


  • Valentine’s Day Cruises. Hornblower offers a variety of romance-themed boat cruises during this time of year. In 2012 they are offering four different Valentine’s cruises that may include brunch or dinner, music, drinking or just the romance of the waters.
  • Burlesque Shows, Live Music and The Theater. There are numerous opportunities to enjoy the buzzing energy of a live performance in San Francisco. Go risqué with a burlesque show by Dottie Lux or Bombshell Betty, check out of the city’s many independent theaters or visit a venue like Yoshi’s for live music.
  • Art Galleries. There are always love themed gallery shows opening up around the city during the month of February. Keep your eye out. Check sites like SF Fun Cheap for free gallery openings.


Romantic San Francisco Wining and Dining

 San Francisco has a love of good food and a penchant for great wine offering a vast array of opportunities for you to enjoy romantic dining on Valentine’s Day. Just be sure that you make reservations in advance because all of these hot spots fill up quickly with happy couples.

Top restaurants for a San Francisco Valentine’s Day include:


  • Acquerello. If you want to get extravagant with your romance then be sure to make reservations early for this wonderful Russian Hill restaurant that’s built in what used to be a chapel. The small dining room is always romantic but it gets amped up for Valentine’s Day with a special six-course tasting menu that comes with wines that go with the food. Be ready to spend some money, though, because the 2012 price for this is nearly $300 per person.
  • Florio. This lower Pacific Heights restaurant is also romantic any day of the year but is especially dressed up around Valentine’s Day. You’ll get a nice combination of Italian and French food with the ambience of a romantic Mediterranean vacation.
  • Maharani. This Indian restaurant looks kind of quiet on the outside but venture indoors for a meal in their Fantasy Room and you’ll be pleasantly, romantically surprised. It’s cozy and sweet with a little bit of sparkle. It’s a nice mid-range choice for a romantic meal out.
  • Mission Cheese. Go really casual but sweet at this little spot that’s just opened up recently in The Mission. They offer wine and beer to complement their sexy cheese plates.
  • Opaque. Very few cities offer the option to dine entirely in the dark but San Francisco happens to be one of those cities. This restaurant experience is supposed to heighten the senses.
  • Supperclub. It’s impossible to resist recommending this San Francisco restaurant for romance since what they are known for is letting you dine in bed! They always do something unique for Valentine’s Day so book a reservation early and see what they’ve got to offer this year.


One more dining option that may be fun is to do a Local Taste of the City Tour. This company is offering two different tour options for Valentine’s 2012.

 Just Outside of the City: San Francisco Romantic Day Trips


  • Oakland’s Fox Theater. This historic theater offers a great bit of old-fashioned romance for people who enjoy live performances. You can take BART across the bay, get dinner nearby at a hot spot like Hibiscus or Ozumo and then see that night’s performance. Lenny Kravitz is the scheduled show for Valentine’s 2012.
  • Napa Wine Tasting. The lovely Napa valley offers countless wineries where you can enjoy tastings and grounds tours. It’s a great getaway for the day. There are wine trains that you can take from San Francisco if you don’t want to drive but be sure to book in advance.
  • Hike Alamere Falls. Take the scenic drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and through the winding hills of the coast north of San Francisco to enjoy this short hike. What makes it so romantic is that the hike ends at a waterfall that falls directly into the ocean, one of only two such waterfalls on the Pacific Coast.

 Best San Francisco Hotels for Romance


  • The Palace Hotel. This historic hotel was a pre-earthquake hotel that was recently restored to the glory of its most romantic era – the 1920’s. This hotel is considered one of the most beautiful in the city. It’s the little details that make it so great from the stained glass dome in dining area The Garden Court to the elegant furnishings in the suites and other rooms. Can’t stay here this year? In 2012 there’s a free walking tour of this hotel offered by SF City Guides.
  • The Clift Hotel. Here’s another good choice for people who find romance in the historic architecture and great interior design of revamped San Francisco hotels. What’s really sexy here, though, is that the rooms are richly upholstered with luxurious textures like silk, leather and even velvet. Yum.
  • Hotel Palomar. There are several great boutique hotels in San Francisco and this one is one of the best. It is artsy and modern but what makes it romantic is the option for in-room spa services and the availability of Fuji soaking tubs in some rooms.
  • Le Meridien. This Finanial District hotel is often associated with business stays but it’s actually a great pleasure spot as well. Look no further than the hand held spray nozzle in the granite bathrooms or the upgrade option to an in-room Jacuzzi and you’ll see where the romance begins.

Hang on to your hearts!

By:  Kathryn Vercillo — Kathryn is a San Francisco writer who pens tales about life in the city and  also blogs about creative things at Crochet Concupiscence and Diary of a Smart Chick.

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Wendy Norwood

    Find yourself in the “heart” of it all at the Hilton San Francisco Financial District on Valentine’s Day. Enjoy a fireside, 3-course wine pairing dinner for two at 750 Restaurant & Bar. Take the elevator upstairs, and book a romantic staycation with our Valentine’s Day hotel package. We look forward to welcoming you, lovebirds!

  • Mary

    Does anyone know how I can find a list of the welders that built the Golden Gate Bridge. My father was there and I would like to see his name.

  • Mary

    I am looking for a list or a person that welded on the Golden Gate Bridge during the building.

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