From the most European neighborhoods in the United States to breath-taking views of raw Pacific coast nature, charming city plazas and parks to cozy tucked-away cafes and restaurants, the city by the bay was made for lovers. Here are the top romantic places to visit and things to do for those visiting San Francisco with a special someone.
With a swan-studded lake reflecting the grand columns and domes of an ancient Greek temple, the Palace of Fine Arts takes the top spot as the most romantic place in San Francisco. This is the perfect destination for a picnic on a sunny day, and there are plenty of boutique food shops to stock up on wine and cheese in the surrounding Marina District. The Palace is also one of the top spots in the city for wedding photographs and there is almost always a decked out couple posing and kissing for the camera along the water's edge.
2. North Beach
The crooked streets, Latin churches, verdant plazas and old world style cafes of the North Beach neighborhood give the area a romantic energy that is unmatched outside of Paris or Rome. It is best explored by wandering aimlessly hand in hand, peeking into boutique shops and enjoying the sensual smells of European style bakeries and delis. At night North Beach is a favorite date destination for a reason, as it is home to many of the city' best Italian restaurants, which provide the kind of music, menu and mood that is perfect for lovers.
From dinner cruises with live music and dancing to whale-watching tours to the Farallon Islands, getting out on the water adds a touch of romance to any trip to San Francisco. Many of the vessels used for San Francisco bay cruises are also available for private charter - perfect for honeymoons, wedding parties or just escaping for some alone time with a loved one.
Golden Gate Park is a lovers delight. From renting rowboats and gently cruising Stowe Lake to sipping tea in the classical Japanese Gardens, the park is packed with romantic opportunities. Paths that wind through the San Francisco Botanical Gardens provide ample space for couples to slip off on their own for a bit of privacy amid the green tranquility. Golden Gate park is also one of the best places for a bike ride and the adjacent Haight-Ashbury neighborhood is home to several rental agencies that will meet your needs, including bicycles built for two.
Dining on the waterfront, especially at sunset when the bay reflects the bright orange and red colors of the horizon, is an essential activity for any couple visiting the city of San Francisco. Even during the day, many of San Francisco's waterfront restaurants offer sweeping views of larger than life San Francisco icons like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the Bay Bridge while some open up to panoramas of the mighty Pacific Ocean.
6. Coit Tower
Show up at Coit Tower around sunset and you will find the parking lot full of couples, many watching the glorious view over the San Francisco Bay from the privacy of their cars as they cuddle up to stay warm. Come to the San Francisco icon during the day and you can actually take an elevator to the top of the art deco gem and marvel over the 360 degree views of the city and bay that the tower affords. Daytime visitors should also wander down the lovers lane of the Filbert Steps, a garden and wildflower lined pathway that leads down Telegraph Hill to the San Francisco waterfront and is inhabited by a flock of wild green parrots.
The upside to the fact that San Francisco's beaches are almost never blessed with bikini weather and are seldom packed to the gills is the fact that they are perfect for long romantic strolls with a loved one. Ocean Beach provides miles of flat sand next to the pounding surf and actually allows bonfire parties at night while more scenic beaches like China Beach and Baker Beach are nestled into the city's rugged northern coast and offer splendid views of the Marin headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge. For even more private beach life, try exploring the hidden coves of Land's End, the city's wild and rugged northwest corner, where tiny trails lead down to the rocky shore.
Smoother riding, less jamm-packed and a lot more comfortable than the cable car, San Francisco's vintage streetcars are a romantic way to explore the city. These antique electric streetcars, which hail from as far away as Milan, Italy, also cruise along San Francisco's restaurant lined waterfront and then up into local neighborhoods like the Mission and the Castro where some of the city's top cuisine awaits. Get dressed up, step into the elegance of a 1920's streetcar and have a night out on the town.
9. Nob Hill
Sitting in the sunshine in Huntington Park in front of Grace Cathedral casts a romantic spell over any visit to San Francisco, and that is just the beginning of what Nob Hill has to offer. Stroll around and check out the posh architecture and jaw-dropping views, enjoy a cappucino or fine meal at a neighborhood bistro or treat yourself to a cocktail at the most lavish bars in city, located within the area's grandiose Historic Hotels.