One of America's most beautiful and romantic cities, and don't think the locals are not afraid to tell you this, San Francisco is indeed a city with a lot to boast about. Poised on a 47 square mile fingertip of a peninsula at the western tip of America, the area surrounding the city contains rugged coastline, tranquil Bay waters, fog-capped hills, and dense forests. Within the city, steep streets lead way to quaint hip neighborhoods that are lined with beautiful Victorian houses, giving a small-town feel within the big city.
Below we'll list some of our favorite romantic spots in San Francisco, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, Lombard Street, Alcatraz, and Telegraph Hill. There is also a brief look at some romantic hotels and restaurants within the city, plus a few exciting and romantic day trips for a perfect couples getaway in the Bay Area.
. Oakland and San Jose's airports are mainly used by low-fare airlines, and are relatively close to downtown San Francisco. There are numerous airport shuttles and taxi services that can bring you into San Francisco from either airport.
Airfares always depend on the season, with San Francisco's highest being between June and August, ironically, this is when San Francisco's weather is at it's most unpredictable. You can generally find the lowest fares during the periods between March to May, and September to November, and this is when the weather is at it's most dependable, so it's a win-win! Los Angeles - 8 hours (390 miles)
While in San Francisco, getting around the city presents the same problems as most American cities, traffic. The main reason to rent a car in San Franciso is if you want to explore the Bay Area, the Wine Country, or the landscape along the north and south coasts. Your best bet to getting around is the B.A.R.T, or Bay Area Rapid Transit. It's cheap and convient, and connects quickly to the Mission District, east Bay, downtown, along with Oakland, and Berkeley.
Ferries are a picturesque, if not a very quick way, of touring the Bay Area. Aside from trips to Alcatraz, ferry operators have regular services of the bay leaving from Pier 41 at Fisherman's Wharf, or at the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero.
Famous for good reason, these glorious old cable cars are not only a great photo opportunity, but also a leisurely way of climbing Downtown's steepest hills. Grab a hold of the brass poles and make your way down Powell Street near Union Square, one of the better places to ride a cable car in the city. The oldest cable car route is the California Line, it climbs Nob Hill along California Street from the Embarcadero, rattling past some of the fanciest hotels in the city. It is a nice romantic way to see the city, and a must-do for first timers to San Francisco.
San Francisco Weather
San Francisco is a bit different than your normal California blue skies and warm climates. Since the city is flanked on three sides by water, there is a regular chilly wind that sweeps across the city. The climate is one of the most stable in the world, with the daytime temperatures never venturing more than 5 degrees past 60F. Summer does offer many sunny days and warmer temperatures, but there is always the threat of fog, usually rolling in around the Golden Gate Bridge. The fog does add a touch of romance to the city, but it's not best if you want to catch some sun at the beach.
The nicest times to visit San Francisco are between late May to early July, when the hills are greenest and covered in wildflowers, or in October/November when there are less tourist crowds and more stable weather patterns.
San Francisco Must See Places
Golden Gate Bridge
No romantic getaway in San Francisco is complete without visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the more beautiful and stunning bridges in the world. Besides driving across the bridge yourself, it's also best to view from a good vantage point on the north side. Beware, there are many times that the bridge is surrounded by fog, but we like to think that this adds a touch of romance to the experience. If you are wanting another thrilling way of experiencing the bridge, cycle or walk across the span, it gives you a great perspective of its enormous size, plus excellent views of the city behind you and the headlands to the North.
Take a boat ride out to The Rock and tour the famous maximum-security prison where Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly did their time. Visable from the waterfront, the island of Alcatraz is even evocative from a distance. Upon visiting the island, you can't help but get the feeling of the complete isolation here, even though you are just a few minutes away from downtown via a boat. Skip the dull introductory film at the dock, you are much better off joining one of the lively free ranger talks that run fives times a day. Self-guided tours are available and highly recommended. Boats leaving for Alcatraz depart from Pier 41 at Fisherman's Wharf. Make sure to book well in advance, as by springtime, there is usually a two week waiting period to travel to the island.
Take a walk down the world's most crookedest street. Located between Hyde Street and Leavenworth Street, Lombard Street is world famous for its fabled curves and is one of the most steepest streets in the world. Other San Francisco thrills that will test the brakes on your rental car is to take a drive down any of the city's steepest streets. Filbert between Leavenworth and Hyde, 22nd Street between Church and Vicksburg, and Jones between Union and Filbert are the three steepest streets in all of San Francisco. The city's second most twisty street lies in the outer Potrero Hill neighborhood, on Vermont Street between McKinley and 22nd Street.
Really touristy, but well worth spending an afternoon here exploring Pier 39 and all the tacky souvenir shops, vendors, and hotdog carts that come along with it. Located on San Francisco's northern waterfront, this area is massively popular, so avoid weekends and try to get there as early as possible. The most endearing sight at the wharf is a large colony of sea lions that has taken over a number of floating platforms at sea level between Piers 39 and 41. Bay cruises depart from piers 39, 41, and 43 1/2 several times a day, giving great city views and a passing under the Golden Gate Bridge. Keep in mind that the Bay can be very cold and very choppy, so dress accordingly and expect to get splashed!
Throbbing and noisy, Chinatown sits wedged into 24 blocks between North Beach, The Financial District, and Nob Hill at the heart of downtown San Francisco. Take an afternoon to stroll through the crowded streets filled with produce stands, restaurants, and temples. The best way to approach Chinatown is through the dramatic Chinatown Gate on the southern end of Grant Avenue at Bush. Facing south, as per feng shui, it's a large dragon-clad arch with a four character inscription that reads "Siz tian wei gong", or "The reason to exist is to serve the public good".
Romantic Spots In San Francisco
Without a doubt, the best place to watch the sunset in San Francisco. Snuggle up with your loved one and enjoy a 360 degree panorama view of the Bay, the city, and the Pacific Ocean. The North and South Hills here are the 2nd and 3rd highest hills in the ciy, sitting at 910 and 904 feet respectively. It's well worth the quick ride up here on the curving streets that wind alongside some of the city's priciest homes. To get to the peaks by car, continue uphill on Market Street from the Castro till it turns into Portola, then turn right on Twin Peaks Boulevard. If you're taking the bus, take the #37 bus part of the way, but be warned, you are still left with a significant climb at the end.
Another fantastic spot for a sunset perch is at the 288 foot high Coit Tower located on the top of Telegraph Hill. The most direct path up the hill is on the western side along Filbert Street, and the 10 minute walk is pleasant, even though the hill's gradient is quite steep.
Golden Gate Park
A great romantic getaway in San Francisco is in the beautiful Golden Gate Park. It is a excellent spot to spend the day, with over 1000 acres of gardens, lakes, and forest, complemented with some of the city's best museums. The Golden Gate Bridge is nearby, for those who plan to bike or walk across the span. One of the best known attractions in the park is the Japanese Tea Garden. A massive bronze Buddha sits in the middle of the garden, and the gently curved bridges, winding footpaths, still pools, and cherry trees make for a romantic and peaceful setting, despite the bus loads of tourists that visit every day. The best way to enjoy the garden is to arrive early (9am) when it first opens for a tea and Japanese cookie breakfast in the teahouse. It's a great way to start off a romantic day together.
A pretty little town along the Bay with exclusive restaurants and boutiques, all along a picturesque waterfront promenade. Sausalito makes a fun day trip outside of San Francisco by ferry, with boats arriving next to the Sausalito Yauht Club in the center of town. Hang out in one of the waterfront bars and watch the crowds strolling along the esplanade, or climb the stairways above Bridgeway and anble around the leafy green hills.
Why not rent a sea kayak for two and enjoy a day out on the water, exploring the Bay together. You usually get two hours worth of paddling time, and most tour operators here offer sit-on-top kayaks, lessons, and safe routes for first timers.
Sausalito has many B&B's tucked away in the hills just outside of the town's center. If you are wishing to spend a romantic night away from San Francisco, this is the place to do it.
This is the picture that we feature on the top of this page, and is a picture you see often of San Francisco, rows of Victorian style homes with the city's skyline in the background. These homes are otherwise known as painted ladies, and the six colorful Victorian homes situated on the southeast slope from Hayes Valley, are one of the most photographed images of San Francisco. It is a great spot to snap your picture and take a unique souvenir away from your romantic getaway.
Romantic Day Trips From San Francisco
A true romantic destination and a great opportunity to get out of the city for the day. The Napa and Sonoma Valleys are full of gorgeous scenery, restful spas, world-class restaurants, and some of the best wine in the world. The valley is a 30 mile strip of gently landscaped corridors and lush hillsides, you will probably think that you are in the south of France instead of Northern California. In the spring, the valley floor is filled with wildflowers which then mellow into autumn colors by grape harvest time. Be sure to take a wine tour at any of the numerous wineries in the area, as almost all of them offer tastings, but not all have tours. There are over 300 wineries in all, producing wines of a very high standard, so your personal tastes should ultimately determine the ones you visit.
Take a break from the city with a day trip to this Napa Valley town, famous for its hot springs, massages, and spas. The town is located beyond St. Helena, towards the far northern end of the valley. Take the opportunity to soak in the soothing hot water that bubbles up here from deep in the earth. A multitude of spas and volcanic mud baths are found here, and along with a health-conscious atmosphere, it makes for a relaxing day or overnight stay.
The Petrified Forest is five miles west of Calistoga over the hills of Santa Rosa. The forest here was petrified by the eruption of Mount St. Helena over 3 million years ago, and some of the largest tree fossils in the world are found here, some over 150 feet long. If hardened wood doesn't interest you, take a visit to Old Faithful Geyser, which is two miles north of town on Tubbs Lane. Calistoga's underground activity comes to life here, the geyser spurts boiling water some 60 feet into the air at nine to forty-nine minute intervals, depending on the time of year.
Romantic San Francisco Restaurants
Forbes Island - Enjoy a delicious gourmet meal as you dine on the San Francisco Bay at Forbes Island, offering a romantic and quiet atmosphere. Depart from Pier 39's West Marina Gate H where a 27-passenger vessel ferries you to the island. The five-minute cruise takes you past the sea lions to the world's only man-made floating island. Reservations are required.
Neptune's Palace Seafood Restaurant - located at the scenic tip of Pier 39, Neptune's Palace provides the kind of romantic waterfront setting for which San Francisco is famous. Four magnificent rooms all feature unsurpassed views of San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and beyond.
Fleur de Lys - One of San Francisco's most revered restaurants with a fantastic wine list and a personable head chef that is often seen greeting patrons at the door. The multi-course prix-fixe menus feature an array of dishes that range from preparations that are very artful and au courant, and the decor includes high-backed chairs, plush carpeting, patterns, and curtained walls. A truely romantic dining experience. 777 Sutter St (415) 673-7779
A16 - Make sure to try the signature Neapolitan-style pizza, one of the best in the Bay Area. The pastas here are top notch and very flavorful, and with the cozy romantic decor, it makes for the perfect dining experience for couples. The extensive wine list, focused on Southern Italy, is an integral part of the A16 dining experience. 2355 Chestnut Street (415)771-2216
Romantic Hotels In San Francisco
There are numerous romantic hotels to stay at in San Francisco, and even some cozy B&B's just outside the city in Calistoga and Napa Valley. Here we'll give you a brief summary of romantic hotels in the San Francisco area, from Nob Hill to Downtown, all are very romantic and come in various price categories.
The Fairmont San Francisco - offers a Celebration Package, comprising of world-class accommodation, a bottle of champagne, and a silver-plated Fairmont San Francisco picture frame. The romantic ambience makes it the perfect venue for an unforgettable wedding or honeymoon. Located on top of Nob Hill, with fantastic views of the city and bay, near to Union Square and Fisherman's Wharf. 950 Mason Street
Hotel Vitale Embarcadero - The Hotel Vitale Embarcadero is an excellent choice for couples seeking romance and culture, providing fine dining, a contemporary spa and great location. There is also a Massage Instructional Class for couples available, where massage techniques are taught by a professional massage therapist, and yoga sessions to relax the body and mind. 8 Mission Street
The Prescott Hotel - a charming boutique hotel, is located moments from Union Square and the centre of the city. The hotel offers excellent personal service including a great concierge, who manages to secure reservations for top restaurants and theatre tickets with apparent ease. The interiors are a blend of contemporary style with elegant 1930's overtones, rich cherry wood furnishings and lush fabrics create a masculine, chic atmosphere. On winter evenings a crackling log fire is a welcoming feature in the bar lounge a great place to relax with the complementary glass of wine. 545 Post Street
Here is wishing you a memorable and romantic getaway in San Francisco, California.
Disclaimer: We have attempted to ensure this website is as accurate as possible. However, Fantastic Romantic Vacations accepts no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by anyone resulting from this information. You should verify important information regarding all travel documents, health and safety, customs, and transportation with the appropriate authorities and agents before you travel.