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Nightlife in San Francisco

San Francisco nightlife has it all: clubs with world-class DJs in the SoMa District, dive bars in Chinatown, coffeehouses in North Beach and piano bar karaoke in the Castro. For serious cocktails, the Tenderloin is the new bar-hopping hotspot. Downtown is mostly quiet, except round Union Square where Ruby Skye offers large-scale clubbing and Redwood Room drinks. The Mission District offers straight-forward drinks, like those at Zeitgeist. Everywhere is smoke-free, and most bars close at 2am.

Top of the Mark, San Francisco. &copy Bill Holmes
Top of the Mark, San Francisco. &copy Bill Holmes
1

Top of the Mark

Famous penthouse lounge

Top of the Mark, perched on Nob Hill is one of the world's most famous cocktail lounges, a spectacular glass-walled room with 19th-floor views of the city. Live bands play throughout the week, from jazz to salsa and swing.



Address

1, Nob Hill, San Francisco CA 94108

Telephone

+1 415 616 6916

Transport

Bus 1 to Powell/Mason or Powell Hyde cable car to Nob Hill

Website

Top of the Mark Website

2

Zeitgeist

Casual beer garden

Zeitgeist has the largest outdoor beer garden in the city, and on sunny days it's packed with dressed-down locals drinking pitchers of beer. It's the best people-watching bar in the Mission District. Expect a punk-rock-cum-biker-bar venue where everyone's welcome.



Address

199, Valencia Street, San Francisco CA 94103

Telephone

+1 415 255 7505

Transport

Bus 14, 26, or 49 to Mission District or BART to 16th Street Mission

Li Po's Cocktail Lounge, San Francisco. Photo by Sean Clare
3

Li Po's Cocktail Lounge

Classic Chinatown dive bar

An eerily dim cave-like Chinatown dive bar that was once an opium den, Li Po's Cocktail Lounge has an alluring character with a dusty clutter of Asian furnishings and exotic mementos. Try the Special Mai Tai cocktail.



Address

916, Grant Avenue, San Francisco CA 94108

Telephone

+1 415 982 0072

Transport

Bus 1,12, 20, 30, 41 or 45 to Chinatown, or Powell Hyde cable car to Washington

Redwood Room, San Francisco. Photo by Amanda Greene
4

Redwood Room

Extravagant hotel bar

Known for its gorgeous redwood panelling made from a single 2,000-year-old tree, the downtown Clift Hotel's elegant Redwood Room bar and lounge has a plush, modern feel. The scene is mostly moneyed young professionals mingling with overpriced martinis in hand.



Address

Clift Hotel, 495 Geary Street, San Francisco CA 94102

Telephone

+1 415 929 2372

Transport

BART to Powell Street

Website

Clift Hotel Website

5

1015 Folsom

Three-floor dance emporium

1015 Folsom is an enormous party warehouse spread over three levels. Located in the SoMa District, it programmes varying nights, attracting everyone from moneyed professionals to a hip-hop crowd, with DJs mixing tunes to a coordinated full-colour laser system.



Address

1015, Folsom Street (at 6th Street), San Francisco CA 94103

Telephone

+1 415 431 1200 / +1 415 431 7444 (event hotline)

Transport

Bus 12, 19, 27 or 47 or BART to Civic Center or Powell Street stations.

Website

1015 Folsom Website

Ruby Skye, San Francisco. &copy Mary Tsao
6

Ruby Skye

Renovated Victorian playhouse

Downtown's most glamorous and gigantic nightspot, Ruby Skye is a renovated 1890s Victorian playhouse with a ballroom dance floor, three bars, a smoking lounge and DJs. It's too yuppie for most clubbers but a safe bet for tourists.



Address

420, Mason Street, San Francisco CA 94102

Telephone

+1 415 693 0777

Transport

Bus 2, 3, 4, 27 or 38 to Union Square or BART to Powell Street

Website

Ruby Skye Website

7

Mezzanine

SoMa District dance club

Mezzanine, located in the SoMa District, is one of the most modern dance venues in San Francisco with state-of-the-art laser technology. A diverse crowd dances to live music from various genres, as well as some of the world's best DJs.



Address

444, Jessie Street, San Francisco CA 94103

Telephone

+1 415 625 8880

Transport

Bus 14, 21 or 26 to Mission Street and 6th Street or BART to Powell Street

Website

Mezzanine Website

8

The End Up

Mixed crowd dance party

Many San Francisco clubbers party at The End Up until early in the morning. In the SoMa District, it programmes world-class DJs who spin dance tunes for a diverse clientele. There's a different nightclub every evening, so check their website.



Address

401, 6th Street (at Harrison), San Francisco CA 94103

Telephone

+1 415 646 0999

Transport

Bus 12, 27 of 47 to the SoMa District

Website

The End Up Website

Great American Music Hall, San Francisco. Courtesy of Great American Music Hall
9

Great American Music Hall

Victorian music venue

Built in 1907 as a restaurant/bordello in what's now the Tenderloin District, the Great American Music Hall hosts renowned indie bands amidst ornately carved balconies, frescoed ceilings and marble columns. It's possibly one of the most gorgeous rock venues around.



Address

859, O'Farrell Street, San Francisco CA 94109

Telephone

+1 415 885 0750

Transport

Bus 19 or 38 to downtown or BART to Powell Street

Website

Great American Music Hall Website

Café du Nord, San Francisco. Photo by Will Kivinski
10

Café du Nord

Indie supper club

This sexy subterranean supper club near the Castro is set in a beautiful 1907 speakeasy with a 12m mahogany bar, rich red tones and an intimate stage. Café du Nord's line-up of indie performers is as eclectic as the crowd.



Address

2170, Market Street, San Francisco CA 94114

Telephone

+1 415 861 5016

Transport

Bus 37 or BART to Church Street

Website

Café du Nord Website

Beach Blanket Babylon, San Francisco. Courtesy of Beach Blanket Babylon
11

Beach Blanket Babylon

Extravagant musical comedy

Beach Blanket Babylon is a comedic musical that pokes fun at current political figures and celebrities; the costumes and oversized headdresses are outrageous. It's been playing in North Beach for more than 30 years and still almost always sells out.



Address

678, Green Street, San Francisco CA 94133

Telephone

+1 415 421 4222

Transport

Bus 30 or 41 to North Beach or Powell/Mason cable car to Green Street

Website

Beach Blanket Babylon Website

12

Biscuits and Blues

Blues bands

This New Orleans-style basement-cum-nightclub near Union Square offers a nightly line-up of quality blues bands from around the USA. The sound system is impressive, and yes, Biscuits and Blues serves flaky biscuits along with great fried chicken and southern-style appetisers.



Address

401, Mason Street, San Francisco CA 94102

Telephone

+1 415 292 2583

Transport

Bus 2, 3, 4 or 38 to Union Square or BART to Powell Street

Website

Biscuits and Blues Website

Teatro ZinZanni, San Francisco. Courtesy of Teatro ZinZanni
13

Teatro ZinZanni

Slapstick dinner theatre

Teatro ZinZanni is a three-hour dinner theatre served in a stunningly elegant 1926 spiegeltent pitched on the Embarcadero. During the five-course meal dozens of performers combine slapstick comedy with astounding Cirque du Soleil-style physical acts. The tickets aren't cheap.



Address

Pier 29, The Embarcadero, San Francisco CA 94111

Telephone

+1 415 438 2668

Transport

Bus 10, 12 to Embarcadero or BART to Chestnut

Website

Teatro ZinZanni Website

14

The Fillmore

Historic music venue

Made famous by promoter Bill Graham in the 1960s, The Fillmore, aptly located in the Fillmore District, showcases big names in a moderately sized space. Inside is an impressive collection of vintage concert posters chronicling the hall's musical history.



Address

1805, Geary Boulevard, San Francisco CA 94115

Telephone

+1 415 346 3000

Transport

Bus 22 or 38 to Fillmore District or BART to Montgomery Street

Website

The Fillmore Website

15

The Mint Karaoke Lounge

Castro karaoke bar

The Mint Karaoke Lounge is the best-known karaoke bar in the Castro, with over 3000 song selections and a crowd as diverse in their looks as their taste. The martinis here are wickedly large, liquid courage for approaching the microphone.



Address

1942, Market Street, San Francisco 94102

Telephone

+1 415 626 4726

Transport

Bus 14, 26 or 49 to Hermann Street or BART to Church Street or Duboce and Church

Website

The Mint Karaoke Lounge Website

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