Dating in San Francisco: What’s It Like?

A couple dating in San Francisco at Dolores park hugging.

No matter where you date, there are certain things that are the same across the board. Then there are others that, well, just aren’t. The once quaint city of San Francisco used to be a (relatively) quiet foggy town on the Pacific coastline known mostly for its hills, the Golden Gate, and… hippies, but a lot has changed.

Since the Silicon Valley tech boom beginning in the 90s, the City by the Bay has consistently ranked on the top of many Most Expensive U.S. Cities lists in Forbes, TIME, and Newsweek. That kind of money changes things, romance included. So what’s dating in San Francisco like? Let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and everything in between.

It’s the Land of Young Urban Professionals (YUPs).
No matter how you cut it, there’s no way around the wealth in San Francisco. Dating can be expensive and that goes double for residents of the foggy city. Many singles you’ll meet in the Bay Area moved here to work in technology or finance. With the rising cost of living, those are often the only industries able to provide jobs with a wage that makes city living affordable. That wealth finds its way into the dating sphere, too. This often means an expectation of spending a pretty penny on dates, drinks (even at your favorite dive bar), and food.

The wealth impacts the culture quite a bit too. Residents tend to be into health, fashion, the arts, and food. (Sometimes they’re into themselves, as well.) This means there’s a good chance that your date will be interesting, if not a little on the pricey side.

Good Drinks, Great Coffee, and Better Food
Uncoincidentally, in such an expensive city, it’s awfully hard to keep the doors of a casual restaurant or coffee shop open, but the ones that manage are some of the best on the West Coast. This means lots of options for good food, coffee, and drinks. Nowadays, dating blogs love to shout that the dinner date is dead, but in San Francisco that’s not the case. The dinner date is very much alive and it brought its friends the breakfast and brunch date along too.

Residents have a love for trendy food and drink. If you’re single and social, prepare to be overwhelmed with your options for pour over coffee, gastropubs, and fusion cuisine. If your date goes sour, usually your consolation prize is a good meal.

A City Means People, Which Means Diversity
OK, I know I made it sound like there are only techies and accountants, but that’s not the case. San Francisco is a major city, which means there are a lot of people (almost 900 thousand, in fact). On top of that, it was the home base for the Summer of Love and is still a very culturally diverse community with a thriving art scene. If you’re looking for an alternative to the San Francisco stereotype, they’re around both online and at your local microbrewery. Look a little harder.

You Have the Whole Bay Area
If you’re still not impressed with the almost 900 thousand people San Francisco has to offer, don’t fret. The Greater Bay Area has a gross population of 7 million, and it’s easy to get across with public transportation, and even easier with a car. There are a number of small towns and cities in the San Francisco metropolitan area each with their own cultures and communities. That means people to meet and things to do. Don’t limit yourself just to San Francisco, if that’s where you live. There’s a whole lot more.

Golden Gate Park or Golden Gate Bridge—The Outdoor Options
One of my personal favorite things about San Francisco is the ease of access to nature and greenery both inside the city and out. It’s the home to the world famous Golden Gate Park, a square mile and a half of grass and trees that includes everything from botanical gardens, to disc golf courses, to large picnic fields. A long stroll through the park is a great way to take advantage of the beautiful area and save a couple bucks.

If you have access to a car, just outside of San Francisco there are a number of great areas for hiking dates. Just across the Golden Gate Bridge are the Muir Woods, Marin Headlands, and Mt. Tamalpais—all great places for singles with an outdoorsy streak. And to the south, there are many good hikes in the town of Pacifica. Slip on that Lululemon.

Activities on Activities on Activities
Not outdoorsy? That’s A-OK. There’s lots to take advantage of in the city, as well. There are over ten established concert venues that regularly bring artists across country, hip-hop, rock, and every genre in between. On Thursday nights, both the Academy of Science and Exploratorium museums have late night cocktail events open only to adults, their drinks, and their favorite science experiments. There is also no shortage of art galleries open late into the evening.

Most bars in the city offer a great tap and cocktail selection, and many of those have additional attractions from live cover bands to pinball arcades to dancing. Your twenty best date ideas are only a Yelp search away.

Dating in San Francisco can be expensive or overwhelming, but like dating anywhere if you do it right it can be a lot of fun. There are no shortage of options of fun activities to do and interesting people to date, no matter your taste. You just have to get out there. Take it one step at a time.

Alex Bocknek

Alex Bocknek is the senior editor of The Date Mix and works at Zoosk, the online dating service. He’s also a recovering music critic and an aspiring fiction writer (probably lost) on the way to an independent bookstore near you. He can be found occasionally musing about politics, philosophy, and love in the modern world.

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