21 Free SF Date Ideas That Totally Don’t Suck

Published On 08/21/2015 Published On 08/21/2015
Kris Davidson/Lonely Plant Images/Getty Images

Once you get the hard part out of the way (actually getting a date), then you have to get the even harder part out of the way: figuring out what to do. And while you could (and totally should) use all of these date ideas, you could (and totally also should) use all of the date ideas below, which are like those other ones except these ones are also FREE.

Fat Grape Winery

1. Go wine tasting

Treasure Island
You’ll have to get yourself to Treasure Island, but once you do, you can taste Fat Grape’s all-natural red wines for free Tuesday-Sunday from 11am-6pm.

Flickr/Little Koshka

2. Swing dancing in the park

Golden Gate Park
From 11am-2pm every Sunday, there’s free swing dancing in the park. Sure, dancing is technically a free activity you can do anywhere, but here you’ll be doing it en masse AND there are free lessons at noon.

Flickr/Wally Gobetz

3. Catch a Giants game

AT&T Park
Depending on the size of the crowd, you can watch three innings or more for free from the “Knothole Gang” area on the Portwalk at AT&T Park. First come, first served.

4. Go to a reading

Most bookstores
Want a date that’s free AND will make you look smart? Pretty much every bookstore in SF has weekly author readings/events that’ll accomplish both. Booksmith, City Lights, BookShop, and Book Passage are a few of our faves.

Flickr/Sonny Abesamis

5. Check out the Cable Car Museum or the SF Railway Museum

Nob Hill and SOMA
These two museums never charge admission. And you might learn a few things while you’re there.

6. Or go to any museum with a free day

All over SF
Pretty much every single museum in SF is free at some point and some are at even more points if you’re a Bank of America card holder. Who knew?

Flickr/MK Feeny

7. Drink wine at the Wave Organ

Okay, so technically this isn’t free because you have to bring wine, but don’t tell us you don’t have a bottle of wine or a six-pack in your fridge that you’re not willing to sacrifice for the cause. Also, you’re not really supposed to drink here, so be discreet. Although getting arrested would make a great story to tell the kids!

8. Shakespeare in the park

The Presidio & McLaren Park
When it comes to free dates, Shakespeare said it best: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be; for loan doth oft lose both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.” Free performances go down all over the Bay from July-September.

9. Hit up a street fair

All over SF
San Francisco has soooooo many street fairs. Union Street, North Beach, Haight Street, Fillmore Street. They all have excellent people-watching. And they’re all free! (But maybe bring a flask just ‘cause people-watching is better when there’s a little booze involved.)

Flickr/Ingrid Taylar

10. Hike Lands End

Lincoln Park
This hike has some of the best views in San Francisco. And includes the Sutro Baths. And isn’t really a hike-hike, so everyone wins!

11. Go on a sailboat

Berkeley Marina
You know how you always wish you had a friend with a boat? Well now you do. The Cal Sailing Club offers FREE sailboat rides once a month if you’re willing to take a 20-minute BART ride to Berkeley. Just, for the sake of everyone’s dignity, don’t reenact the Jack and Rose scene from Titanic. Or do. And get pushed over.


12. Take lawn bowling lessons

Golden Gate Park
Okay, so these lessons are only free on Wednesdays at noon, but whatever, no one in San Francisco has a real job anymore.

13. Take in the views from the Hamon Education Tower

Golden Gate Park
To get into the de Young, it’ll cost ya $10 (unless it’s the first Tuesday of the month), but to go up to the observation deck where there are 360-degree views of the city? Nada. Zilch. Zippo. AKA: free.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival

14. Go to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

Golden Gate Park
It only happens for three days every October, but you really can’t go wrong taking your date to one of the best (and also free-est!) music festivals in San Francisco.

15. Enjoy free music at Stern Grove

Stern Grove, Sunset District
It just wrapped up its 78th season, but for 10 whole Sundays next summer, you’ll be able to descend into Stern Grove to enjoy free music from a ton of big names.

Flickr/David Jones

16. Explore Crissy Field

Walk to Fort Point, watch the kite surfers, or just hang out on the beach with your dogs... Crissy Field is the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon and has more Instagram opportunities than almost any other spot. Just be sure you’re into your date ‘cause all of your followers will be judging you.

17. See the animals at the zoo

SF residents get to spend a day at the zoo for free on certain days with proof of residency. Check the website for the next day and when you’re there, don’t miss the grizzly bear feeding!

Flickr/Lynn Friedman

18. Eat free hot dogs (and see some cool art)

Inner Richmond
Frankenart Mart is a small store in the Inner Richmond that’s all about silliness and interactive art. Cooler still: it also does free hot dogs one Sunday a month!

19. Get lost in the Presidio

The Presidio
People are always talking about Golden Gate Park, but if you want to spend a day becoming one with nature without ever leaving the city, head to the Presidio where there are miles of trails, and a million interesting things to see.

San Francisco Botanical Garden

20. San Francisco Botanical Garden

Golden Gate Park
If you and your date are both San Francisco residents, then you can get into the botanical garden in Golden Gate Park for free every single day of the year. If your date isn’t a San Francisco resident, then your relationship is probably doomed AND you’re gonna have to pay seven bucks for him/her to get inside.

21. Watch a movie in a park

All over the Bay Area
So many parks. So many movies. Whether your date is in Redwood City (although why is your date in Redwood City?), Santa Cruz, San Francisco, or somewhere in between, there’s a free movie being shown outdoors sometime between June and October. Bring a blanket for maximum snuggling.

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Daisy Barringer is an SF-based writer who literally vomited on her keyboard when she typed “maximum snuggling.” Follow her on Twitter @daisy.



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