In San Francisco, there are few quiet nights, and though bars and clubs may call it quits at 2 a.m., the city makes sure you stay busy until closing time. For those seeking more refined forms of entertainment, San Francisco boasts an outstanding symphony, classic and contemporary ballet, and numerous opera companies. There’s also a thriving theater community, most notably the American Conservatory Theater, which presents classic and new works at The Geary Theater, near Union Square. Broadway road shows always stop in San Francisco; check the schedule for SHN, which presents most works at the impressive Orpheum Theatre, on Market Street. City Arts & Lectures offers intriguing conversations with celebrities, stars, and global movers and shakers. Attend an open-to-the-public gallery show, or a special museum night.
For rowdier fun, there are rock concerts at the Great American Music Hall and the legendary Fillmore, indie bands, R&B and hip-hop at smaller venues like the Bottom of the Hill, Amnesia Beer & Music Hall, and Slim’s, and open mic nights at Hotel Utah Saloon. The dance club scene thrives with such favorites as DNA Lounge, the Cat Club, and Raven Bar. And nightlife wouldn’t be complete without a bit of hopping around the city’s bevy of bars, from upscale establishments with craft cocktails (like Bourbon & Branch and The Alembic) to longstanding neighborhood watering holes (The 500 Club, Zam Zam, Vesuvio) where you can go elbow to elbow with the locals. San Francisco is also home to some of the most renowned tiki bars in the state; get the full rum-soaked south-seas experience at the Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar, Smuggler’s Cove, and Pagan Idol.
Insider tip: The Bay Area is one of the state’s hot spots for craft beer; be sure to keep an eye out for local brews on tap.