So you want to impress your date, but you’re still a ways off from your next payday? That doesn’t mean you have to settle for a night in or a day of racing each other in Mario Kart. Instead, check out these San Francisco dates that warrant a good time without costing a dime.
Ghirardelli might be all the rage—there’s certainly long enough lines outside their doors—but TCHO represents the future of chocolate. Stop in at Pier 17 for a free factory tour (offered daily) followed by a tasting of artisan chocolates based on the pure flavors of cacao from around the world. Take a picture rocking the mandatory hairnets and beard guard as it will be a fun day to look back on later.
Washington Square Park
Forget LED and try all-natural moonlight for your movie night. This free summer film series just started up and will run at San Francisco parks through September, showing classic flicks like “The Princess Bride” and “Singin’ in the Rain,” plus more modern movies like “Skyfall.” All you need to pack is a picnic basket full of goodies and a blanket big enough for two.
More than just a free day of exploration through the trees, Golden Gate Park consistently puts on free events. Prove to your date that you don’t have two left feet and partake in a free swing dancing lesson every Sunday with Lindy in the Park. Or, if you really do have two left feet, sit back at a free Sunday concert with music ranging from opera, to Broadway showtunes, to jazz and swing.
Take a deep dive into the history of your city when you follow the gold medallions of the 3.8-mile Barbary Coast Trail. Download this free map and embark on a self-guided tour through the 1906 Earthquake, the California Gold Rush and much more with 20 historic sites, museums and ships along the way.
Tip: Print out some fun facts beforehand to provide context at each stop.
19th Ave and Sloat Blvd
The Stern Grove Festival just opened its 76th season, providing free performing arts every Sunday at the Sigmund Stern Grove outdoor amphitheater throughout the summer. The 2013 schedule features performances by the San Francisco Opera, Symphony, Ballet, string quartets, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs—just to name a few.
Free Museum Days
Expand your cultural depth with free museum days, offered at many San Francisco museums on either a monthly or quarterly basis. Play hooky from work to critique art at the Legion of Honor or de Young Museum (climbing to the top of the 144-foot observation tower is always free) on the first Tuesday of every month, or get in line early for select free admission days at the Exploratorium or California Academy of Sciences. Check out a full listing of free museum days here.
Sloat Blvd. & the Great Highway
New additions to the San Francisco Zoo in the last few months include a tiger cub and giraffe calf (coming in at 130 pounds, 5’10), plus you’ll find 250 species of adorable animals including penguins, koalas and kangaroos. Mark the monthly free admission day for San Francisco residents on your calendar and if all goes well finish the date with a chilly walk on the beach, waiting just outside the park’s exit.
You don’t even have to use a drop of gas or buy a ferry ticket to escape the Bay Area’s urban landscape. Hike to the top of Twin Peaks for a 360-degree view of San Francisco, play tourist and trek across the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge or walk along the coastal cliffs of the Lands End Trail before finding peace at the Labyrinth.
Go out for a sunny, Sunday stroll paired with some of the best people-watching ever. On one Sunday a month, this event comes to a different San Francisco neighborhood and shuts down its streets to cars, allowing hordes of people to walk, bike, blade and hula-hoop to their own beat.
More San Francisco Date Ideas:
The Best North Beach Dates in San Francisco
The Best Day Trip Dates in San Francisco
The Best Brunch Dates in San Francisco
11 San Francisco Date Ideas As Unique as the City Itself
San Francisco Date Ideas: The Best Hiking and Biking Dates
San Francisco Date Ideas: The 9 Best Wine Bar Dates
San Francisco Date Ideas: The Best Rainy-Day Dates
San Francisco Date Ideas: The Best Outdoor Market Dates