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5 Cheap Date Ideas for SF (under $20 pp)

SF is rapidly becoming the most expensive city in America, but fear not! There’s still plenty of opportunity to have fun on the cheap. Matt and I spent a year’s worth of weekend dates prowling around the Bay and we’ve compiled this handy list of some of our favorites.

1. New to San Francisco

Bread at Boudin Bakery ($5) + Chowder at Nick’s Lighthouse ($10) + Games at Musee Mecanique ($1-$5)

This date is cheesily touristy but easy and fun. There’s nothing wrong with some waterfront views and a sea breeze at Fisherman’s Wharf on a Saturday afternoon. Boudin Bakery is a famous sourdough destination in San Francisco with decent bread and very cute (albeit gimmicky) bread animals. Just a stroll away, Nick’s Lighthouse has both clam and crab chowder with bowls large enough for romantic bread-dipping and slurping opportunities! Finally, down the same street, Musee Mecanique is an old-school coin-operated arcade museum with most games costing 25 to 50 cents. The place is surprisingly large with options from “Opium Den” (not very fun, can tell you from experience) to “Psychic Reader” to table hockey.

2. Athletic, Sweaty Types

House of Air ($17) + Jog along Crissy Field (Free!)

The House of Air may target children, but it’s a ton of fun (and a delightfully vigorous ab workout) for adults too! You can reserve a slot online, but most weekday nights they are pretty empty (read: no kids) so walk-ins are also welcome. If you time this well with the sunset, you two can warm up your legs together at House of Air then head outside for a nice jog and ocean views under the Golden Gate Bridge.

3. Adventure Seekers and Outdoors Lovers

Alamere Falls Hike (Free!) + Burger at Marin Sun Farms ($17)

Alamere Falls is an intense 9 mile roundtrip hike that covers forest, beach, flatland and ends at a breathtaking waterfall showering beautifully into the Pacific Ocean. You may / will hate yourself and whoever planned the trip at multiple points during the hike but I promise you it is very scenic — and a great bonding experience. Make sure to get there early (10–11am) or you’ll have to hike an extra 1–2 miles just to get to the trailhead because of limited parking. Once you’ve returned from that journey, there will be nothing more satisfying than a lamb burger with lamb bacon and a hen egg at Marin Sun Farms. Yes, that exists and it’s waiting for you to eat it. It’s about a 30-minute drive, but trust us it’s worth it!

4. Craft Drinkers

Tour & Tasting at SF Mead Company ($10) + Beers at Speakeasy Ales & Lagers ($5-$10)

SF has an impressive list of artisans in the drinking and alcohol business but not all of them are a fun place to visit. SF Mead Company is a husband-and-wife team bringing mead (honey wine) into the craft alcohol spotlight in deep, dry and very nuanced small batches. They’re only open on Saturday and tours are roughly every hour — 100% worth doing a tour as Oron (the owner) will walk you through the whole process and let you taste limited release editions of mead. Once you’ve got your palate whet, head over to Speakeasy Ales & Lagers (5 min drive or Uber), one of the best brewery tap rooms in SF. The vibe is relaxed, the lights are dim and the beers are both delicious and cheap! Great for groups and parties, plus they rarely get too crazy since they are farther away. You both know not to mix spirits, so good work keeping it classy with wine and beer!

5. Classic “Dinner & The Beach”

Dumplings at Dumpling Kitchen ($10-$15) + Nighttime Stroll at Sutro Baths (Free!)

The two of us have managed to eat at every place that has “dumpling” in its name and can confidently say Dumpling Kitchen really is a notch better than the many others in Richmond/Sunset. Their soup dumplings are forgettable, so stick with pork & cabbage (or chive, if you don’t mind your breath smelling funky). Other excellent additions include wonton soup, pea vines and green beans. Since you’re already so far west already, it’s only a 15 min drive to Sutro Baths, which looks spookily magnificent (and very different) during the nighttime.

Bonus: Crafty DIY Folk

Hot Glass Cold Beer at Public Glass ($25)

So this one is over the monetary allotment, but every month Public Glass holds a demo night with AYCD beer and a keepsake beer glass for $25! You can come tour the studio, watch some master glassblowers in action and drink some local brews. It gets pretty hot in there, so with all that alcohol flowing and your sweat glands churning there’s really nothing but romance in the air!

If you’re looking for more date ideas and top picks for SF restaurants / drinking establishments you can find my whole list of SF recommendations here! Go forth and have tons of fun!