One of the most beautiful locations at the end of one of the most beautiful drives in the world, Big Sur is never a disappointment. Although San Francisco has many city charms and natural beauties, no one ever forgets their first time driving down to Big Sur. If you have the time to make the drive, it's definitely worth it. Highlights include the Bixby Creek Bridge and the Point Sur Lighthouse. If you start the drive just south of San Francisco, and if you're trying to watch your budget, a stay in a private room in the Pigeon Point Hostel includes a dip in their private hot tub that overlooks the Pacific Ocean.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Big Sur is the gem of the California coast and a sure-fire way to get romance in the air.
Tom's expert tip: Leave time for the stunning 17-miles drive, well-worth the cost of entrance.
One of the great things about San Francisco is its treasure-filled bay. Angel Island, only a short ferry ride from San Francisco, Tiburon or Vallejo, is perfect for either a short or long excursion. Bring a picnic lunch and idle the time away amid cool breezes and great views. If you feel ambitious, Mount Livermore, the island's 781-foot anchor, provides plenty of opportunities for hiking, beginning with a five-mile perimeter trail. From April to October, enjoy the Cove Cafe, and rent a bike to get around more easily. Camping is available, too, but the sites fill up quickly, so book early.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Angel Island offers spectacular views from its peak, which has been the site of more than one romantic proposal.
Tom's expert tip: If you're up for a short ferry ride, this is a fantastic park.
More than 1 million people visit Muir Woods National Monument each year, and for good reason. The grove of coast redwoods has been protected for a century, and the amazing specimens rank among the tallest trees in the world. Some reach 252 feet, are 14 feet across, and are more than 1000 years old! Paved trails promise about an hour of strolling, while unpaved trails can occupy hikers for a full day or more. If you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, take a quiet stroll in lovely Muir Woods and get back to nature.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Walking hand-in-hand through this natural cathedral is a must for nature lovers.
Tom's expert tip: Muir Woods has become so popular that it's accessible only by shuttle, a convenient "park and ride" system that many National Parks have had to adopt.
Famous, central views of San Francisco. Worth the drive or hike up. If you're the kind of traveler who likes an overview of the city you're visiting, hiking or driving up to Twin Peaks is a great way to start your trip. And if you're the kind of romantic who loves to snuggle with a loved one while watching the lights of a big city twinkle below, then that's just as good a reason to visit Twin Peaks. Besides the great views, there are many trails on top of the Peak, and the charming neighborhood of Cole and Carl is a short drive down the hill, a great spot for an after-hike drink.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Twin Peaks offers the best view of downtown San Francisco, as well as a choice spot for a romantic sunset.
Tom's expert tip: If you can make time for a hike, walk to Twin Peaks to avoid the car traffic.
Incredible views and plenty of fishing make this one of the best beaches in the area. Situated at the foot of the rugged cliffs on the western shoreline of the Presidio, Baker Beach boasts stunning vistas of both the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands. When it's warm, the mile-long beach is great for sunbathing and picnicking. Baker Beach is infamous for its nude sunbathers, but most congregate towards the eastern edge of the beach, closer to the cliffs near the Golden Gate Bridge. The beach is also famous as the site of the original "Burning Man" enactment that became a national phenomenon.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: The relative seclusion of Baker Beach compared to other beaches makes it a bit more romantic.
Tom's expert tip: Visitors should note that the northernmost end of the beach is frequented by clothing-optional sunbathers.
We're starting off this list with the Ferry Building because, whether by boat, car, bus, trolley or foot, all points lead from the San Francisco Ferry Building. Whether you want to hike the hills of North Beach, push through the bustle of Chinatown, peruse gift shops on Nob Hill, or walk the Embarcadero all the way to Fisherman's Wharf, it's hard to find a better place to start than the Ferry Building. And it's not just a starting point, the Ferry Building has been redesigned to include some wonderful artisan shops, perfect spots for grabbing that something special to bring back home.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Walking through the Ferry Building and sampling their eclectic mix of fine food is a sensual and romantic date.
Tom's expert tip: If you happen to be downtown on a Saturday morning, don't miss the Ferry Building Farmer's Market. It offers a taste of the incredible variety of fruits and vegetables that only California can offer.
Often considered a tribute to San Francisco's volunteer firefighters, this 210-foot-tall tower has been a prominent feature in the city's skyline since its dedication in 1933. Endowed by the will of Lillie Hitchcock Coit, the tower was chosen as the manifestation of Coit's wish for a project to beautify the city. The Art Deco tower affords breathtaking views of the city and the Bay, and while the vista from the top is ideal, the one from the parking lot is almost as grand. The tower's interior features fantastic murals commissioned by a public-arts predecessor to the WPA. Since parking in the area is scarce, it's best to walk up Telegraph Hill on your own.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Coit Tower is one of the most popular - and romantic - spots to watch a glorious Pacific Sunset.
Tom's expert tip: A major renovation in 2014 has revitalized this beloved San Francisco landmark.
Locals love this spa's communal bath and an all-encompassing menu of relaxing services. The only Japanese-inspired communal bath in the city, Kabuki Springs' unique environment is the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate. The spa's facilities include a hot pool, cold plunge, dry sauna and steam room, and there are plenty of complimentary bath products, such as sea salts, chilled cucumber face cloths and teas. Other services include massages, facials, body treatments and even acupuncture. If you're at the end of your vacation, and you need a vital reboot or even an extra spark of romance, schedule a visit to Kabuki Springs and Spa.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Although San Francisco has many world-class spas, Japantown's Kabuki is one of the most respected and well-run in the city.
Tom's expert tip: Although the communal spa is currently closed due to COVID-19, massages are still available. check the website for the latest updates.
One of the world's most famous bridges, the Golden Gate spans 6450 feet and links San Francisco to Marin County. Completed in 1937 at a cost of $35 million, the "Bridge That Could Not Be Built" is now a landmark visible from many points around the Bay. Automobile access is available from US-101 or Lincoln Boulevard; pedestrian access, from the east sidewalk (5 am to 9 pm daily). A visitor center and gift shop are located on the San Francisco side, while scenic overlooks and parking can be found at either end. For those romantics out there, walking hand in hand across the Golden Gate Bridge is simply one of the most romantic walks in the whole world.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Walking hand-in-hand across the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most romantic walks in the world.
Tom's expert tip: Don't let the summer fog on the San Francisco side fool you: the north tower in Marin is almost always fog-free.
When you're in a city surrounded by water, the Pacific on one side and the bay on the other, you haven't really experienced that city until you've viewed it from those magical waters. Hornblower Cruises have been treating people to unforgettable views of San Francisco since 1980, and it's about as romantic as San Francisco can get. The 3-hour, 4-course dinner cruise embarks from Pier 3, just a ten-minute walk from the Embarcadero BART. Enjoy a meal made from the best, locally sourced ingredients, and then dance the night away, or take a quieter stroll for two around the top deck. Either way, it's a view of the Bay Area you won't soon forget.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Hornblower has been delighting tourists and locals alike since 1980 with their thoughtful tours of San Francisco.
Tom's expert tip: No matter the time of year, be prepared to bundle up, or snuggle up, because it's cold on the San Francisco Bay year round.