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The Bay Bridge with new LED lights | © Evan Blaser / Flickr
The Bay Bridge with new LED lights | © Evan Blaser / Flickr

15 Photos That Prove You Really Must Visit San Francisco at Night

Picture of Justine McGrath
Updated: 30 April 2017

By day, San Francisco is full of rolling fog, hip locals, and eager tourists. In the evenings, the city comes alive with glittering lights, rousing bars, and a hodge-podge of people looking for a good time. From its quiet coastline to the man-made structures nestled downtown, feast your eyes on some of the best shots of San Francisco at night.

Flying into the city

San Francisco is so bewitching that even flying into the SFO International Airport feels magical.

The way to the Bay

Whether you’ve visited the City by the Bay once or one hundred times, there’s something breathtaking about returning each and every time.

All eyes on City Hall

San Franciscans have a flair for the dramatic, and they channel that energy into festivities throughout the city. Below is a picture of City Hall, lit up with red, white, and blue lights for election night. During the city’s annual gay pride event, a similar projection is created to display rainbow lights.

Golden Gate nights

Without a doubt, the Golden Gate Bridge is the single most iconic image of San Francisco. Although its size and grandeur are felt during the day, there’s something mysterious and beautiful about it at night.

Bay Bridge

Although often overshadowed by its golden counterpart, the Bay Bridge is also a beloved part of the city. Commuters may know it to be a fickle mistress at times, but when it’s quiet with less traffic in the evenings, it’s truly a sight to behold.


The city’s historic streetcars have a unique past, but they’ve still managed to incorporate themselves into S.F.’s present.

Urban oasis

With friendly locals, independently owned companies, and quaint coffee shops at every turn, it’s easy to forget San Francisco is a sprawling city and not a compact neighborhood. This shot captures the concrete jungle that S.F. truly is.

The best of both worlds

This shot, taken from one of the most famed lookout spots in the city (Twin Peaks), portrays the duality of natural wonder and man-made masses in San Francisco.

A thrilling ride

Something about the cool air and proximity to the sea brings out the inner child in San Franciscans. Below, a well-lit shot of a carousel on one of the city’s piers.

Fan mentality

San Franciscans are nothing if not loyal. The energy inside AT&T Park is palpable amongst fans, no matter what time of day you attend a game.

Painted for a night out

The city’s famed Painted Ladies’ colors seem less shocking at night, although onlookers stop by to see them all the same.

Legendary nightlife

Known as the mecca for nightlife in the city, the Castro District is regarded for its abundance of gay clubs and top-notch bars.

Cultured evenings

The Palace of Fine Arts looks like something straight out of a Roman painting. Attend an evening concert in the treasured dome and prepare to be wowed.

Ferry Building

A glorious mix of old and new, San Francisco is home to modern marvels and otherworldly relics such as the Ferry Building, built during the late 1800s.

Celebrations abound

The best thing about the City by the Bay is its inclusivity. While visiting, you’ll notice a beautiful blend of people interacting and making the city a better place—together. This celebratory shot is from a fireworks display taken on the 4th of July, but the festive mood can be felt year-round.