From ice skating to volunteering to cozying up at a bar, these date or group outing ideas in SF are guaranteed to impress.
Hopefully by now you’ve been on enough fall dates because winter is basically here, which means pumpkin is making way for peppermint and there’s only a little bit of time left to lock down your New Year’s Eve plans. No pressure though. These dates are guaranteed to impress even the pickiest of people.
Go Ice Skating
If you’re looking for the quintessential winter date, you’re going to need to strap on some ice skates and bust out a triple axel. Or, you know: slide around on the ice while holding onto the railing for dear life. The Union Square Ice Rink (open through January 16) is probably the most festive outdoor rink in the city thanks to the lights and decorations (and the big honking tree that will be lit the day after Thanksgiving (also another date idea). But the Holiday Ice Rink at Embarcadero Center(open through January 8) is bigger, which means when you fall and break your neck, you won’t be in as many people’s way.
The Ice Rink has special memories because no, I do not go Ice Skating (do I look insane to you?), but the year my husband had asked me to be his girlfriend, he took me to Union Square for all the festivities so I wouldn’t miss being away from my family and all our festivities. Super sweet and memorable.
Make a Wreath
It is always said that the San Francisco Botanical Gardens is one of the best first date spots in the city. But in case you need more than just wandering around and enjoying nature, now you can also go there to attend a wreath-making workshop… with wine.Because as much fun as crafts are, they’re so much more fun when there’s a good cabernet involved. Wine & Wreaths is a one-time only event on December 2nd from 6 to 8 PM and pre-registration is required. If you don’t require the wine part, you can also attend one of the two wreath-making workshops on Saturday, December 3rd. But seriously: go to the one with wine.
Partake in Holiday Tea Service Embrace the indulgence of the holiday season by attending Holiday Tea at one of SF’s fancy hotels. It’s a totally over-the-top experience, but one worth having…especially if you’re trying to impress a certain someone. And yes, almost all of the teas also serve champagne.
Top of the Mark
Holiday High Tea at Top of the Mark includes breathtaking views of the city, a three-tier presentation of finger sandwiches, scones, and mini pastries and sweets, and yes, champagne and cocktails are also available. High Tea is available Monday through Thursday from November 28 to December 29. Call 415-616-6941 for reservations.
Westin St. Francis
You’ll want to order the Royal Tea since that includes complete tea service, including English tea sandwiches, freshly baked black currant scones and seasonal berries with Devonshire-blend cream, preserves and assorted petit fours, AND a glass of champagne. Tea is available on the weekends from November 26 to December 18 from 2 to 4 PM. Call (415) 774-0264 for reservations.
Highlights of the Festive Art of Tea Ritual include a smoked salmon éclair, cinnamon apple pie martini, ginger bread macaron tree and gold champagne cupcake. Tea is offered from November 25 to December 31 from 2 to 4 PM every day of the week. Call 415-284-4188 for reservations.
The Fairmont’s famed Gingerbread Holiday Tea in the Laurel Court Restaurant & Bar includes a variety of tea sandwiches, scones and pastries, as well as live piano performances and sparkling wine. Tea is available from November 28 through December 30 from 1:30 to 3:30 PM. Note that the weekends are all filled up (my girlfriends and I tried signing up and it didn’t happen) but if you are looking to go on the weekdays then you should not have a problem getting a reservation.
Experience a Winter Wonderland
One of the best things about living in San Francisco is that even in the winter, the temps usually stay in the 60s. But nothing says romance like a snowy weekend in Tahoe complete with wine by a roaring fire and lots of snuggling to stay warm. If you want to ski while you’re there, get a room at The Resort at Squaw Creek where you’ll have ski-in and ski-out access to Squaw Valley. If hitting the slopes isn’t your thing, check out the Hyatt at Incline Village where you can do a little gambling, get a couples massage, or go swimming in the outdoor heated pool.
Eat at All of the Restaurants
You know what was made for people who like to go on lots and lots of dates? Restaurant Week. This year it’s happening from January 18-29. Over 130 restaurants in SF will have special prix fixe menus that either highlight their best known dishes, feature a new menu item, or just showcase something they love to cook. There will be $15 and $25 lunch menus and $40 and $65 dinner menus. Which means you can go on all of the dates and not be totally screwed if you also decide to pick up the tab. I for sure will not be missing this one. I for some reason always missed the ones in Chicago or no one wanted to go and then this year I was in SF but it was a couple weeks before I left for India for my wedding so it was just chaos.
Sip a Cup of Hot Chocolate
The house hot chocolate (with house made marshmallows) at Dandelion Chocolate will satisfy the kid in you, while the house “cappuccino” at Tosca (with Marie Duffau Bas Armagnac and Buffalo Trace Bourbon) is perfect for when you’re feeling a little more grown up.
Explore Yosemite National Park
People love to flock to Yosemite in the summer, but we think it’s at its most magical during the winter. Go ice skating in Half Dome Village.Cross-country ski to Glacier Point and stay overnight at the Ski Hut. Snowshoe under the moonlight. And enjoy a romantic dinner at the Awahnee (“The Majestic Yosemite Hotel”).
As Buddy the Elf so wisely said, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” Don’t let Buddy down. Take your date to one of the Holiday Sing-A-Long at the Presidio Officer’s Club on Thursday, December 15 at 6 P.M. Drinks from Arguello will be available to purchase because no one wants to sing sober. Oh, and the event is free, but you still need to RSVP.
The Great Dickens Fair at the Cow Palace (November 19 through December 18) is also a fun choice; you get to enter the world of Charles Dickens’ Victorian London on Christmas Eve. There’s shopping, dance floors, pubs and theaters, and yes, lots and lots of costumed carolers who won’t mind if you join in.
There’s nothing sexier than giving back, so why not make a date out of volunteering? Whether you want to visit with the elderly, prepare meals for the homeless, or go shopping together for children’s toys to donate, there are a ton of opportunities in SF to spread joy to others. You can volunteer year-round at Glide to serve a meal or participate in their holiday volunteer opportunities, like the Grocery Bag Giveaway on December 14, or the Toy Sort and Giveaway from December 12 to December 16. Meals on Wheels San Francisco is also always looking for volunteers to help out seniors, eliver meals, and pack groceries.
Cozy Up in a Bar
After everything we’ve been through in recent days, a drink and a cozy fireplace is just what the date doctor ordered. Chambers Eat + Drink, Fireside Bar, Fog Harbor Fish House, Maven, Park Chalet all have great fireplaces but no where is better than our favorite bar and fireplace: The Big 4 on Nob Hill.