Nothing to Do on Friday Night? Check Out The Best Bay Area Nightlife Hot Spots

By Oliver Jenkyns May 21, 2019

In a city with an overwhelming amount of things to do—most of which involve grabbing a bite to eat, admiring art galleries, walking around tourist areas, or finding a gourmet drink—you may still occasionally find yourself with nothing to do on a Friday night in San Francisco. While the usual standbys such as dinner and a movie work just fine, there are plenty of activities off the beaten path, from visiting the concert venues scattered across town, to finding an exclusive dance club to blog about, to discovering some mini golf deep within the city limits. Read on to get even more ideas for experiencing a night like no other.

Pool Halls

Start the evening at an old-fashioned pool hall right outside The City. San Mateo’s The Great Entertainer or Emeryville’s The Broken Rack can serve as a great meeting point to kick off the festivities. Both locations feature an extensive array of pool tables, though The Great Entertainer also offers ping-pong tables, which come in handy on particularly busy nights when pool becomes harder to play.

Since these venues are located farther from downtown San Francisco, they tend to be less crowded and are visited mostly by locals—a welcome change from the highly packed tourist areas along the Embarcadero. After playing a few games, hop on BART toward the city for the next adventure.

Comedy Clubs

While the amazing experience of playing pool with your closest friends may be hard to beat, head to one of the city’s comedy clubs to finish the night on a high note. Whether you want to end up in North Beach, the Financial District, or Union Square, there is a comedy club for you.

Go to Cobb’s Comedy Club to continue the star-studded theme of the night. Hosting performances by dozens of comedians who make regular appearances on television shows like The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert—not to mention a few who have gone on to have their own comedy series—Cobb’s presents some of the finest talent in the industry. Founded in 1982, this 400-seat venue offers a full dinner menu along with its shows, though you may be laughing too hard to get anything down. With talents like Dana Carvey and Louis CK on the roster of prior performers, this club sure knows comedy.

For a more intimate show, head to The Punch Line in the Financial District. This comedy club is known for its regular, Dave Chappelle, who has performed here since the early 1990s. While the venue originally served as a dressing room for the musicians playing at the rock club next door, stars like Robin Williams, Ellen Degeneres, Wanda Sykes, Zach Galifianakis, Gabriel Iglesias, Amy Schumer, Chelsea Handler, and Chris Rock quickly made The Punch Line an instant classic. The comedy club can hold just under 200 audience members, making for an up-close-and-personal experience. Open six nights per week, the venue also serves up several appetizers such as garlic fries and popcorn as well as decadent desserts like molten lava cake.

But if you are looking for the comedians who have not quite broken through to stardom, head to Cheaper Than Therapy for good laughs at great prices. This ultra-small venue accommodates only 75 viewers, creating a unique atmosphere for all who are able to attend. Performances run Thursday through Sunday and feature five to six comedians, often including producers Jon Allen, Eloisa Bravo, and Scott Simpson.

With the incredibly unusual night coming to a close, sit back and soak it all in, because this is one Friday you are sure to remember for years to come.