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Check Out The Best Nightlife Hotspots Around San Francisco
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Check Out The Best Nightlife Hotspots Around San Francisco

In a city with an overwhelming amount of things to do, it's hard to decide where to go. Check out the best San Francisco nightlife spots.

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5 min read

October 05, 2022

Disclaimer: California.com is not receiving any type of compensation for reviewing any of the products mentioned in this article.

In a city with an overwhelming amount of things to do—most of which involve grabbing a bite to eat, admiring art galleries, going on walking tours, 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 have a better idea of how to experience the San Francisco nightlife at its best.

Nothing beats challenging your friends to a game of pool on a night out around San Francisco.

POOL HALLS

Most first-time visitors believe that the best way to enjoy the Bay Area nightlife is through touring the many San Francisco bars and clubs. Truth is unless you’re all for the crowds, you’ll want to take your night in a different direction, particularly towards one of the area’s many awesome 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 Cafe 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 the 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

It is said that laughter is the best therapy, and so, by default, the Bay Area’s comedy clubs are therapy clinics.

Whether you’re looking to end your night on a high note after playing pool with your friends, or just looking for a cool thing to do before heading to S.F.’s nightclubs, the area’s comedy clubs are the place to be. In fact, attending a comedy show is one of the most awesome things to do in the Bay Area. You’ll always find a great comedy club wherever you chose to head in the region, whether it be North Beach, the Financial District, or Union Square.

If you want to spend an awesome night at one of California’s best comedy clubs, you should reserve a spot at the star-studded Cobb’s Comedy Club. 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 a molten lava cake.

If you enjoy the humor of young and fresh comedians, Cheaper Than Therapy is the place to go.

But if you’re looking for comedians who have not quite broken through to stardom yet,  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 Wednesday through Sunday and feature five to six comedians, often including producers Jon Allen, Samantha Gilweit, and Scott Simpson.

Karaoke Clubs

Drive the crowd crazy with your singing skills at one of the Bay Area’s Karaoke clubs - or not. Who cares? What matters is that you have fun.

No date night idea tops singing the night away with your boo at one of the Bay Area’s awesome karaoke clubs. Hidden between the Bay Area nightclubs you’ll find quite a few awesome karaoke clubs, some of which have the power to attract your time and time again. Even if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket, you have to keep in mind that people go to these clubs to have a good time, so not many people will care about your vocal misfortunes; some might even jump in to save the day. With that out of the way, let’s take a tour of the best of them around the Bay Area.

7 Bamboo Lounge might not look like much on the outside, but it is a true Bay Area gem on the inside. Located on Jackson Street in San Jose, the club attracts singing enthusiasts in groups, thanks to its deep selection of songs to pick from. Add to that the great food and awesome people, and you’ve got yourself a catch. If you’re looking for a cool nightlife-y thing to do in San Jose, this place will give you the best experience ever.

Remember that one song you and your friends used to bond over in high school? Now is the time to bring back the memories.

Meanwhile, a few dozen miles away in San Francisco, The Mint Karaoke Lounge is where all the cool singers gather for a fun night out. This is THE Bay Area party place to check out, and one that needs to be crossed off your must-visit list. At The Mint Karaoke Lounge, you’ll never feel alone — whether you’re an amazing singer or the worst, you’ll always find people singing along with you. The only downside to this awesome karaoke club is that it gets really crowded really fast, so you better reserve your spot, or at least arrive early.

Now you know why the Bay Area nightlife is one that is always praised. There’s just so much to do and enjoy in the area that goes beyond the regular. You can rest assured that your night out in the area will be one you’ll remember for years to come.

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