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San Francisco Bars with Great Outdoor Areas

Updated on October 30, 2012
2522 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA

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199 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA

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El Rio:
3158 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA

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Foreign Cinema:
2534 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA

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Toad Hall:
4146 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94114, USA

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The Mix:
4086 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94114, USA

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Pilsner Inn:
225 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94114, USA

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Wild Side West:
424 Cortland Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA

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Mars Bar:
798 Brannan St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA

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The Endup:
401 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94107, USA

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San Francisco has beautiful weather (usually) and stunning city views but it can be difficult to find it as part of the area’s nightlife. Much of the late night action of the city is confined to underground bars and dark clubs. Luckily there are a few spots in town (mostly in The Mission since it’s warmer there than other spots but not only there) where you can enjoy a cigarette and see the stars (or the fog) settling over the city. From the romantic moonlit view spots to the large patios for gathering with friends, San Francisco’s outdoor bar areas give a new look to the city at night.

Here are some of the best bars for enjoying the outdoors:

Medjool Restaurant / Lounge. Setting the stage for sexy is the Sky Terrace at Medjool in The Mission. This Mediterranean restaurant has foods to spice up your palette and a 360 degree view of the city to spice up your evening. If you’re entertaining an out-of-town guest that you want to make sure stays in your bed instead of a hotel, this is the outdoor bar in the city that you want to spend that first evening enjoying. It’s a sweet spot.

Zeitgeist. It’s impossible to believe that the rooftop bar at Zetigeist even exists until you get into the Mission and up to the rooftop to see it for yourself. It takes up so much more space than you would think could even exist outside in this crowded, built-up city. But nevertheless it’s there, with big bench tables filled up regularly by groups of people trying to have a laidback, unpretentious good time with friends in The Mission. It even has burgers so you can feel like you’re at a BBQ right there in San Francisco.

El Rio. This is a dive bar in the Mission with an outdoor patio for smokers. It’s heated so it’s used all throughout the year. And it’s large compared to a lot of the other outdoor smoking areas that bars in the city offer. It does sometimes get crowded but there’s usually still enough space to move around. Things people like here are free oysters and cheap drinks.There’s a BBQ at this Mission bar too.

Foreign Cinema. Foreign Cinema is sometimes considered a bit of a local secret although it tends to be a hot spot for indie kids who are “in the know”. This would be surprising if all you knew about it was the pricey numbers next to the fancy entrees listed on the dining room menu but isn’t surprising at all when you find out that the outdoor courtyard has a wall which is home to regular features of independent and foreign films. It’s almost like San Francisco’s version of the drive-in theater, minus the cars. It’s a great spot to enjoy a drink and watch a film outside.

Toad Hall. This relatively new popular dance club in The Castro is a big outdoor area in the back. It’s a covered area that stays fairly warm due in no small part to the fact that it is always, always crowded back there. If the trendy gay scene is your thing then this is your outdoor SF spot.

The Mix. This is another Castro bar but it’s a bit less trendy and a lot less crowded. It’s got a huge outdoor patio that is particularly nice on warm evenings but suitable enough on chilly evenings as well. There’s a bar outside on busy nights so you don’t have to go all the way back inside to get a cocktail.

Pilsner Inn. I’ve only been to this Castro bar once and it was quite a few years ago but what I do remember about it is that it has a cool comfortable large outdoor patio in the back. If I remember correctly there was some heaters out there when I went although I can’t quite say for sure. It seems like that would be the case though as it tends to be the case at most San Francisco spots with outdoor seating.

Wild Side West. It would be unfair to mention all of these Castro gay bars without mentioning at least one lesbian bar in the city, right? I haven’t been to this lesbian bar over in Bernal Heights but people on Yelp report that it has a nice outdoor patio. It isn’t just a patio, actually, but apparently a charming garden area. Sounds pretty – I’ll have to check it out one of these days!

Mars Bar. This SoMA restaurant and bar reportedly as a great heated outdoor seating area although I haven’t been there yet so I can’t vouch for it. Yelp reviewers that it’s large with good heaters and lots of comfortable seating. Apparently it has been host to various fundraising events such as jello wrestling in a kiddie pool set up out there although that’s something else I can’t vouch for!

EndUp. When the night is coming to a close at bars all across San Francisco and you want to keep the party going, you end up at The EndUp. Open without closing all throughout the weekend, this bar lets you dance until you don’t know what day it is. But you have to stop that sweaty shaking sometime and the huge outdoor patio of this bar is the perfect place to do it. It’s got lots of sit-down spots and is strangely quiet for an all night SoMA spot, so quiet that you feel okay about yourself even though you’re still there on Sunday afternoon.


Submit a Comment

  • htodd profile image


    6 years ago from United States

    That is really great info..some great bars out there ..Thanks

  • telltale profile image


    8 years ago

    Didn't know SF has so many nightspots, been there a few times, but was there for different reasons. The weather (not usually) is fine with between 10 to 12 deg C, for the few times I was there... Thanks for the info!


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