It’s already tricky enough to clear out your schedule and find a babysitter; coming up with a date night plan can seem daunting, especially during this coming cold and rainy season. From adults-only museum nights to indoor skydiving to escape rooms, let these ideas inspire you to find a new and different way to enjoy time with your significant other. Kids aside, you’ll have something new to bond over after you head back home. Please be sure to check with each venue for their COVID safety protocols.

California Academy of Sciences NightLife

While you likely have taken the kids to the California Academy of Sciences, it's a totally different experience when you head there at night and you have time to appreciate the museum yourself. On Thursday evenings, the California Academy of Sciences NightLife program brings you music, creatures and even cocktails with a new theme each week. To attain the ultimate in Very Important Parent status, grab a VIP ticket that includes a behind-the-scenes tour, two complimentary drinks plus light bites on the rooftop lounge, express entry to the rainforest, and more. Upcoming NightLife themes include the BigPicture photography exhibit, nocturnal animals, and Halloween Academy-style.

California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Drive
San Francisco, CA
Dates: Thursdays, 6-10 p.m.
Tickets: $17-$20, timed entry
Onlinecalacademy.org

Exploratorium After Dark

Thursday is also the night for the Exploratorium's After Dark program, which brings hands-on discovery to an 18 and older crowd. The theme changes each week, from crafting to outer space to exotic creatures to photography. You can listen to guest speakers, participate in hands-on activities and watch specialty films. You also have access to the whole Exploratorium and its 650 exhibits—and now you don't have to fight off all the kids to try out all the cool gadgets and experiments. Grab a drink at the bar and open your mind.

The Exploratorium
Pier 15
San Francisco, CA
Dates: Thursdays, 6-10 p.m.
Tickets: Free for daytime and After Dark members, $19.95/non-member. Timed entry.
Onlineexploratorium.edu

Champagne Experience at Top of the Mark

The iconic Top of the Mark at the very top of the InterContinental Mark Hopkins in San Francisco is famous for its 360 degree views of the city, its weekend brunches, and now a brand new champagne experience. The hotel has partnered with Piper Heidsieck to create two new signature cocktails, to be served from their new champagne carts, along with Astrea caviar. Go for a cocktail and appetizers and feel like you're floating away at the top of the world.

InterContinental Mark Hopkins
19th Floor, 999 California Street
San Francisco, CA
Top of the Mark open Tues- Sat 4:30 p.m. - 11 p.m.
Online: sfmarkhopkins.com 

Emporium Arcade Bar

Ready to relive your arcade and foosball days without having to share your tokens with the tikes? Then the Emporium should be on your night out list. This arcade bar, located in the 100-year-old Harding Theater on Divisadero Street, houses all your favorite old-school games like pinball, foosball, skeeball and even shuffleboard. Plus, Emporium has a full bar focusing on local and regional craft beers. Expect to find DJs spinning your favorite jams, loads of awesome art on the walls and giant movie screens.

Emporium
616 Divisadero Street
San Francisco, CA

1805 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland, CA

Onlineemporiumsf.com

photo: Anita Chu

Barrio Latin Kitchen

If the coming chilly weather has you longing for a warm getaway, consider an evening at Barrio. Starting out as a neighborhood hangout in North Beach, this restaurant's crowd-pleasing Latin-inspired dishes and beer bar inspired a second, larger location at Ghirardelli Square. Barrio's second location has an outdoor patio and a beautiful rotunda dining room with breathtaking, floor-to-ceiling views of the Golden Gate Bridge. There isn't a better spot to have a craft cocktail along with dishes from all over Latin America like cochinita pibil, beef birria, ceviche and their housemade blue corn tortillas. Don't miss their house guacamole and roasted salsa either. If it's vacation you've been missing, Barrio might be just the cure.

900 North Point, Unit J101
San Francisco, CA

1609 Powell Street
San Francisco, CA

Online: barriosf.com

PanIQ Escape Rooms

There’s nothing like a bit of adrenaline to bring people closer together. If you haven’t done an escape room before, you might learn something about your partner while frantically trying to decipher clues and solve puzzles to break out of the room before time runs out. PanIQ Room in San Jose offers several themed rooms from Wild West to murder mystery. You have an hour to figure out how to escape—don’t be surprised if you get addicted and go back for the other rooms. All games are private groups with no contact with other customers or employees.

PanIQ Room
2270 Quimby Road
San Jose, CA
Tickets: From $129-$189 per session
Online: paniqescaperoom.com

alley&vine

If you've been really missing the fine dining experience during the pandemic and are ready for a fancy night out, alley & vine is the perfect place to celebrate. This farm to table restaurant in downtown Alameda showcases the best of the local and seasonal bounty in some cozy yet creative dishes. For fall, the menu features dishes like honeynut squash soup with brown butter, seared duck liver with chanterelles and chestnut, butter poached sturgeon, and confit duck leg with fairytale pumpkin. The wine and cocktail list is also stellar, and don't forget the chocolate pot de creme for dessert. The dining room is fully open, or you can eat on the lush outdoor patio —the ideal place to enjoy their weekend brunch.

alley&vine
1332 Park Street
Alameda, CA

Online: alleyandvine.com

iFly Indoor Skydiving

For those who thought having kids meant an end to daredevil adventures... think again. iFLY offers the thrill of skydiving in a safe, indoor environment. There’s no parachute and no jumping; you actually fly inside a giant see-though wind tunnel with a certified flight instructor by your side the entire time. And you’ll quickly find out that half the fun is watching as your partner tries it out. All packages include a training session, at least two flights per person and a flight certificate you can show off to your kids!

iFly
31310 Alvarado-Niles Road
Union City, CA
Tickets: From $65/person
Online: www.iflyworld.com/sfbay

—Anita Chu

featured photo by the author

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