Looking for a little pre-bedtime family entertainment? From movies under the stars to mirror mazes and mini golf, adventures after dark are sure to entertain the entire squad. Scroll down to see our incredible options and feel free to dart out at dusk, children in tow!

 

Photo: Kyle Brinker via Unsplash

Enjoy the View

Climb aboard an enclosed private gondola (seats up to 6 people!) and soak up views from the Pacific Ocean to downtown San Francisco as you travel 150 feet up and around for an entire 12 minutes. And the magic of the wheel's one million LED lights will entertain your little ones long after the ride is over. America's largest traveling observation wheel will live in San Francisco until March 2025.

Skystar Observation Wheel

Golden Gate Park’s Music Concourse
1 Bowl Drive

San Francisco, CA

Cost: $18/person; $12/children under 12; free for children under 2
Online:
skystarwheel.com

Hit the Lanes

Who doesn’t like a bit of friendly competition—especially when it includes neon lights and your favorite tunes? Whether you’re a family of master bowlers or only in it for the lane-side snacks, a family night out is sure to be all strikes!

Sea Bowl
4625 Coast Highway
Pacifica, CA
*Family Night Out Special! For $69.95, enjoy 2 hours of bowling, shoe rentals, 1 large 1 topping pizza and a pitcher of soda (with a free refill).
Online: seabowl.com

Country Club Bowl
88 Vivian Way
San Rafael, CA
Online: countryclubbowl.com

Classic Bowling Center
900 King Drive
Daly City, CA
Online: classicbowling.com

Presidio Bowl
93 Moraga Avenue
San Francisco, CA
Online: presidiobowl.com

photo: Kate Loweth

Be aMAZEd

Get lost in Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze of psychedelic colors and glowing mirrors as you and your family navigate your way from start to finish. Full of twists, turns and dead ends, this 2,000 sq. foot maze will excite and challenge your little explorers. Admission is valid all day so why not attempt to escape it more than once? After getting lost between the black lights play tourist for an evening and explore Pier 39’s two levels of restaurants, attractions and views. Don’t miss: Insider’s Guide to Pier 39

Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze
Building 0-11, Pier 39 (halfway down Pier 39 on the 2nd Floor)
San Francisco, CA
Cost: $10/person; free for children 5 & under
Online: magowansinfinitemirrormaze.com

photo: Museum of 3D Illusions

3D Illusions

Let your imaginations run wild! This one-of-a-kind art museum gives both young and old a chance to experience optical illusions in a unique and fun way. While some exhibits are specific to San Francisco (like a magic carpet ride near the Golden Gate Bridge), other exhibits allow you to live out your dreams, or possibly—your greatest fears. From surfing and balloon rides to zombies and shark attacks, the Museum of 3D illusions’ 40 + exhibits will capture the minds and hearts of the entire family. Don’t forget your cameras! Photography is encouraged.

Museum to 3D Illusions
55-61 Jefferson St
San Francisco, CA
Cost: $30/person; $15/children 6-12; free for children 5 & under
Online: sfillusions.com

photo: istock

Outdoor Movies

Summer nights under the stars and family-favorite movies—what’s not to love? Just don’t forget the popcorn, candy and a picnic blanket large enough for the entire gang.

From Harry Potter to Lady and the Tramp, there's something for everyone, even an audience social vote at Thrive City Cinema Night (Wedding Planner or Sister Act: What would YOU choose?). All movies start at 8 p.m. or dusk and bonus: some movies are FREE. Click here to find Bay Area movie schedules, pricing and more!

photo: Nick Jio via Unsplash

Catch a Game

Whether you and your family support the Giants or the A’s, a night at the ballpark will not disappoint. Be sure to check the schedule for fun giveaway days and post-game fireworks!

San Francisco Giants
Oracle Park
24 Willie Mays Plaza
San Francisco, CA
Online Schedule: SF Giants

Oakland Athletics
7000 Coliseum Way
Oakland, CA
Online Schedule: Oakland A’s

And if your family fancies soccer over America’s favorite pastime, check out the San Jose Earthquakes for 90 minutes of teamwork, athleticism and maybe a few goals!

San Jose Earthquakes
PayPal Park
1123 Coleman Ave.
San Jose, CA
Online Schedule: San Jose Earthquakes

photo: istock

Dine Outside

Whether you’re digging into a Cobb salad, a crab sandwich or simply a large order of French fries, all ages are sure to enjoy their meal a little better in the fresh air. With the influx of patio seating (and much-needed heat lamps in San Francisco!), options in the Bay Area are abundant. Dining alfresco promises waterfront views around the bay, bright lights of the big city and sometimes—family entertainment (bocce ball, anyone?). Don’t miss: Our Favorite Bay Area Eateries with Outdoor Seating

photo: Stagecoach San Francisco

Mini Golf Night

A surprise at every turn, miniature golf brings family game night to a new level! Whether you're exploring the Gold Rush era at Stagecoach Greens or aiming for castles and windmills (or even a dragon’s mouth) at Golfland, mini-golf courses are open late and sparkle at night. The kiddos, regardless of age, are sure to love the lights, water features and wackiness of each course.

Stagecoach Greens
1379 4th St.
San Francisco, CA
Cost: $16/person; $10/children 12 & under
Online: Stagecoachgreens.com

Golfland USA
855 E. El Camino Rd.
Sunnyvale, CA
(Other locations include San Jose, Milpitas, Fairfield, Castro Valley)
Cost: Varies based on location
Online: golfland.com

For more fantastic spots, check out: Get Your Putt On At These Bay Area Mini Golf Courses

photo: istock

Stargazing

Mt. Tamalpais State Park
Marin’s open spaces and beautiful night sky offer stargazers a unique location away from the lights of San Francisco and Oakland. Currently, the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers group is offering free online lectures. Click here for more information. Why not take in a family astronomy lecture before gazing at the stars from the comfort of your own family campsite at Mount Tamalpais State Park?

Redwood Regional Park
While the very popular Chabot Space & Science Center is currently closed due to Covid restrictions, Redwood Regional Park in Oakland offers an alternative ideal spot for family stargazing explorations. Park on Skyline Blvd., near the Bay Vista Picnic Area, and hike to one of the many meadows or groves for unobstructed views.

Mount Diablo State Park
For hands-on astronomy learning activities and the chance to see the solar system through a variety of telescopes, check out the events with Mount Diablo Astronomical Society Or if you and your little stargazers prefer a private family viewing, drive to Mount Diablo State Park’s Upper Summit Parking Lot for the best views. And better yet, stay overnight at one of the family campgrounds! Don’t forget the s’mores!

Ice Cream Surprise

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make the most lasting memories. Surprise your kiddos after dinner with a surprise trip to your local ice cream parlor. Already in pajamas? No problem! The sillier the sleepwear, the better the nighttime adventure! Need help finding a local spot or want to try a new one? Don't miss: Get the Scoop: The 37 Best Ice Cream Spots in the Bay

 

—Nicole Findlay

Featured Photo: iStock

RELATED STORIES

101 Must-Try Family Adventures in the San Francisco Bay Area

14 Farms Near the Bay Area Where You Can Stay the Night

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star: The Best Spots for Stargazing