12 Great San Francisco Bars With Activities

Our favorite places to drink and play games.

In an ideal world, every bar would have activities. That way, life would never be boring, and every bad date could be saved by a round of skee-ball or Pictionary. But our world isn’t quite there yet—so we put together a list of our favorite places to drink and play games. Get some friends together, then head to one of these spots and try to make it through an hour of shuffleboard or Scrabble without getting weirdly competitive.


Thriller Social Club in SoMa is what would happen if a carnival and a vintage arcade had a baby and bought the most expensive golf simulator in the world. So expect to feel overstimulated (in the best way) as soon as you walk in. Look above the bar and you’ll see a disco ball and a giant clown head. Upstairs, there’s an inflatable unicorn and taxidermied deer. The two-story bar also doubles as an adult playground, and is built for group hangs after a long week, Happy Hours, and dates where you can get unnecessarily competitive playing skee-ball, Whac-A-Mole, and a few rounds of air hockey. They also have an extensive food menu of things like wood-fired pizzas and burgers, since you’ll probably get hungry after breaking records on the punching machine. 

There isn’t much standing room at this Mission spot, because most of the space is taken up by a 14-hole putt-putt course that’s a miniature model of San Francisco, complete with its own Sutro Tower and Transamerica Pyramid. Each hole is designed with as much detail as a Disneyland ride, and scenes include everything from the Gold Rush to the Painted Ladies stuck in an earthquake—it’s just as much fun to find the little details everywhere as it is to play golf while drinking a margarita.

photo credit: Amy Thompson/@amythompsonphotography

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Mission Bowling Club

$$$$(415) 863-2695
Hours:TUESDAY3:00PM to 11:00PM

We wish more old warehouses in the city were like Mission Bowling. This place has six lanes where you can show off some incredible flare, and a full bar with their own proprietary blend of Woodford Reserve bourbon. And if you get hungry, their kitchen cranks out one of our favorite burgers in the city.

photo credit: Mary Lagier

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The Ramp

$$$$(415) 621-2378
Hours:TUESDAY11:00AM to 9:00PM

This waterfront patio spot in Mission Bay hosts Salsa Saturdays on the weekends, and even if you’re not trained like Eddie Torres or Karen Forcano (yeah, we salsa), you’ll probably find someone in the crowd who’s willing to teach you. Aside from dancing, this is one of the best outdoor bars in the city—on the bay views alone.

The big open floor surrounded by balconies makes Emporium feel less like an arcade bar and more like a gaming arena. This converted theater on Divisadero in NoPa has a bunch of massive tables to rent, so your group can have a central meeting place between rounds of skee-ball and Galaga—or at least a spot to cut the cake if you’re here for a birthday party.

Between its leather booths and lack of children’s birthday parties, this is one of the nicest bowling alleys we’ve ever experienced. And the food is great too—charred, puffy flatbreads and the kinds of cocktails you’d find at a stand-alone bar. Fifth Arrow is attached to August Hall near Union Square, so you could come here and grab a few drinks as a quick pregame to seeing a concert next door. Or, you could skip the show, and bowl a few frames on one of their three full-sized lanes instead.

This multi-floor Union Square sports bar has more TVs than Best Buy, so no matter what game you want to watch, you’ll be able to find it here. There’s also skee-ball, pool, foosball, and every other bar game you can turn to when your team is losing. If you get hungry, try their really good potato skins.

Private karaoke rooms are great, but if you don’t have an entire squad with you, belting out Journey isn’t as much fun. That’s why you go to Silver Cloud. This huge Marina spot is always packed with people who will bow down to your musical talents. The singing usually turns to enthusiastic shouting, but that’s part of the fun. (If you want somewhere a little less rowdy, head to Bow Bow in Chinatown.)

If you love board games enough to carry around your own 12-sided die, The Game Parlour is the spot to be. This place in the Inner Sunset is technically a cafe, and serves beer, wine, and surprisingly good milkshakes and waffles (we like the Chicken Coup, with soy-glazed fried chicken and slaw). It costs $7 to play any board game for an unlimited amount of time, which means people are slow to give up their tables. When you’re finally playing Stratego, though, the wait is all worth it.

You only need one reason to come to this Western-themed Marina bar: a mechanical bull. While you wait for your turn, square dance (alone, probably) on one of the biggest dance floors in the Marina. When it’s finally your time, remember that the official rules only let you hang on with one hand—but the unofficial rules say who cares about that because getting bucked off this machine is way scarier than it looks from the ground.

If you want to get smarter while you drink, go to The Interval in Fort Mason. This bar houses stacks and stacks of books on science and engineering, and is probably the only place in the city you can learn about biomimicry while drinking a brandy milk punch.

Technically not a bar, Presidio Cafe is on the Presidio Golf Course, and it’s open to the public, so you can come hang out here like you’re a member of a private club. Grab a beer and hit some balls on the range, or if you don’t feel like renting clubs, their back patio is a great spot to take in a sunny afternoon. You can order from their menu of burgers and fish tacos while you watch people land in the trap coming up the 18th fairway.

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