Date Night Atop Bernal Hill

Living in a city with so many options and so much to do can, quite frankly, be daunting. Especially when you’re trying to plan a simple but interesting date night. With metered street parking costing upwards of $15 in some parts of town, after a long day, date night can feel overwhelming.

Take a page from the play book of any Bernal Heights resident and take in the sunset from the top of Bernal Hill. The 360 degree view of the city helps anyone brush off the dust from their cyber fast-moving work day. On top of the hill, neighbors meander, dogs roam off-leash and the pace of life slows down. In the past, artists have put two chairs and an antique treasure chest engraved with the 36 Questions to Make You Fall in Love to inspire meaningful conversations about falling in love. Couples regularly share bottles of wine and some have gotten engaged. Legend has it, that in 1876 con artists planted traces of gold there and triggered a mini gold rush, much like the start-up mentality today.



Start at Pinhole Coffee on Cortland Avenue to see who’s the featured roaster of the month. With your coffee in hand, head to Bernal Blvd. The ample parking on Folsom Street creates easy access to walk up the paved road to the top, or you can head off on any of the well worn paths. From any place you start you can forge a 40 minute loop over the 26 acres of parkland. You’ll pass the tree swing on your way up and, for some sliding spontaneity, there’s an unmarked stairway on the Southwest side of the hill that leads down to Bernal Heights Mini Park. There, you’ll find a pair of metal slides side by side. The 433 foot elevation creates a place to breathe in deeply, exhale and soak up the panoramic views as the sun goes down and the city lights begin to twinkle. You can see downtown, Twin Peaks, Mount Davidson and the Bay Lights sculpture spanning the Bay Bridge.

When you’re sufficiently cold and thirsty, head back down to Cortland Avenue to the Holy Water Bar for a Holy Gimlet or one of many solidly crafted beers on tap to warm yourself up. If you want to grab something more hearty, pretend you’ve just trained for your trek up Mt. Everest and visit the Little Nepal restaurant. It’s one of two genuinely Nepalese restaurants in the city by chef Prem Tamang. Alternatively, the neighborhood’s tiny Nute’s Noodles on Cortland serves steaming bowls of ramen, pad se ew and a rare Northern Thai and Loas noodle dish called khao soi. They also have a park-let to eat outside if you brought the dog.




Jen Baxter is a writer, photographer, content creator and San Francisco native. She writes about food, travel and real estate and you can find more of her work at


Link Love:

36 Questions to Make You Fall in Love:…

Legend – (SF Gate Article on Bernal Heights during the gold rush):…

Pinhole Coffee:

Holy Water Bar:

Little Nepal:

Nute’s Noodles:

Jen Baxter is a writer, photographer and San Francisco native.

She tells stories encouraging people to be independent, more aware and more creative.

You can find more of her work at