San Francisco, California is a culturally rich and diverse city that is known for its eclectic landmarks and architecture. It has a vibrant music scene and is considered a hub for live music of every genre, especially jazz. With several theatres and venues, concerts are always happening in the city, in addition to other performing arts such as theatre productions and dance shows- meaning there is something for everyone to enjoy!
Below is your guide to the performing arts scene in San Francisco.
There are many venues to view live performances throughout San Francisco, however, some are more bucket-list worthy than others and essential to visit while in the city. The following are our recommendations for experiencing the best of the performing arts in San Francisco.
Musical Theatre enthusiasts will not want to miss a performance by San Francisco's preeminent theatrical company, Broadway SF. Based out of the beautiful Orpheum and Golden Gate Theatres, Broadway SF presents Broadway shows from various decades in addition to one-of-a-kind events that are at the forefront of the national theatre scene. Both theatres are within walking distance of each other and are surrounded by restaurants that feature a variety of cuisines- making for excellent post-show dining options.
(photo credit: SF Jazz)
The SFJAZZ Center is a must-visit jazz music venue in the hip neighborhood of the city's Hayes Valley. It is an all-ages venue and is considered to be the first free-standing building in America designed for jazz performance and education. It is home to a non-profit organization that presents and facilitates jazz education meaning there are always lots of shows happening at the Centre. The SFJAZZ Collective is the prominent group that performs out of the center and is a jazz ensemble consisting of eight performers/composers. Each year, the SFJAZZ Collective performs a new repertoire that combines the works of a modern jazz performer with eight new compositions, one from each of the ensemble members. After enjoying a show at the SFJAZZ Center, stop in for a drink at the Linden Room, just steps away from the center. This speakeasy-style bar is tiny but serves up classic and seasonal cocktails.
(photo credit: SF Symphony)
Performing out of the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall, the San Francisco Symphony (SF Symphony) is an orchestra that was founded in 1911. This Grammy award-winning orchestra has been led by several conductors throughout the years and presents more than 220 concerts annually. Attending a performance by the SF Symphony is the ultimate opportunity to experience exceptional classical music within a modern concert hall.
(photo credit: SF Opera)
Known for being one of the world's leading opera companies and training some of opera's great young artists, the San Francisco Opera (SF Opera) puts on shows like no other. Hosting a combination of classics and new works, the SF opera performs out of The War Memorial Opera House and has commissioned numerous world premiers. Those with an appreciation for opera must take in a performance by the SF Opera, and should consider stopping into the nearby Absinthe Brasserie and Bar for Parisian inspired eats.
Coined as the most romantic venue in San Francisco, the swanky Black Cat jazz club transports guests back in time to an authentic supper club. With swinging live music and an elaborate menu full of decadent shareable global dishes, Black Cat is the perfect place for a classy night out. Its entertainment schedule features some of the best live jazz in the city and it is known for having an impressive guest list.
Since 1933, the San Francisco Ballet (SF Ballet) has been known for pushing boundaries in dance and has a history of making history. Accompanied by its own orchestra, SF ballet operates as one of the country's most prestigious schools of ballet and those with an interest in dance will not want to miss one of their performances. The company is currently based in the War Memorial Opera House which is down the street from Plaj, a sophisticated Scandinavian restaurant and a great place to dine after watching the SF Ballet.
(photo credit: Broadway.org)
The Curran Theatre is a prominent establishment within San Francisco and has housed some of the biggest productions in theatre history. Originally built in 1922, this newly restored theatre has a reputation for being one of the premier live entertainment venues in North America and guests can expect nothing less of amazing productions. Beginning in the fall of 2021, the Curran will be presenting an extended run of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which will mark the show's debut on the West Coast. Be sure to check out Cafe Mason for a bite to eat after a show at the Curran Theatre. Located around the corner from the theatre, Cafe Mason serves round-the-clock American fare in a retro setting.
If you find yourself in San Francisco, be sure to set time aside to experience some live performances. From a beautiful orchestra concert at the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall to a high-energy Broadway show at the Golden Gate Theatre, there is always a performance to catch in the city!