10 Ways to Get in on the Super Bowl Action in San Francisco
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10 Ways to Get in on the Super Bowl Action in San Francisco

CXNR8P Justin Herman Plaza / Ferry Building - San Francisco. Image shot 2012. Exact date unknown.
© Alice Musbach / Alamy Stock Photo
CXNR8P Justin Herman Plaza / Ferry Building - San Francisco. Image shot 2012. Exact date unknown.
© Alice Musbach / Alamy Stock Photo

The game might be in Santa Clara, but the parties are still in San Francisco. 

While the Super Bowl itself will be going down at the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, 43 miles south of San Francisco, consider this: there’s only space for 75,000 fans. And even if you’re a football die-hard, chances are you probably won’t be one of them. The next best place to catch the game? The 49ers’ former stomping ground, San Francisco. Here’s a rundown of the best events leading up to it and where to watch the game on Super Bowl Sunday.

Pre Game: Events Leading Up to the Big Day

Beginning January 30 and continuing through Game Day, Justin Herman Plaza on the Embarcadero will transform into Super Bowl City. The week of NFL-themed events in the mini-metropolis includes a 40’ Fan Dome with interactive games, live video feeds, a Fan Stage for music, celebrity appearances, and autographs. Also expect a Fan Energy Zone that taps SoMa’s teched-out crowd for data visualization.

On February 3 and 4, sports and music collide at Davies Symphony Hall. The San Francisco Symphony and NFL Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen are hosting music set to Emmy Award-winning NFL films and documentaries.

Michael Mina’s popular French-inspired restaurant, RN74, is the official NFL restaurant this year, with its “On the Fifty” event happening every day for the week leading up to Game Day. Expect Super Bowl-themed décor, autographed memorabilia, and NFL player appearances. On Super Bowl Sunday, swap the typical Budweiser for a glass of Burgundy and watch the game at the restaurant—but book in advance (tip: if you’re with a group, ask about renting out the private Super Bowl-themed space).

The ultimate Super Bowl pregame takes place at San Francisco’s Cow Palace on Saturday, February 6, with the NFL’s Party With a Purpose event, hosted by Andrew Zimmern. Chefs representing the 32 NFL cities will dish out their own inventive spins on football fare while live music fills the arena. Between bites, fanatics can bid on sports memorabilia at a silent auction.

The NFL Experience takes over SoMa’s Moscone Center from January 30 to game day, offering interactive games for young football stars-to-be and adults. An exhibit explores the history of the Super Bowl in honor of its 50th anniversary. NFL players will make appearances for meet-and-greets as well as autographs.

Game Day: Five Classic San Francisco Sports Bars

The San Francisco Athletic Club has 28 high-definition TVs, so you can watch the game from virtually any vantage point in the bar.

Located near AT&T Park, Public House has become a go-to favorite for local sports fanatics. Communal tables, 26 televisions, bar bites, and an impressive beer list in an industrial-chic space draw spectators regardless of what season it is.

Marina sports epicenter the Brick Yard gets packed early, so plan in advance by booking a table. A special Game Day menu includes all the greasy-good fixings for watching the game.

In SoMa, Pete’s Tavern has been a local sports bar staple for more than two decades, thanks to its classic game fare like buffalo wings and sliders, as well as its hefty pitchers and wine selection.

On the Castro, gay bar Hi Tops offers a reliably lively crowd, corn dogs, and occasionally shirtless bartenders.

Jenna Scatena is on the San Francisco Bay Area beat for Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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