This story is brought to you by the great people over at the Funcheap. Funcheap is an events discovery website for San Francisco. We hand pick the best free & affordable things to do in our unique city. Photo at the top by Darwin Atkeson.

It seems that nearly every club in SF thinks New Year’s Eve is all about hiring some DJ you’ve never heard of and sprinkling a dash of confetti on the table – and then that allows you to be charged a ridiculous cover. No more!

Instead, let’s have a truly memorable last night of 2013 the Funcheap way – by keeping your wallet in your pocket the whole night. Along with the massive free annual fireworks show put on by the city, Funcheap has dug up five ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve in San Francisco for free.

Photo by Darwin Atkeson

Midnight Fireworks along the Embarcadero

As long as you bundle up and it’s not raining, the annual New Year’s Eve fireworks show is an amazing way to bang in the New Year with about 200,000 close friends. Stand anywhere but right in the front of the Ferry Building (it will block your view).

Or to earn a more interesting vantage point, get your blood pumping for the Sierra Club’s New Year’s Eve Hike – which starts at 8 pm at the Ferry Building. You’ll not only stay in shape, but you’ll discover many hidden urban staircases and walkways and end with a post-hike view of the fireworks from the hills.

And get ready to be impressed. The same pyrotechnics company that put on the mind-blowing fireworks for the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th Anniversary is behind this show. 

Photo by The Remones

Beachfront Ramones Punk Party

1-2-3-4 your way into 2014 at the Riptide with a hard and hot rockin’ New Year’s Eve with The Remones USA, an Oakland-based Ramones tribute band who wear leather jackets, tight jeans and shaggy haircuts and they’ll probably sweat all over you.

Expect free champagne jell-o shots at midnight (stay classy, folks!), free party favors, and $5 drink specials. Best of all, there’s no cover charge at this little rustic dive bar where the L-Taraval meets the Ocean.


Free Cabs / Free Muni / Free Caltrain

If you can’t find a free ride home tonight, you’re not really trying and have no one to blame but yourself (unless you need to ride BART which, although it has late night service, does charge regular fares).

The Safe and Sober Free Cab Ride Home Program offers hundreds of free cab rides throughout the city from 10 pm until 3 am. Muni is hooking you up with free bus & metro rides all night starting at 8 pm until 5 am with extra owl service deep into the night. Heading down the Peninsula? Caltrain stops charging at 8 pm and adds four additional southbound trains up until 2:15 am.


’60s Soul Dance Party

Virgil’s Sea Room (3152 Mission St.) is a quirky little bar in the flats of Bernal Heights with a nice big heated patio and a cocktail menu dedicated to local San Francisco heroes like Frank Chu and The Twins. For New Year’s Eve, there’s no cover charge and they’re bringing in Hard French DJs to spin ’60s soul until 2 am.

And instead of champagne at midnight, you can pucker up after you get a free toast of Fernet.

Photo by Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle

A Quiet Meditative New Year’s Eve

It’s not all about fireworks and dance parties – sometimes the best way to ring in the new year is to look inward. The San Francisco Zen Center (300 Page St.) hosts a free serene evening zazen meditation with the ringing of the densho bell and ending with a bonfire in the courtyard. Donations are welcome.

Or spend a quiet evening at the Brahma Kumaris Meditation Center (401 Baker St.) for a “letting go of the old” fire ceremony and a silent reflection to usher in the New Year. Free and open to the public.