Visiting a new city can be a whirlwind of new experiences, including running around town trying to squeeze in as much as possible in a short period of time. Since we know San Francisco best, we thought we would share some of our favorite scenic spots so that when you visit, you’ll spend less time scouting and more time deciding on the perfect shot.
Must See San Francisco Scenic Spots
We have a few favorite spots in the Marin Headlands to get a great view looking back over the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. One is at the top of Hawk Hill. Another is Battery Spencer at the top of the first hill when heading up into the headlands. These spots are especially great at sunrise or sunset. Weekend afternoons and evenings can get really crowded for parking at the viewpoints in the Marin Headlands so if you can, try and work your schedule around less crowded parking times. For our ultimate favorite spot (but not the easiest to get to), checkout this post!
Presidio View Of Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is equally beautiful from the San Francisco side of the bridge. Baker Beach, on the west side of the bridge, is a fun spot to go anytime of day. When it’s clear out, sunset is incredible. The sky glows a pink hue behind the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s also one of my favorite angles of the bridge. If you want to get even closer to the bridge, find the path to Marshall Beach. Fort Point on the east side is also cool because you can get right up next to the bridge.
A walk along The Embarcadero is something we recommend to all new visitors to San Francisco, stopping at the Ferry Building, of course. Pier 7 is also a favorite place of ours to walk out on, as it has an interesting perspective of the Transamerica Building and the Bay Bridge. At night, the Bay Bridge is lit up and makes for a great picture.
Alamo Square Park View of the Painted Ladies
Everyone knows about Alamo Square Park and the Painted Ladies. It’s a stop that we take our friends to when they visit. If taking a great pic is what you’re after, then knowing when to go can make all the difference. It can be tough to get a good picture of people with The Ladies in the background if you go in the middle of the day. The best shots are either after sunrise or before sunset.
Other Favorite San Francisco Scenic Spots
Treasure Island View of the Bay Bridge
If you are visiting San Francisco for the first time, don’t bother going out to Treasure Island unless you have the sole purpose of taking in the city from a different view. Treasure Island is a great spot to take pictures of the Bay Bridge (both the West Section and the new East Section).
At the top of Telegraph Hill is another great spot to look out over Downtown SF including the Transamerica Building. While we’ve never done it, you can go up to the top of Coit Tower that I’m sure has an even better view.
Twin Peaks is one of the highest points in San Francisco. It offers unobstructed 360 degree views of the city. There’s a large parking lot at the top of the peak which offers a nice view, but we actually prefer the viewpoint a little further down the hill on the road that takes you up to the top.
Bernal Heights Park
This park at the top of Bernal Heights has a nice loop trail that wraps around it. It’s particularly beautiful later in the evening when the grass glows along with the sky and the city lights. Thanks to the rain this year, it’s been particularly green.
Sutro Baths was a large indoor, saltwater pool when it was built over 100 years ago. Now, it’s in ruins but you should still come check it out. There’s a spot that we like to go that’s up and to the right of the baths. You can see the Marin Headlands and Golden Gate bridge along the coastline.
The newly renovated Dolores Park is a hub of activity, especially on warm weekend afternoons. It’s uniquely situated on a hill that’s just steep enough to provide a nice view over downtown.
We’ve been all over San Francisco, but we recently decided to see our city in an all new light, from up in the air in a helicopter. Wow, was it worth it! We got really lucky with the weather. While the morning started out foggy, it cleared right at sunrise, leaving a bit of mist hovering around the buildings downtown. We used San Francisco Helicopters and had a great experience.