Millions travel every year from all over the world to visit San Francisco, California and it’s a most iconic landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge!😍🌁 The city of San Francisco, while it’s small, has some of the steepest hills, peaks, and mountains for a major city. During our visit to the City By the Bay, we were on the search for the Best Viewpoints in San Francisco!
Tips for Visiting:
- Before planning a day to visit some of these viewpoints, keep in mind that San Francisco is also known as Fog City because of it’s low and highly dense fog that rolls over the Bay. (Fun fact: the fog’s name is “Karl” by the locals!) So keep this trip as flexible as possible during your visit!
- The month of June is known as “June Gloom” because this is when the most fog happens. For a better chance of clear skies, the best time to visit would be September-November!
- Pack extra layers. When most visitors plan their trip to California they think of sunshine and warm weather, so most people will be surprised that SF is actual around 60 degrees year-round with pretty chilly winds (especially at these viewpoints)! So make sure to pack a scarf, jacket, and COMFY walking shoes. (Leave the heels at home!)
📍501 Twin Peaks Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94114
Look out in the distance for the Sutro Tower antenna and you’ve spotted the Twin Peaks! Located in the heart of the San Francisco, these two tall hills offer the most gorgeous panoramic view of the city!😍 We loved these views, and the horseshoe-shaped road makes it super photogenic!
The best way to get to Twin Peaks is by driving or taking an Uber. Believe us, you won’t want to walk up these peaks! We suggest driving if you can since the main parking lot is completely free. But since this is one of the most popular viewpoints be prepared to wait for a parking spot, especially on the weekends!
💡Tip: There are restrooms on-site!
From the top of one of the 925ft peaks, you can spot the Golden Gate Bridge, the Pacific Ocean, Alcatraz Island, and downtown including the tallest buildings in the city, the Salesforce Tower and the Transamerica Pyramid! This famous attraction is one of the most visited viewpoints to catch the sunrise in the city, and although it’s touristy, (which lets be real, a lot of San Francisco’s landmarks are) it really is worth seeing in person! And if you have some time on your hands, get to the tippy top by climbing the wooden stairs right behind the parking lot.
📍Conzelman Rd, Sausalito, CA 94965
Originally built as a fort for the military, Battery Spencer was constructed during the Revolutionary War and is a part of the Marin Headlands. On a beautiful clear day, your jaw will drop as you lay eyes on the turquoise water of the Pacific Ocean.🤩 You’ll also get a stunning birds eye view of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and the city skyline of San Francisco.🌁🏙🙌🏼 It’s seriously one of the most magical views ever! And before getting to the main viewpoint of Battery Spencer make sure to stop by the abandoned military fort! This viewpoint can get crowded but there’s plenty of places to stand to get an unforgettable selfie with the Golden Gate Bridge!
💡Tip: The parking situation can be kind of confusing, especially on a crowded day. There are designated parking spaces but if those are filled, you can also park along side the road. And the parking is free!🙌🏼
Take the winding road up to Battery Spencer by bike! For the ultimate experience, we decided to rent electric bikes with the Sports Basement, (blog post coming soon) which is our favorite way to explore this scenic city!🚲
📍Bernal Heights Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94110
For a different perspective, follow the dirt trail and grab a seat on the Bernal Heights swing! If you’re there to enjoy some time on the wooden swing, plan ahead because there always seems to be people waiting to get on the swing, from Instagrammers to children just there for a fun time!
This viewpoint is also a dog park, we probably saw 4 dog walkers with groups of dogs. It’s pretty awesome!🐶
📍557 McReynolds Rd, Sausalito, CA 94965
Kirby Cove is right by Battery Spencer so it would be perfect to do both of them in the same day! The bike ride is a trek with long and windy dirt roads, especially on the way back up. We were even on electric bikes and it still kicked our butt lol!
We planned to go to Kirby Cove for the infamous swing on the beach, but the swing wasn’t there.😞 We heard from some locals that sometimes its there and sometimes its not, but either way its totally worth checking out for the incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge on the beach!😍🌁
📍Lincoln Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94129
Like we mentioned, the best way to see San Francisco is by bike! As we took the bike path starting in Fisherman’s Wharf, we got our first up close glimpse of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge at Battery East. There’s also a welcome center to stop and grab some souvenirs from the parking lot if your visiting by car. This is a popular spot to stop and admire the beauty of the fog roll over the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay.
📍3699 Yacht Rd SF (Parking Lot)
Once a former airfield for the military, Crissy Field is now a huge beautiful park with views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the gorgeous skyline of San Francisco! This is a great spot to have a family picnic or go for a leisurely run along the sandy trail. And if you brought your furry best friend along, take them out to the dog friendly beach!🐶 There’s also so biking, yoga, and running events to look forward to if you want a fun way to meet people that love spending time outdoors. Check out the event calendar to see all the fun coming up at Crissy Field here: http://sanfrancisco.eventful.com/venues/crissy-field-/V0-001-001610498-0.
📍Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, CA
Look out towards the Bay and you’ll see the mysterious island of Alcatraz. Once a former Federal Prison until 1963, this is now a National Park that is visited by millions and is a significant part of San Francisco’s history. And being only a mile and a half away from San Francisco, on Alcatraz you can catch one of the most stunning views of San Francisco day and night! Be sure to plan ahead and get tickets online at https://www.alcatrazcruises.com/. Trust us, during peak season tickets can be sold out for several weeks in advance!
Read more about the fascinating history of Alcatraz in our blog post here!
Mission Dolores Park
📍Dolores St &, 19th St, San Francisco, CA 94114
Looking for a relaxing day at the park? You’ll want to visit Mission Dolores Park located in the Mission District, which known for its latin roots! If you have an afternoon, this is also a great place for people watching. From hipsters to hippies and tourists in between, Dolores Park is where the locals flock to be free. You’ll find many people playing fetch with their dogs, enjoying a burrito on the lawn from one of the many neighborhood restaurants, or maybe even smoking a joint 😱(yup!). You can catch all those San Francisco Vibes here! Head to the top of the hill for the best views of the Mission and San Francisco.🙌🏼
Lands End Trail
📍680 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121
This viewpoint is pretty epic and we’re so sad we didn’t know about this until after our trip!😭 From the waves crashing into jagged rocks to the remains of the sutro baths, Lands End is one of the viewpoints that will take your breathe away without any buildings insight. Instead, you can enjoy all the beautiful nature of the Pacific Ocean, wildflowers growing hillside, and old shipwrecks with California mountains out in the distance. You can also view the Golden Gate Bridge from here! There’s also hiking trails, a visitor center, patches of beaches (like Mile Rock Beach) and the famous Cliff House restaurant within the area.
📍Steiner St & Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
Get ready for some 90’s nostalgia! Grab a picnic basket and recreate the Full House opening scene at Alamo Square Park with a postcard perfect view of the painted ladies and San Francisco’s skyline. There are a few local coffee shops nearby to grab a snack before snapping away pics of the famous row of Victorian Houses. You can bring the whole crew because this park is pet friendly and although it’s attracts hundreds of tourists daily, Alamo Square is pretty spacious! Considering that this is one of the most photographed locations in the entire city, you definitely need to add this viewpoint to your list!
Corona Heights Park
📍Roosevelt Way &, Museum Way, San Francisco, CA 94114
Get ready for a climb because you’ll want to check out these sweeping views of San Francisco on top of the signature Red Rock formation! If you plan to visit SF during springtime, plan a picnic here and enjoy lunch among the California wildflowers and wildlife. And if you’re here for the 4th of July, this is the go to spot to catch an amazing view of fireworks!🎆 Besides the popular rock formation that’ll make you feel like you’re out in the canyons, you can expect to see plenty of hiking trails, a playground, dog park, Randall museum, and the nearby shops and restaurants along Castro street. Corona Heights Park is definitely a park for everyone!
Point Lime, Fort Baker
📍411 Moore Rd, Sausalito, CA 94965 (dont know if this address is right?)
Take a bike across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge heading towards Sausalito and you’ll end up at Point Lime/Fort Baker! This military reservation is an amazing viewpoint on the opposite end of Battery East, so you can see beautiful views of San Francisco to your left and the Golden Gate Bridge to your right. You can also catch a glimpse of a rock formation that sits alone in the Bay waters and take in a less crowded view of the city. And if you have the time, take a stroll along the wooden fishing pier to really take in the view!
On a fog-less day, you can catch a glimpse of the Bay Bridge and Treasure Island in the distance!
📍Treasure Island, San Francisco, CA
Pop on the Bay Bridge and head towards Treasure Island for one of the best views of SF! Not only do you get a gorgeous view of San Francisco’s skyline and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, but you can also plan a nice day trip out here as this manmade island is starting to gain more and more recognition as visitors make they way here. Make the trip a part of your itinerary, enjoy brunch at Aracely Cafe and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the island by bike! Eventually you’ll want to end up at Clipper Cove which is a beautiful sandy beach with nice views of the Bay Bridge.😍 There’s even a flea market and a secret lookout on top of a hill at Blue Park looking out towards the city (shh… you didn’t hear it from us). Currently, Treasure Island is going through restoration and soon you’ll find new hotels, restaurants, and businesses popping up over the next several years. (Completion is rumored to be around 2032.) So get to Treasure Island and see it firsthand before it becomes teeming with tourists over time!
📍1705 14th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122
Looking for a perfect San Francisco sunset over the city? Then head over to Grandview Park for a panoramic view in the “Sunset District”. On a clear day, you can even get a view of the Marlin Headlands out in the distance as your eyes stretches over the City By the Bay to the Pacific Ocean. Grandview Park also has dirt roads and trails so make sure to have good walking shoes on (honestly, with the San Francisco hills just keep them on the rest of the trip, you’ll thank us later!). To get to the top, take the 16th Avenue Mosaic Staircase that is known for their 163 colorful ceramic tiled steps. Not only will you get to admire the beauty of the staircase but climbing up these steep stairs to the top for the panoramic view of San Francisco will make the trip out to the Sunset District 100% worth visiting.😍
📍1 Telegraph Hill Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94133
Look out into the distance towards Telegraph Hill, and you’ll notice the 210ft tall white column within the San Francisco hills! This landmark was constructed in 1933 as a gift to the city to honor local firemen. The Coit Tower offers beautiful views of San Francisco and the bay. Our favorite way to get there is to hike up the wooden steps from Fishermen’s Wharf, the views from up there are absolutely worth the steep climb! Once you get to the attraction itself the climb ends at the very top of the tower. There is a fee to go up but you’ll pass through murals showing the colorful life of San Francisco’s community from the past, plus 360 degree views that will make your jaw drop!🤩 You can even see Lombard from up there (the most crooked street in the world)!
As you can imagine, San Francisco’s beauty can be admired from all throughout the city. From Twin Peaks to Treasure Island, no matter where you plan to visit during your trip, the City By the Bay will steal your heart and take your breath away! ❤️