10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco

13 Feb

Some weeks ago I published 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in Chicago and immediately thought of San Francisco. Its hilly landscape hides potential views like no other big city in the US. So to speak, you’ll have to be fit to reach many of these spots- but the views will pay off believe me.  It’s amazing how in such a small area there are so many interesting points of view to admire the city. However, these are the very best places to bring your camera, so get ready to discover San Francisco’s top sites for photography lovers!
_______________________________________________________________ Coit Tower WindowsCoit Tower Windows1. Coit Tower
Location: 1 Telegraph Hill Blvd.
Best Views: 360º
Admission: General admission $7
Web: sfrecpark.org
Description: This art deco tower was built in 1933 by architects Arthur Brown, Jr. and Henry Howard. Located over the eastern side of San Francisco, traffic makes it impossible to get here by car so I suggest coming through Filbert Street Steps. The 360º views at the top are just amazing. It opens Mon-Sun (10-17.30). It’s currently closed for renovation until April 2014.
__________________________________________________________Virginia Duran Blog- 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco- Golden-Gate-Bridge-from-Battery-Spencer-San-FranciscoVirginia Duran Blog- 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco- Golden-Gate-Bridge-from-Battery-Spencer-San-Francisco2. Battery Spencer
Location: McCullough Rd & Conzelman Rd
Best Views: Golden Gate Bridge
Admission: Free access
Web: parksconservancy.org
Description: Originally built as a military lookout, it now provides large wide-screen vistas of the Pacific. This is the single best “money shot” of the Golden Gate Bridge. Everyone should come here at least once in a lifetime. Parking is almost impossible … almost …, but it is possible. If you can’t find a spot drive up a little further to a roundabout and then come back down the hill and “wait” behind other cars for someone to leave.
________________________________________________________________Virginia Duran Blog- 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco- Twin Peaks3. Twin Peaks
Location: Twin Peaks Blvd
Best Views:  Towers around Market St: Transamerica Tower, Hallidie Building, Millennium Tower, Shaklee Terraces
Admission: Free access
Web: sfrecpark.org
Description: At 922 feet in elevation, Twin Peaks is second only to Mt. Davidson in height. Originally called “Los Pechos de la Choca” (Breasts of the Maiden) by early Spanish settlers, these two adjacent peaks provide amazing views of Market St and its adjacent towers. Most visitors drive Twin Peaks, it’s almost impossible to come here by other means. If you hate tourists (like I do) don’t take the tourist bus.
____________________________________________________________Virginia Duran Blog- 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco- Alcatraz Virginia Duran Blog- 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco-Alcatraz4. Alcatraz
Location: Alcatraz Island
Best Views: South San Francisco’s skyline
Admission: Ticket $26
Web: nps.gov
Description: So everyone knows about Alcatraz, a federal prison from 1933 until 1963. Featured in an endless list of movies such as Catch Me If You Can (2002) or Escape from Alcatraz (1979), it is probably one of San Francisco’s best places to get a shot of its complete skyline. Cruises depart from Pier 33 (9-15.55) and return (9.20-18.15). Fare includes admission to the park and an award-winning cell house audio tour. Oh, and you need to book tickets in advance. It can also be visited at night but is kind of creepy.
_______________________________________________________Virginia Duran Blog- 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco- Hyatt Ferry Building Virginia Duran Blog- 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco- Hyatt Hotel Ferry Building5. Hyatt Grand Regency Hotel
Location: 5 Embarcadero Center
Best Views: Ferry Building, San Francisco Bay
Admission: Free access
Web: sanfranciscoregency.hyatt.com
Description: The Regency Club Lounge was once the Equinox, a rooftop revolving restaurant, but is now a stationary elite club for certain hotel guests offering 360-degree views of the city and the bay. However, if you go to one of the top floors and walk all the way down to the end of the rooms you’ll be able to get out on the fire escape to take amazing overhead shots of the San Francisco Ferry Building. Make sure to use something to prop the fire escape door open behind you- it locks if you don’t and the only way out is to take the stairs all the way out to the bottom. Also, very close to it at Rincon Park’s Cupid’s Span you can get nice shots of the bridge.
__________________________________________________________Virginia Duran Blog- 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco- Art InstituteVirginia Duran Blog- 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco- Art Institute Rooftop6. San Francisco Art Institute Rooftop
Location: 800 Chestnut St
Best Views:  Coit Tower, Telegraph Hill
Admission: Free access
Web: sfai.edu
Description:  There are two spots to take the best views of Coit Tower, one is The Art Institute’s Rooftop and the other is the Financial District Hilton on Kearny. Both are amazing but this place is maybe less known and is even open on the weekends. Great views of Trans America tower, Coit Tower, and the waterfront. Don’t miss the Diego Rivera mural, it’s a historical fresco.
________________________________________________________Virginia Duran Blog- 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco- Ina Coolbrith ParkVirginia Duran Blog- 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco- Ina Coolbrith Park Panorama7. Ina Coolbrith Park
Location: Vallejo St.
Best Views: Transamerica Tower, Coit Tower, San Francisco Bay
Admission: Free access
Web: sanfranciscodays.com
Description: Have you seen these views? Aren’t they amazing? San Francisco parks are just incredible, while you relax lying on the grass you get to contemplate a beautiful scenario. If you like nature make sure you check Dolores Park, Tank Hill and Bernal Heights Park.
________________________________________________________Virginia Duran Blog- 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco- University of Law California8. Hastings College of the Law (University of California)
Location: 24th floor James Edgar Hervey Skyroom at 100 McAllister Street.
Best Views: San Francisco City Hall and The Asian Art Museum
Admission: Free access
Web: uchastings.edu
Description: It’s a shame that the City Hall’s dome can’t be visited. However, you can get to see the dome from this location. McAllister Building (known casually as “The Tower”) contains mainly classrooms, faculty offices, and student housing at University of California. You may not be allowed here so it’s time to make some friends, isn’t it?
________________________________________________________ Virginia Duran Blog- 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco- PresidioVirginia Duran Blog- 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco- Baker Beach9. The Presidio
Location:
Marine Dr.
Best Views: Golden Gate Bridge
Admission:
Free access
Web:
parksconservancy.org
Description: If you’ve watched Hitchcock’s Vertigo with beautiful Kim Novak you shouldn’t miss this spot. Romantic views of the Golden Gate bridge. Other interesting points of view besides the Presidio are Crissy Field and Baker Beach (second image).
________________________________________________________Virginia Duran Blog- 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco- Mandarin Hotel Virginia Duran Blog- 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco- Mandarin Oriental at dusk10. Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Location: 222 Sansome St.
Best Views: North Beach and the Transamerica Building
Admission:
Free access
Web:
mandarinoriental.com
Description
: The Mandarin Hotel is the tallest hotel in San Francisco and there is the most amazing catwalk connecting it’s two towers on the top floor. In my opinion, it’s the best. The views have the perfect angle. However, other amazing hotels such as the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel are amazing too.
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Check these and other amazing buildings of San Francisco on the map below or download my Free Architecture Guide of San Francisco.

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18 Responses to “10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco”

  1. lensandpensbysally February 13, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    San Francisco is a city that is heaven on earth to photograph.

    • Virginia Duran February 13, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

      Indeed. I love this quote by Paul Kantner “San Francisco is 49 square miles surrounded by reality.”

  2. Andy Feliciotti February 13, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

    Thanks for including my photo of cupid’s span :)!

  3. disperser February 14, 2014 at 3:53 am #

    Great guide, thanks, and I will keep this in mind even though I was put out by the “almost impossible” bit regarding the Golden Gate’s money shot.

    Not big on crowds and shoving other people over to get somewhere . . . although I have the SUV for it.

    • Virginia Duran February 15, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

      Hello Emilio, hopefully you’ll get to park if you get there by car. If I ever return that’s the only place I would like to go to. And I hope it doesn’t rain :)

  4. gallivance.net February 16, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

    Virginia, these are wonderful! I think my faves are the views from the San Francisco Art Institute Rooftop and Mandarin Oriental Hotel. What about you? And your Architecture Guide of San Francisco is exquisite. :) ~Terri

    • Virginia Duran February 20, 2014 at 11:24 am #

      Hello Terri, hope you’re having a good day :)
      I couldn’t have a favourite although the views from the Mandarin Hotel are spectacular. On the other hand, the views from Battery Park made me feel alive. If I ever return I just want to go there again :)

  5. psychologistmimi February 17, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

    great places. Ive been to a majority of them. I love twin peaks and the mandarin. I like the fairmont for its drinks!

    • Virginia Duran February 20, 2014 at 11:17 am #

      I just discovered a new one to add to this list: Angel Island. Have you been there?

  6. Gallivanta February 20, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    Fantastic skyline.

  7. arohabahuguna February 23, 2014 at 11:01 pm #

    Awesome tips, esp. on the Golden Gate shot! I am hoping to get there next time I hit San Francisco.

    • Virginia Duran February 23, 2014 at 11:37 pm #

      You should definitely! Thanks for stopping by :)

  8. Douglas Wittnebel March 1, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    Such a nice Surprise to find your blog, as an architect and artist with a yen for the continuos beauty of buildings, your blog is a treat!

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