Home

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!


Check 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in Shanghai


Coit Tower Windows

Coit Tower Windows
1.
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-Francisco

Virginia Duran Blog- 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco- Golden-Gate-Bridge-from-Battery-Spencer-San-Francisco
2. 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 Peaks
3. 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-Alcatraz
4. 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 Building
5. 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 Institute

Virginia Duran Blog- 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco- Art Institute Rooftop
6.
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 Park

Virginia Duran Blog- 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco- Ina Coolbrith Park Panorama
7. 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 California
8. 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- Presidio

Virginia Duran Blog- 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco- Baker Beach
9.
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 dusk
10.
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.


Check these and other amazing buildings of San Francisco on the map below or download my Free Architecture Guide of San Francisco.

About these ads

34 thoughts on “10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in San Francisco

  1. 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.

  2. 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

    • 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 :)

  3. Hi! I tried going to the Mandarin Oriental spot today, but was stopped and told to make appointment. Is this true or was I just unlucky getting caught by the security guards???

    • Humm… that was unfortunate. Only guests are supposed to be allowed here but usually security guards aren’t very annoying with that. I don’t know if they have changed it recently and they are more strict with photographers (I guess it has become a hot spot) but I would try again some time soon. Or ask a friend to go and see if it happens the same to him/her, maybe you were just unlucky.

      Let us know how it goes for future visitors ;)

      • will do! did you just walk past the doormen/lobby people straight to the elevators? maybe i’ll look more representable and look like i actually have a room there next time.

  4. Pingback: Lindaa.nl | TRAVEL: Hotspots in San Francisco deel 2

  5. Pingback: STREETS AHEAD | Hotspots in San Francisco deel 2

  6. Pingback: The Free Architecture Guide of San Francisco | Virginia Duran

      • Hi Virginia – hmmm. Honestly, the nightclubs, lol. I am now in my thirties and night clubs are a thing of the past for me. But, wow, I had so many awesome nights dancing to house or whatever pop music was big at the time. Otherwise, my mom worked on fifth and Market streets and I could see panoramic views from their top floor.

        • haha can’t believe it was the nightclubs :P

          I can picture your view! SFO is beautiful no matter from which side you see it anyways :) Will you be back soon?

  7. Pingback: 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in Istanbul | Virginia Duran

  8. Pingback: 10 Photographers Who Helped Make Architects Famous | Virginia Duran

  9. I just wanted to say thanks for sharing some of your knowledge. Some of these places are in fact very common but there were one or two that I never knew about before. Will be taking pictures at some these places; fine additions to my photography blog. Thanks again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s