The views in San Francisco are awe-inspiring, and many require a little bit of a hike, so I want you to be prepared! In this article, you will find the best San Francisco views, tips & tricks on how to get there, and more.
As a Californian, I consider San Francisco the “big city” and venture up to the San Francisco Bay Area any time I have an itch for excellent dining, amazing activities, and picturesque vistas (Golden Gate Bridge, anyone?).
You won’t believe how busy San Francisco is, so plan ahead in order to take advantage of all the amazing things this city has to offer.
- If you are in a hurry
- 1. Twin Peaks
- 2. Grandview Park
- 3. Battery Spencer
- 4. Bernal Heights Park
- 5. Coit Tower
- 6. Golden Gate Park & Overlook
- 7. Hawk Hill
- 8. Lands End
- 9. Crissy Field
- 10. Mission Dolores Park
- 11. Fort Point National Historic Site
- 12. Sutro Baths
- 13. Point Bonita Lighthouse
- 14. Treasure Island
- 15. Mile Rock Beach
- 16. Corona Heights Park
- 17. Ina Coolbrith Park
- 18. Baker Beach
- 19. Get the perfect shot of the Painted Ladies
- Where to stay in San Francisco, CA
- FAQs about the best San Francisco views
If you are in a hurry
When you get to San Francisco, you’re going to want to adventure around the city, not start coordinating your itinerary. So, make sure to book your hotels and activities in advance:
Do you wish you had more options? Well, you do! Check out our extensive list of hotels & areas in San Francisco!
I also want to mention that it is really handy to have a car rental to be able to enjoy all the viewpoints in San Francisco on the list!
If this is your first time in San Francisco, it’s really useful to have a map to distinguish all the different areas of the Bay. So, I added one for you below! 💁♀️
1. Twin Peaks
The second tallest natural point in San Francisco, after Mount Davidson!
When we’re talking San Francisco views, top of the list is the gorgeous lookout point which showcases iconic cityscapes from the popular Twin Peaks lookout.
From Twin Peaks, you’ll get an iconic 360-degree view of the Bay Area – the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance, the shimmering waters, and the incredible San Francisco skyline.
To get to this amazing spot, you’ll drive up a twisty road, park in the designated parking lot, and head over to the adjacent North Peak Parking Lot for an immediate vantage point.
If you’d rather have a little adventure, opt for a 0.7-mile (1.1-km) hike along the trail, leading to an elevated 360-degree view of the city!
2. Grandview Park
Sometimes referred to as Turtle Hill, this beautiful park is a wonderful spot to take in the city skyline.
Grandview Park hovers over the famous Sunset District, often socked in by fog, so be prepared to deal with a less-than-crystal-clear view.
On a clear day, you’ll get stunning views of the skyline, as well as views that stretch as far as Ocean Beach.
To get to this location, you’ll want to park at the bottom of 16th Avenue Tiled Steps, a super cool painted and mosaic staircase in the center of the park, and climb the 0.2 miles (0.1 km) up the steps to the top of the hill.
If you dig this painted and mosaic stairwell, I highly recommend jumping on this Stairwell tour of San Francisco, where you’ll get to tour around and see incredible art spread throughout the city.
TOUR PRICE: from US$33 per person
3. Battery Spencer
One of my favorite San Francisco viewpoints reveals striking skyline perspectives from the Marin Headlands – and I think you’ll love it too!
One of the best aerial views of the city grants unparalleled Golden Gate Bridge vistas from Battery Spencer. It’s so neat to see the bridge’s iconic architecture against the backdrop of the city and bay.
To get here, you’ll drive across Golden Gate Bridge and take the Conzelman Road exit. Park at the first lot you reach or at the North Tower Golden Gate parking lot, both giving you access to the lookout.
From either lot, it’s a short walk up to the viewpoint, which sits 500 ft (152 m) above the bay, and allows you to pass by the old military battery!
If you want more iconic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, check our dedicated article, which has a complete list of the best viewpoints.
4. Bernal Heights Park
I love a good city park, and Bernal Heights Park fits the bill perfectly!
The atmosphere of this vibrant city park is buzzing – viewpoints, fountains, hiking trails, and activities galore.
Come here for great views of the San Francisco skyline, Golden Gate Bridge, San Bruno Mountain, and East Bay.
Hike up Folsom Street or take the shorter route via Bernal Heights Boulevard to get to this sweet spot.
5. Coit Tower
A great vantage, Coit Tower is an iconic landmark atop Telegraph Hill with a unique history and panoramic views.
Inside, vivid murals adorn the walls. One, in particular, was commissioned in 1934 to show the effects of the Great Depression on California!
Step outside for a 360-degree view which offers panoramic bay views, including Alcatraz, from Coit Tower.
Reach the top via a steep climb or, I prefer, opt for the picturesque Filbert Street Steps or Greenwich Steps these are much easier, just sayin’! 😉
PRO TIP: if you look closely, you can even see the famous Lombard Street from this vantage point!
PRICE: US$7 per person
6. Golden Gate Park & Overlook
Every single time I visit San Francisco, I take a trip to Golden Gate Park, specifically to Golden Gate Overlook, to be mesmerized once again by the beauty of the Bay Area.
Located within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, you’ll want to park at the lot and then follow the short trail to the overlook.
Do not miss the Hamon Observation Deck inside de Young Museum! Head through the main entrance of the museum, stay right, and take the elevator up to the top.
Get ready to gasp when you look out the floor-to-ceiling windows framing the jaw-dropping views of the bay and iconic Golden Gate Bridge.
NOTE: the de Young Museum and Harmon Observation Deck are open Tues – Sun.
MUSEUM PRICE: US$20 per person
7. Hawk Hill
Hawk Hill is a special place in San Francisco, hosting a population of incredible wildlife, particularly birds, within its boundaries.
Not only will you get an unparalleled view of Golden Gate Bridge, but you’ll also have the opportunity to spot raptors, vultures, falcons, and eagles!
If you want to almost guarantee a raptor sighting, plan your trip during the raptor migration – September through November, and you won’t be disappointed.
Drive up Conzelman Road and follow the signs to reach the hill, but be warned, there’s very limited parking.
8. Lands End
Ooooh, I think you’re going to love this one!
Lands End encompasses its name – conjuring a mystical, picturesque final point in the entire city.
What’s really neat about Lands End is that you’ll have views of Sutro Baths, Cliff House, the bridge, and the Pacific Ocean.
It also provides lovely coastal trails that lead to dramatic vistas, rocky shorelines, sandy enclaves, and blue ocean. This spot presents stunning sunsets over the Pacific Ocean from Lands End, and you can read all about it in our related guide to Lands End Trail.
Accessible by car or public transit, follow the Lands End Trail for an extended dose of natural beauty!
9. Crissy Field
This former Army field turned recreation center is a gem in the city of San Francisco.
Crissy Field, part of the Golden Gate National Park system, is a great place to plan a picnic, play frisbee, go for a stroll, and simultaneously get outrageous views of the Golden Gate Bridge and bay.
Tucked into the Presidio, this waterfront spot frames the iconic bridge against a backdrop of greenery. The view changes with the changing tides, making every visit distinct.
Stroll or bike along the waterfront, starting from Marina Green, and enjoy all the park has to offer.
While you’re down in this area by Fisherman’s Wharf and the shoreline, I highly recommend taking the time to visit Alcatraz, either by yourself or on a guided tour. It’s an unforgettable experience!
TOUR PRICE: from US$140 per person
10. Mission Dolores Park
In 1903, the San Francisco Mission Park Association voted to turn a former Jewish Cemetery into what is now Mission Dolores Park.
Enjoy the local San Francisco, CA vibes by visiting Dolores Park. It gives you an amazing view of the downtown skyline and the lush park.
This viewpoint brings into view the Salesforce Tower in SoMa and the Transamerica Pyramid in the Financial District, 2 of the city’s tallest, most recognizable buildings.
This is also a central gathering spot for city festivals to cultural gatherings, adding to the park’s vibrant energy.
Equipped with 2 off-leash dog park areas, pet owners love this green space!
11. Fort Point National Historic Site
Alright, history buffs, here’s your lookout point!
Fort Point is just beyond the San Francisco city limits and is drowning in history, offering a super unique view under the Golden Gate Bridge.
This Civil War-era fort offers a view from a different perspective, looking up at the bridge’s grandiosity.
Wander through the fort’s brick arches and gun emplacements to witness the bridge’s majesty framed by this abandoned military fort.
12. Sutro Baths
You may have spotted a glimpse of Sutro Baths if you have already stopped at Lands End, but this viewing spot is worth a stop of its own.
The ruins of a once thriving bathhouse complex from the late 19th century, you can almost see the old images come to life.
Perched on the rocky coastline, you get a unique viewpoint of the city along the rugged Pacific shoreline.
To reach this spot, follow the Lands End Trail from the parking lot near the Legion of Honor, or see our related article for all the details.
13. Point Bonita Lighthouse
For this vantage point, you’ll travel across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Headlands.
Point Bonita Lighthouse is a hidden gem, accessible via a short, scenic trail offering an unparalleled view of the Golden Gate Bridge from an entirely different angle.
Get your adventure hat on because you’ll need to traverse a suspension bridge to reach the lighthouse unfolding a rugged coastline against the iconic bridge backdrop.
NOTE: closed Tues – Thur
14. Treasure Island
For a view that feels, well, almost surreal, visit Treasure Island.
Positioned in the middle of the bay, it offers a panoramic view of both San Francisco’s skyline and the Bay Bridge.
The best views of San Francisco are during sunset and after dark when the city lights shimmer on the water.
Take the Bay Bridge’s eastern route to Treasure Island and park in one of the many visitor parking lots.
Want to get out on the water? Try this ferry cruise out to Treasure Island instead.
If you get hungry while on the island, don’t miss the fantastic new restaurant, mersea, with incredible views and dynamite seafood.
15. Mile Rock Beach
While the super cool labyrinth is no longer here (as of 2021), Mile Rock Beach is still one of the best views in San Francisco.
Hidden beneath Lands End’s trail, this beach offers a secluded viewpoint with fantastic views of the city and bay.
Accessible via a steep path and a series of stairs, this small is a little oasis, with waves crashing gently on the rugged coastline.
16. Corona Heights Park
Corona Heights Park is so special, and I highly recommend a visit in springtime to experience the amazing wildflower bloom makes it even more special!
Keep your eyes peeled for the famous California poppy and anise swallowtail, a big yellow butterfly with black shoulders that calls San Francisco, CA home.
You’ll love the sweeping views encompassing downtown San Francisco skyscrapers, the Bay Bridge, and the rolling hills.
Just a short distance from the Castro district, it’s an urban retreat that encapsulates San Francisco’s eclectic vibe.
17. Ina Coolbrith Park
Enjoy the greenery and rec space of Ina Coolbrith Park, a beautiful space on Russian Hill that gives way to incredible views of the city.
Once you get to the park, you’ll want to climb the short steps that lead up and out to an amazing vantage point with a cityscape view.
Named after California’s first poet laureate, this Russian Hill neighborhood spot is filled with benches and flowers, offering a peaceful escape to relax and create.
Grab a picnic or a good book and gaze upon the downtown skyline.
18. Baker Beach
I’m always drawn to the tranquility of Baker Beach, positioned along the city’s rugged coastline, offering amazing views of the city skyline and the Pacific Ocean.
A great location for sunset, you’ll get an up-close view of the orange and pink California sunsets over the bay.
The best way to reach Baker Beach is to drive northwest on Lincoln Boulevard until you reach the parking area near the beach entrance.
PRO TIP: Some of the best San Francisco viewpoints on this list (including Baker Beach) are part of tour itineraries, like this GoCar tour. Just hop on the GoCar, and let the audio guide lead the way. It not only saves you time, but it also saves you from walking and is so much fun!
TOUR PRICE: from US$230 per person
19. Get the perfect shot of the Painted Ladies
Alright, if you were a child of the 80s or 90s, you already know the Painted Ladies from the credits to Full House!
“What ever happened to predictability?!” 🎶🤣
But seriously, this spot is so cool and has amazing San Francisco views!
Alamo Square, renowned all over the world for its iconic Victorian, colorful, homes, provides a prime vantage point for seeing the houses and city skyline in the backdrop.
Get in the groove on these awesome, vibrant, old-school VW buses and tour around the city in style. This guided tour will include a stop to see the Painted Ladies in Alamo Square, as well as the famous Golden Gate Bridge.
TOUR PRICE: from US$80 per adult
|🏛️ Best museum:
|de Young Museum
|👮 Best tour:
|🚶🏽♂️ Best free activity:
|🌇 Best sunset
|🕺 Best viewpoint:
Where to stay in San Francisco, CA
There are amazing options when looking for accommodations in Palm Springs. See below for my top picks for every budget, with prices from US$100 to US$350+ for 2 people per night.
Luxury (US$350 and up)
- Taj Campton Place – you will love this luxury hotel in Union Square, close to all the action. With city views, an on-site restaurant, and lavish guest rooms.
- The Fairmont Heritage Place Ghirardelli Square – bay views and skyline await you at this luxury hotel near the water. You’ll love the service here, the large bar, and grandiose apartment-style suites.
Mid-Range (US$200 – US$300)
- Club Donatello – one block from Union Square, this hotel is in a great location and has 4-star amenities and city views.
- Mansion of Sutter – this great B&B is within walking distance to San Francisco city hall, making it a great spot to visit all downtown attractions.
Budget (up to US$200)
- La Casa Inn – located on Lombard Street, La Casa Inn is a comfortable place to stay in the Marina district, with clean rooms, great service, and nice guest rooms.
- Samesun – this fun and social hostel/hotel is in the Marina District with comfortable beds, clean bathrooms, and a perfect location – it’s a great budget option.
FAQs about the best San Francisco views
🌜 Where are the best night views of San Francisco?
The best night views of San Francisco are from Mile Rock Beach, Treasure Island, and Twin Peaks.
♥️ Where is the best view of the San Francisco skyline?
The best view of the San Francisco skyline is from Golden Gate Overlook, Battery Spencer, and Lands End.
🌉 Where is the best view of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge?
The best view of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is from Golden Gate Overlook and other spots on the Marin side of the bridge, like Mile Rock Beach and Fort Point. See them all in our related article.
👀 What restaurant in San Francisco has the best views?
Mersea has the most spectacular views of San Francisco, situated in the middle of the bay on Treasure Island.
As you can see, there are so many incredible San Francisco views that you can take advantage of on your trip!
Whether from a park, a beach, or an overlook – San Francisco delivers amazing views of the bay, Golden Gate Bridge, and city skyline.
If you’re planning a trip to San Francisco, don’t forget to book in advance for your favorite activities and hotels!
Please come back and tell me about all your favorites, I can’t wait to hear all about them!
Aloha & safe travels,
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