Answers from Our Experts (3)
There are numerous photo opp locations around the city, whether you're dangling off the side of a cable car or posing below Lombard Street. But for a real WOW power, head to Crissy Field, a 100-acre shoreline park along the water between Fort Mason and the Golden Gate Bridge. A sandy beach and walking path lead straight to the iconic symbol and postcard perfect, unobstructed views abound.
To capture the city skyline nothing beats the view from the water. A ferry across to neighboring Sausalito or Tiburon will provide gorgeous views, and if you're feeling really active, catch a ferry to Angel Island, full of California history and miles of hiking trails. Here you'll find spectacular panoramas of the entire Bay.
If something more relaxing is your style, reserve a sunset cruise on the Red and White Fleet or a dinner cruise on Hornblower.
Or grab your camera and take a cab to the Marin Headlands. Just north of the Golden Gate, this crown jewel of the Golden Gate National Parks offers unparalleled views that take in the bay, two bridges, the entire city, and the pacific ocean. In a word---breathtaking.
San Francisco is a city that was built on very hilly terrain; this means that there are great views all over the place! All you have to do is wander the streets and look around.
For a gorgeous view of Alcatraz, North Beach, and the Bay Bridge, stand at the top of Lombard Street where it intersects Hyde Street. At Fillmore Street and Broadway Street, take in the view of the entire bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Marina. Walk along the Embarcadero toward Crissy Field and you'll enjoy a sweeping view of the bay including both bridges, Marin, Berkeley, and Oakland. For a gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean, head to Baker or Ocean Beach.
If you prefer your view with food and cocktails in an elegant setting, check out the Top of the Mark. Located on the 19th floor of the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel, the sky lounge offers stunning wraparound views of the city, the bay, and beyond. The Cliff House serves classic cocktails and California cuisine with the Pacific Ocean as a beautiful backdrop. And if you want to see San Francisco in all its urban glory, the best place to do so is across the bay at Cavallo Point. The lounge, restaurant, and hotel are just below the base of the Golden Gate Bridge.
It makes sense when you think about it, but the best views of San Francisco aren’t necessarily found in the city.
But for gorgeous views in San Francisco, head up to the obervstion tower at the de Young Museum, the Top of the Mark Bar at the Mark Hopkins Hotel or The View Bar at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis Hotel. Ascending the Westin St. Francis tower in the glass elevator is a thrilling experience, but it’s limited to hotel guests or people attending functions on the upper floors. And have your camera ready as you walk and drive around, because beautiful vistas of the Bay Bridge and the iconic Transamerica building will sometimes appear as you turn a corner.
But the very best views of the City by the Bay are found on the other side of a bridge, so you get to see the entire panorama. We suggest you head for the boardwalk of Alameda island, over to Treasure Island which sits midway between San Francisco and Oakland or the shores of Sausalito if you want a postcard-worthy panorama of San Francisco.