The 13 Best Views in San Francisco

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Where are the best views in San Francisco? Always camera-ready from every angle, to say San Francisco is a beautiful city is an understatement of gargantuan proportions. Should you need proof, here are some unique spots to soak it all in with your kids. Be sure your phone or camera is fully charged because the best views in San Francisco are all truly snapshot-worthy!

Best Views in San Francisco
San Francisco Cityscape | Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Travel Association

Getting around San Francisco to catch these views

Driving up and down the hilly streets of San Francisco can be exciting for some and terrifying for others. If you’re visiting from out of town, we locals know that when you see a street with lots of parking, always beware. It’s more than likely that it’s a street cleaning day. Always check street signs before leaving your car parked. Fortunately, most of the locations on this list can also be reached by public transit and here’s a guide on understanding public transit in San Francisco that our fellow local blogger Trips With Tykes put together.

Don’t forget to explore the rest of the Golden State! Here are the top 10things to do in California with kids.

Alamo Square Park

 
View of San Francisco from Alamo Square
View of Alamo Square in San Francisco | Photo by Flickr/blupics

Alamo Square Park offers the best views in San Francisco of the Painted Ladies. This compact row of escalating Victorian houses is one of the city’s most photographed locations. Back dropped by downtown San Francisco skyscrapers, it offers a great juxtaposition of past and present. Alamo Square Park is also dog friendly. It even has an off-leash area for four-legged friends who accompany you to take in this scene.

Discover the 10 best things to do in San Francisco with kids

Golden Gate Bridge

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Fort Point from the Golden Gate Bridge | Photo by Flickr / Lee Burchfield

The walking platform along the Golden Gate Bridge reveals a few spots to get the best views in San Francisco.  Enjoy a spectacular look at iconic landmarks like Alcatraz and the Presidio.  You can also see famous points in the city skyline like the Salesforce Tower and the Transamerica Pyramid.  The most unique view from this platform is the bird’s eye look into Civil War era Fort Point beneath it.

Crissy Field East Beach 

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The view from Crissy Field East Beach | Photo by Kristine Dworkin

There’s no better backdrop to picnic, build sandcastles, and play in the bay waters than that on Crissy Field East Beach. The Golden Gate Bridge frames one end of the beach. One of best views in San Francisco for getting a look at Alcatraz just offshore. Adding to the sights, East Beach is known as one of the best places to in the world to go kite surfing.  It’s an acrobat sport making it fun to watch athletes launch themselves into the ocean from this beach. 

Explore more of the state. Here are the top 10 things to do in California with kids

Bay Lights

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The view of Bay Lights | San Francisco Travel Association

This 1.8-mile-wide and 500 feet high light installation covers the north side of the Bay Bridge west span. Comprised of 25,000 individually programmed white LED lights, Bay Lights shines from dusk to dawn. It is best viewed from San Francisco’s Embarcadero north, from the Ferry Building to Pier 33. Time your visit for a warm evening then grab an outdoor table at Perry’s to enjoy the lights over dinner.

Twin Peaks

View of San Francisco from Twin Peaks
View of San Francisco from Twin Peaks | Photo by: Flickr/Javmorcas

On a clear day, Twin Peaks is a great place to take in striking panoramic views of the city. It will seem like they’ve been unrolled for your viewing pleasure right at your feet. Older kids will enjoy the adventure of navigating stairways and alleys to access the trailhead.

At the summit, San Francisco’s best views at 360-degrees will take your breath away! If you’re not into hiking or there are little ones in your crew, drive up the Eureka North peak. No matter the method you choose, it is well worth it.

Baker Beach

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The view from Baker Beach | Photo by Flickr /Lisa Williams

Baker Beach has the best views in San Francisco for wedding and portrait photography.  I have at least six friends with photographic proof to back this up! It’s also another great place for appreciating an unobstructed view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Be sure to bring plenty of sand toys with you. You’ll want to hang out here for a while to enjoy the sand and surf!

Sutro Heights Park and Seal Rock

View from Sutro Heights in San Francisco
View from Sutro Heights in San Francisco | Photo by Flickr/RuggyBearLA

Sutro Heights Park offers the best views in San Francisco you’ll get of the Great Highway and the Pacific Ocean. The home of Adolph Sutro, entrepreneur and San Francisco’s 24th mayor, once stood in this park. Head down the road to the ruins of his business Sutro Baths and take a hike among its remains. Dine at the Cliff House, also once owned by Sutro. Both activities offer an epic view of Seal Rock, an offshore perch often inhabited by sea lions.

Exploratorium

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The view from the Exploratorium | Photo by Kristine Dworkin

The Observatory Deck of the Exploratorium offers San Francisco’s best views of working boats on the bay. Hang out for a while to observe pilot and tug boats as well as cargo ships. It also yields greats view of the Bay Bridge and Treasure Island out across the bay.

Treasure Island

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The view from Treasure Island | Photo by Flickr/ Brian Sims

Originally built for the 1939 World’s Fair, Treasure Island has since served as a hub for Pan Am Clipper Flights. It was also an active US Naval base up until 1996. Pack a picnic and take a drive over to the island. It’s a great place to enjoy sprawling views of the downtown San Francisco skyline and the Bay Bridge.

Coit Tower

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The view from Coit Tower | Photo by Flickr /Nick Amoscato

Coit Tower is the only view on this list that comes with an admission price. Check out the historic murals inside before riding the elevator to the top. You’ll be blown away by sweeping perspective of the city’s downtown area. It’s worth securing a ticket!

Alcatraz

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The view from Alcatraz | Photo by Kristine Dworkin

The view from Alcatraz is not only one of San Francisco’s best views, its stirring too!  Looking at it from the perspective of inmates at the former maximum-security prison, you’ll realize it must have felt taunting. Take time to study the city skyline from the yards and paths surrounding the cell house.

Mt. Davidson

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The view from Mt. Davidson | Photo by Flickr/ Michael Fraley

The highest natural point in San Francisco, a clear day reveals views of Twin Peaks and downtown from 928 feet over the city. Dogs are allowed on leash. A 103-foot cement cross at the top makes this area of eucalyptus and undeveloped forest feel almost like an outdoor cathedral.

Mission Dolores Park

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The view from Mission Dolores Park | Photo by Flickr/ Carnaval.com Studios

Located in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District, this 16-acre gem attracts dog walkers, athletes and festival goers.  Sunny afternoons bring picnickers and spectacular views of downtown San Francisco. 

 

 

About the author

Kristine Dworkin is one of Trekaroo’s Travel Experts located in Northern California. She's also a mom to a gifted girl athlete and a special needs charmer. Like almost everything in her house, traveling is a competitive sport (I'm getting on the plane first...no, I'm getting on the plane first!). With a triathlete, a soccer star, and a baseball player in the house what else could one expect? Since her active family obviously doesn't do sitting still very well, they're always out exploring the world.

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