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!
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
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
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
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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
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.