San Francisco is a beautiful city that is really worth visiting. Thousands of tourists visit the city every year attracted by its steep rolling hills that are climbed by the famous cable cars, the chilly summer fog, the fabulous mix of modern and traditional architecture and of course because of San Francisco’s word famous landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge.
When you visit the city you want to see all it has to offer in a short amount of time. Due to the special architecture of San Francisco vista points where you can get a great view of the city are very much searched after. Obviously in many cases you have to pay for getting a wonderful view of San Francisco, but not always.
I will share the best and greatest tips for fantastic views of San Francisco with you in this article. I got those tips just 2 days ago from the concierge of the Transamerica Pryamid, on which you unfortunately can’t go up anymore, and tried them out for you.
You know that they say that “the best things in life are free”! This is also true for the travel tips I will share with you – they are all free, meaning that you can enjoy a spectacular view of the San Francisco area without paying any money for it.
1. Enjoy an amazing view from the Grand Hyatt
The Grand Hyatt San Francisco
The view from the Grand Hyatt San Francisco
The Grand Hyatt near Union square is one of the most well-known hotels in all of San Francisco. Its Grandviews Lounge and Grandviews Restaurant atop of the big hotel offer spectecular views over the San Francisco bay area. This makes the Grand Hyatt a place worth visiting even if you are not staying there as a guest.
However, I heard that despite of the great view the food there is pretty expensive. Therefore, just go up to the 39th floor breakfast buffet at around 11am. I was really amazed by the fantastic view and the personell didn’t even bother to talk to me for the 15 minutes I took pictures there. The views of northern beach are really lovely.
2. Free glass elevator views from the St. Francis Hotel
Westin St Francis Hotel San Francisco
Elevators at Westin St Francis
Pretty close to the Hyatt you will find Westin St. Francis Hotel on Union Square. The hotel features five outside glass eleavators that will give you amazing views of the city when going up the building. And it’s all for free. I walked through the lobby and simply took one of the turbo elevators mounted externally up to the 32nd floor. It felt just like a great ride in a theme park…be sure to go up to 32 and down to 10 multiple times for maximizing your fun
3. De Young Museum – combining fine arts and fantastic views
De Young Museum at San Francisco
View from De Young Museum
The De Young Museum is a modern building complex that houses interesting exhibitions and collections. In case you are not to keen on art the De Young is still a place of interest as you can go up to the free top viewing lounge of the De Young Museum tower. Albeit “only” 12 stories high this is a GREAT view to the ocean beach area. You will be astonished by the beauty of tower’s 360-degree-view. I recommend you bring your binoculars so that you can make most out of the view.
4. Look at San Francisco from Twin Peaks Hill
Twin Peaks Hill in san Francisco
View from Twin Peaks Hill
While you are near the Golden Gate Park you should get a taxi up to the “Twin Peaks” hill of San Francisco. There might be some tour busses up there, but I don’t recommend it as the aprox $12-$15 for the Taxi take you up just when you need it, not when others planned it. The view from the two hills with an elevation of about 922 feet in the center of San Francisco is beautiful provided you have wind and clear weather. Then, when you want to go back ask some tourists that have cars very nicely and I’m sure they will give you a lift down to Height Ashbury again. After shopping around there you can easily take the 71 back to market street.
5. On top of San Francisco in the Bank of America Building
The Bank of America Building in San Francisco
Carnellian Room in San Francisco
The Bank of America Building is located in San Francisco’s financial district. At 3pm go up to the 52nd floor of the Bank of America Building to the so-called Carnellian Lounge. There you can ahve a little cocktail for relaxation and enjoy a fantastic afternoon view of the city. If you ask the staff very nicely they may also let you into the main dining room that I have been in as well.
6. The unique view from Marriott Hotel
The well-known Marriott Hotel
Baybridge and Oakland from the Marriott Hotel
The Grand View Lounge of the Marriott Hotel at 4th stress is “only” 42 floors high and is very crowded around 5.30. If you want to get a window seat to take full advantage of the unique view offered by this bar I’d advise you to be there earlier. Have a nice drink and enjoy looking down on the busy streets of San Francisco.
7. Spectacular views from a San Francisco landmark – the Coit Tower
The Coit Tower is a San Francisco Landmark
From Coit Tower you have a lovely view of San Francisco
You can see the Coit Tower already from afar. Built atop of Telegraph Hill in San Francisco’s Pioneer Park the tower offers a fantastic view of Golden Gate Bridge, Aquatic Oark, Alcatraz, Angel Isand, Treasure Island, Pier 39, Lombard Street, Nob Hill and the financial district of the city. Admission is charged for going up the tower in an elevator and paying that money is really worth it. However, if you need to save money for another San Francisco attraction you can simply check out the lobby murals and outside vista points for free.
8. Looking at San Francisco from afar – Sausalito
The city of Sausalito is close to San Francisco
Great view from Sausalito
Sausalito, small willow grove, is a city located in the San Franciso bay area. Located near the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge it offers lovely views of the whole San Francisco bay area on the other side. You can either access the city via the Golden Gate Bridge or go over from San Francisco by ferry. Of course you will eventually have to spend money to get there, but the beauiful views of San Francisco that you can get there are all for free. A trip to Sausalito really pays off on a day with nice weather.
9. The secret vista point Tank Hill
Tank Hill is a secret vista point
Tank Hill View
Tank Hill is one of the hidden gems in the city of San Francisco. Many people who live in San Francisco haven’t even heard of this beautiful spot from which you can get some of the best views of the city. On a clear day the small park the panoramic view is amazing and the place is never crowded, so you can joy the tranquility of the place. You will have a slightly different view than from Twin Peaks as Tank Hill is closer to the ground and can discover all details of the landscape surrounding you at a bird’s eye view.
10. Having a relaxing view from Corona Heights Park
Corona Heights Park in San Francisco
View from Corona Heights Park
If you rather want to enjoy a spectacular view surrounded by nature rather than from a skyscraper Corona Heights Park is another place to check out. Despite the altitude being lower than on Twin Peaks Hill you can enjoy nice views of the city from there. The park is less touristy and more relaxed than Twin Peaks and so you can easily sit back on one of the park benches and take a glimpse of Civic Center, Hayes Valley, Potrero Hill and Mission. It’s the perfect place for unwinding and letting your thought wander.
San Francisco is a world class metropolitan city with a population of approximately one million people. The large skyscrapers, sprawling parks, and busy city streets make San Francisco an exciting city to visit. San Francisco is a beautiful city to discover and explore as a visitor.
Downtown many areas of the city will impress and entertain you. China town is a central area of the city and just as the name suggests is an area of Chinese heritage, culture and atmosphere. One can emerge themselves in the Chinese culture, enjoy Chinese meals, entertainment, shopping and people. The food markets are always filled with a variety of different types of foods, and there are also many different restaurants to try out. I’d recommend Brandy Ho’s Hunan Food, which has been called “The best Chinese Restaurant in San Francisco” and Yeah!, which is a Chinese bar and restaurant.
If you want to see something a little more risqué, visit Alcatraz , perhaps the most famous former jail in the world. Also known as “The Rock”, Alcatraz draws thousands of visitors every year. Alcatraz was a maximum-security prison located on an Island, and was deemed one of the most inescapable prisons in the world, is now a tourist attraction and can be viewed on a guided tour.
San Francisco Zoo
You can also take a day to visit the San Francisco Zoo. One of California’s largest zoological parks, it features over 1,000 different exotic and endangered animals. Or if you enjoy the outdoors, visit Yosemite National Park, a natural preserve of 1,165 miles of extraordinary beauty. The park features valleys, large waterfalls, peaks and lakes, meadows, wildlife, and rock cliffs. Activities vary by season and include hiking, camping, fishing, bicycling, horseback riding, ice skating and snow skiing.
There are so many sights and sounds to experience. One of the first landmarks you will most undoubtedly see is the Golden Gate Bridge. It is famous worldwide as one of the most beautiful and architecturally well constructed bridges in the world.
The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the opening from San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. It connects the city of San Francisco and the Marin County headlands. The length of the entire bridge including the approach is 1.7 miles or 2.7 km. The distance between the towers is approximately 4,200 feet or 1,280 metres. When it was completed in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge was the largest suspension bridge in the world. However it is currently the second longest suspension bridge in the United States. The unique color of the bridge is International orange, and it is revered for its example of one of the most difficult structural design challenges and also for its aesthetic appeal. It truly is a beautiful and overwhelming sight, especially at night when it lights up the San Francisco skyline.