This hilly city on San Francisco Bay is full of postcard views from the Queen Anne homes of Alamo Square to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Whether you choose to walk, ride, cycle, cruise, or even fly, there are endless ways to take advantage of San Francisco’s best vistas. Here are a few options to ensure you capture the panoramas.
Encompassing just 49 square miles (79 kilometers), San Francisco boasts so many elevated vantage points that it’s impossible to choose only one. Ride a cable car up Nob Hill, hike to Twin Peaks, climb the steep steps up Telegraph Hill, navigate a GoCar down the hairpin turns of Lombard Street, and stand amid the stately mansions of Pacific Heights.
The art deco–style Coit Tower is a classic, while Salesforce Tower is the newest—and tallest—addition to the San Francisco skyline. Both offer 360-degree views along with an interesting perspective on the city’s history and future trends. Hamon Observation Tower, situated atop the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, lets visitors peer through glass walls across downtown.
Aerial views over San Francisco and the bay let you see it all from a bird's-eye view. Gaze down on sailboats and cargo ships cruising through the Golden Gate, and fly above AT&T Park plus Alcatraz and Angel Island. Seaplane flights and helicopter tours typically last between 30 and 60 minutes, and take in the charming sights of Sausalito.
Brunch, lunch, and dinner cruises abound with photo ops from the waterfront to the dramatic Marin Headlands. Combine a tour of Alcatraz with a bay cruise, or simply set sail to soak up the atmosphere. A whale watching expedition takes passengers out to sea in search of migrating humpback whales and other marine life.
Biking, walking, or riding in a sightseeing coach across the Golden Gate Bridge to Vista Point is an experience not to miss. When the fog lifts, these lookout points showcase sights including Alcatraz Island and the city skyline. At night, stroll the waterfront near the Ferry Building and be dazzled by the LED light installation on the Bay Bridge, or head across it to look back at the city from Treasure Island.