San Francisco is a photographer’s dream destination. Of course, our beloved city by the bay is also famous for its fog, which can quickly turn into a photographer’s nightmare! With patience and local insight, you can capture the best photos of San Francisco during your trip. We want to share the top destinations and angles so you can bring home some beautiful memories!
If you want to really maximize your time in the city and make sure you get to the right photo spots at the right times, then get in touch and let’s create a custom tour of San Francisco to see and do it all.
From cityscapes to quiet escapes, let’s go through the best places to take photos in San Francisco!
Let’s start with the most popular and Instagram-worthy of all San Francisco landmarks: the Golden Gate Bridge.
You simply cannot visit San Francisco without taking too many photos of the Golden Gate Bridge. This SF landmark deserves its fame for its beauty and significance in local history.
To get great photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, you can check out a variety of interesting vantage points. From being up close and personal to framing the bridge within a wider context, you can choose your favorite.
Here are the best spots for photos of the Golden Gate Bridge:
Take photos over the Bay towards Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, especially at sunset. It’s worth it to pay for access to the observation deck for 360-degree views. Fun fact: Coit Tower is named for Lillie Hitchcock Coit, who financially supported San Francisco’s volunteer firefighters.
From this iconic landmark (which deserves to be photographed as well!), you can capture beautiful images of the cityscape and the Golden Gate Bridge. The lighthouse is still in use by the US Coast Guard today. Just check opening hours before you go- as access can be as illusive as the fog!
This park offers beautiful hiking opportunities plus an incredible view over the city. If you visit on a clear day, you should be able to photograph San Francisco with the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the whole city and Bay as well. If it isn’t clear, it may not be worth the effort to get there. It’s a bit of a drive from the center of the city.
For beautiful views of the city’s skyscrapers, head up to Ina Coolbrith Park. You’ll need to earn the views by taking the stairs, but your efforts will be rewarded!
With fewer crowds, you should be able to bask in the beautiful views from Bernal Heights Park over San Francisco for epic photos.
From this vantage point, you can capture a beautiful landscape of the city of San Francisco. From sunrise to nighttime, you’ll capture epic views of the light hitting the skyline and really capture the essence of our beautiful city by the bay.
The island itself is iconic and certainly worthy of plenty of photos, but you’ll also get a great view of the San Francisco skyline from Alcatraz!
Get great images of Alcatraz from the end of the pier, but don’t forget the resident sea lion colony! They’re always photogenic. Plus, you’ll surely want images of the famous Fisherman’s Wharf sign and the pier itself.
Pier 7 is another great stopping point for beautiful views along the water. If you turn back from the end of the pier, you’ll also be treated to a perfectly-framed view of the iconic Transamerica Pyramid!
These iconic colorful houses in Alamo Square always attract a crowd. This series of Victorian Homes is now synonymous with San Francisco and should definitely be photographed during your SF trip! You’ll find them at 710–720 Steiner Street at Alamo Square Park.
With its steep decline and hairpin turns, Lombard Street has become quite the destination for tourists. It can get very busy so it may be tough to get the Instagram-worthy shot, but you can certainly take a photo that reflects the reality of everyone else there trying to get the perfect photo, too.
This beautiful building is a San Francisco icon and it’s one we love to stop at during our SF Day Tours. You’ll find plenty of beautiful angles to photograph around the grounds.
You’ll recognize the lady’s legs sticking out of the window on Haight Street — it’s an iconic image of San Francisco! But all of Haight Street is photo-op-worthy. Famous for residents like The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, Haight Street has always been an artists’ haven.
Our cable cars are very much a part of our city and culture, so you’ll certainly want to capture a few images during your visit! Powell Street is a good place to start, although California Street is less crowded.
Colorful and iconic, you have to take photos in San Francisco’s Chinatown. You can capture the crowds shoulder-to-shoulder or visit during off-peak times to get a photo of the iconic Dragon Gate at the entry to Chinatown with fewer crowds around.
San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood is famous as an LGBTQ+ hub, with Pride flags waving and history having played out across these streets for decades. From Harvey Milk to annual Pride parades, The Castro is a must-visit and certainly offers some of the best photo ops in San Francisco. Grab a photo of the rainbow-colored sidewalks!
If you love street art, then the Mission has to be on your San Francisco photo spots list! Start off with Clarion Alley and then keep wandering through the neighborhood. You’ll be treated to plenty of colorful designs…plus you can grab one of the famous Mission burritos for lunch.
While not a secret, stepping into these gardens certainly feels like a peaceful escape from the busy city streets. Bring your camera and give yourself lots of time to simply wander and enjoy the serenity.
A giant bow and arrow sticking out of the ground in front of the San Francisco Bay…what’s not to love? While this is becoming more popular on Instagram, it’s still a less-touristy part of the city.
This has gained more popularity in recent years due to Instagram, but it’s still a bit less touristy than other spots in San Francisco. You’ll capture a great view of the labyrinth and the Bay beyond.
On a clear day, the view over the Sutro Baths to the Bay is just lovely! You can walk along the ruins of these seaside baths, so it’s not just a photo op but a fun visit, too!
Beautiful flora abounds at the Conservatory of Flowers, making every photographer’s dreams come true. Take your time and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Located in Golden Gate Park, the Dutch Windmill is just another reason to visit this beautiful expanse. Visit in spring for tulip season and you could pretend you’re actually visiting Holland!
This is a local favorite, especially on a nice weekend when everyone grabs some drinks and a picnic to enjoy the views over the city.
Escape the crowds entirely and find yourself surrounded by stunning nature within San Francisco. This is a particularly perfect photo opportunity after San Francisco City Hall weddings! We can help you create your dream microwedding in San Francisco or the Bay Area.
The best way to get the best photos when you visit San Francisco is to have a local with all the insider knowledge you need. From knowing when to avoid the crowds and where to park, to navigating the streets and sharing plenty of interesting stories along the way…let us add that little extra spark to your experience! Let’s craft a custom tour of San Francisco so you can capture all the best photos in the city.