San Francisco is a vibrant city full of activity and excitement. With so much to see and do, visitors and locals alike can pack a lot of activities into one day. Perhaps one of the most popular things to do in San Francisco is explore the city’s treasures and capture your memories on film. There is no better way to showcase your trip by taking some fabulous photographs that represent the most beautiful and admired locations in the city.
Because there is so much to do in this Bay Area gem, we’ve made it easy for you to visit the 35 best photo spots that the city has to offer. From Pier 39 to AT&T Park to the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll be eager to showcase your Bay Area adventures. Collect all of your memories by displaying them in a travel-themed photo book.
1. Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge offers free walking tours to learn about the history, science and engineering of the building through outdoor exhibits. You’re bound to get great photos pretty much anywhere on the bridge, but try embracing your adventurous side by exploring the trails and vista points. After exploring, enjoy some snacks and refreshments at the Round House Cafe or the Bridge Cafe.
2. Union Square
Union Square is home to many various shopping centers, hotels and restaurants. It also is the location for many important events that take place throughout the year such as musical performances and cooking classes at the William Sonoma store. That’s what makes it the perfect cultural hub. Take pictures outside of Macy’s next to the famous red heart and say that you truly left your heart in San Francisco.
3. Ghirardelli Square
You can find more than just chocolate in this little gem. Explore the various wineries, restaurants and boutique shops selling artisan goods. Make sure to snap a photo with your travel buddy of your mountainous Ghirardelli ice cream sundaes before indulging.
4. Baker’s Beach
Capture the perfect beach photo with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background and the coastal breeze blowing through your hair. On sunny days, feel free to tan or picnic with family or friends using the tables and grills located near the east end of the beach’s parking lot.
5. Fisherman’s Wharf
Fisherman’s Wharf has been around since the days of the Gold Rush and is the perfect location for any seafood-lover. Snap a picture with a bread bowl full of clam chowder as you overlook all of the fishing boats on the dock. As San Francisco’s most popular visitor destination, you’ll have a wide variety of eateries and hotels to tour.
6. Pier 39
Pier 39 is one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. There’s a plethora of cute gift shops to pick out souvenirs. After walking down to the end of the pier, take a picture with the ocean in the background or visit the Aquarium of the Bay and take pictures of the variety of colorful fish. Don’t forget to check out the sea lions, who are always bathing on the docks surrounding the pier.
7. AT&T Park
Whether you’re watching a Giants game or simply taking a tour of the park, any baseball fan is sure to love the picturesque AT&T Park. The breathtaking views and classic design will make any photo a home run! Hang your best action shots in a fun sports-themed at home.
8. Ocean Beach
With 6,000 miles of open beach and ocean, this spot allows for lots of picture taking. Reconnect with nature within the city itself and take a calm stroll through the paved path across the Great Highway. If you capture the perfect photo, take it home and print a panoramic to hang above your sofa or bed.
9. Dolores Park
This park is home to multiple tennis courts, tall palm trees, a basketball court and a soccer field. In addition to the dog friendly off-leash areas, enjoy the various concerts and events, such as First Caturdays for those with feline friends. Try taking photos from a higher point on top of the hill to capture as much activity as possible.
10. The de Young Museum
Located in Golden Gate Park, the de Young was founded in 1895 and serves as a cherished cultural destination for the city. Check out various exhibits such as the Art of the Americas Galleries and the Jolika Collection of New Guinea Art. However, make sure to comply with the museum’s photography policy and only take photos in the free spaces and permanent collection galleries.
11. Palace of Fine Arts
The Palace of Fine Arts creates a perfect photo backdrop situated among a lagoon. Check out the website to explore various exhibits and concerts happening in the theater. If you wait to visit after the sun goes down, you can take beautiful photos of the architecture being illuminated with lights from the lagoon.
12. California Academy of Sciences
With an aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum all under one roof, there are plenty of photo opportunities at this museum. Take a visit for a fun and educational day the whole family is sure to enjoy. Be sure to check out the beautiful unearthed gemstones, the Philippine coral reef and human odyssey exhibit full of interactive maps.
13. Alcatraz Island
Many photo opportunities await you on your journey to this historic prison site that hosted some famous inmates such as Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly. Snap photos of the island from the cruise ship departing from Pier 33 or capture plenty of memories in the various exhibits and gardens on the island.
14. Golden Gate Park
The Golden Gate Park is home to multiple attractions such as the de Young Museum, Japanese Tea Gardens, California Academy of Sciences and Conservatory of Flowers to name a few. For a chance to quickly see all 1,000 acres of the park and create some fun memories along the way, consider taking a segway or biking tour. This experience is sure to create many of family photo opportunities.
15. Twin Peaks Viewpoint
Twin Peaks offers a fabulous 360 degree view of the city, giving you the chance to take it all in. Try to go on a clear day to experience San Francisco’s greatest landmarks 1,000 feet above the city. Panoramic photos turn out great at this location. Organize all your favorite prints in a collage poster as a special travel memento.
16. The Ferry Building
Located on the Embarcadero, this little market hub connects all of San Francisco’s neighborhoods and surrounding bay communities. Check out the vast array of merchants and visit on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday to experience the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Take pictures of the colorful farm fresh produce, artisan cheeses, chocolates and preserves.
17. Haight Street
Walk along to experience the assortment of vintage shops, bars and restaurants. Inspired by the young hippie community, this location has been home to musicians such as the band members of The Greatful Dead and Jimi Hendrix. Make sure to snap a picture of the dangling legs outside of the Piedmont Boutique, which has become the streets main attraction.
18. The Painted Ladies
While you can’t actually enter inside the homes, these Victorian, postcard-worthy houses are some of the most heavily photographed structures in the city. The most popular location to take photos of these gorgeous houses is on the hill of Alamo Park.
19. San Francisco City Hall
Both the interior and exterior of City Hall are a treat for the eyes. Check out the Board of Supervisors Chambers and historical busts. Be sure to capture a photograph of the grand staircase from the second floor.
20. Lombard Street
Known for its steep, windy hairpin turns, this street is claimed to be the most crooked in the world. You’re sure to be astounded by Russian Hill’s impressive mansions and high-end real estate. Capture a photo of its scenic red-brick path and beautiful green flower beds.
21. North Beach
Take a detour to northeast San Francisco to experience North Beach. Take photos of the beautiful Saints Peter and Paul Church, a historic landmark representing the Italian American culture in this neighborhood. Don’t forget to stop by the Italian Homemade Company restaurant for some delicious lasagna.
22. Castro Theater
The Castro Theater, which opened in 1922, makes historic landmark number 100 for San Francisco. The Spanish colonial architecture and vibrant red sign are sure to make for a unique backdrop to any photo. Be sure to check the schedule and catch a movie during your visit. Find an equally inspiring antique picture frame to showcase your photo in.
23. Alamo Square
You’ll feel like you’re in an episode of Full House as you picnic on the hilltops among the gorgeous flower beds. Be sure to check out the Shoe Garden, where repurposed shoes have been made into unique art that is certainly photo-worthy.
As the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, this cultural hub is sure to impress. Check out the specialty shops, markets and restaurants for an unexpected Instagram photo. Stand outside of the beautiful Bank of Canton for the perfect red and green photo backdrop.
25. Land’s End
If you love nature, check out the beautiful Land’s End. This beach sanctuary is located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and provides a tranquil hiking experience. You’ll feel like you’re on top of the world overlooking the rocky cliffs and snapping photos of the Golden Gate Bridge.
26. The Financial District
As the business center of San Francisco, you’ll be astounded by the skyscrapers and 850-foot Transamerica Pyramid building. Eat at the Tadich Grill and enjoy the Punch Line Comedy Club, where stars like Ellen DeGeneres and the late Robin Williams perfected their craft.
27. Pier 7
Once you’ve hit the Financial District, head down the Embarcadero at Broadway to see Pier 7. Check out the Exploratorium and Port of San Francisco to see the Golden Gate Ferry. Walk down to the end of the pier in the evening to capture a photo of the Financial District surrounded in lights.
28. Nob Hill and Powell Street
This urban neighborhood is home to many upper-class families and boasts some impressive million-dollar apartments and condos. Check out attractions such as the Nob Hill Theater, Fairmont Hotel and Grace Cathedral for some picture-worthy attractions.
29. The Mission District
Commonly referred to as “The Mission”, this district is home to some unique art, including Latin-inspired murals on walls and fences. While you’re there, try a real Mission burrito filled with beans, rice, carne asada and plenty of guacamole. Visit the Mission California de Asis for a historic blast-from-the-past.
30. Point Bonita Lighthouse
Another gem located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is this scenic lighthouse. It was the third to be built on the West Coast and geology fanatics will enjoy the sea cliffs and marvel at the pillow basalt (a volcanic igneous rock formed by lava) exposed by the Headlands.
31. Corona Heights
Home to Corona Heights Park, this attraction provides visitors with a great opportunity to see some springtime wildflowers, including the California golden poppy. If you’re lucky, you might also catch a glimpse of some delicate butterfly species, so have your camera out and ready. Add your favorite nature shots to a photo board to hang proudly at home.
32. Treasure Island
Treasure Island has more to explore than what meets the eye. Venture around the man-made island on fun beach cruisers, try some cocktails at Treasure Island Bar & Grill, or sample the sulfite-free wines at Fat Grape Winery. Make sure to capture a stunning photo of the San Francisco skyline while you’re here.
33. Coit Tower
Perched on top of Telegraph Hill, this architecturally aesthetic building provides a great lookout of the city. The tower was built in 1933 as a memorial to Lillie Hitchcock Coit, an affluent patron of San Francisco’s firefighters. This historic landmark won’t disappoint.
34. Sutro Baths
The Sutro Baths opened up in 1890 and were intended for working people to come and cool off after a long, hot day. The ruins make a great place to explore and reminisce on a past way of life.
35. Cupid’s Span
This 60-foot sculpture along the Embarcadero was installed in 2002 and provides visitors with a fun photo opportunity. Celebrate the city being struck with love and feel free to get creative with your poses.
San Francisco has so many great locations for you to capture memories with family and friends. Plan a day to explore everything the city has to offer, from relaxing nature walks with fabulous views of the bay to the hustle and bustle of popular tourist locations. Let the sits and sounds of the city bring out your inner “San Francisco Photographer“. Turn your photos into a unique gallery wall display to showcase the memories of your trip.