San Francisco views from above
Not surprising, there are so many fabulous places in the city that you can go to see and photograph San Francisco and the entire bay area. Some of these are open for the public while others may only be available to guests staying at that particular hotel. So if you are in the area and what to see some wonderful views of San Francisco from above, take a look at places and maybe you will be in one of these places soon.
Places to visit in San Francisco with views from above
The View Lounge at the Marriott Marquis
You take an elevator to the top floor which offers a bar lounge and amazing 360 degree views to the city below and the surrounding landscape including both bridges coming into San Francisco. Since the View Lounge doesn’t open up until 4pm in the afternoon it is advisable to come early and secure the best seats in the house and those are usually the ones by the window facing downtown and the Bay Bridge. On a clear day, you get beautiful light and sunset views into the night which is perfect for taking any photographs of the city.
The Loews balconies
Just as spectacular as the View Lounge, the Loews Hotel observation areas and outdoor balconies are unique and out of this world with stunning views downtown. Close to popular landmarks like the Trans America building, Coit tower and the Golden Gate bridge, everything seems even more intense outside on the two balconies. If you are a guest of the hotel, most of the upper floor bedrooms have these views, but you can also check out the balconies from above if you contact the concierge desk to have access to the balcony. Or better yet, you can get married at the hotel or even host a special function at the hotel to secure these stunning views for your event.
Marriott Union Square observation views
Located on the 36th floor of the hotel, the main observation area has sweeping views of the bay and key landmarks areas like Union Square, Chinatown, North beach and other popular landmarks. An easy site to visit and check out the lovely views from Union Square, the Marriott observation is open to guests and the public for any special functions or events that are booked on the observation area and meeting rooms. You can inquire at the front desk for access.
Cheesecake factory balcony at Macy’s
Only on the 7th floor of Macy’s at Union Square, the outdoor balcony area of the Cheesecake factory has the view of the immediate Union Square plaza below and surrounding areas. It’s busy, festive and a great place for people watching and if you are willing to wait for your name to be called from the waiting list, there’s enough great views to soak in before you can grab a bite or an out of this world cheesecake with a view.
Coit Tower at North Beach
This is a very popular tourist destination and extremely busy with long lines for the elevator ride to the top. If your willing to brave the wait, you will be rewarded with great views of the downtown area and Embarcadero along with magnificent unobstructed views of both the Bay bridge and Golden Gate Bridge.
Top of the Mark Hotel
Another historic hotel located on Nob Hill the Top of the Mark has huge windows that offer incredible views below to different areas in the city including downtown, Fisherman’s Wharf and the Embarcadero and gorgeous San Francisco Bay. A 4pm opening time, this is a very popular venue so reservations are mandatory when visiting the Top of the Mark. Yes those drinks and appetizers are going to be pricey but chalk this up as one of those once in a lifetime types of experiences and it will be worth it (Just make sure you reserve a spot on a nice sunny day)
Hilton Union Square Cityscape Lounge
For the price of a cocktail at the view lounge on the 46th the 360 degree views at the Cityscape Lounge at the Hilton Union Square are simply amazing to see. Along with the expansive lounge area with gigantic windows (you can walk around the entire lounge for different views of the city from the hills down to San Francisco bay) you can also dine above with their dinner buffet with a view. This is possibly the highest and most complete wrap around views of the entire city and worth a cocktail or dinner when you want to enjoy fantastic views from above. Sunny days are great time to come to Union Square or late afternoon into sunset so you can capture some wonderful photographs of the city into the night.
A short ride from downtown on the J line Muni, Dolores park next to the Castro and Dolores area is a large grassy area with spectacular panoramic views of the Mission and entire downtown district. The upper terraced grass areas have just been planted and are off-limits, but you can still get dramatic views from the lower terrace areas closer to the tennis courts below. If you want to sit on the grassy areas, then head out to the lower terrace next to the tennis courts. Weekends are very busy and fun for people watching and picnicking at Dolores park.
Twin Peaks lookout point
For the best view of San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area, you need to drive all the way up to Twin Peaks. Not an easy place to access without personal transportation, it’s still worth the effort because you will get panoramic views of the entire downtown area and surrounding outer neighborhoods which makes this one of the most popular view areas to visit in the city. If you have extra time take some of the trails to surrounding lookout points behind the viewpoint and you will get different vistas to enjoy and a more unique experience than just the scenic lookout.
Alcatraz prison lookout
From the top of Alcatraz island fronting the prison, if you walk to the edge at the look out point, the views back to the city skyline are really stunning. From the prison lookout, you can practically see all the major landmarks and attractions around the city. This is probably one of closest areas to the city where you can get a great view to photograph of the San Francisco skyline along with touring a historic penitentiary.
De Young Museum tower
After you have visited the many unique art galleries at the De Young Museum, take an elevator ride up the tower and you get some fantastic views of the main square at Golden Gate Park with views to the Richmond district and out to the Pacific ocean. You can also see the Golden Gate bridge and bay area from the tower. Also in the distance you will also be able to see views of downtown San Francisco, making this visit one of a kind in this area of the city with completely different views of the area from above. You can visit any time to check out the views but sunny days are preferable to see more details from the tower view.
You’ll always be inspired seeing San Francisco from above and with little effort, you can see the city different vantage points with killer views to the city and some fantastic photo opportunities. Do you have any other ideas or places to take an incredible shot of San Francisco or the Bay Area? Please share with us in the comment section below, thank you.
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