Fabulous San Francisco views from above (and where to find them)

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 check out these San Francisco views from above, and enjoy these cool places to hang out and capture some nice photos of the city and bay area from above.


San Francisco views from above

Why look for the best views of San Francisco from above?

There’s nothing like seeing a city from above and checking out all the major monuments and landmarks and the grid patterns that shows the major parts of a city. San Francisco is dazzling from above during the day or night and really showcases the unique parts and neighborhoods of the entire city which is fun to see from high above. Use this easy guide to show you some of the best and inspiring viewpoints of San Francisco and the surrounding areas from above.


Where to go for the best views in San Francisco now

Most of these places are easy and accessible to the public and others only available to visitors staying at that particular venue. Most of these are relatively easy to get to and spot those amazing views during the day, sunset or even evening photographs of the city from above.


San Francisco views from above - at the View Lounge Marriott Marquis

San Francisco views at the View Lounge, 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. Views from this hotel are spectacular, but if you are looking for something more unique check out these cool boutique hotels in San Francisco to consider staying in.

If you’re looking for accommodations in San Francisco, consider a stay here at the Marriott Marquis, check the reviews and current prices here for your information and availability.

Check out the gorgeous views to the city from the top of the Marriott Marquis below









San Francisco views from above - at the Loews Hotel


San Francisco views from The Mandarin Oriental

Just as spectacular as the View Lounge, the Mandarin 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.


Here’s some of that gorgeous panorama view from the Mandarin Hotel




San Francisco views from above - at the Marriott Union Square

San Francisco views from the Marriott Union Square observation area

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.

If you’re looking for accommodations in San Francisco, consider a stay here at the Marriott Union Square, check the reviews and current prices here for your information and availability.


Looking down at Union Square from the Cheesecake Factory in Macy's


San Francisco views from above the 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.


Looking at Coit Tower in San Francisco

San Francisco views from above looking at Coit Tower in 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 - San Francisco views from above


San Francisco views from the 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)

If you’re looking for accommodations in San Francisco, consider a stay here at the Mark Hopkins Hotel, check the reviews and current prices here for your information and availability.

Here’s the stunning views from the Sky Lounge that dazzles







Hilton Union Square Cityscape Lounge

San Francisco views from the 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.

If you’re looking for accommodations in San Francisco, consider a stay here at the Hilton Union Square, check the reviews and current prices here for your information and availability.



Here are the gorgeous views from the Hilton’s City Scape observation area and bar








Looking at downtown San Francisco from Dolores park

San Francisco views from Dolores park

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.


Here’s the scenic views of the city and Dolores park area below








 Twin Peaks view in San Francisco

San Francisco views from the 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.

Check out these Twin Peaks views to the downtown and bay views below







San Francisco skyline views from Alcatraz prison

San Francisco views from the 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.

Here’s the city skyline view from Alcatraz Island below







De Young museum tower views - San Francisco views from


San Francisco views from the 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.

Check out the views to the park at the De Young Museum







San Francisco views from above at night



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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San Francisco views from above



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Conclusion of seeing the best views of San Francisco from above

Hope this post inspired you to enjoy all of the spectacular San Francisco views from above and that you may visit and check out some of these spots yourself soon!

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