7 Best Photo Spots in San Francisco


best photo spots in san francisco

There are many reasons to visit San Francisco.

From the beautiful coast to the iconic buildings, from its past glories to its arts. It's culture, architecture and everything in between.

When you do visit, you are going to want to take away those memories in photographic form. Here is our guide of where to capture the best images.


2. Golden Gate Bridge

golden gate bridge


The most iconic location in this iconic city has to be the Golden Gate Bridge.

Spanning the entrance to the famous bay, it sits like a symbol of everything the city stands for.

It stands for science and engineering, architectural creativity and thinking on a large scale.

It also blends beauty with practicality.

Tourists and casual travelers alike will be drawn to its charms. And when they are, they will want to know where to take the best photographs.

Looking northward the apparent place is Fort Point.

This will get you right under the bridge and appreciate its size and complexity.  Shots looking up at the bridge with the waves washing up on the promenade below really show off the bridge's excellent scale.

For the equivalent shot is looking south head to Baker Beach on the Marin Headlands. This will give you the wild, rocky shore in the foreground and the bridge sweeping away towards the city in the south.

For the long shot, Torpedo Wharf is the place to be. This allows you to capture the bridge at a distance and appreciate the full expanse of this engineering marvel.


3. Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf


Fisherman's Wharf is everything a photographer could ask for.

In just a short walk you can find all sorts of different subjects and landscapes to shoot.

As the name suggests, it is a working harbor, so head along the seafront as the evening light goes down for some great images.

During the day, the region is excellent for capturing the hustle and bustle of the more touristy parts of the area.

The cafes and color of the waterfront. The jumble of shops selling all manner of goods. Just sit with a refreshing drink and capture the world going by.

And don't forget to head down to Pier 39 and snap all the fun and chaos of the famous basking Sea Lions who are the real celebrities of the area.


4. Chinatown

SF Chinatown


Most cities have their own Chinatown.

San Francisco happens to be the largest outside Asia and one of the oldest too.

And it is like stepping into another world. One which seems to exist halfway between East and West.

One foot in the past the other in the present.

Chinatown is such a riot of color and architecture, excitement and action that you are going to want to remember it via a few well-captured images.

There is a constant pulse of people going about their business all the time. Head there at night and the place takes on a life of its own.

The red glow of the street lights, the exotic look of the shops and restaurants. Plan your visit carefully and you can capture one of the many colorful street parades or celebrations too.


5. Golden Gate Park

golden gate park


Golden Gate Park is nothing short of a wonderland.

A fantasy world in its own right. A tourist could spend a week exploring its charms. A photographer could spend a lifetime capturing its wonder. 

This 1000 acre park is best explored on bike or 4 people Surrey pedal cars as you will cover more ground that way. Literally.

Just passing through its scenery will offer plenty of great images to capture, but a bit of planning will maximize what you get to see.

You will pass through flower beds, arboretums and botanical gardens. Make sure you swing by the Shakespeare Garden and the Japanese Tea Garden.

There are two world-class museums, De Young and the California Academy of Sciences.

Head out to the oceanfront and make your way through the dunes. And that is to get you started.

Also, look out for Bison. Yes, actual, living Bison.


6. Union Square

union square

Union Square is a mixture of practicality and tourism.

It is a shoppers paradise and also a great place to hang out and watch the world go by. You can book yourself on a walking tour to make sure you see as much as possible.

Or you can wander about and see what you discover. It depends on what sort of person you are.

The Square itself is a gorgeous open space.

Come here at night or better still at Christmas to get some great photo's. But even on a normal day, there is much to experience and lots to photograph.

The most famous landmark is Macy's department store, but from here you can access the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the elegant St Francis Hotel.

Maiden Lane is lined with galleries and street art and Emporio Rulli is the perfect place to sit and snap with a coffee and a pastry.

Head to Hotel Diva to capture their Walk of Fame and check out the signatures of the many stars who have stayed there.


7. Coit Tower

coit tower

Not so much a place to photograph more a place to photograph from. 

A small fee gives you access to the elevator and you will find the views from this hilltop tower stunning to say the least.

From here you will be able to take in downtown San Francisco, Alcatraz Island and The Golden Gate Bridge.

This is the perfect spot to capture spectacular images of the fireworks over the bay on the Fourth of July and October's Fleet Week.

Make sure you swing by The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, who make their home around the tower's base. Also, purchase a ticket in advance to jump the queue.



8. Ferry Building

ferry building sf

The Ferry Building is the one place where tourists and locals mingle freely.

It was once the second busiest transit terminal in the world.

This gorgeous building now houses market, shops and cafes.

Though you can still embark on Bay ferries from here. But most people come here for more commercial aspects.

Like all markets, the space is truly alive. A living city within a city.

It mixes the best of local produce with all manner of items that represent the city's complex cultural mix: food and drinks. Produce and luxuries.

Trinkets and treasures. It's all here.

Plan your visit accordingly as the shops may be open 7 days a week but not all of the market stalls are.

And that is what you want to experience, explore and capture on film. And when you have done that there is still this gorgeous building itself to photograph.


city hall

Wherever you go in San Francisco, you should take a camera with you.

But for some truly amazing memories knowing just where to take those photographs is key.

With the help given above, you will be able to look back at your snapshots and arty images in years to come and find yourself right back in the moment.