When it comes to the world’s most beautiful cities, San Francisco is definitely up there. While it may be small in size, it’s got it all: ocean, mountains, nature and plant life, architecture, carefully curated interiors, and one of the great engineering feats of the 20th century. All of those factors and more make it a great place to photograph, especially if you know where to go. Read on for a guide to the most Instagrammable places in San Francisco!
THE 13 MOST INSTAGRAMMABLE PLACES IN SAN FRANCISCO
GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE
Let’s start with the obvious, shall we? This Bay Area icon is spectacular to photograph from every angle, and you may just want to try a couple. Just over the bridge in Sausalito, you can pull off the road and find a perch to grab the perfect close-up snap. Marshall’s Beach and Crissy Field are great places to photograph the bridge from the ground. And from Lands End, near the Sutro Baths ruins, you can capture the less-photographed western-facing view while traversing a winding nature trail. Also, while you’re in the area, swing down to Golden Gate Park to see the Conservatory of Flowers, another Instagram hotspot.
If the name “Alamo Square” doesn’t ring any bells, the Painted Ladies might. Many people recognize this row of colorful houses that sit along the square from their prominence in the intro to the TV series “Full House,” and even if you don’t, you’ll enjoy the perfect photo op they present against a skyline backdrop. Alamo Square is also hilly, so you’ll gain some elevation as you back away from from the Ladies, giving you plenty of room to get your ideal shot.
San Francisco’s Ferry Building, reopened in 2003 after extensive renovations, is a city landmark that serves as a ferry terminal, a marketplace and more. Restaurants and food purveyors line its halls, and outside you’ll find stunning views of the Bay Bridge. Walk along the Embarcadero to Pier 39 for a photogenic stroll or train your camera on the building’s signature clocktower.
Baker Beach is a great place to shoot the Golden Gate Bridge, but the views are beautiful even in the other direction, too. Head over at sunset on a clear day to see the sky turn pink as the sun sets near the bridge. If you have a car, you can park by the beach, but if you don’t you can easily grab a rideshare to take you down. Looking to avoid the crowds? Try it at sunrise instead.
This central San Francisco neighborhood, with its distinctly West-Coast vibe, is as colorful as it is hip, and its trendy boutiques and eateries provide endless social media fodder. Capture its storefronts and street art from outside, or pop into places like cocktail bar Anina or Italian spot a Mano for some interior inspiration.
MISSION DOLORES PARK
It’s hard to get a better skyline shot than the ones you’ll get at Mission Dolores Park, a popular place for events, picnicking and more. Located in the western part of the vibrant and colorful Mission District, the park offers up a straight shot downtown, as well as pretty views of the elaborate Mission High School and its neighboring palm trees. If you’re quick to the draw, you may even also capture a hummingbird sampling the local flowers.
The San Francisco museum scene is a great one, especially for the aesthetically inclined. And with works by venerated artists from Frida Kahlo to Georgia O’Keeffe, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art—SFMOMA for short—might just be its most photogenic. Prefer natural light in your shots? Head to the museum’s Instagram-worthy rooftop sculpture garden.
There’s nothing like San Francisco’s Chinatown. It holds the distinction of being both the largest Chinatown outside of Asia as well as the oldest one in North America, and it’s a must-see for any visitor. Between its Dragon Gate, colorful streets, and hanging red lanterns, you’ll find lots to photograph outside. And if you’re a foodie, you could spend a whole day taking snaps of Chinatown’s food scene, complete with noodles, dim-sum, baked goods and so much more.
PALACE OF FINE ARTS
The first time you see the Palace of Fine Arts, you may think you’ve stepped into Rome. Originally built for the Panama Pacific International Exposition in 1915, the building’s arches and columns evoke an ancient ruin. Add in the lagoon and fountains in the foreground, and you’ll get the stuff Instagram dreams are made of.
Whether or not you’re a sports fan, Oracle Park deserves your attention. The stadium, home of the San Francisco Giants, is often called the prettiest in baseball, and it’s easy to see why. From the stands, you’ll get outstanding views of the Bay Bridge and the marina, and if you’re there during sunset on a clear day, you’re in for a real treat. Aim for seats in the upper deck behind home plate to take full advantage of the view.
Union Square may not be in San Francisco’s most exciting part of town, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth seeing. The one-block plaza, which sits squarely in the middle of the city’s financial district and serves as a shopping hub, is home to a collection of palm trees and a monument featuring Nike, the Greek Goddess of Victory. Catch a bird’s eye view from the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, the Grand Hyatt hotel or the top floor of Macy’s.
Whether you’re a foodie or an interior design fanatic, Tartine Manufactory likely has something you’ll want to photograph. Paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling create a whimsical atmosphere, and the pastries are also photo-worthy in their own right. A bar in the main dining area serves up beautiful cocktails to complete the scene.
TOP OF THE MARK
Looking for sweeping panoramic views of the city? Look no further than Top of the Mark, the restaurant and bar on the 19th floor of the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins hotel. Its nearly 360° views have been drawing visitors since it opened in 1939, with live music and other performances often happening as well. Pop up for a cocktail at sunset to see the city and its mountain-and-ocean backdrop in all its glory, or go all out with a stay at the Mark Hopkins. Award stays go for 70,000 IHG points per night.
Hope you enjoyed this post on the most Instagrammable places in San Francisco! What are your favorite spots in the city? Let me know in the comments! >>
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