The Best Instagram Spots in San Francisco
Looking for the best San Francisco Instagram spots? Well, I’m here to spill the deets. There’s really no place like San Francisco. Some say it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and I can’t disagree with that. The hilly terrain, the architecture, and the abundance of bay views are all reason enough for a weekend getaway.
Along with loads of incredible Instagram-friendly restaurants, San Francisco is incredibly photogenic. There is no shortage of photo-worthy spots when visiting San Francisco. In this blog, I outline all the “18 of The Best Photo Spots in San Francisco”!
Battery Spencer is atop the Marin Headlands and is by far the best view of San Francisco’s most iconic landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a national park and can get very busy during peak times. For that reason, parking can be hit or miss since there are limited spots (but it’s free to park). For the best view of the Golden Gate Bridge, head towards the very end lot and walk about 5 minutes through the battery to this viewpoint.
Address: Conzelman Rd, Sausalito, CA 94965
Golden Gate Overlook
Golden Gate Overlook has a unique view of the Golden Gate Bridge since the bridge view is straight on. In order to get to this exact spot, you’ll want to park in the Langdon Court Parking Lot (free to park). It’s one of the lesser-known views so it is not typically busy. As long as Karl is not hanging around it’s one of the prettiest views in town. Another great view in this area of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge is situated in Golden Gate Park nearby.
Address: Langdon Ct, San Francisco, CA 94129
Palace of Fine Arts
If there’s any place in San Francisco that makes you feel regal, it’s The Palace of Fine Arts. A little slice of Rome in the middle of the Marina in San Francisco. It was originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, a world’s fair celebrating the completion of the Panama Canal and showcasing San Francisco’s recovery from the devastating 1906 earthquake.
The architecture here is quite stunning and is in the Beaux-Arts style. Which is characterized by its grandeur, classical architectural elements, and symmetry. The homes surrounding the park are equally as beautiful. For the best time to visit, head here in the morning when the lighting is prime and there are no crowds. It’s free to roam around the grounds.
Address: 3601 Lyon St, San Francisco, CA 94123
The Painted Ladies
An iconic colorful row of Victorian houses with the city’s skyline in the back. These houses gained the “Painted Ladies” nickname because of their multi-colored and decorative facades. The term was popularized in the 1970s and 1980s when there was a renewed interest in preserving and restoring historic architecture. Many of these houses had fallen into disrepair over the years, but efforts were made to restore them to their original grandeur, which often included repainting them in historically accurate colors.
The houses are best viewed from Alamo Square across the street. Furthermore, you may recognize one of the iconic homes from the famous 90’s TV Show, Full House. Finally, the lighting here is best in the morning or late afternoon! Try not to get here at high noon since the lighting is super harsh.
Address: Steiner St &, Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94117
Bernal Heights Swing
A local’s only spot! One of San Francisco’s best-kept secrets is The Bernal Heights swing. It has sweeping views of the entire bay area. In order to get to the swing, you’ll need to hike up a steep hill. There are a ton of trails and steps to help you get up there but it’s a short hike so wear comfortable shoes.
There is a small parking lot at the entrance that fills up quickly. However, there is plenty of street parking available. Finally, this swing is notorious for being cut down so do a bit of research before making the trek. As of August 2023 the swing is not currently up.
Address: 3400-3416 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Lyon Street Steps
The Lyon Street Steps have beautiful views of the bay, The Palace of Fine Arts, and billionaires row. The steps are surrounded by multi-million dollar homes that are gorgeous enough to warrant a visit here. You may even see a coyote or two in the morning! I witnessed my first coyote sighting here, random, I know!
Address: Lyon street & Broadway (top of the steps)
The cutest little city in Marin County is hands down Sausalito. Not only does it have sweeping views of the city, but there are tons of quaint boat homes, and the cutest little shops adorning this small town. It’s a perfect day trip from San Francisco. To reach you can either drive or take the ferry. It’s an extremely walkable town.
I would highly recommend going to the Barrel House Tavern for lunch since the views are great and the food was delicious. Don’t forget to check out my Day Trip to Sausalito Blog Post.
Home to one of the largest Chinatowns outside of Asia. San Francisco Chinatown is rich with culture and colorful streets. You need to head here when visiting the city. You can head to the bar Lipo for the best Mai Tai’s in town or to the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie factory where they hand out free samples. The streets are filled with lanterns and pagoda buildings that act as a perfect photo opportunity.
Address: 56 Ross Alley, San Francisco, CA 94108
California & Stockton
The cross streets of California & Stockton have an amazing street view of the San Francisco skyline. Pictured above, there is a trolley that runs down the middle of the street and it makes for a fun photo opportunity. Please be super careful when taking this photo as you are literally in the middle of the street. Always use your best judgment!
Address: California St & Stockton
Muir Woods is a national monument filled with old-growth coast redwood trees that are massive. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make it to Muir Woods because you have to book your parking in advance. However, you need to visit this place when you’re in town so make sure to book your parking days in advance so you don’t end up like me. Head to this page in order to book your parking!
Address: 1 Muir Woods Rd, Mill Valley, CA 94941
Powell Street Cable Car
The San Francisco cable car system is truly iconic and a historical landmark. The cable car system is the world’s last manually operated system. When visiting San Francisco for the first time, you’ll need to hop on one of these cars for a ride to truly experience the city. There are three different lines you can take they are all outlined here. In order to get this picture above, head to the Powell St turnaround station on Market Street.
Address: Powell St & Market St
Other Places to Take Pictures in San Francisco
- Alamo Square Park
- The iconic Transamerica pyramid
- 16th Avenue tiled steps
- Sutro baths
- Bay Bridge
- Twin peaks
- Lombard street
Instagram-Friendly Restaurants in San Francisco
- Palm Court
- Son & Garden
- Farmhouse Thai Menlo Park
I hope you enjoyed my “Best San Francisco Photo Spots” and are ready to book your trip to the bay. Is there any place on the list that you’ve been to? I want to hear so comment below.
Don’t forget to check out more of my California guides!
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