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The 10 Best Photo Spots in San Francisco (From a Pro Photographer)

San Francisco, a city known for its picturesque landscapes, iconic landmarks, and vibrant cultural diversity, offers a treasure trove of photo opportunities.

Whether you’re a professional photographer or an avid Instagrammer, you’re sure to find the perfect spot to capture the essence of this captivating city. In this blog post, we explore the 10 best photo spots in San Francisco that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression.

First, a bit about me. I’m a professional travel photographer based in the Bay Area. My photos of the city have appeared in media ranging from The New York Times to SFGate and other local publications. I’ve photographed the Bay Area for 10+ years, so I’ve seen most of the great photo spots in the city!

1. Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field

No trip to San Francisco is complete without a visit to the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge. This architectural marvel makes for an excellent photo opportunity from various angles. Some of the best vantage points include Fort Point, Crissy Field, and Battery Spencer, where you can capture the bridge in its full glory along with the city skyline.

2. Alamo Square and the Painted Ladies

Photo by Ross Joyner on Unsplash

The Painted Ladies of Alamo Square are a row of colorful Victorian houses that have become synonymous with San Francisco. This picturesque location is perfect for a classic postcard-worthy shot, with the city skyline serving as a stunning backdrop.

3. Palace of Fine Arts

Reflecting pool at the Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine Arts, a remnant of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, is an architectural gem that offers photographers a mix of Greco-Roman design and serene natural surroundings. The reflection of the elegant rotunda in the lagoon adds an enchanting touch to your photos.

4. Lombard Street

The entrance to Lombard Street

The famous crooked street, lined with beautifully landscaped gardens and elegant houses, is a must-visit for a quintessential San Francisco shot. Capture the zig-zagging road from above at the top of Russian Hill or photograph the entrance to the iconic street.

5. Sutro Baths and Lands End

The ruins of the Sutro Baths

The Sutro Baths, once a luxurious public bathhouse, now lie in ruins along the rugged coastline of Lands End. This unique site offers a combination of history, dramatic cliffs, and stunning ocean views, perfect for photographers seeking a moody and atmospheric image.

6. Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks in 1978, captured on Kodachrome slide film

For a breathtaking panoramic view of San Francisco, head to the top of Twin Peaks. From this vantage point, you can capture the city skyline, the Bay Bridge, and the surrounding rolling hills. Visit at sunrise or sunset for truly magical lighting.

7. Coit Tower

The view from on top of Coit Tower

Situated atop Telegraph Hill, Coit Tower is an iconic San Francisco landmark that offers 360-degree views of the city. Photograph the tower itself, or take advantage of the sweeping vistas from the observation deck, which include the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and downtown San Francisco.

8. Muir Woods

A pathway in Muir Woods

Just a short drive from the city, Muir Woods is home to towering coastal redwoods that provide a stunning natural backdrop for your photos. Capture the sunlight filtering through the forest canopy, or focus on the intricate details of the ancient trees.

Need an easy way to get there from San Francisco? Check out our list of the top Muir Woods tours.

9. Ferry Building and Embarcadero

The iconic clocktower of the Ferry Building

The historic Ferry Building and the bustling Embarcadero are ideal for capturing the city’s lively waterfront atmosphere. Snap photos of the iconic clock tower, the Bay Bridge, or the lively farmers’ market that takes place on weekends.

10. The Castro District

The Rainbow Crosswalk

San Francisco’s vibrant LGBTQ+ neighborhood is a haven for colorful street art, unique architecture, and energetic street life. Capture the spirit of the Castro with photos of the rainbow crosswalks, the iconic Castro Theatre, and the lively outdoor cafes.


San Francisco’s diverse landscapes and iconic landmarks make it a photographer’s dream destination. Whether you’re capturing the golden hour at the Golden Gate Bridge or

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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