As a blanket of fog rolls across the East Bay from the sea, it uncovers a remarkable skyline that sneaks up on you with its wonder. Imagine observing the differences of how the sun paints the Golden Gate Bridge as it rises and falls.
Take in the San Fran skyline on foot, bike, bus or water at various sites close to and farther away from the city. All offer unique and beautiful frames at day and night. Here are 10 ways you can see the San Francisco skyline:
1. From the Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge was once nicknamed “The Bridge That Couldn’t Be Built.” Defy gravity by pedaling your bike across the bridge in the morning or early evening to watch the colorful dynamics of the sun on the bridge, over the water and as it paints the city.
Bikes and wheelchairs are permitted on sidewalks during daylight hours, but roller skates, roller blades and skateboards aren’t allowed on the bridge at all.
2. Coit Tower
Be a sneaky skyline detective and approach your mission from the eastern side of the city. Coit Tower offers 360° views of the San Fran skyline, rising above the city as a slender white tower at the top of Telegraph Hill with impressive murals on the inside. The observation deck is reached by elevator, and tickets must be purchased in the gift shop.
Reaching this destination by car is difficult. So, the bus, walking and climbing stairs are in your future, but it’ll be worth it.
3. Twin Peaks
The best part about Twin Peaks, aside from the views of the Market Street Towers, is that admission is free. You can take a tour bus or drive, but the tour buses will be filled with view-hungry folks.
Many acclaim that Twin Peaks offers the best view at an elevation of 922 feet, second to Mt. Davidson. The early Spanish explorers named the two peaks “Los Pechos de la Choca,” or “The Breasts of the Maiden.” Twin Peaks offer an aesthetically artistic view Market Streer and its own skyscraper “peaks.”
4. Mt. Davidson
Mt. Davidson is the highest point to view the SF skyline from at 938 feet strategically located near the city’s geographical center. From three sides you can take in the view as it emerges from the fog. Residents walk their dogs to the top, and there are hiking trails for you to enjoy as you take photographs.
5. SF Grand City Land Tour
San Francisco is a big city, and there are many factors to consider when trying to get in the best view. Sometimes, you can’t leave it to chance.
Tours are helpful to eliminate these concerns as you’ll travel to various sites in the city, including high points to get the best views of the skyline at the prime times. Take a grand tour of San Francisco by land, and stop at such points as Coit Tower and Nob Hill, while learning about the rich history of Chinatown, Fisherman’s Warf and other details.
6. Treasure Island
Drive across the Bay Bridge in the evening to Treasure Island to see San Francisco brightly lit at night, and visitors say the sight “rivals the view of Manhattan from JC across the Hudson River.” Grab a cab from the ferry’s terminal, from across the Bay Bridge to reach Treasure Island. For a few minutes, you’ll get a sight on film you’ll never forget.
Bus and water cruise tours are also available. Visit the island earlier to enjoy its wineries.
7. Alcatraz Island
A visit to see the SF skyline isn’t complete without a visit to the infamous Alcatraz Island. Tickets run about $26, but you can book a ticket in advance for a lift across the water from Pier 33 that includes admission to Alcatraz. You can visit the island at night but only do this if you’re a general fan of ghost hunting shows.
Your view of the city will remind you of a modern Monet painting with the city emerging from the outlines of land surrounded by water.
8. Hyatt Grand Regency Hotel
Feeling fancy? Why not stay where you can take in the view right there? The Hyatt Grand Regency Hotel’s Regency Club Lounge also offers 360° views of the skyline and bay.
If that’s not your cup of tea, stop by nearby Cupid’s Span in Rincon Park for a good look at the bay.
9. San Francisco Art Institute Rooftop
Get your art on for free and see the skyline from the San Francisco Art Institute Rooftop on Chestnut Street. You’ll get excellent views of the waterfront, Coit Tower and TransAmerica Rower for free, and the art institute is open on the weekends.
10. Ina Coolbrith Park
Located on Vallejo Street, Ina Coolbrith Park offers free access and views of the San Francisco Bay, TransAmerican Tower and Coit Tower surrounded by beautiful gardens and terraces as a secret gem many locals like to keep to themselves. If you’re an artist, bring your tools and capture the bay as it peaks out from behind the trees.
The various views of the San Fran skyline could inspire an artist to create endless series and still not capture every possible view. Whether you prefer to travel by foot or cruise or to see the skyline at night or day, once you take in the view, you’ll never forget the experience.
Kacey Bradley is the lifestyle and travel blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. Along with writing for her blog, she frequently writes for sites like US Travel News, Thought Catalog, Style Me Pretty, Tripping.com and more!