san francisco from above

Five best views of San Francisco from above | Culturebean abroad

If you don’t get dizzy at heights, then this list of locations to soak up the SAN FRANCIsCO landscape is for you.

In April 2017 I went on my dream road trip around California. I know. Sometimes I have to pinch myself. With so much awesomeness on offer, I posted about seven places I wanted to visit in San Francisco and you will find I did nearly all of them in my travel vlogs!

Whilst exploring, we found some incredible spots to see The Golden City from above. With tips on where, why and what we truly thought, my top five countdown will give a great insight into the birds eye view of San Francisco.

union square

5. Union Sqaure

Where? Our hotel wasn’t too far from fancy Union Square, the number one shopping, entertainment and eating district in San Francisco.

Why? We fell upon this place by chance. Jet lagged and hungry, we googled the nearest burger joint and saw one had some good reviews so practically jogged there. Little did we know it was on the top floor of the Macy’s building.

What did we think? Burger Bar was a casual restaurant with sports showing on all screens. The menu was creative and not radically expensive given the location. They sat us by the huge window, which had a steep drop down the side. The stunning view of the square was amplified by the glowing lights and served as a cool spot to eat, drink and gaze.

painted ladies

4. Alamo Square

Where? Alamo Square is a short bus ride a little further out of the main town. We bought a visitor passport that granted us unlimited access on different types of transport.

Why? The Painted Ladies is a huge tourist attraction. Also known as ‘postcard row’ this tight row of victorian houses have starred in quite a few films.

What did we think? Part of the park was closed so unsightly barriers got in the way, even with this specially created viewing platform. But I loved the architectural contrast between houses seemingly stuck in a past era and the modern sky scrapers. You can see for miles, and if you look closely you will notice the tip of the Transamerica Pyramid.

de young view

3. De Young Observatory

Where? This fine arts Museum is hidden in the cultural heart of Golden Gate Park, sitting beside the Academy of Sciences. We jumped on a bus here following our visit to the Painted Ladies!

Why? We slowly wandered around the gigantic park and had heard of a sneaky way to catch a birds eye view. The Museum has a glass-walled observatory tower allowing a 360 degree view of San Francisco, which is FREE to enter.

What did we think? We were nervous to enter the Museum as entry is charged for usually, so more signage of this free aspect would be helpful. The jaunty shaped observatory is calming and a photographers dream. It gave us our first unobstructed view of this incredible city and I didn’t want to leave.

lombard street

2. Lombard Street

Where? We hopped on a cable car that took us right outside this landmark. Avoid the end of the lines and jump on at one the many tram stops along the route. Less people and less waiting!

Why? Lombard street is known as the most crooked street in the world. It is high on a hill with eight sharp bends that were built to create a safer road for pedestrians in the 1920s.

What did we think? The street was a quirky and fun stop on the route. However, the real star of the show was its spectacular view. The road cascaded down the middle towards Coit Tower, which stood strong in the centre overlooking the bay. The heat wave allowed us to soak up all that this crisp and clear view had to offer.

coit tower

1. Coit Tower

Where? Coit Tower proudly sits on top of Telegraph Hill. We took a rather steep bus ride using the handy pass I mentioned above.

Why? This 210 foot tower was built in memory of Lillie Hitchcock Coit in 1933, who wanted to add beauty to her beloved city. The ground floor is full of murals by local artists and a lift glides you up to its simple yet spectacular summit.

What did we think? By far this offered the best view of San Francisco and access to the top is only $8 each. The arches that circled the top of the elegant column gave a stunning 360 panoramic view of a colourful and crowded landscape. From The Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz, this hill top tower can see it all. It truly is a breath taking spot that encompasses the whole of the city.

San Francisco has a stunning landscape that I wanted to capture from all angles, and these places offered an incredible range of views. I would love to revisit one day and maybe find even more depths to this cultural oasis.

What is your best view of San Francisco? Do you think you might visit some of my fave spots?

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