The view from Twin Peaks (©Michael Warwick/Shutterstock)
San Francisco’s 50-plus hills and the vantage points they provide are among the city’s most defining features. Just about anywhere high up around here offers postcard-worthy panoramas. Here are some of the best vista points in town.
The city’s most famous lookout, Twin Peaks really is a must-visit. The entire city is laid out, from the top of the Golden Gate Bridge to the southern coast and across the water to the East Bay. Take a walk along the pedestrian-only eastern portion of Twin Peaks Boulevard for a variety of perspectives.
Billy Goat Hill
This small green space tucked into a hill on the border of Noe Valley and Glen Park offers a long-distance view of the downtown skyscrapers that extends south to Bernal Hill. On clear days you can see the East Bay.
Top of the Mark
Located on the 19th floor of the Mark Hopkins hotel on Nob Hill, Top of the Mark is a swanky cocktail lounge and restaurant with 360-degree views of downtown San Francisco, the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge.
A hidden gem, the view at Tank Hill captures as much of the city as the view from Twin Peaks, but without the tourists. Even on nice days you may well have the park to yourself.
Just across the bay in the Marin Headlands, the drive up to Hawk Hill features a series of lookouts with arguably the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge. The panorama includes the mouth of the bay and the city skyline beyond the bridge.
Corona Heights Park
This peak above the Castro neighborhood offers unobstructed views of downtown. You’ll see city streets that extend all the way to the bay, and to your right is an iconic San Francisco image: hills covered with innumerable pastel-colored houses.
The View Lounge
On the 39th floor of the Marriott hotel, The View Lounge is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows through which you can see almost the entire city, bay and beyond.
Begin your ascent at the tiled steps on Moraga Street and 16th Avenue, a colorful mosaic that flows thematically from sea to stars. If you continue a block beyond the top of the staircase to Grandview Park—also known as Turtle Hill—you’ll be treated to a 360-degree view that includes the Sunset neighborhood, Pacific Ocean and Golden Gate Park.
This is the highest peak in San Francisco. The view includes Twin Peaks, Sutro Tower and downtown skyscrapers in the distance, with the Miraloma and Noe Valley neighborhoods in the foreground.
This small island in the middle of the bay sits directly across from San Francisco's northern waterfront, which is especially brilliant at night. Be sure to look north for a close-up of the Bay Bridge’s new eastern span.
The panorama from Bernal Hills’ summit extends from Twin Peaks to the East Bay, with the city’s main arteries of Market and Mission streets running directly from the base of the hill to downtown. The southern edge of the hill offers views of the tightly packed houses of the Bernal Heights neighborhood.
Sutro Heights Park
Located above the Cliff House restaurant, Sutro Heights Park is almost a stones throw from the Pacific Ocean. From the top, you can see the entire length of Ocean Beach, which is flanked by Sunset District homes and the crashing waves.
Situated directly behind the Golden Gate Bridge, the views from here are recognizable from countless photographs. Climb the World War II bunkers for the best views of the mouth of the bay.
Buena Vista Park
Located above the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and surrounded by stately Victorian homes, Buena Vista Park offers views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay and downtown framed by the park’s huge live oak trees.