If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I’m a professional photographer and a San Francisco local. So what does that mean? That I know all the best places to shoot!
I’m always getting questions about where to find this or that for someone’s next photoshoot, so I’m going to start writing about my favorite locations in San Francisco. Let’s get started with the 5 best lookout peaks for photos with a city view, from the most well-known (and touristy), to the secret places where you won’t have any competition.
This is THE peak of San Francisco. Everyone knows about it, and everyone goes here. Expect lots of tourists, but it’s completely worth it. The view is INSANE. Make sure you jump down to the dirt for the best shot.
This spot is somehow not well known - you’ll only see locals and lots (LOTS!) of cute dogs. You can park at the bottom of a trail that’ll lead you to the peak. At the top there’s an awkward fenced in area that you have to walk all the way around to see the views, but it’s worth it. There’s often a swing at the top overlooking the whole city, though sometimes it gets taken down.
WALTER HAAS PLAYGROUND
Literally no-one knows about this place, so you’re welcome. It’s an insane view of San Francisco in between bushes next to a playground in Diamond Heights.
BILLY GOAT HILL
This is also not very well-known but a super cute little park on a steep hill. You can walk all the way from the top to the bottom for an easy hike. There used to be 2 swings here, but as far as I know, both are gone at this time.
Another spot that hardly anyone knows about (even those living in SF). This is actually my favorite place to take photos because there is an almost 360 view of the city from above. It’s so gorgeous. There are a couple of ways to get to the top, ranging from 5 minute walk up to a 30 minute hike - just depends on which side you come in on. Enter on Myra Way x Lansdale Ave. for the steep but short walk up, and wear comfortable shoes (just change into cute shoes at the top). There’s also a GIGANTIC cross at the top, a huge dead tree that you can climb on, and super tall forest all around.
When I went to shoot for myself here, it was so foggy that you couldn’t see any of the city at all (check out the photo below). This is terrifying because if you hadn’t been there before, you might not know that there are drops on 3 sides!
The Top of Dolores Park
Everyone knows about Dolores Park, but not everyone knows that if you walk to the top of it at 20th and Church, there are incredible views of downtown peaking out.
The famous view can be a little tricky to find if you don’t know where you’re going, but spoiler alert: it’s at 20th and De Haro. From here you can see downtown in all of its glory - skyscrapers galore.
Did I miss any amazing lookout spots? Tell me your favorites in the comments!
Julia O Test is a lifestyle blogger and photographer based in San Francisco.