Dolores Park, which is bounded by 18th Street on the north, 20th Street to the south, Dolores Street to the east and Church Street to the west, just uphill from Mission Dolores, is a favorite summer sunbathing spot with a great view of the San Francisco skyline. From the flat tennis and basketball courts, soccer fields, and dog run areas on the north end of the park, just across the street from architecturally distinctive Mission High School, the park's large open grass area sweeps uphill nearly two blocks to a shelf of sorts known to locals as Dolores "Beach". It's a great place to sunbath on a warm summer day within the city. Near to the Golden Fire Hydrant, within the historic pre-1906 earthquake Liberty Hill District the park had a sleezy reputation until recent gentrification of the area. The park hosts live music on summer days, particularly on Cinco de Mayo. About halfway up the hill on the Church street side, near the pedestrian bridge over the MUNI rail tracks, there is a fine larger-than-life-size bronze statue of Mexican patriot Hidalgo. To get there from the Civic Center, take the MUNI J Line.
I took these photos on two different occasions to show you what the views are like if you drive along the waterfront from Fisherman's Wharf. You will go through Crissy Field, which was owned by the military, now has been vacated. You can stop all along the way, picnic, walk the dog, fish or just walk and enjoy the water scenes. The road goes almost all the way to the bridge, but if you want to visit the bridge observation area and Fort Point, you will have to go up the hill and get onto highway 101. Take the last exit before the bridge and you will find a parking lot with meters (quarters needed).
Don't forget to look back towards the city, and Alcatraz.
Tour buses won't go here, so you will get special photo ops that your friends missed out on.
If you want to see photos from across the bridge and get directions on getting there, go to my 5 Star View (new) tips.
Just southeast of the Hwy 101/Hwy 80 Junction, and above San Francisco's Interior Design galleria, is Potrero Hill, a knoll that has a great view of downtown, the bay, and Twin Peaks to the west. Named after an 1835 Mexican land grant for grazing on "potrero nuevo", many of the homes survived the 1906 earthquake and fire, and today there is also quite a bit gentrification progressing. On the west side of the hill, Vermont Street, just south of McKinley park has been argued by some to be more "crooked" than world famous Lombard Street.
According to an online neighborhood profile, only O.J. Simpson was listed as a "well-known" resident here, but that was when he was still a football player at San Francisco City College. Simpson was a neighborhood star and his image is on area murals, the most notable still surviving at the Potrero Hill Recreation Center near the peak of the hill.
By comparison to Twin Peaks, Mt. Davidson, and certainly Russian, Nob, and Telegraph Hills, for example, Potrero Hill is vacant tourist traffic. On reason is that the neighborhood is wedged between the James Lick (I-80/US 101) and the Southern Embarcadero (I-280) freeways, with the crime infamous Bayview-Hunter's point neighborhood to the south, the seedy low-rent Mission District to the west, and toxic waste contaminated bayside industry to the east. Also, while there are some renovated and reconstructed residences of worthy of admiration, particularly north of the Potrero Hill park, the homes here never were housing of the affluent, and many are still wanting for some TLC. For those house hunting for a spectacular view, Potrero Hill may indeed provide something of a bargain in what is otherwise a wildly expensive market.
In any case, Potrero Hill is an excellent place to view over the city, with plenty of low rent appearing homes--a great set for a police detective film or television show. When we were driving around looking for vista, we found the film crew shown in these images. Below is a link for finding Potrero Hill.
More like "Off the Beaten Time Schedule".
People think I am crazy to get up so early to go to work every day. The beautiful San Francisco sunrises are the reasons I haul my butt out of bed before dawn to take the 5:50 am ferry to work.
This picture shows the view from the Embarcadero toward the Bay Bridge and Oakland. Nothing is more energizing for me that to see this sight as I begin my work day.
This is a little known place where you can get great views of the city. And you don't even have to pay a fee to get to the top of a tower!
Corona Heights, a hill with an elevation of 500 feet in the Castro District, is one of my favorite lunch time escapes on a nice day. Take the F Line to Castro, grab lunch at one of the many take out places in the Castro, and have a picnic at the top of Corona Heights. Tourists want to spend all their time at Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39. That's fine. I'll take Corona Heights with my take out picnic lunch any day over FW or P39 anyday!
When I don't have lunch plans, I will take a break from work and just walk. It's tough to avoid hills in San Francisco, which means any walk is great aerobic exercise. Go on up the hills - you'll be rewarded with outstanding views.
This picture is a view from Nob Hill looking toward North Beach, an eclectic blend of many cultures. On the other side of the bay is Richmond, a city of substantial diversity.
For a nice view of the San Francisco Skyline or the Bay Bridge construction, hop off the Bay Bridge at Treasure Island. With good lighting and weather, you should be able to capture a nice picture of the S.F. skyline. For the next few years, you can watch the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge being constructed adjacent to the existing "cantilever" section. This segment of the bridge is being replaced as the existing structure is not expected to be serviceable after a major earthquake.
Treasure Island was constructed for the 1939 World's Fair. (Adjacent hilly Yerba Buena Island is natural.) Treasure Island was intended to become the location for the San Francisco International Airport. However, with the outbreak of World War II, the U.S. Navy wanted the site and traded with the City for the land that the present day airport is located upon for the island. The Navy eventually abandoned the base. Currently, many of the old barracks are now used for housing. However, the U.S. Coast Guard retains a presence on Yerba Buena.
Take care exiting and entering the bridge traffic. The turns offs include sharp turns requiring reduced speed and the entrances to the bridge require rapid acceleration from a dead stop.
Starting point: Internet Cafe 24 FPS at Geary #608 (cross street is Jones) it is only 3 blocks away from Union Square. Have a cappucino, use the internet for a bit and prepare yourself for a good hike up Jones.
Are ya ready? Now hike up Jones Street all the way up up up. Don't be a puss now, keep on walking.
Boom, you hit California and see Grace Cathedral! Nice... Ignore the cable car, you don't need it.
Don't forget to look down at your right and see some awesome views of Bay Bridge. Keep on hiking untill you hit Broadway... make a right (it's a dead end here) and see a great view. There are stairs that will take you down to Taylor Street. You can head South down Taylor Street and see some cute architcture, or you can continue East down Broadway end up in China Town.
take a photo of San Francisco, especially at night. It is the first exit off of the Bay Bridge (highway 80) - there really is nothing to see in the island and it is a totally residential place, but the entrance has a great view of San Francisco. The only reason that this place is not one of the highest priced land around SF is the fact that it has been closed to the public for around 60 years - it was a Military Base, so all the houses on it are pretty crappy (sorry residents)So if you have any interest in photography, this is the place
to take a pic from!
The site below is commercial and I am not advertising it, but it has some nice pics to give you a better idea than my poor quality photo.
For some of the best views of San Francisco visit the Peter Macchiarini Steps, you can find this on any of the street maps of S.F., its right below Coit Tower and above Broadway St. The views from this spot are outstanding and offer a unique perspective of the old world S.F. architecture and the new world architecture all in one glance. The views are great during the day as well as night and specifically at dusk. Missing out on these views would be a shame, so if your planning on visiting Coit Tower or Washington Square be sure to plan on visiting the "steps"!
Along the ridgeline of the Pacific Heights Neighborhood are two neighborhood parks, Lafayette and Alta Plaza, both of which are popular places for residents to walk their dogs and for homeless to sleep. Lafayette Park is at a peak, with a view over the Marina District and San Francisco Bay. Having pets is more popular in the Pacific Heights neighborhood than is having children; as a result, the grassy hill areas of the park are scattered with dog ***. Although owners are legally required to pick up after their pets, dogs are also often off-leash, and when I last visited a friendly boxer jumped on me, soiling my pants with mud from recent rains. Unfortunately, despite being located within perhaps the wealthiest neighborhood in the city, concrete steps, the children's play equipment, and the two tennis courts are poorly maintained. Apparently, residents are concerned about this dire situation and have been efforts to improve the landscaping, particularly at some entrances (see link below). For example, there is a small bronze plaque memorial dedicated to novelist, biographer, and historian, Gertrude Franklin Atherton around which petunias and other flowers have been planted. Gertrude Atherton was married into the wealthy Atherton family and played a part in making haunted the mansion at Octavia and California, location for another worthy story for local history buffs. In any case, in addition to the views, Lafayette Park is also a good starting point for a walking tour of the large and historic mansions of the Pacific Heights neighborhood. Samuel Holloday is another infamous character who supposedly was a squatter who had once built a mansion on the park's hilltop (see podcast link below).
The details of the Vallejo Street Stairs are provided in that tip, but this area in general also has some spectacular views of the Coit Tower from below, and the Financial District, Bay Bridge, Treasure Island, and the Bay in general from above. The neighborhood features it's own collection of housing staggered on steep streets and in places, such as the Vallejo Street Stairs the street landscaping is particularly beautiful. At good time to walk this route is after having a double cappucino at Cafe Trieste in the North Beach District.
I'm not entirely sure we were supposed to be there but the guidebook said to head to the Westin St. Francis at 335 Powell Street in Union Square and take a ride in the glass elevators up to the 32nd floor for a great view of the city. We did this a couple of times in the middle elevator and it would only take us to the 31st floor, but we persisted and tried the elevator on the end and voila, it took us to the 32nd floor. We were the only ones up there, the space known as Victor's Palace is used for private functions, named for Victor Hirtzler, chef from 1904 to 1926 and previously the chef and food tester for Czar Nicholas II.
The view up there is spectacular and most of the space has floor to ceiling windows, you can't see the Golden Gate Bridge but you can get a nice view of Union Square, Coit Tower and Telegraph Hill and the Transamerica Building.
A couple of incidents happened at this hotel that they would probably don't widely advertise, the 1st was a party held there by Fatty Arbuckle in 1921 where a young starlet became ill and died, he was later tried three times for her rape and murder and although he was acquitted, the publicity killed his career as a silent film star. The other incident was in 1975 when Sara Jane Moore attempted to assasinate President Gerald Ford.
The Legion of Honor was constructed in 1924 to commemorate the 3,400 California soldiers who died in World War I. The building is a 3/4 scale replica of Paris' Palais de la Légion d’Honneur. It contains 4,000 years of ancient and European art in a beautiful setting overlooking the city, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay. In the area around the Legion of Honor is a holocaust memorial featuring a man behind a fence in front of a pile of gaunt bodies, a big orange scrap iron tinker toy, and a monument commemorating the first Japanese ship to sail to the US. From the fountain in front of the museum you have a great view if the city in the distance.
The Legion of Honor is located in Lincoln Park near 34th Avenue and Clement Street. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 9:30 a.m.–5:15 p.m, admission is $10.00 for adults. First Tuesday of the month is free!!!
A short scene from the 1958 Alfred Hitchcock movie Vertigo was filmed here. Other scenes from the movie include Fort Point, Mission Dolores, and Mission San Juan Bautista. In the film, Scottie says, "I'd been to the Palace of the Legion of Honor, the art gallery." Madeleine responds, "Yes, that's a lovely spot, isn't it? I've never been inside, but it looks so lovely driving past."
When building The Bay Bridge, the rock cut out for tunnel construction created Treasure Island. Treasure Island is located halfway between Oakland and San Francisco and gives you lovely views of the city.
Once occupied by the US Navy and Coast Guard, they have since vacated, and there are no plans for the site yet. As you enter, you wil see the first airport in San Francisco.
Location: Just over the Bay Bridge, towards Oakland