Top 10 Places for San Francisco Instagram Photos
San Francisco is a truly beautiful city, and there is no better way to commemorate your trip than taking a few breathtaking photos. In this post we will walk through a few of the best (but not always well known) spots to take San Francisco Instagram photos. Feel free to comment below, or reach out to our LocalFriends via the chat, with any questions you may have about these places! You can also download our iPhone app here.
The Essential San Francisco Instagram Photo List
1. Pier 7 & Pier 14 on the Embarcadero
These are two piers on either side of the Ferry Building. From Pier 14 you can get amazing photos of the Bay Bridge, downtown San Francisco and the Ferry building. I would arrive close to Sunset as the city lights up and you can really get the most out of your photos. From Pier 14, you can walk through the Ferry Building to get to Pier 7. If you’re in need of a snack, grab a coffee from Blue Bottle or a empanada from El Porteño while you stroll through. About a quarter mile past the Ferry building is Pier 7. This is a beautiful Pier with wood planks and old style lighting. It makes for the perfect vintage style portrait photo. Also this Pier lines up perfectly with the Trans-America Pyramid. In order to take a great photo on the Trans-America tower from the Pier, walk out out on the Pier about a 10th of a mile, turn around and snag some photos. You want to walk out enough to get some of the Pier in the photo, but not lose the perspective of the Pyramid.
2. Golden Gate Bridge Overlook
This is a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge from the San Francisco side. You can also get a unique perspective of the Golden Gate bridge, as you will be able to capture it with both towers on a direct line of sight (see my picture below). This overlook allows you to get the bridge between two large trees, giving it an even greater sense of awe. In order to get to this viewpoint, walk from the parking lot to the closest overlook. There should be a large concrete platform with a few benches. You can get the perfect angle by standing in the middle of this structure. In order to get the bridge to look as big as possible compared to the trees, move back a bit and zoom in (if needed). It’s all about perspective!
3. 16th Avenue Tiled Steps
San Francisco has a wealth of “secret” tiled steps but the 16th Avenue ones are my favorite by far. They are also one of the more popular steps, but for good reason! If you are really dedicated, get there right before Sunrise to capture the steps in their full glory, with great lighting and no one in the photo. Otherwise, it will be a bit difficult to get a shot with no one else in it, as they are frequently visited. One of the tricks we used was positioning Leona in a way that blocked the other people on the steps. You have to be creative to get a truly unique San Francisco Instagram Photo!
4. Painted Ladies
The painted ladies are a true gem of San Francisco. They are beautiful in themselves, and they give you a sense of San Francisco’s rich history through their Victorian style. They are setup right next to Alamo Square park, which is perfectly situated on a hill to give you a great view of San Francisco. Go 30 minuets before sunset to get a picture of the Painted Ladies lit up by an orange glow. If you’re lucky there will be a few low hanging clouds that turn bright red at dusk. These are the houses featured in the opening credits of Full House, so be sure to sing the theme song as you’re capturing the moment. “Everywhere you go… Everywhere you go…”
5. Baker Beach
I’m not sure this should be number 5 on my list, because this could be the best spot of all time to take a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge. As usual, Sunset and Sunrise are the best times to take a picture here because the lighting will be great. Although, I don’t think there is a bad time to grab a photo from this location. Be prepared as you will have to walk about a 400 meters from the parking lot to get to the best photo location and, as I am sure you know, it can get cold in San Francisco in the evening.
6. Twin Peaks
You can’t miss this view of the skyline of San Francisco. The windy road takes you up to the top of one of the tallest hills in San Francisco, and the view is phenomenal. It’s windy up there so layer up so you can stay for a bit and get some great pictures. I’d recommend going right before Sunset as you can get the sun setting and casting a warm orange hue on the city. You can then stay and get some night shots of the skyline as it lights up. Do some long exposure shots to give the cars those really cool light trails.
7. Conservatory of Flowers
The conservatory is great for photos both inside and out. It’s a beautiful building with a large lawn and garden out front. Inside, which you have to pay an entrance fee of $9, there are exotic flowers from all around the world. When I first bought my Sony camera, the first place I went was the conservatory to take some amazing flower photos. I was in there for at least 2 hours. The possibilities here are endless!
8. Japanese Tea Garden
This is one spot you can go and take a San Fransisco Instagram photo that will make you feel like you are very far away from San Francisco. Approximately, 5180 miles away. This Japanese style garden is a perfect spot to get a few portrait photos with an oriental theme. The garden was built in the 1800’s and maintained as a gift to the city for prosperity. The whole place aims create an aura of Zen. Be prepared to not only get some fantastic photo opps, but to leave with a mindset of peace and tranquility.
9. The Golden Gate Bridge Overlook & Vista Point
The Golden Gate bridge is stunning, there is no denying that. There are a hundreds of places you could go around SF to get a great photo of it. This overlook is one of my favorites. You get the unique vantage point of being looking down on the Golden Gate bridge, with the city in the background. The main photo on my website was taken from this lookout. It does get busy, so parking is a little difficult. I recommend having one person wait in the car and get in line for a spot. People are coming and going all the time. Once a spot opens up, go and grab it. Or you could always go at sunrise, I’m pretty sure you’ll find parking then. Don’t let the parking situation deter you from going. It’s undeniably worth it.
10. Palace of the Fine Arts
The Palace of the Fine Arts is a greek-style structure built in 1915 for the worlds fair that was hosted in San Francisco. Through a few rebuilds, it has withstood the test of time and still stands as an iconic monument in SF. The palace itself is great to photograph, and you can always go in deeper to get some great shots between the columns. There is also a lake in front of the Palace so the opportunities for an iconic San Francisco Instagram photo are limitless.
I hope this list helps to make your trip to San Francisco unforgettable! If you have any questions, feel free to download our LocalFriend App, or chat with a local directly on this site. You can also download our iPhone app here. We are happy to help you experience the best things to eat, see and do in SF!