Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco
October 11, 2019
| By
Maria Mancuso

San Francisco Photo Tour: Best Photo Spots in San Francisco

San Francisco is such an amazing city to visit – so much to do, see and experience and there is no shortage of amazing photo opportunities. This San Francisco Travel Blog article, ‘San Francisco Photo Tour: Best Photo Spots in San Francisco’ – introduces you to just a few of the many Instagrammable spots in our oceanfront city.

The Hotel Union Square is located in the heart of San Francisco’s Union Square district and close many great landmarks, sights and many great photo opportunities in San Francisco!  Our latest San Francisco Travel Blog article; San Francisco Photo Tour: Best Photo Spots in San Francisco – presents you with a few of the great photo opportunity locations you will enjoy photographing during your next visit to San Francisco.

Pro Tip: Arrive as early in the day as you can to get the benefit of the great lighting that will really improve the look and feel of your photos. The shots taken in the midday sun is too direct and will create harsh lighting. Also, later in the afternoon and before dusk will provide great natural colors and favorable lighting for almost any photo.

Here we go!

Fisherman’s Wharf
Location: Fisherman’s Wharf
Distance from Hotel Union Square: 2.2 Miles

O.k., this is an easy one but oh so many things to photograph, the food, the boats, the bay, the Sea Lions, the beautiful buildings and so much more. You can easily spend an entire day shooting great shots. 

Lombard Street
Location: Lombard St, San Francisco, CA 94133
Distance from Hotel Union Square: 1.6 Miles

This is one of the most popular streets to be photographed in the U.S. Lombard Street is known for the one-way block on Russian Hill between Hyde Street and Leavenworth Streets, where 8 turns create a very attractive design and a great photo opp. Because of the popularity of this San Francisco Landmark you can expect to face a crowd of other people wanting to take a photo as well.  The best suggestion is to arrive very early in the day which also will provide for the best lighting for an ideal photo.

Location: Everywhere!
Distance from Hotel Union Square: Everywhere!

Not only is San Francisco known for so many great restaurants and what better excuse for enjoying a variety of food than to look for some great photo opportunities.  San Francisco Restaurants will not disappoint. Crab at Fisherman’s Wharf. Dim Sum in Chinatown. Steaks in Union Square. Seafood – anywhere…come and enjoy it all!

Muir Woods National Monument
Location: 1 Muir Woods Rd, Mill Valley, CA 94941
Distance from Hotel Union Square: 36 Miles

Muir Woods National Monument is a beautiful destination to visit for a great hike and of course the photo opportunities abound!  Muir Woods National Monument features beautiful Coastal Redwood Trees that can reach an impressive 258 feet tall.  Coastal Redwood Trees are the largest living things on earth and can reach heights in excess of 379 feet.  Impressive. While the Redwood Trees are amazing subjects to photograph the surrounding foliage and plant life, trails and smaller trees provide for great subject matter.

Palace of Fine Arts
Location: 3601 Lyon St, San Francisco, CA 94123
Distance from Hotel Union Square: 3.5 Miles

This beautiful San Francisco Landmark is located in the Marina District of San Francisco just 3.5 miles from Hotel Union Square. The monument was originally built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific Exposition. The Palace of Fine Arts is one of the only structures still standing from that era. Getting a great photo of this building is fairly easy due to its beautiful design and the way that the natural light during the day highlights the buildings details.  

At night the building is lit from ground lights that also give the building an interesting and appealing look and feel. A good angle to shoot the building is the shoot from the water level of the pond in front of the building, looking up at the building.  Be sure to include a bit of the water in the frame.  Also, a higher angel is interesting to include a reflection of the building in your photograph.  As always, it is best to photograph this structure either early hours, or late afternoon hours or at night for the best natural lighting.

Painted Ladies
Location: Steiner Street &, Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
Distance from Hotel Union Square: 2 Miles

Almost any film about San Francisco includes a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and almost always a shot of the famous ‘Painted Ladies’ on Postcard Row.  These beautifully painted Victorian style houses are located at 710-720 Steiner Street in an area called, Postcard Row across from Alamo Park.  The Painted Lady houses were built by Matthew Kavanaugh between 1892 and 1896.  The natural lighting for the Painted Ladies is best very early in the morning or even at nighttime when the houses are actually lit by ground lights.

Golden Gate Bridge
Location: Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA
Distance from Hotel Union Square: 6.8 Miles

The Golden Gate Bridger stretches 4,200 feet and is as high as a 65-story building at its highest point. There are several great spots to view and photograph the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge; Fort Point Historical Site, Baker Beach, Fort Baker, Crissy Field and Battery East Vista are among the best spots to photograph. As always, the early hours or later hours of the day will provide the best natural lighting to capture a great shot. 

Also, depending on the time of year that you visit you will experience a fair bit of fog in the mornings.  The fog can at times, completely cover the bay and Golden Gate Bridge, but at other times the fog can partially cover the bridge and create a beautiful natural visual affect for a great photo.

Location: San Francisco Bay
Distance from Hotel Union Square: 2.4 Miles

You can photograph this amazing piece of history from the shoreline, from a boat on a Bay Cruise or up close and personal by taking a tour of the prison where you can photograph the exterior of the prison, the grounds and gardens, as well as the interior, the walkways and of course the prison cells.

16th Avenue Tiled Steps
Location: 16th Ave, Just West Of Grand View Park, San Francisco, CA
Distance from Hotel Union Square: 5.8 Miles

This may not be on everyone’s ‘Top 10’ list but we love photographing this spot, especially if the lighting is right in the early hours of the day.  This spot features beautiful mosaic steps, located on 16th Avenue in the Richmond District.  The steps themselves are a great subject matter but also, climb to the top of the stairs and in the lookout area there are great views to be enjoyed and shot as well.

We hope our San Francisco Travel Blog article; 'San Francisco Photo Tour: Best Photo Spots in San Francisco' has inspired you to plan a visit to San Francisco to capture some great photos that are worthy of a spot on your Instagram account…and of course this list only includes a few of the ‘Best Photo Spots in San Francisco’ and we will definitely be including even more spots in a future Blog article.

Visit our San Francisco Visitors Guide for more recommendations for all there is to do, see and experience when visiting San Francisco.

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