Things to do in Bay Area

Explore the Best Views in the Bay Area

These inspiring Bay Area views will have you dreaming of their unforgettable splendor long after you leave the city and shore behind.

Visiting San Francisco offers a panoramic adventure like no other. With the city’s stunning vistas and incredible natural topography, the views in the Bay Area make it the jewel of the West Coast.

You’ll discover an endless array of breathtaking sights that dazzle the eyes, like the acrobatic feats of our amazing performers. So, grab your camera and embark on one of the best things to do in the Bay Area—taking in all the gorgeous views from scenic areas.

City Views

Some of the best views in the Bay Area can be found in the heart of San Francisco.

1. Twin Peaks

At an elevation of 922 ft., Twin Peaks offers some of the best views of the Bay Area. Climbing to the top is worth the effort to enjoy 360-degree panoramic views of San Francisco and other areas around the Bay.

The trail ascending the two hills is less than a mile long and offers many wonders to see along the way. You’ll see plenty of wildlife and native plants that provide a habitat for birds and nesting animals.

Look for small mission blue butterflies in Twin Peak Park’s rocky grasslands. You can see the light blue males and brown females from March to early July. Although this tiny insect is native to the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s been on the endangered species list since 1976.

The coastal scrub and grassland is another area to see within the 64-acre park surrounding the Twin Peaks. Due to grazing and development, the vegetation in this area has become scarce.

2. Coit Tower

This fluted concrete pillar rises 212 feet above Telegraph Hill and is a memorable San Francisco emblem welcoming visitors. Completed in 1933, Coit Tower even has an observation deck. It offers stunning views of the city, including the bay, Golden Gate Bridge, and Bay Bridge.

The tower itself is a site to behold, covered with fantastic frescoes depicting life in California during the Great Depression. These were painted by 25 artists in 1934, but some panels have been painted over due to controversial elements created through Social Realism—an artistic trend of the time.

Above the tower’s main entrance is a plaque of the mythical phoenix by sculptor Robert B. Howard. The bird symbolizes the city’s resiliency following numerous catastrophic blazes, such as the historic fire of 1851 that destroyed 75% of San Francisco.

3. Salesforce Tower

Witness a different view of the Bay Area at the crown of the Salesforce Tower. Spanning over 1,000 ft. and 61 stories high, the exterior of the tower’s top six floors features a light installation of 11,000 LEDs created by artist Jim Campbell.

The light display creates moving color imagery pulled from multiple cameras strategically placed around San Francisco. These cameras capture various aspects of daily life in the City by the Bay.

From weather patterns and bird migrations to the dynamics of human activity, viewers can watch a thrilling exhibition showcasing the essence of San Francisco. Visible from up to 20 miles away, this unique Bay Area viewpoint offers an ever-changing narrative of the city’s vibrant pulse.

It’s an unbelievable beacon in the night that’s nearly as mind-blowing as our gravity-defying feats.

Photographer: Sundry Photography

4. Lombard Street

One of the most renowned roads on the West Coast, Lombard Street, has been dubbed “the crookedest street in the world.” It contains eight hairpin turns to help mitigate its steep 27% incline within a 600-foot-long block. This zigzag made the daunting hill easier to climb and safer to descend when it was built in the 1920s.

While the view from your car is breathtaking, it’s challenging to truly enjoy it while safely keeping your eyes on this seriously winding road. Consider hiking up and down the public stairways located on both sides of Lombard Street. From there, you can enjoy spectacular views of San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Fisherman’s Wharf.

5. Mission Dolores Park

Mission Dolores Park is one of the most popular parks in San Francisco and offers one of the city’s best views of the downtown area. It covers 16 acres and has a rich history.

The park sits on land that was once a Jewish cemetery and later served as a refugee camp following the 1906 earthquake and fire. However, there seems to be some debate about where it got its name.

The San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department states it was named for nearby Mission Dolores. But the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency says it was named after Dolores Hidalgo, which is a town in Mexico, and the father of Mexican independence, Miguel Hidalgo, also known as the Grito de Dolores.

No matter the origin of its name, Dolores Park offers incredible Bay Area vista points for picnicking or playing with your furry friends in the off-leash dog park.

6. Grandview Park

This hilltop park really does have a grand view. Grandview Park sits atop Franciscan chert, a 140-million-year-old rock that formed when the area was part of the sea floor. The park has a short trail of about 0.2 miles, primarily consisting of wooden steps that take you to the top of the hill.

If you’re here for the view, you won’t be disappointed. Grandview Park offers stunning views of downtown San Francisco and Golden Gate Park. The view also stretches to Point Reyes and Lake Merced, making it one of the most scenic places in the Bay Area.

Coastal Views

These coastal views are like poetry in motion, much like our performers when they effortlessly glide through the air.

7. Lands End Lookout

As one of the top scenic spots in the Bay Area, Lands End Lookout is a must-see attraction with an astonishing view of where the land ends and the coast takes over. The gorgeous oceanside landscape provides an array of vistas, from inspiring cityscapes and hillsides filled with wildflowers to cypresses and craggy coastlines.

The lookout also offers numerous exhibits featuring artifacts, geology, and historic places from the area’s past. Some displays include the Yelamu Ohlone tribe, who lived at Lands End for thousands of years. The tribe was later forced to relocate to Mission Dolores in 1776 when the Spanish settled the area.

Photographer: NadiaA

8. Point Bonita Lighthouse

Built in 1855, the Point Bonita Lighthouse is a hidden gem of the Bay Area that's still in operation and maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. Hiking the sometimes steep 0.5-mile trail to the lighthouse offers views of wild landscapes, Bonita Cove, and the Pacific Ocean.

Don't forget your binoculars—you'll be able to catch a glimpse of various sea life, including dolphins, whales, and harbor seals. While you're here, take a guided tour to learn more about the lighthouse's history. Parking can be limited, so come early to secure your spot.

9. Hawk Hill

The beautiful views at Hawk Hill are coupled with fascinating wildlife sightings. You'll be able to see hawks perform graceful acrobatics across the sky. It also offers an ideal place to watch the raptor migration each fall. While you're here, visit Battery 129, a historic military installation built during World War II to defend against air attacks.

It offers majestic displays of aerial wonders, topped only by the performances you see under our big top. Hawk Hill is also touted as having some of the best views in the Bay Area of the San Francisco skyline. Here, you get an impressive view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific.

Photographer: Sundry Photography

10. Ocean Beach

Stroll along the picturesque stretch of white sand and dunes at Ocean Beach, which sits on the westernmost edge of San Francisco. Expect an astounding view of the Pacific and the Cliff House that overlooks the San Francisco Bay entrance.

You can also watch the seals frolic on Seal Rock and explore the ruins of the Sutro Baths, which were built in 1896 and destroyed by fire in 1966. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the remains of King Philip, a ship that wrecked in 1878. Parking is free, and there isn’t an entrance fee.

11. Muir Beach & Muir Beach Overlook

Muir Beach is a quiet cove accessible by a pedestrian bridge. The Muir Beach Overlook provides an expansive view of the Pacific Ocean and the Point Reyes Peninsula.

This overlook offered soldiers a natural vantage point to watch for ships and aim nearby coastal defense guns. Today, you can explore several observation posts and base-end stations previously used in the Bay’s coastal defense system.

Hike out to the furthest point of the Muir Beach Overlook for a captivating view created by violent geological events. Features include sandy beaches, valleys, peninsulas, bluffs, mountain ridges, and rocky coastlines when looking toward the Pacific.

Facing inland, check out the massive boulders strewn about the hillsides. Giant earthquakes created these boulders of seafloor deposits and lava.

Photographer: PhotoFires

12. Devil’s Slide Trail

Previously a segment of California’s coast-hugging Highway 1, Devil’s Slide Trail provides a multi-use footpath featuring over a mile of wondrous vistas overlooking the Pacific. It’s part of the California Coastal Trail, which will cover more than 1,200 miles between Oregon and Mexico when completed.

Before being transformed into a trail for nonmotorized transportation, this part of the highway was plagued by landslides, hence the name. Devil’s Slide is between San Pedro Ridge and Montara Mountain.

Besides amazing coastal views, it’s one of the best places to watch dozens of species of marine birds and animals, including harbor seals, elephant seals, and whales.

Photographer: Chris

13. Pacifica State Beach

Located just off Highway 1 in Pacifica, California, Pacifica State Beach is part of the coastline south of San Francisco. It’s also known as Linda Mar Beach and has a recreation trail along the ocean.

The beach and trail feature majestic coastal views and aquatic shows. Seals, dolphins, and whales frequently perform for awestruck watchers.

14. Montara Mountain Trail

Walking the Montara Mountain Trail offers a menagerie of unbelievable scenery. The beginning of the trail features beautiful blue gum eucalyptus forests and views of the ocean. Next, there's lush coastal scrub and manzanita groves.

As you wind around the hilltop, discover a panoramic view of the Montara Mountain Ridge and impressive granite outcroppings. The higher you climb, the more breathtaking the broader views of San Pedro Valley Park and the West Coast become.

Bridge Views

Some of the most scenic places in the Bay Area offer awe-inspiring views of the city’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

15. Battery Spencer Overlook

The Golden Gate Bridge symbolizes American ingenuity, and one of the most notable places to see it is at the Battery Spencer Overlook. That's why so many commercials use this cliff-top vantage point to film the famous Bay Area landmark.

Spencer Battery was completed in 1897 to house large coastal defense guns. Named after Revolutionary War hero Joseph Spencer, it previously housed 15-inch guns that shot cannonballs, but they were later upgraded to 12-inch rifled guns.

This battery remained in service for half a century until it closed in 1943. While no guns remain at Battery Spencer, it still offers one of the most commanding views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Experience Panoramic Splendor: The Best Views in the Bay Area

After you’ve had your mind blown by the panoramic splendor of the best views in the Bay Area, get ready to get blown away again by a show that defies conformity.

Embrace the enchantment at one of our shows in the Bay Area, where our mesmerizing artistry and acrobatics bring stories to life. Our talented performers explode onto the scene and stretch the boundaries of movement. It’s a mesmerizing visual work of art that’s not soon forgotten.

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