11 Best Places to Take Pics in San Francisco

Ultimate Guide to the Best Places to Take Pics in San Francisco
(with photos and descriptions)

Below is my ultimate list of the best places to take pics in San Francisco, all offering many different scenic locations and iconic views to choose from. As a San Francisco native, I love exploring new places to shoot in the City, but also love revisiting familiar locations because I hate complacency and love the challenge of giving my Engagement / Wedding Couples unique and creative images. Whether you have lived in San Francisco for many years, or are traveling here for vacation, the list below will help introduce you to the 11 best places to take pics in San Francisco to help make your photo session a success! 

1. Baker Beach

Baker Beach is the most common location I photograph for engagement sessions in San Francisco. Free and plentiful parking, unparalleled views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and a diverse setting around the area help make this one of the best places to take pics in San Francisco for many.

baker beach engagement photos couple silhouetted with the golden gate bridge covered with fog

Beaches aren’t just seen during the day! I especially love photographing at Baker Beach at dusk, where the Bridge lights up and illuminates the blue sky as well! 

dog engagement photo with reflection of the dog and couple at baker beach san francisco
Baker Beach

If you plan it right, the Golden Gate Bridge reflects in the water at low tide and you can take your photographs to a whole new level! 
On a side note – closer to the Bridge is clothing optional and it is not uncommon to see a nude body on a sunny day

2. Palace of Fine Arts

San Francisco Best Wedding Photographer Palace of Fine Arts Dusk Bird Engagement Shoot

The Palace of Fine Arts is the second most common location I shoot at and offers a more elegant look for those who prefer the more formal setting. Its ornate architecture and photographic dome attracts locals and tourists alike, making it also one of the busiest locations on this list.

Opposite the lake facing the dome allows for panoramic views of the entire location, and shooting under the dome allows you to fully appreciate the art deco close up. 

Palace of fine arts wedding photography of grooms head to head as a silhouette with the dome reflected taken by San Francisco wedding photographer Ian Chin Photography
Palace of Fine Arts

This is one of my favorite places to shoot on a sunny day because the shadows and light that filter through the columns offer so many unique opportunities to play! 

3. Lovers Lane

With the snake-like trail of logs, Lovers’ Lane provides the perfect outdoor setting for those who love nature and earth tones. It is one of the more hidden best places to take pics in San Francisco since it is a short walk down the road from a busy road.

Lovers Lane Engagement Shoot - Roxanne Roger - 7.18.20_60 small

4. Lands End

To narrow down locations for the 3.4 miles of Lands End, I’m going to separate it into two places – Sutro Baths and Point Lobos.  Both of these locations provide a stunning view of the ocean and offer especially magical light at sunset.

Sutro Baths

Sutro Baths is the area at the bottom of the Lands End Parking Lot, known for the ruins of the old swimming house.

Lands End Engagement Photos - Abby and Todd - 6.15.21_46 small (1)
Lands End

Point Lobos offers a stand of trees in addition to the ocean view, and overlooks Sutro Baths from above. 

5. Crissy Field

The pier on the western end of Crissy Field is called Torpedo Wharf, offering one of the closet views of the Bridge in SF

Crissy Field

Crissy Field is a good choice because it has unobscured views of the Golden Gate Bridge as well as a variety of settings to photograph, all within a short walk or drive from each other

6. Pier 7

With its attractive wooden planks and row of street lights, I personally love the symmetry at Pier 7 as one of the best places to take pics in San Francisco.

With downtown SF in view, the sky seems to burst in vibrancy at sunset and dusk here for some reason

7. Battery Spencer

This place is always crowded (most Instagrammed view of the Bridge?) and takes a little luck to maneuver around other people because of the limited area, but rewards those who are patient. 

For those who are early risers, this high vantage point is the best for sunrise, as the morning fog hovering around the span of the Bridge is just so magical.

8. San Francisco City Hall

Pro tip – it closes at 8PM every night (unless rented out) so shooting here after 4PM more or less allows you to have the place mostly all to yourself!

San Francisco City Hall NYE Wedding Photographer

The grand staircase without a doubt is the prized spot throughout the entire building, but with 5 different levels there are so many photo opportunities even if the staircase is overflowing (which is common during the day)

San Francisco City Hall Summer Wedding Photos - Batu and Hande - 9.26.19_4 (1) (1)

I’ve photographed here over 200x and always love the challenge of photographing it differently. 

9. Stow Lake

Golden Gate Park offers many locations for an engagement shoot, but the most common ones are Stow Lake and the Japanese Tea Garden. 

Stow Lake is known for its mini waterfall and stone bridges that are popular backdrops for photos. 

10. Japanese Tea Garden

The Japanese Tea Garden is a very picturesque backdrop, offering numerous settings for your engagement shoot. Full of nature, it is hard not to get carried away at this small yet impressive garden.

The Japanese Tea Garden requires an entrance fee ($5-$7/person) and has a secret grove of bamboo trees!

11. Legion of Honor

Known for its white columns, the Legion of Honor is one of the best places to take pics in San Francisco for those who prefer a more elegant and modern aesthetic. The columns definitely serve as the main backdrop here, but about 70 yards away is an overview of the SF Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge

Legion of Honor Wedding Photos - Harp and Amar 5.18.21_11 small (1)
the legion of honor engagement shoot laughing out loud

Hope this list of the Best San Francisco Engagement Locations helps you out in your search! If you would like to view my other couples photos check out my engagement photography page. Or if you are interested in a family session, check out my family photography page.

If you’d like to discuss photography please CONTACT ME and I’d love to show you around SF as a local!

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