5 Best Photo Opportunities in San Francisco

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Photo Opportunities San Francisco

Lee Van Grack

Looking for romantic, quirky, fun family, scenic or classic photo opportunities? San Francisco in all its splendor offers you all these and more. Here's a little help to get you clicking.


1. Romantic


When scenic photo opportunities in San Francisco come to mind, more than likely they include a cable car perched high on a hill overlooking the city. That's why taking a ride on a cable car with someone special, and even catching a quick kiss in front of your camera, is a must do during your time in San Francisco. Although locals rarely set foot on these fabled vehicles, the cars are one of the ideal spots for photo opportunities in San Francisco.

Getting there: There are three cable car routes: the Powell-Hyde line, the Powell-Mason line, and the California Street line. Board at the cable car turntable at Powell and Market, or California and Davis, or look for the brown-and-white Cable Car Stop signs. For routes, visit the San Francisco Cable Car website.



2. Quirky


For better or worse, there are a lot of things you can probably get away with in San Francisco -- such as smoking a joint in plain sight on Haight Street or dashing naked through the streets during the annual Bay to Breakers footrace. This is why it's somewhat odd to see an earnestly rendered wooden sign hovering over Spreckels Lake forbidding one of the most intuitive activities known to humankind -- feeding the birds.

One of many man-made lakes dotting Golden Gate Park, Spreckels is particularly popular with the gentlemen of the Model Yacht Club, who race incredibly elaborate boats along the lake's otherwise placid surface. So, if you are looking for a fun snapshot to add to your growing collection of San Francisco travel photography, perch near this didactic sign, do some finger wagging, and snap a fun photo.

How to Get There: Take the 5 Muni bus to 36th and Fulton and walk to the far side of the lake. Go anytime, but if you want to see the model yachts in action, go on a warm weekend in September.

Golden Gate Park
Lincoln Blvd. and 7th Ave.
San Francisco, CA
(415) 753-7032


3. Fun Family Spots


No trip to San Francisco is complete without a drive over the Golden Gate Bridge into the hills north of the city to China Camp, located in Marin. This quiet state park, a former Chinese shrimp-fishing village, is a terrific spot for the kids to blow off steam. It makes for one of the best photo opportunities San Francisco offers. Picturesque boats and abandoned cabins lend this historic spot the feel of a ghost town. The site includes a campground and picnic site, and every Saturday during the summer, park rangers host a talk around the campfire, followed by marshmallow toasting.

How to get there: China Camp is located four miles east of San Rafael on the shore of San Pablo Bay. From San Francisco, take Highway 101 across the Golden Gate Bridge and go east on North San Pedro Road for five miles.

China Camp
101 Peacock Gap Trl.
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 456-0766
Hours: 8AM-sunset



4. Scenic


Looking for the best photo opportunity in San Francisco? Look no further than the notorious Golden Gate Bridge. As one of the most recognizable structures in the world, this bridge provides for one of the best photo ops around. San Francisco natives and visitors alike agree that the views from this notable bridge never grow old. A good vantage point from which to shoot a stunning photo of the bridge is from afar, such as from below the bridge at Crissy Field. From this angle, Fort Point is visible below the bridge. Additional scenic San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge photo ops are the cliffs at Land's End, Baker Beach and China Beach.

Golden Gate Bridge
U.S. Highway 101
San Francisco, CA
(415) 921-5858



5. Classic


One of the San Francisco photo opportunities that best defines the city is a photo set against the backdrop of the city's infamous fog. And nowhere is the fog denser than at Ocean Beach in the summer. Thanks to the city's strange microclimate, July is the coldest month of the year, which is why a San Franciscan can always spot a tourist a mile away-the tourist is the one who goes to the beach in the summer without a coat. So, even if you do bring a coat, shed yours and snap a photo on the beach to capture beloved memories of your time in San Francisco.

Timing: Your best bet is in the morning because the fog often lifts in the late afternoon.

How to get there: Take Muni, or, better yet, enter Golden Gate Park at Stanyan Street and Haight Street and walk through the park to the beach.

Ocean Beach
Point Lobos Ave. Great Highway
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 561-4323


Michelle Richmond is the New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Fog and No One You Know, books both set in San Francisco. Read her blog on Red Room.
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