A Guide To San Francisco Instagram Spots

San Francisco is a city of bright colors, dramatic scenery, and iconic landmarks. It’s possibly the most famous of all of the cities in California and there is a reason people return time and time again. One visit is certainly not enough but we hope our list of these 15 instagrammable spots in San Francisco will not only help you take the perfect instagrammable travel photos, but also give you an authentic taste of all that this city has to offer. We have included all of the most well known San Francisco landmarks and top instagram spots as well as a few hidden gems.

A Guide To San Francisco's Best Instagram Spots

1. Painted Ladies

Where: Steiner Street & Hayes Street

One of the most well known San Francisco landmarks and top instagram spots, the Painted Ladies are easily one of the best photo spots in the city. Each of these victorian homes stand proudly against the contrast of city skyscrapers behind them, each one painted in a soft pastel color of its own. The row of postcard perfection in Alamo Square is best photographed from the grassy park across the street so pack a picnic and settle into the grass to admire the views a little longer!

Painted Ladies, San Francisco. Picture by Girl Gone Abroad.

2. Palace of Fine Arts

Where: 3301 Lyon Street

The Palace of Fine Arts has been around since 1915 and has been the host of everything from art galleries to military vehicles during the war to weddings. Originally built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, the building is a stunning work of Greek-Roman inspired architecture complimented by the serene lagoon and resident swans. The most popular aspect of the Palace of Fine Arts? The central rotunda with the circular dome, eight columns and beautifully carved artwork circling the top. The Palace of Fine Arts is a beautiful and unique building that is worth a visit for anyone interested in architecture or history, and most importantly, it is the perfect photo spot.

Palace of Fine Arts - Photo by Sarowly.

3. Aquarium of the Bay

Where: PIER 39 The Embarcadero &, Beach Street

Head on down to the Bay Area at Pier 39 if you want a photo with the sea life at one of San Francisco’s most popular attractions. With more than 20,000 marine animals you are given an opportunity to see, learn and interact with the local marine life. This aquarium has captivating jelly tanks in ambient lighting, various animal habitats and touch pools. But for the best of an Aquarium of the Bay experience, find the 300 feet of tunnels and be immersed in life underwater where everything from sharks to rays soar above you. This is definitely the best photo spot in the aquarium, but make sure to get there just after opening if you want to avoid the crowds.

4. Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

Where: 1042 Larkin Street

If you have never landed in a new city only to hail a taxi straight to the best bakery in town, well, now you will. Mr. Holmes Bakehouse is full of gloriously fresh and fluffy pastries but they are most famous for their delicious cruffins - a delicate merge of a croissant and a muffin. This sugary treat was invented right here in San Francisco and the sweet pastry is now world famous. You’ll want to arrive as early as you can and be prepared to stand in line but this little indulgence is well worth the wait. Grab your pastry of choice and snap a photo at the popular I got baked in San Francisco sign for the perfect instagram photo to remember your time here.

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse by Sonchicc.

5. Clarion Alley Mural Project

Where: Clarion Alley

Clarion Alley underwent a dramatic reinvention in the early 90s that transformed an area torn between an illegal drug market and the police attempting to prevent it all. Murals began being painted in an effort to revitalize the neighborhood and, fast forward to today, it’s one of the most popular street art destinations in the world. But Clarion Alley isn’t only just cool art – they are a strong advocate for supporting social, economic, and environmental justice. So, make sure to take time to grab your camera and head down to the Clarion Alley Mural Project and get creative capturing your perfect travel photos.

6. Golden Gate Bridge

Where: This image was shot from Battery Spencer but there are many great locations to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge from.

When you think of San Francisco you simultaneously think Golden Gate Bridge. The orange suspension bridge has become a symbol of the city and one of the most popular tourist attractions for visitors. You can capture great photos from Battery Lancaster that showcases the bridge below. For another angle, you can get some great views from the beaches below. 

There are so many great spots to get the perfect photo of the Golden Gate Bridge so we recommend taking a trip around the coastline on both sides of the bridge. A great way to explore the area quickly is to hire bikes and cycle from Crissy Field to Sausalito. We recommend stopping at Crissy Field Beach, Marshall’s beach, and Short Range Battery among others! If you want to find all the best Golden Gate bridge viewpoints check out our full guide or find the locations on the Viewbound app.

The Golden Gate Bridge from Battery Spencer.

7. San Francisco City Hall

Where: 1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl.

Pure elegance is the only way to describe city hall. The old city hall burned down in the 1906 fire, leaving only the French inspired dome. 83 years later, city hall endured damage once again from a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. A creation of steel, granite and four floors of white marble was built in it’s place and has become a beautiful building of San Francisco. This is the place to come to snag that perfect Instagram selfie in your fanciest dress.

8. The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps

Where: 16th Ave

A stairway that sparks imagination, the 16th Ave Tiled Steps are a 163 step mosaic that feature a handcrafted design of the sea flowing up the stairs to the sky. The tiled steps were inspired by the famous steps in Rio de Janeiro and were created with pieces of tile, mirror, and stained class. Starting from the bottom up, you’re greeted first with beautifully colored flowers and a glistening sea. As you walk higher up the steps, the sea transforms into a deep blue night sky with a moon at its center. Finally, at the top of the stairs the sky reveals a yellow-gold canvas of sunlight.

The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps - Photo by Wit and Folly.

9. Flora Grubb Gardens

Where: 1634 Jerrold Ave

Flora Grubb Gardens is more than just a garden store. It’s an open-air space that feels like home as soon as you walk through the door. There’s an espresso bar and cozy nooks surrounded by flowers, succulents and tall green plants. You can have a browse, sip on a coffee and don’t forget to check out the green wall: an entire wall covered in gorgeous little succulents and air plants.

10. Baker Beach

Where: 1504 Pershing Dr

A trip to San Francisco isn’t complete without a visit to one of the prettiest beaches. Soft, white sand and the rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean lead up to the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge. The area of Baker beach that is closest to the bridge is a designated nude beach, so don’t be surprised if you find a lot less clothing as you make your way over there to snap a picture. The beach has a staircase made of wooden log and sand that will take you up the hill and offer beautiful views of the water.

Baker Beach - Find this location on Viewbound

11. Leo’s Oyster Bar

Where: 568 Sacramento Street

Transport yourself to the land of the 1950s where everything was full of vintage glamour and people spent their lunch breaks with a martini glass in hand. Leo’s Oyster Bar is a classy and somewhat tropical themed restaurant with a menu focusing on seafood. It is considered to have one of the best restaurant designs and the interior is second to none. Plants hang from the ceiling, walls feature painted ferns and flowers, and the bar dazzles in gold. For those of you who love taking photos of beautiful spaces, this is one place you can’t miss.

12. Golden Gate Park

Where: 501 Stanyan Street

Fancy an escape from city life? Make your way to Golden Gate Park where you’ll find over 1000 acres of beautiful green space to relax in. From lakes and gardens to meadows and forests, you’ll find it all here. Walk amongst the redwood trees, hop in a paddleboat on one of the lakes, or go off an adventure to find one of the two waterfalls. Some of our favorite photo spots to look out for are the Conservatory of Flowers, the Japanese Tea Garden, and Stow Lake!

Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park - Photo by Minimal.aesthetics. Save this location to your bucket list on Viewbound.

13. Succulence

Where: 402 Cortland Ave

Succulents have become a thing of a trend in the plant world. They’re easy to care for, irresistibly cute and this little shop specializes in all types of succulents from aloe to cacti. A U SEXY sign designed out of letter-shaped planters filled with tiny succulents has taken the Instagram world by storm. The store itself has a cheerful presence and they offer fun activities like a planting bar where you can create your very own DIY planter.

14. The Trams of San Francisco

Where: There are trams that circle throughout the city always ready for a photo. This photo was taken at the crossroads of Hyde Street and Beach Street

Trams are iconic to San Francisco and a common sight in most Instagram photos from travellers visiting the city. The trams, which run on tracks and are powered by overhead electric wires, have a vintage feel and add a unique charm to the city. They traverse through many iconic streets and neighborhoods, such as Market Street and Fisherman's Wharf, providing picturesque views of the city. Many Instagram users capture the colorful trams as they pass by famous landmarks, such as the Golden Gate Bridge or the Bay Bridge, making for a visually striking and memorable image. The trams in San Francisco are not only a mode of transportation but also a popular attraction and a must-have in any photographer's portfolio.

San Francisco Trams - Photo by Sarowly. Find the location here.

15. Chinatown

Where: Our top pick is just outside 826 Grant Ave.

Chinatowns are always a great place to find yourself in any city but San Francisco has one of the best and biggest Chinatowns in all of the United States. From traditional Chinese lanterns hanging above the streets, unique street art of dragons, and hole in the wall restaurants with delicious food, you never know what you’ll stumble upon. For a truly authentic experience hit up Stockton Street and explore the produce markets that the local residents frequent.

A Guide To San Francisco's Best Instagram Spots: An Overview

San Francisco is a city that offers endless photo opportunities for every type of traveller. From the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to the colorful streets of Chinatown, there is something for everyone to capture to remember their travels. Whether you're a professional or an amateur, be sure to take advantage of the city's stunning views and vibrant neighborhoods to capture memories that will last a lifetime. As you explore San Francisco, remember to bring your camera and be on the lookout for the best photo spots in the city. Happy shooting!

Want even more photo spots in San Francisco? Download Viewbound and find hundreds more location tips not just in San Francisco, but in California and all over the world!

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