15 Most Instagrammable Places in San Francisco

If you know me then you know I’m all about that Instagram life. It’s arguably my favorite social media and I spend far too much time on it. Sometimes when you travel or have an experience it just isn’t enough to write an entire blog post on the item/topic but sometimes you get that one perfect picture that the world just has to see. And the perfect platform for that? Instagram. San Francisco is a city of art, nature, architecture and so much more. There’s incredible amounts to see and do. To help you narrow down what to do on a first (or tenth) time visit to the city I’ve put together this guide of the 15 Most Instagrammable Places in San Francisco so read on so you can plan your own great photo shoots!

Any view of the Golden Gate Bridge

Honestly, is there anything more iconically San Francisco than the Golden Gate Bridge? We got to drive across it multiple times and take in the fantastic views from Vista Point, from Land’s End and from Battery Lancaster. Due to the extreme fog and rain we didn’t have much luck with more vantage points but check out this link for more ideas of where to get some fantastic pictures of the very classic Golden Gate Bridge.

16th Avenue Tiled Steps

The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps can be found on Moraga Street between 15th and 16th Avenue. It’s a 163 step staircase completely covered in tile mosaics that came together as a result of a community project. If you’ve ever looked up San Francisco on either Pinterest or Instagram you’ll have guaranteed seen a picture of these stunning stairs! We checked them out right before sunset which was nice for 2 reasons. Firstly because it was almost empty and secondly because you have a great view of San Francisco from the top and it’s even greater in the dark when it’s all lit up!

Museum of Fine Arts

While I’m sure the Museum of Fine Arts is a fantastic museum, I’m actually listing it here because of the outside decor. It’s absolutely stunning. It sits on a small little pond and gets completely lit up at night. We spent a good hour here at night just laying down by the water and taking in the giant building. We certainly weren’t alone as the spot was super popular with younger people and couples on dates!

Clarion Alley

I absolutely love street art and San Francisco has some absolutely incredible street art. One of the best locations to check out street art in this great city is of course Clarion Alley. Clarion Alley can be found between Mission Street and Valencia Street and between 17th and 18th street. It may not be super obvious at first but once you know you’re looking for an alley I’m sure you’ll stumble across it! Clarion Alley is a photographer’s dream with lots of colors and the perfect backdrops for your hipster shots (or OOTDs if you’re in the fashion niche!).

Pier 39 Seals

The seals on Pier 39 are famous and attract visitors from worldwide. While you should definitely go check them out and take lots of pictures you do need to remember that these are wild animals and with wild animals you need to be incredibly respectful. Don’t try to feed them and for the love of god don’t try to get near them by getting in the water or something equally ridiculous. The sheer size of these animals should discourage stupid behavior but in case it doesn’t you have been warned. 

Fisherman’s Wharf/The Harbor

San Francisco has a number of piers so it’s worth spending half a day just walking around from pier to pier and ending up at Fisherman’s Wharf after passing Pier 39. All along the harbor you’ll find a ton of places to shop and eat at. While it’s often times crowded and slightly touristy it’s great for pictures because the store fronts and boardwalks are just so over the top!

Alcatraz Island

Whether it’s inside the jail or the iconic shot of the outside, it’s hard to go wrong with a picture of Alcatraz. The island has a surprising number of picture taking opportunities and it’s one you definitely don’t want to miss on your trip! Make sure to walk around both the interior and exterior of the prison to make the most of your visit. 

Land’s End

On a gorgeous sunny day you’ll have spectacular views of the Golden Gate bridge. We got slightly unlucky in terms of the view but we on the other hand had the entire place to ourselves so this place is worth a visit (and tons of pictures) regardless of the weather. A tip however, this is quite an inclined hike so be prepared to be slightly winded (or not if you’re in better shape than me).

Painted Ladies

The stunning Painted Ladies is another one of those iconic San Francisco spots. It’s something most people are familiar with prior to visiting the city and something that can often times be fairly busy! The houses are super pretty though and the colors make it so photogenic! If the park in front of it is closed due to construction you’ll have to work a bit to get the right angle but it’s still totally an instagrammable spot!

Lombard Street aka the Most Crooked Street in the World

Lombard Street is quite the phenomenon. It’s the most crooked street in the world and there’s typically a line up of cars trying to drive down the street. You can walk down the sides of it as well. Keep in mind these are private residences so be respectful of littering and noise when in the area. The best place to get a picture is at the top of the hill or a little right below the street so you can see the crookedness! 

China Town

San Francisco has one of the biggest China Towns and the streets have a number of decorations all ready to go for your picture taking needs! If you check it out during night you’re more likely to see it lit up but just remember to adjust your camera settings!

Hearts in San Francisco

If you visit San Francisco, you’re very likely to come across one of these hearts. This project started in 2004 by the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation and there are a now total of 131 heart sculptures spread all over the city. This one’s on Pier 39. Another really well known is the one in Union Square. Some of the hearts are privately owned which is why a complete list of all the locations hasn’t been released by the Hospital Foundation but there are some lists floating around online that have a number of the locations!

Ghirardelli Square

The Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate store can be found at Ghirardelli Square at 900 North Point, Ste 52, San Francisco, CA. It’s a giant location with chocolate production, a cafe and a store with a huge selection. Even if you just step inside to grab some chocolates to go it’s totally worth it to get some pictures of the iconic chocolate that San Francisco is known for. If you’ve got the time I’d highly suggest sticking around for some of their decadent desserts!

Coit Tower

Every city has their own tallest tower and in San Francisco that tower is the Coit Tower! You’ll get some great pictures of it down from the Harbour where it rises up on the hill it stands on!

Architecture

Okay so maybe this one is a cop out but hear me out. Between all the colored houses, the old brick stores and the hills you’ll hurt your neck from looking back and forth at it all! The buildings are so stunning and you’ll want to stop and take pictures at every single one of them.

Bonus (Because slightly outside of San Francisco)

Muir Woods

Trees as tall as the sky and large enough to make you look like an ant? Perfect photography moments. Plus, there’s a bunch of different trails for you to get different vantage points from and there’s fallen trees, split trees, solo trees and groups of trees. It’s almost like they’re waiting to be photographed!

Stinson Beach

Stinson Beach is located in Marin County just past Muir Woods and is a great beach for a walk or some relaxing. It’s got some lovely cliffs you can drive up to for a stunning, and of course, instagrammable, view!

Houseboats in Sausalito

The Sausalito Houseboats are technically private properties but as long as you’re respectful and just doing a quick walk through it’s totally fine from what we were told. The houses are stunning with a lot of decorations and colors put into them and it’s a ton of fun taking pictures of them because they photograph so well. While you’re at it, make sure to pick out the one you’d see yourself living in!

Silicon Valley – Facebook & Google Campuses 

The Facebook and Google Campuses scream to be instagrammed! They’ve got iconic relics of what you know them for and they’ve got ready made photo spots!

Do you agree or disagree with the list? Any spots you felt should be included that weren’t? Let me know in the comments and as always pin this post for your own upcoming visit to San Francisco!

15+ of the most instagrammable places in San Francisco, California 15+ of the most instagrammable places in San Francisco, California 15+ of the most instagrammable places in San Francisco, California

76 Comments

  1. March 10, 2017 / 10:15 am

    I love the Pier areas in San Fransisco. The sea lions are the best, a little stinky but worth the trip!

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 12:45 pm

      Totally worth it even with the stink! They’re so cute rolling around making their sounds.

  2. March 10, 2017 / 10:27 am

    This has just totally whetted my appetite to visit San Francisco! The sea lions are definitely adorable!

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 12:46 pm

      They’re super cute 🙂

  3. March 10, 2017 / 12:03 pm

    Loved this post!! I’ll definitely go and take pics in all these places when I’m in San Fran! Thanks for sharing!

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 12:47 pm

      Thanks for checking the post out!

  4. March 10, 2017 / 12:04 pm

    Can not wait to visit San Fransisco in a couple months. Definitely going to check out these places!

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 1:08 pm

      It’s a really fun city! Enjoy your trip 🙂

  5. March 10, 2017 / 12:05 pm

    WOW! Those are all great pics! I can’t wait to go there someday and hit up some of these spots! Thanks for sharing!
    xo-Lisa
    http://www.thatssodarling.com

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 1:14 pm

      Thanks for reading!

  6. March 10, 2017 / 12:12 pm

    I have been to San Fran a few times but keep missing out on Sausalito! Next time.
    Although Land’s End is such a cool spot!

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 1:23 pm

      Yes, Sausalito’s totally worth it! Check out Fred’s Place for brunch/lunch if you get a chance 🙂

  7. March 10, 2017 / 12:25 pm

    I never knew there were sea lions in San Francisco. Great pictures.

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 1:24 pm

      Thank you 🙂

  8. March 10, 2017 / 2:01 pm

    There is probably no spot in San Francisco that is not instagram worthy! 🙂 Btw is it truth that most of the seals from the Pier 39 disappeared?

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 1:30 pm

      They disappeared briefly in 2014 from what I remember reading but there were tons present when we went in February this year!

  9. March 10, 2017 / 2:40 pm

    I’ve always wanted to visit San Fransisco. The painted ladies is my favorite shot reminds me of Full House 🙂

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 1:33 pm

      Haha I thought exactly the same!

  10. March 10, 2017 / 2:57 pm

    The tiled steps, the Alcatraz Island.. ooohhh, so many to choose 🙂 I would just explore all of them then and take many photos as I can 🙂

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 1:35 pm

      Exactly what I did!

  11. March 10, 2017 / 4:49 pm

    Awesome. I wrote a similar post for London. I’ll be bookmarking this for when I get to San Francisco 🙂

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 1:37 pm

      Thank you! I love these kind of posts. They’re such good preparation for visiting a new place!

  12. March 10, 2017 / 8:39 pm

    Lovely photos and suggestions for SanFran! I really enjoyed Fishmen’s Warf and Ghiradelli, of course, too 🙂

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 3:22 pm

      Who could resist Ghiradelli?? I swore I wouldn’t get anything but those desserts are heavenly!

  13. March 11, 2017 / 3:22 am

    These are some amazing spots! Will definitely save for my trip to San Fran!

    Jesse

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 3:23 pm

      Thank you! Hope you enjoy your trip 🙂

  14. March 11, 2017 / 3:43 am

    Thanks for sharing some great hot spot! definitely want to check it out when going to SFO

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 3:25 pm

      Thank you! They’re definitely all worth a visit!

  15. March 11, 2017 / 6:31 am

    I really want to visit Lombard Street and Alcatraz. I never did any sightseeing last time i was there and so SF is on my list for the next time I am in the US.

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 3:31 pm

      Alcatraz is completely worth a visit! So much history! Lombard Street was unique as well. We actually drove down it, it was pretty fun!

  16. March 11, 2017 / 8:49 am

    Awesome job capturing the beauty in San Francisco! I love the seals omg!! I’ve never been to SF but it looks beautiful. Also how cool are those houseboats.. I didnt know about that part!

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 3:30 pm

      Thank you! I loved, loved, loved the houseboats! I thought it was such a cool thing! The seals were also adorable, such entertainers.

  17. March 11, 2017 / 2:32 pm

    Great post!! Love all these tips for when we make it to San Fran! That staircase?! Stunning!

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 3:33 pm

      Thank you! I loved the staircase as well. It’s such a beautiful community project.

  18. March 11, 2017 / 10:40 pm

    “Most instagrammable” for a good reason, these places are inspirable!!

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 3:38 pm

      They definitely are!

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 3:39 pm

      Loved Pier 39! So many things to see and do!

  19. March 12, 2017 / 7:55 pm

    Where in SF Is the very first pic at the top of the post?

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 3:32 pm

      Hey, it’s from one of the buildings on Alcatraz Island! (I think you’re referring to the image that says 15 most instagrammable spots in San Francisco right?)

  20. March 13, 2017 / 12:06 am

    Nice list….I am quite attracted by Lombard street, The golden gate and painted lady. Definitely a lot of interesting shots can be taken here. Loved your pics

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 16, 2017 / 4:08 pm

      Thank you very much!

  21. March 13, 2017 / 3:03 pm

    These are some great sights to capture. I’ll be visiting San Francisco this year and can’t wait to visit all these spots and take their pictures. Have pinned your post for my reference.

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 17, 2017 / 11:08 am

      Hope you enjoy your visit! It’s a fun city!

  22. March 13, 2017 / 4:24 pm

    Yay! A fellow Torontonian! I absolutely LOVED San Fran, and thankfully got to see many of these spots. I somehow missed those beautiful stairs you mentioned in #2, darn!

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 17, 2017 / 11:09 am

      Haha no way! I never find Toronto bloggers!

      San Fran is goooorgeous. Now you have a reason to go back 😀

  23. March 13, 2017 / 4:49 pm

    These are all very instagrammable spots. Some of these I saw when I was in SF, like Alcatraz, Coit Tower, and the Golden Gate, and some I didn’t. But it all inspires me to want to go back to visit San Francisco!

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 17, 2017 / 11:10 am

      It’s definitely a city worth revisiting!

  24. March 13, 2017 / 7:40 pm

    I WISH I would have read this blog post before moving away from CA! The special places look like such gems.

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 21, 2017 / 10:34 am

      I loved them! Now you have another reason to go back and visit!

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 21, 2017 / 10:34 am

      There’s definitely tons to miss about it!

  25. March 14, 2017 / 6:04 am

    Guess you wrote this post for me only. I’ll be soon in SFO. This will come very handy 🙂

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 21, 2017 / 10:37 am

      Glad to help! Enjoy your upcoming trip 🙂

  26. March 14, 2017 / 6:48 pm

    Nice idea! I love San Francisco!!! 💯

  27. March 14, 2017 / 8:58 pm

    Wow! I agree these definitely ARE Instagram worthy photos of San Fran! great shots!

  28. March 15, 2017 / 8:24 am

    Beautiful photos. I visited San Francisco 25 years ago and seeing your pictures reminded me how great that city is. I love the labyrinth and the tile steps photos.

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 21, 2017 / 10:56 am

      It’s a really pretty city. Thank you for checking the post out 🙂

  29. March 15, 2017 / 10:21 am

    OMG that staircase <333

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 21, 2017 / 10:56 am

      It’s great isn’t it??

  30. March 15, 2017 / 5:59 pm

    These sure are spots that Instagram well. My favourite is the Golden Gate Bridge. Second is Lombard Street, these photograph so well!

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 21, 2017 / 10:57 am

      They really do! Lombard Street is such a unique street.

  31. March 15, 2017 / 11:07 pm

    Oh my! These are some beautiful shots! Instagram is my favorite social media, too!!

    • Liliane
      Author
      March 21, 2017 / 11:24 am

      Thank you! I’m obsessed. Instagram is so cool!

  32. April 19, 2017 / 3:42 am

    Love to go to San Francisco one day and this is such a great inspiration. Great pictures, thanks for sharing!

    • Liliane
      Author
      April 19, 2017 / 7:30 pm

      It’s so worth a visit! Thanks for checking the post out!

  33. May 9, 2017 / 4:02 pm

    Wow, you’ve really captured some awesome spots with your post! I agree with your first one – there’s not a bad view of the Golden Gate Bridge! And the 16th Avenue tiled steps are a must see as well.

    • Liliane
      Author
      May 10, 2017 / 9:55 am

      Thank you!! I absolutely loved the tiled steps!!

  34. May 23, 2017 / 10:56 am

    This is beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

    • Liliane
      Author
      May 24, 2017 / 8:15 am

      Thanks for checking it out!

  35. March 2, 2019 / 5:37 am

    Couldn’t come at a better time. Am heading over to SF next week for the first time ever. So will make sure I keep your list handy. Am hoping for slightly better weather though (but one never knows) 😉
    Thanks for sharing

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