Looking for the best San Francisco sunset spots? From views of the city skyline, secret parks, Golden Gate Bridge sunset spots, and more, here are all the best places to watch the sunset in San Francisco!
Chasing sunsets is one of my favorite activities, and San Francisco is one of my all-time favorite cities. With its city skyscrapers and breathtaking natural landscapes, San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Since there is no shortage of amazing views in the city, there should be no surprise that there are so many amazing places to watch the sunset in San Francisco!
A San Francisco sunset never fails to take my breath away – whether it’s from one of the city’s iconic landmarks, a secret viewpoint, from the Golden Gate Bridge, or at the beach. It is seriously the most perfect day to end a perfect day in San Francisco!
There’s just something about seeing the beauty of the city laid out in front of a magical cotton candy-colored sky. It never fails to blow me away EVERY. SINGLE. TIME (and I’ve got a million Instagram-worthy photos to prove it).
There is honestly no such thing as a BAD San Francisco sunset (provided you can actually SEE one because, *ahem* Karl the Fog), but some are better than others. After 11 years of living in the city, I’ve watched many, many sunsets and I’ve found all the best San Francisco sunsets!
Keep on reading for all the best sunset spots in San Francisco!
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When is the Sunset in San Francisco?
Because of its location in Northern California, sunset in San Francisco tends to be relatively late in the summer months (it stays light out until almost 9pm), and early in the winter (before 5pm).
You can check out San Francisco sunset times here.
Tips for Catching the Sunset in San Francisco
- Arrive at least 30 minutes before sunset time to have adequate time to stake out a spot (and find parking if you are driving). Some of these San Francisco sunset spots require a hike to get to, so allow plenty of time to get there – you don’t want to be rushing and/or miss the sunset!
- BRING A JACKET! San Francisco has microclimates, so while it may be warm in one side of the city, it might feel like the Arctic in another. The weather is pretty temperamental. Many of the best San Francisco sunsets are viewed from the higher elevations in the city and/or next to the ocean, so it does tend to get chilly and windy AF. I like having a packable puffer jacket because it adds a warm outer layer when you need it, but folds up into a compact size when you don’t.
- I highly recommend staying a little while after the sunset, until blue hour – watching the colors in the sky change from orange to blue is mesmerizing, especially at those San Francisco sunset spots that feature a city view.
- Bring a flashlight or other light source, as some of these spots require a hike that can be difficult to do in the dark. I love this collapsible lantern, which I take along for all my hikes – it’s light and compact, and you can fold it into your purse when you’re not using it.
- Summer tends to be foggier than winter. Some of the best sunsets that I’ve ever seen in San Francisco have been in the winter months! For the places to watch the sunset in San Francisco near/at the Golden Gate Bridge, you can check the current weather conditions here. Generally, it tends to be warmer and less foggy on the eastern side of the city.
Where to Watch the Sunset in San Francisco
Twin Peaks boasts not only one of the best sunsets in San Francisco, but also has one of the absolute best views in the city.
You can’t go wrong with watching the sunset from Twin Peaks, because of its elevation (one of the highest in the city), or its prime location (smack dab in the middle of San Francisco). Because of these two factors, you’ll find an absolutely perfect panoramic view, making Twin Peaks perhaps the most popular San Francisco sunset spot.
There are two peaks at Twin Peaks (hence the name) – the view from either is essentially the same. You’ll be able to see the downtown skyline, the Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Pacific Ocean, and beyond. And, seeing the lights of the downtown skyscrapers twinkle against the pink sky is an absolute magical sight!
However, my personal favorite place to watch the sunset in San Francisco is from Christmas Tree Point Road. There’s a cool curvy road in front of the view here, which adds a bit of visual interest. And, if you want to see the city closer up, they have some binoculars here as well.
Note: Twin Peaks Blvd. is currently closed to all vehicle traffic. You will have to park at the base and walk up the hill. Otherwise, for a good workout, you can hike all the way up from the Castro.
Ina Coolbrith Park
This tiny little park is nestled in the Russian Hill neighborhood, and is not only one of the best places to watch the sunset in San Francisco, but is one of the city’s best hidden gems as well.
Ina Coolbrith Park probably has my favorite view of the San Francisco skyline. The skyscrapers are absolutely dazzling here, especially as the lights start twinkling against the orange/pink sky. It is one of the best views of the iconic Transamerica Pyramid, and the towering Salesforce Tower (aka the tallest building in San Francisco).
You’ll also be able to spot the Bay Bridge (with the twinkling Bay Lights), Coit Tower, and the waterfront.
Battery Spencer boasts my all-time favorite view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and it is a whole new level of epic at sunset. Seriously, there is nothing quite like a Golden Gate Bridge sunset – and this is hands-down the best place to see one.
White Battery Spencer is technically not in San Francisco city limits (it sits just across the Golden Gate Bridge in the Marin Headlands), the view is so spectacular here that it is absolutely one of the best sunsets in San Francisco.
Here, you will find that postcard-worthy Golden Gate Bridge sunset view. In addition, you’ll be able to see the downtown skyline, the bay, and Alcatraz. It’s also a fun place to watch the boats pass under the bridge.
Many of my favorite San Francisco sunsets have been from Battery Spencer. It’s just such an iconic view – add the sunset against it and it will seriously take your breath away. GUARANTEED.
Lands End & Sutro Baths
Lands End just might be my favorite place in San Francisco. It just feels like a whole world away from the hustle and bustle of being in a major city. It’s such a beautiful place, to go for a hike (it’s also one of my favorite hikes in SF), and to escape the craziness of the city.
Lands End and Sutro Baths at sunset are both absolutely magical. If you happen to be lucky enough to be able to watch the sunset here (which is sometimes difficult, especially in the summer, because it also tends to be in the foggiest part of the city), you are in for a treat – this is where you’ll find the best sunset in San Francisco!
I love, love, LOVE the way the golden light kisses the waves in the ocean. It is truly something else, and absolutely mesmerizing. The golden reflections you get in the pools at Sutro Baths are just insane. And look at the way the light streams through the trees at Lands End – absolutely breathtaking!
This is another place to catch an epic Golden Gate Bridge sunset, and a favorite of local photographers.
You’ll have to hike a bit to get to Marshall’s Beach – to get there, start off on the Batteries to Bluffs trail (which is another San Francisco sunset spot I mention further down the list), and find the sign for the stairs leading to Marshall’s Beach. The stairs are kind of a doozy coming back up, but absolutely worth it for one of the best sunsets in San Francisco!
Marshall’s Beach not only has one of the best sunset views in San Francisco, but also the best Golden Gate Bridge sunset views. It’s a continuation of Baker Beach, but the scene here is even better, as the bridge is a lot closer and it’s almost as if you’re up against it.
If you keep walking towards the beach, and go through the little cove, the view gets even better! This is one of my favorite San Francisco spots, because it feels like a bit of a secret. You’ll probably be in the company of a few photographers, with their tripods set up and ready to capture one of the best sunsets in San Francisco.
Tucked into the quiet Sunset district is Grand View park, which also boasts one of the best views in San Francisco and is one of the best San Francisco sunset spots. Grandview Park sits at the top of the beautiful 16th Street Mosaic Steps. After climbing up the stairs, make a right on the street at the top, and take a second set of wooden stairs up to the park.
Climbing up all those stairs will be worth it for the view, in which you can spot the Sunset district, Ocean Beach, Golden Gate Park (and its new Ferris wheel), the Presidio and Golden Gate Bridge, as well as the downtown skyline. On a clear day, you can even see up to the Marin Headlands and the Farallon Islands! At 666 feet high, you can basically see it all!
While there’s an excellent view of the downtown skyscrapers here, my favorite part of the view when coming at sunset is of the Ocean and seeing the golden glow cast over it. It’s also fun to watch the sun fall below the horizon from here, making Grandview Park one of the best sunsets in San Francisco.
Bernal Heights Park
Bernal Heights Park has always been one of my go-tos for the best San Francisco sunsets. The view is kind of similar to the one from Twin Peaks, but from a lower elevation and fewer crowds (because tourists don’t know that it exists).
It’s an easy one-mile loop to get to the top, with gradual inclines so you won’t be super out of breath.
It’s also got sort of a rustic feel, which gives you the unique feeling of getting an epic city view, with the feeling of being in nature. Come here for stunning panoramic views, featuring downtown skyscrapers, Bay Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge, the San Bruno Mountains, and the southeastern waterfront, along with grassy hills and trees.
There is also a wooden swing up here – taking in the views while swinging on it makes Bernal Heights Park one of the best places to watch the sunset in San Francisco!
While it is often overshadowed by Twin Peaks, Mt. Davidson is actually the highest natural peak in San Francisco, standing at 928 feet in elevation.
The only downside to the view from Mt. Davidson is that, well, Twin Peaks kinda blocks part of it. However, you’ll find far fewer people here than at Twin Peaks, making Mt. Davidson one of the most peaceful places to watch the sunset in San Francisco.
You’ll be able to see gorgeous views of the downtown skyline, the bay, the San Bruno Mountains, and more.
Fort Point + Torpedo Wharf
While Fort Point itself is usually closed by the time the sun sets, the surrounding area offers some of the best Golden Gate Bridge sunset views.
The views of the Golden Gate Bridge from the parking lot, or Torpedo Wharf (along the path leading to Fort Point) are two of my favorites, especially at sunset. The bridge looks perfect against the rocks and the waves of the Pacific crashing against it. There’s a giant chain link fence that adds a nice touch as well. The golden light just makes the view even better.
Sometimes, you’ll see people displaying their classic cars along Torpedo Wharf, which makes for some really fun photos!
Do note that the waves and surf do sometimes get high, so pay attention, otherwise you might get splashed with some (super cold) water.
Crissy Field is probably my favorite place in the city to go for a sunset walk or run. Or if you don’t feel like going for a walk or run, it’s also one of the best places to hang out and have a picnic at sunset in San Francisco.
There’s just something about the wide open grass space, and beach at Crissy Field. You also have a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and you can’t go wrong with that.
One of my favorite Golden Gate Bridge sunset views is from the West Bluff Picnic Area – the grassy hills, cute historic buildings, and the bridge make the perfect combination.
Golden Gate Overlook
Golden Gate Overlook has become a super popular photo spot recently, and it’s an especially amazing place to capture a picture perfect Golden Gate Bridge sunset!
The thing that makes Golden Gate Overlook special is that you get a vertical view of the bridge, with the towers looking like they’re stacked over each other. In addition, the view is perfectly framed by the two eucalyptus trees on either side.
It’s also a perfect Golden Gate Bridge sunset spot because the pink sky is magical – and you’ll start seeing the car headlights on the bridge twinkle against it.
If you are trying to figure out how to find it, set your GPS to navigate to 1600 Langdon Ct. There is also a parking lot here (with plenty of space available), if you plan to drive.
Photo tip: Shoot with a lens with a longer zoom lens (over 50mm – even longer is better) to make the bridge look larger, or use the zoom function on your phone.
Batteries to Bluffs Trail
The Batteries to Bluffs trail is not only one of San Francisco’s best hikes, but is also one of the best places to see a Golden Gate Bridge sunset. You’ll find spectacular views of the bridge throughout, and they are especially magical against a sunset-colored backdrop.
While you can find plenty of gorgeous scenery throughout the hike, which takes you from the near the Golden Gate Bridge visitors’ center to Lands End, the best part is near the bridge. From here, there is a unique perspective of the bridge, as well as beautiful greenery that contrasts against it.
Not only will you find plenty of epic Golden Gate Bridge sunset views, you’ll find spectacular ocean views as well. Be sure to look the other way as well – the way the water becomes bathed in golden light is truly magical, making the Batteries and Bluffs trail one of the best places to see the sunset in San Francisco.
Along the Embarcadero
You’ll find spectacular views of the Bay Bridge from the Embarcadero waterfront, which are especially magical as the nightly Bay Lights installation makes the bridge seemingly sparkle. One of my absolute favorite San Francisco sunsets is from the Embarcadero because of this – there’s nothing quite like seeing the twinkly lights on the bridge against the cotton candy sky.
While you can find spectacular views of the Bay Lights all along the Embarcadero waterfront, you can also check out the view from some of the piers as well. One of my favorites is Pier 7, with its wooden walkway and lamp posts, which perfectly frame the iconic Transamerica Pyramid. This is a favorite shooting spot of local wedding photographers for its romantic vibe.
Also notable are the views from Pier 3 and Pier 14. Also be sure to check out the giant Cupid’s Span sculpture against the twinkly Bay Lights and sunset sky!
While Coit Tower itself is usually closed by the time the sun sets and you cannot access the top, you can still find spectacular views from its base, making it one of the best San Francisco sunset spots.
You’ll get some stunning panoramic views of the waterfront, Bay Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge, and more. I also think that this is where you’ll find the best view of the city’s hills – look to Russian Hill in the west!
While you can drive or take an Uber to Coit Tower, the walk from North Beach has some scenic views of the downtown skyscrapers, which twinkle against the sunset sky – makes the climb worth it!
Battery East is one of my favorite Golden Gate Bridge sunset spots. Most people flock to the visitor’s center, completely ignoring Battery East, which sits on the trail just underneath it.
Here, you’ll find a classic straight-on view of the bridge, with beautiful greenery in the foreground. There is also a perfectly situated view of the coastline and Fort Point as well.
Most people know Treasure Island for two things and little else: for its monthly flea market, and annual music festival. This is a shame, because it is also one of the most spectacular places to watch the sunset in San Francisco!
Treasure’s Island position right in the middle of the bay makes it a prime location for taking in the sunset. You can head to the viewpoint along Avenue of the Palms, at water’s edge. From here, you will find stunning views of the bayfront, the western span of the Bay Bridge, and the skyscrapers of downtown San Francisco. Clipper Cove has some gorgeous vistas as well.
If you want a more epic place to watch the sunset in San Francisco, there is a hidden viewpoint nestled into the hillsides, where the man-made Treasure Island connects to the natural Yerba Buena Island. You’ll want to look for Blue Park, which is located past Clipper Cove and at the end of Nimitz Road (be super careful not to get lost, as you will end up in restricted areas owned by the US Navy!).
If you’ve ever seen the elevated view of the Bay Bridge on a computer saver and wondered where they took the photo from, this is the spot! At Blue Park, you’ll find a bluff overlooking both bridges, and the skyline. I haven’t made it to Blue Park yet, but it’s at the top of the list!
From the Water
By taking in the sunset on the water, you’ll be able to catch spectacular views of the waterfront, both bridges, and the SF skyline. And, if you go on a cruise that goes underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, that is a super unique experience and there’s nothing quite like it!
Here are some options for checking out the sunset in San Francisco from the water:
- San Francisco Bay Luxury Sunset Catamaran Cruise
- San Francisco Dinner Dance Cruise
- San Francisco Social Sunday Cruise
- America’s Cup Sunset Sailing Adventure
Another option for catching the sunset on the water is to take a day trip to Sausalito, and take the ferry back around sunset time.
From a rooftop
San Francisco may not have as many rooftop bars as, say NYC or LA, but they have started popping up throughout the city in recent years. And, there’s nothing better than catching a San Francisco sunset with a tasty cocktail in hand!
Some of the best rooftop bars in San Francisco include:
- Charmaine’s @ Proper Hotel
- Rooftop @ Hotel Via (only open for special events or hotel guests – you can check the calendar here)
- El Techo
- Top of the Mark @ Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel (temporarily closed due to current health regulations)
- The View Lounge @ San Francisco Marriott Hotel (temporarily closed due to current health regulations)
Have you been to San Francisco? What are some of your favorite places to watch the sunset in San Francisco?
More San Francisco content you may enjoy:
The Perfect Day in San Francisco: An Itinerary + Tips
150 Epic Things to Do in San Francisco
50 Instagram-worthy San Francisco Photo Spots
25 Spectacular San Francisco Views
40 Hidden Gems in San Francisco
120+ Free Things to Do in San Francisco
Best Views of the Golden Gate Bridge
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Caroline is a Southern California based traveler, writer, and photographer. She travels all around California, the US, and the world in search of the most colorful places, the most delicious food, and bucket-list adventures. Her aim is to inspire other travelers discover how to add more adventure and joy to their lives. On Pictures & Words, you’ll find detailed guides + itineraries, along with vibrant photos to help you plan the the most epic trips. When she’s not traveling, Caroline also runs half marathons.