Ready to chase stunning San Francisco sunsets? Watching the sunset is my favorite part of the day. Every place I visit, I make sure to find the most epic places to watch the sunset. I’ve been doing the same thing since moving to San Francisco.
Living in the Outer Richmond makes this grueling task [🤪] incredibly easy. All I really have to do is walk down to Ocean Beach and the sunset is there for me. In my opinion, the west side of the city has the best places to watch the sunset in San Francisco. But, what if you’re not near this part of the city?
Many people don’t come out this way during their visit because it is quite far from all of the other top things to do in San Francisco. However, thanks to San Francisco’s many hills, parks, and all-around gorgeous landscape, what I’ve found is that no matter where you are in San Francisco, you’re close to a beautiful sunset spot with spectacular views!
Keep reading for the best places to watch the sunset in San Francisco.
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Tips for Chasing the San Francisco Sunset
If you take nothing away from this blog post take these two tips. First, dress warmly. Second, leave nothing in your car.
Even if it’s a warm and clear day, as soon as the sun goes down it gets cold in San Francisco. Make sure you have an extra jacket handy, a blanket, or grab some hot tea on your way to one of these sunset locations. The wind picks up in many of these locations. It can get really strong and almost unbearable, so please check out my post for what to wear in San Francisco and dress accordingly so you can actually enjoy the sunset!
Many of these locations are popular tourist destinations in San Francisco. And people know that. It’s not uncommon in all of these locations to see glass on the ground from broken car windows or even see a car with a broken window as you’re looking for parking. Thieves know you’re heading for sunset, will be gone for a bit, and might have something valuable in the car. Take it all with you!
Ok, a few more tips for chasing the sunset, from yours truly, who as the name says loves doing just that.
- Check the sunset time in advance using the weather app on your phone. In the summertime, the sun sets past 8:30 and in the wintertime, it sets before 5:00.
- The best time to arrive for sunset is 30 minutes prior to the sun set time. 30 minutes before gives you plenty of time to find the prime sunset viewing location.
- Stay at least 30 minutes after sunset. This where the magic happens. The colors in the sky (especially if there are clouds) turn even more vibrant – it’s amazing!
- Bring a flashlight, especially if you stay well after the sun goes down on any of the trails mentioned below.
- If you’re planning to photograph the sunset, I love my wide angle lens for the majority of these locations. But anything with views of the city skyline in the distance (like Twin Peaks) I suggest using a telephoto or mid length lens.
- Fog is the one thing that can really ruin a sunset. During the summer months the fog rolls in thick, obscuring the sun for days on end. The fog tends to be thickest on the western side of the city (near the beaches) while the middle and eastern side (the Mission & Embarcadero) remain sunny. If the fog foils your sunset plans, either try another location or just call it a night.
Best Places to See Sunset in San Francisco
One of my favorite places to capture the sunset in San Francisco is at Sutro Baths located in the Outer Richmond neighborhood. Sutro Baths is what remains of a former bath house and there are ample places to watch the sunset here. You can perch on one of the bluffs overlooking the area, at low tide you can head down to the small beach, or simply wander around the ruins during golden hour.
There is also a trail system you can walk through to see the golden light pouring in through the trees. It’s so stunning!
That’s why it’s such a popular San Francisco photo spot. You’ll see engagement, wedding, and even solo photo sessions (ahem mine) going on throughout this area.
- Location: 1004 Point Lobos Ave
- Things to do nearby: Sutro Baths is just up the road from Ocean Beach and connected to Lands End Trail. After sunset head to the inner Richmond for dinner at one of the many international restaurants.
Lands End Trail
If you want to get a walk in with your sunset, take one of the trails from Sutro Baths that connects to the Lands End trail. This is a really scenic trail that has Golden Gate Bridge and Pacific Ocean views the entire length of the trail. The best place to watch the sunset from Lands End is on the bluff overlooking Mile Rock Beach.
From Lands End Trail, keep your eye out for a steep staircase down and a sign for Mile Rock Beach. Take the stairs down, but instead of going all the way to the beach, walk through the trees and you’ll arrive on top of the bluff. Usually, this is where the famous Lands End Labyrinth is, however, the last time I was there, about two weeks ago, the labyrinth was gone.
Still, from this bluff you can see the sun setting into the Pacific Ocean over Mile Rock Beach and if you turn around, you’ll see the colors cast out to the Golden Gate Bridge. I’ve seen some of the best sunsets in San Francisco here.
But, the only drawback is the wind here can be intense making sunset less than enjoyable. So bring a blanket to wrap yourself up in and maybe a thermos of tea!
- Location: 680 Point Lobos Ave
- Things to do nearby: Lands End Trail is connected to Sutro Baths. You could also extend your walk through the gorgeous Sea Cliff neighborhood and head to Baker Beach.
Ocean Beach is an epic place for a stunning sunset in San Francisco. Literally anywhere on the beach provides a great viewpoint for the best sunset in San Francisco. If I’m photographing it, I prefer near Seal Rock and the Cliff House. If I’m there purely to enjoy it, I like taking a walk along the edge of the ocean or finding a spot on the dunes to watch the sun dip below the sea.
Even if it’s a cloudy day, if the sun is peeking through at all it could light the sky on fire! I’ve seen so many vibrant, fiery sunsets here that really made me appreciate the natural beauty of San Francisco. 10/10 would recommend Ocean Beach for a beach sunset.
- Location: Outer Richmond/Sunset
- Things to do nearby: Grab a fish burrito from Hook Fish in the Outer Sunset and bring it to the beach for sunset! You could also walk the Great Highway, as long as it’s still closed to cars!
Sutro Heights Park
Perched above Ocean Beach and just across the street from Sutro Baths is Sutro Heights Park. This hidden gem of a park provides a birds eye view of Ocean Beach, the Cliff House, and Seal Rocks.
Since not too many people know about this small park, it’s usually just locals taking their dogs for walks or their kids out for a picnic. There are benches you can watch the sunset from as well as what I call a castle, but is really the remnant of the Victorian walled garden that was once here.
- Location: 846 Point Lobos Ave
- Things to do nearby: After exploring the park cross the street to Sutro Baths or head down to Ocean Beach. Grab dinner in the Inner Richmond before heading home.
Located just on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge is Battery Spencer. If you’re able to get there, this is a spectacular sunset location in Marin County. From Battery Spencer you’ll have one of the panoramic views of San Francisco including the Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island, the San Francisco Bay and the Ocean all at once. Watching the sunset here is truly a magical experience.
If you’re lucky, the low fog that San Francisco is famous for might roll in creating an otherworldly experience.
- Location: Conzelman Rd, Sausalito
- Things to do nearby: If you don’t have a car, you could walk across the Golden Gate Bridge to get here! Alternatively, hike up to Hawk Hill or Slackers Hill.
Golden Gate Bridge Overlook
If you can’t make it across the bridge, don’t sweat it. There are ample sunset locations with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the aptly named Golden Gate Bridge Overlook. The classic viewpoint is in between the two large Cypress Trees, but there is also the sneaky second set of Cypress Trees on the other side of the Battery.
Hell, even walking around the top of the battery itself offers great views, find your favorite!
Then, if you walk towards the start of the Batteries to Bluffs trail, you’ll be able to see the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean. You get a little bit of everything here!
- Location: Langdon Court
- Things to do nearby: Hike the Batteries to Bluffs Trail. A short, but steep trail that connects to Baker Beach.
If you were to continue down the Batteries to Bluffs trail, it would lead you to Marshall’s Beach. If the tide is out, and you’re up for some activity, this is a gorgeous short hike down. When you get to Marshall’s Beach you can walk towards the Bridge finding a spot you like.
Be warned, the closer you get to the bridge, the less clothing is worn…this is a nude beach after all. If it’s a sunny and warm San Francisco day, I guarantee there will be nudity here. If that’s something you’re not into, skip it, or just don’t walk too far.
- Location: Marshall’s Beach (it will come up on Google Maps, promise!)
- Things to do nearby: Continue the hike to Baker Beach or head back to Golden Gate Overlook and walk to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Baker Beach is another legit place to watch the sunset in San Francisco! The views are similar to that of Marshall’s Beach, the Bridge is just a bit more distant. Again, while this is a very family friendly beach, the closer you get to the Bridge, the more naked people get!
- Location: Baker Beach
- Things to do nearby: The Presidio is nearby which offers great hiking trails. This beach is also on the outskirts of the Richmond neighborhood which has awesome restaurants!
The Embarcadero & Bay Bridge
While you won’t physically see the sun setting as the city blocks it, the Embarcadero is a great place for sunset. I particularly like the areas near Pier 7 and Cupid’s Span.
Pier 7 is a great photo location because the pier almost perfectly lines up with the Transamerica building. It’s perfect for a golden hour photo session!
Cupid’s Span is a great sunset location because you’ll see the city lights come on as the sun goes down – it’s gorgeous. Plus the sky will turn that soft pastel pink and purple behind the gray Bay Bridge – which is absolutely stunning!
- Location: Cupid’s Span/Pier 7
- Things to do nearby: Walk the Embarcadero! This is a really lovely walk and offers ample viewpoints. Before sunset you could pay a visit to the Ferry Building or the Exploratorium. Or head into North Beach for dinner.
Grand View Park
Located in the Sunset District, Grand View Park is a small park at the top of the popular mosaic steps. While I’d climbed the tiled stairs numerous times, I only learned that this park existed recently!
This small park provides a huge reward after the steep staircase climb! At the top of the hill you’ll have a beautiful view of the city, from the downtown skyline to the ocean and across Golden Gate Park. You can even see the top of the Golden Gate Bridge from here.
Since Grandview park is somewhat hidden away, it’s a fairly romantic hilltop park. Whether you’re flying solo or with someone, I recommend bringing a glass of wine and enjoying a quiet place at the end of the day.
- Location: 1705 14th Ave
- Things to do nearby: Head down into the sunset for dinner. There are a variety of awesome restaurants to choose from.
Watching the sunset from Twin Peaks is top of most people’s San Francisco bucket list and for good reason. From here, you basically have a 360o view of the sunset over the city of San Francisco. You can see the Golden Gate Bridge, the Skyline, and the Pacific Ocean. It’s really **chef’s kiss**.
There are a few places at the top of Twin Peaks where you can watch the sunset, but my favorite place is from Christmas Tree Point. This viewpoint has the picturesque winding road leading to the gorgeous San Francisco skyline in the distance.
Another special thing about this viewpoint is on a clear night you can see all the way across the bay to Oakland. As the sun sets it lights up the windows of the buildings and homes on the hills, making it look like little fires everywhere. It’s not, it’s perfectly safe and gorgeous!
It gets incredibly windy at the top of Twin Peaks, so layer up! Even consider a beanie and gloves.
During the pandemic, the city closed the road leading to Twin Peaks to cars. But that didn’t stop people from making the climb to the top! Almost 800 people visited Twin Peaks every day in 2020. The road is now open, so I suspect that number will grow as it becomes more accessible to people.
- Location: Twin Peaks
- Things to do nearby: Twin Peaks is nestled against multiple neighborhoods like Noe Valley and Haight Ashbury which have plenty to do either before or after sunset.
If you want similar views with fewer people and no steep climb, head to Tank Hill. You won’t get the 360o views, but you will still be able to see from the Golden Gate Bridge to downtown! Plus, the wind is slightly blocked here by the hills behind you.
This is one of my favorite San Francisco sunset spots because you get great sunset views with a chiller vibe, and less walking required.
- Location: Twin Peaks Blvd
- Things to do nearby: Since Tank Hill is so close to Twin Peaks, it’s near similar neighborhoods. Head to one nearby for dinner and drinks!
Corona Heights Park
Similarly, Corona Heights Park located near the Castro District has the same San Francisco skyline views, but not all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. This hilltop park offers an easy dirt trail to a rocky summit where you can perch yourself for the sunset.
If the fog is rolling in, you’ll see it coming behind you over Mt. Sutro. It looks like a wave coming down the mountain – so pretty!
Again, the wind picks up here, so dress warmly!
- Location: Roosevelt Way & Museum Way
- Things to do nearby: The fun and LGBTQ+ friendly neighborhood, the Castro, is just down the hill from Corona Heights Park. You could grab a burrito from Bonita Taqueria and take it up to the park with you. Or after sunset head to the Castro for dinner, drinks, and dancing.
Crissy Beach and Field
Let’s just be honest, any beach in San Francisco is a great place for sunset. Period. End of blog post.
But seriously, head to Crissy Beach or Crissy Field for sunset. Personally, I prefer Crissy Beach because I find more photo opportunities there, but you do you. You can walk the trail towards the Golden Gate Bridge and end up at Torpedo Wharf (another good sunset spot). Or just chill on the beach.
You’ll be able to see both the sun setting behind the Golden Gate Bridge and in the opposite direction the buildings turning pink and purple. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. Unless of course it’s foggy…
- Location: E. Beach
- Things to do nearby: There are so many outdoor activities here. Go for a walk or a run along the pathways, have a picnic on the fields, or grab a warm drink from the Warming Hut. Afterwards, head into the Marina for dinner at Balboa Cafe (American) or Jarantia (Peruvian).
As you can tell, no matter where you are in the city, you’re close to a good place for a stunning San Francisco sunset! All you really have to do is find a park on a hill and you’re set! Thankfully, there are plenty of them and I’m still finding more! I’ll come back to update you, but until then, follow me on Instagram for in the moment discoveries!