To really see San Francisco’s charm, don’t look down. Look up and around, at the legendary views that spring up all over the City. Because San Francisco’s towers and monuments are built on a bunch of hills, it’s not hard to find someplace to gaze out over the Bay, the Pacific Ocean, the Golden Gate, or out into the urban sprawl and splendor of the whole Bay Area.
Coit Tower Whether you’ve taken the bus up to the top of Telegraph Hill or climbed the legendary stairs to Pioneer Park, it’s worth the $4.50 admission to visit the top of Coit Tower. The landmark building of mysterious origin offers beautiful views in all directions, including a wonderful vista all the way down the Bay to Silicon Valley on a clear day. Hardy visitors to the Hyatt Regency San Francisco can hike from their Embarcadero digs up to Coit Tower.
deYoung Museum Tower Catch a free ride on the elevator inside the giant stone-colored block at the deYoung Museum complex (museum admission is not necessary). At the top, a big square room with towering windows offers some of the best cheap wind-and-fogless views in the City. Take your time strolling around, admiring the different landscapes from each side of the tower. The Hilton San Francisco Union Square hotel is currently offering a Fine Arts package, including lodgings and tickets to the deYoung Museum collections.
Twin Peaks A narrow strand of switchbacks calls itself the road up to the top of Twin Peaks, the best spot to get above the fog bank to see the City, the Bay, and on a rare air quality day the whole of the Bay Area. Despite the, uh, fun of getting to the top of the Peaks, plenty of tourists snap 360-degree panoramic photos from the windblown hilltop. Word to the wise: bring a windbreaker, a scarf, and a thermos of hot cocoa to make your visit to Twin Peaks more comfortable. A ramble down Market Street on MUNI from the Hotel Palomar can get you out to the residential Twin Peaks neighborhood.
-Liz Hamill Scott of eatswritesandleaves.com and travelswithpain.com