Suggestions for 3 days in San Francisco

Discussion in 'Travel' started by michaelsmiller, Apr 12, 2010.

  1. I have 3 days to spend in San Fransisco next week for fun and I plan to take alot of landscape, street, and flora photographs. I do own Andrew Hudson's photography book of the area, but I wanted to ask for any suggestions from fellow photographers about the area and things that might be more unique than the big landmarks. Thanks in advance!
  2. Hi Michael,
    Mt. Davidson is a great place - it has views of the whole city, and there is a cross to commemorate the US Soldiers of WWI. It's beautiful in the right light, and a very short walk from the street.
    I've always enjoyed people photography along the marina, especially at Pier 39. Also, you can look up what events are going on in the city at the time. There is a flea market that goes on near Pier 39 that is always interesting.
    If you are going to go further south, I would say go to Big Sur, Monterey, and Carmel. You can do all 3 in a day.
    I'll look around some more when I get back home tonight and post some more suggestions, but how willing are you to travel outside of San Francisco (or how able, I guess).
    Best regards,
  3. In San Francisco:
    Golden Gate Park - Arboretum, Japanese Tea Garden, many good portraiture sites
    Lands End - Sutro Ruins, Sutro Park (the pines are nice)
    Fisherman's Wharf & Ghiradelli Square - people, seals (if they are there), the Ferry Building, boats
    Palace of the Legion of Honor - architecture, outdoor statuary
    Palace of Fine Arts - architecture, great portraiture site
    China Beach - rocks, landscapes, seascapes (and perhaps whales if you are lucky), great portraiture site
    Baker Beach - Golden Gate Bridge
    Fort Point - architecture, Golden Gate Bridge
    Alcatraz - architecture
    Angel Island - landscapes
    In Marin County (across Golden Gate Bridge):
    Marin Headlands - old fortifications, landscapes, animals (tame deer), Battery Spencer (for the best view of the Golden Gate Bridge with San Francisco in the background).
    Sausalito - people
    Muir Woods - redwood trees
    South Bay:
    Stanford University Campus - Cantor Center (outdoor statuary), academic buildings, people
    Alviso Marina - landscapes
    Filoli Gardens - flowers, landscapes
    Pulgas Water Temple - architecture, landscapes, portraiture site
    Gamble Gardens (Palo Alto) - flowers
    Lick Observatory - architecture, mountain landscapes
    In Carmel & Monterey:
    Carmel Mission - church architecture
    Royal Presidio Chapel - church architecture
    Point Lobos State Park - landscapes, seascapes, seals
    Monterey Pier - seals, people, boats
    Point Pinos Lighthouse -
    Pidgeon Point Lighthouse (better than Point Pinos) -
    Galleries - Weston, GalleryWest, Center for Photographic Art
  4. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    things that might be more unique than the big landmarks​
    Maybe Louie missed this sentence, his are mostly the big landmarks.
    Levon's suggestion of Mount Davidson is interesting. I see the cross out my bedroom window, at least on those days when the fog keeps me from seeing anything. Nobody goes there, so it makes it interesting. I would also recommend, at least in the daytime, hitting the Excelsior but always ask before taking a photo, and McLaren Park in Visitacian Valley. Tourists never see these places. Another interesting place is Dogpatch, walk from 3rd Avenue towards the water around 18th Street and there is some terrific urban landscape, old warehouses and factories. The one tourist attraction that is totally unique is Alcatraz, that will kill half a day.

    I don't shoot landscapes and nature, so I have no recommendations for that.
  5. I like Downtown, Chinatown, North Beach, the Mission and Tenderloin for people / streetscapes.
  6. I went fairly recently and spent a week. My two best locations were the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park and Alcatraz (for which you have to make reservations in advance). My third best was the Golden Gate Bridge. You can buy a old "bolt" painted international orange from the gift shop and I thought that was a great souvenier.
    Great city, but very crowded. I also liked the Cablecar museum.
  7. I would recommend Chinatown, The Embarcadero and Ferry Building, Golden Gate Park (Stow Lake and Japanese Tea Gardens) and Coit Tower. If you are interested in Museums, I'd recommend SF MOMA, the DeYoung and the Asian Art Museum.
    If you have time to travel out of the city, Tamales Bay in Marin County is a favorite (get some oysters at Hog Island). South of the city the Filoli Gardens in Woodside are terrific. From Woodside, Highway 84 to the coast is interesting and the San Mateo Coast has several parks worth visiting. Ano Nuevo State Park is know for it's elephant seals (the big males are gone, but others remain), but the scenery is interesting. I'd also check out Pescadero State Beach, Bean Hollow and the town of Pescadero (eat at Duartes).
  8. I'm not sure there is much more "unique" than the "big" landmarks. Not disagreeing on the idea of trying to find something a bit different, but, if it doesn't "say" San Francisco, isn't it something that you might just as well have shot elsewhere? You can shoot street side flowers many places, but Lombard Street with it's brick paving is pretty unique. Or you could try Vermont Street which isn't nearly as well known.
    Just south of San Francisco is Colma, home to a number of cemeteries, and initial or secondary resting place for many residents of San Francisco.
  9. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I think there are a lot of places here that are very "San Francisco" but often the tourist track. That's true in any city. Look at the Lower East Side in NYC - it's one of the most New York-y places there but it's not in the books. Here, there are plenty of places that aren't on the usual trail that are very much characteristic of the city. Probably more than any place, The Mission. I've never seen anyone pulling out their map in The Mission to see where they are, but it's the part of the city I would want to find if I didn't live here. And Mt. Davidson is very interesting, as it's one of the most memorable locations in Dirty Harry, but most tour guides couldn't even tell you where it is.
  10. If you look at my portfolios in on you will see a section on San Francisco. There are shots from the Japanese Tea Garden, the Palace of Fine Arts, the Bridge, and a couple of other places (in color, Tri-X black and white, and in Kodak HIE infrared film). I'm not a professional, but you still might get a few ideas. I used a couple of Leica M2's and a CL for that trip. Hopefully I will get this link right, but if not just click on my name and look for the San Francisco section.
  11. Hi Michael,
    Another place that I just thought of if you want to do people photography is the Haight/Ashbury area, if that's something that you're interested in.
    A couple of more places to add - they're not well known at all (and it seems like nothing in Saratoga is):
    Hakone Gardens (it's a Japanese garden in the Santa Cruz mountains, approximately 45 miles south of San Francisco)
    Saratoga Heritage Orchard (I've done some interesting landscapes here)
    Downtown Los Gatos (next-door to Saratoga, the downtown area looks like a midwestern town 30 or 40 years ago)
    I'm from the South Bay so most of my time has been spent there.
    Either way, I hope you have lots of fun!
    Best regards,
  12. Twin Peaks offers a good vantage point of the City, Alcatraz, GG Bridge and Bay Bridge. Try to shoot at sunset for cool lighting on the city etc. Pray for no fog and bring your telephoto.
  13. The Presidio includes a lot of interesting, albeit military-oriented, historical things. The large parade field in the main area is/was Blackjack Pershing's drill field. There is a small, stone chapel up by the National Cemetary overlooking the drill field and the old Presidio building.
    The plaza/balcony of the Art Institute has a great view of the Bay and looks right out onto Alcatraz. The building itself is interesting and is about a block off the 'crookedest street'.
    SF has lots of interesting neighborhood areas, all of which have a different character. Chinatown obviously gets a lot of attention, but Japan Town is an interesting little slice of shops as well.
  14. You asked the same question a month ago, and many had responded. If none of the suggestions meet your criteria for those *special* locations, perhaps it is time to rethink. *Special* locations are not requirements for great photos. Good *vision*, OTOH, is.
  15. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Telegraph Hill, walking across the Golden Gate Bridge if that's still possible, Seal Rocks. This will give you elevation, ocean, and sea mammals. Water front views of the bay locations already suggested.
    If you live in another city, the city things aren't that different from other cities except for the hills. If you live on the Maine or Oregon coast, maybe the urban things would be more interesting than more beach and tourist things.
  16. Thanks so much for all the awesome responses. I have a ton of great ideas now. I did alot of research following your suggestions and have a great mapped out route for my limited period of time. Thanks again for all the positive advice. It helped me out a ton!
    Robert K--they are actually 2 very different questions. One is in regards to special vantage points to shoot the landmarks and this one is about things that are unique and NOT the landmarks, but thanks for acting like the dad I never wanted!

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