Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Blog

5 Best places to get the Highest in San Francisco

a view of a city at night

If you’ve ever visited San Francisco, you know some of its most prominent features are it’s steep and plentiful hills.  San Francisco is made up of 49 hills in total.  In fact, if you’re not on a hill, you’re not on original SF ground.  All the flat places in San Francisco have been reclaimed from the bay.  That’s why there’s no actual beach in North Beach.  They filled that part of the bay in to create what is now Fisherman’s Wharf.

 

As a San Francisco tour guide I’ve helped visitors to San Francisco get high for years.

 

Here is my list of the top 5 places to get the highest in San Francisco.

  • Coit Tower

a large body of water with a city in the background

Sitting atop Telegraph Hill is one of the city’s most famous landmarks, Coit Tower.  Donated to the city by Lillian Hitchcock Coit, Coit Tower is a monument to our city’s firemen.  It’s said to resemble the nozzle of a fire hose, and has beautiful WPA era murals on the inside in the style of Diego Rivera, not to mention an amazing 360 degree view of the city.  Even before the tower was built, Telegraph Hill got its name not because there was ever a telegraph station there, but because from the top of the hill, workers could see what ships were coming through the Golden Gate, and signal the dock workers down on The Embarcadero what ships were on their way using flags to send messages in semaphore to the workers below.  Even without going up the tower, the views from Telegraph Hill are definitely worth the hike to the top.

a group of stuffed animals on display in a store

 

  • The observation tower of The DeYoung Museum.

a group of people in front of De Young

In the center of Golden Gate Park there is a complex of tourist destinations for every curiosity, from the Shakespeare Gardens, to the California Academy of Sciences, to the Spreckles Music Concourse, to the Japanese Tea Gardens, to the Botanical Gardens, to The DeYoung Art Museum.  The DeYoung features works from the world’s greatest artists with a ticket price of only $15 for adults, $12 for  and all kids 17 and under for free.

But if you want to catch a phenomenal view of Golden Gate Park and the surrounding areas all the way to the Pacific Ocean, fog permitting, of course, you can visit the observation tower at The DeYoung Museum for free!

  • Top of the Mark

a large tall tower with a clock at the top of a building

The tallest building at the peak of Nob Hill is the Mark Hopkins Hotel, and at the top of that is The Top of the Mark, a bar and lounge with phenomenal views of the city and the bay, a restaurant serving breakfast and brunch,  and over 100 kinds of martinis.

a dining room table in front of a window

 

  • The Starlight Room

a room filled with furniture and a large window

One block off Union Square, atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel is one of the most romantic spots in San Francisco.  It’s said more people have proposed marriage at The Starlight Room than at any other location in San Francisco.  They have dancing Wednesday through Sunday, and a famous drag brunch on Sunday mornings.

a person wearing a costume

 

 

  • Twin Peaks

a bus parked in front of a car

You can’t get higher in San Francisco than Twin Peaks.  Nestled between The Castro District and The Haight Ashbury is the highest point in San Francisco where Sutro Tower rises above the fog supplying TV and radio signal to the entire region.  From here you can practically see all the way to San Jose, weather permitting, and both tourists and locals flock here for the bird’s eye views.

a view of a city

Thanks to San Francisco’s unique topography, there are an inordinate amount of places to get really high, and even though the lounges are temporarily closed due to the pandemic, you can be assured these famous landmark lounges will be open again once we get through this time, and we can all get high together once again.