San Francisco Photo Tour

Skyline Views
of Downtown San Francisco

Wheelchair accessible You can take great photos of Downtown San Francisco's skyline from the top of the Westin St. Francis Hotel. The hotel is located just across the street from Union Square Park, on Powell and Geary Street.
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Front of Westin St. Francis Hotel

Most of the people that come to San Francisco do not find out about this little side trip. As a matter of fact, I have lived here almost 20 years, and just found out about it. I thought you should also know about it. If you look closely at the photo above, you may see the glass elevators that go up the front of the hotel. The hotel does not seem to mind if people come in just to ride the elevators to the top of the hotel.

Entrance to the Westin St. Francis Hotel

The best way to get to the elevators is the Main Entrance on Powell Street, nearest to Geary Street. From here make a left and go through the revolving doors to the lobby.

Main lobby of Westin St. Francis

As you walk straight through the Main Lobby of the Westin St. Francis Hotel, you will pass a very large cocktail lounge called The Compass Rose on your left. As you continue walking straight ahead you may hear the grand piano playing in the lounge.

Shops in lobby

We will now walk past an expensive Boutique Shop on our left and a Wine Store on our right. Countinue walking straight ahead to the glass doors.

Glass Doors

Next we pass by the Registration Desk on our left, and the glass doors are right in front of you. Do not go through them, instead, make a right at the Bellhop Desk, and continue walking straight ahead to a hallway where the elevators are located.


Once you get inside one of the elevators, press the 32nd floor button, if it does not light up, then press the 31st floor button. Most of the time, a bellhop told me, the 32nd floor is closed for private groups. The remaining photo's were taken inside the elevator from the 31st floor.

Looking to the north toward Coit Tower

Once you get above the surrounding buildings, you can see a 180 degree view of Downtown San Francisco. If we could see to the West, you would have to look about six miles to see the Pacific Ocean. To your left, and looking North, you can see the Coit Tower in the center of this photo.

Looking North-East

Moving to the right, and looking North-East, you can see the Transamerica Pyramid Building, it is the tallest building in San Francisco. The shorter building, up close to you, is Harry Denton's Starlight Room, it is located at the top of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, at 450 Powell Street.

Looking to the East

Looking directly East, you can see all the way to Oakland on a clear day. In the center of the photo you can see the Bay Bridge and the Bay. Here is a photo tip for you, always stay up close to the glass so you don't get the reflection of the elevator in your photos. You may also want to set your camera on infinity.

Looking South-East

Looking to the Sout-east you can see a new hotel being built. It is on Market Street, next to the Marriott Hotel. You can not see the new stadium from here because other buildings are blocking the view.

Looking South

Looking to the South towards Hunters Point Ship Yard, this is where a large percentage of low income people live in San Francisco. The San Francisco Bay also extends about 25 miles South from Hunters Point, San Jose is about 35 miles from here.

Looking down toward Union Square

Looking down, you can see Union Square Park, that is where we just came from. The day I took these pictures, they had the entire center of the park covered by a large tent. They had a wine tasting and food tasting event that day, you had to buy tickets to enter.

Remember you may have to ride the elevators to the top a couple of times to get all the photo's you want, the hotel does not seem to mind.

The next stop on my Photo Tour is the "Trolley Car Tour", to go there Click Continue Tour below.

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Photographed and created by David T. Smith

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