Nature has #blessed us with some of the most sublime backdrops ever to grace the Instagram, making your Golden Gate National Parks a modern-day goldmine for the social media savvy to rake in the “likes.”
We collected a list of the most Instagram-able, “double tap”-worthy vistas in your coastal parklands for your posting pleasure. While you’re out exploring and documenting, tag us in your post (@parksconservancy) for a chance to be featured on our website!
Imagine this: You’re facing the Pacific Ocean with waves crashing everywhere. Haunting tales of shipwrecks cross your mind. Ocean Beach is to your left, the famous Cliff House is right next to you—the famous building you’ve seen in countless postcards. You look behind you to the historic Sutro Baths—at the westernmost tip of Lands End, once a lavish 25,000-person swimming facility built by former San Francisco mayor Adolph Sutro in the 19th century, today left in ruins after the grand structure was destroyed by a fire in 1966.
How many ways can you capture selfies for this image? You can use the #NoFilter hashtag bravely on your Instagram photos. Go ahead, share away! Tell stories. Watch the likes roll in like the (in)famous fog.
This Civil War-era brick fort lies directly below the southern end of the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge. That makes it obviously selfie-worthy. The incredible, unusual, and intricate views of the world-famous span from the bottom alone makes this spot just over-the-top Instagram proof. Even though Fort Point—completed in 1861—never saw action during the Civil War as the advent of rifled artillery made this kind of fortification obsolete, Chief Engineer Joseph Strauss redesigned the bridge during the construction phase to preserve the fortress as a “fine example of the mason’s art.”
Fort Point still does cannon drills and the annual Civil War reenactments. This has Instagram Stories written all over it! And oh, walk up to the roof of the fortress and add a jumping photo or Boomerang too. Action!
A mixture of rock and sand makes this rugged beach a must-see in the Golden Gate National Parks. Its proximity to the Golden Gate Bridge is what adds a touch of magic to this already enchanting location, making it ideal for an up close and personal shot with the iconic span.
To access, you must hike down the Batteries to Bluffs Trail from the entrance near Battery Godfrey. We suggest parking at Fort Scott and walking down the Batteries to Bluff Trail from there to gain access.
No beach—or a rope swing on a beach—in the world has a view like the one from Kirby Cove! Located just west of the Golden Gate Bridge on the north end, you can sit, swing, stroll, run, or walk to a continuous view of the iconic golden span and the beautiful city by the bay. At sunset—or sunrise—you can capture the perfect panoramic shot of San Francisco sitting just below the bridge. Guaranteed likes on Instagram.
The steep, mile-long trail to the cove begins at the parking area above Battery Spencer on Conzelman Road and descends through a grove of cypress, eucalyptus, and pine. As you meander to the campsite, you will be rewarded by peek-a-boo shots of the Golden Gate Bridge. You can create a slideshow of selfies and photos for your Instagram album. The view just never gets old. #Truth.
Muir Beach Overlook
Jutting over a jackknife cliff, the Muir Beach Overlook has all the makings for raking in those “likes.” Its panoramic views of the Marin Headlands, Muir Beach, and the dazzling Pacific Ocean have been inspiring photographers long before Snapchat was even a thing.
To get there, go east along the trail (uphill) to scenic Coyote Ridge or south along the breathtaking Coastal Trail to Tennessee Cove. Look for a small signpost north of Muir Beach along Highway 1 that points the way to Muir Beach Overlook.
Mt. Tam’s West Peak
At an elevation of more than 2,400 feet, Mt. Tam’s West Peak gives hikers and selfie-takers a front row seat to one of the best views in Marin County. It was exactly these sweeping vistas that made the West Peak the ideal lookout for a nuclear attack during the uncertainty of the Cold War. In 1950, the United States Air Force leveled more than 100 acres of the West Peak to construct the Mill Valley Air Force Station. The station was closed in 1980, and its buildings were gradually removed over the next two decades. Today, there are still some structures and the remnants of the station that give it for a very dystopian-esque backdrop for your photo shoots.
Add the #WestPeaking hashtag to your photos to show us and the One Tam initiative how you use this site.
Mori Point has a flare for the dramatic. With its jagged cliffs and outcroppings and its colorful display of wildflowers in the spring, this park site in San Mateo County is a prime locale for your selfie. Marvel at the restoration work that has rehabilitated this land while you take a break from all those pictures. Your pooch can also guest star in your selfies too (on leash, of course).
Sitting above the scenic coastal town of Pacifica, Milagra Ridge is undergoing somewhat of a renaissance. This scrub-covered ridgeline is critical habitat, home to red-tailed hawks and the endangered Mission blue butterfly. It’s the site of intensive restoration by Park Stewardship staff and volunteers. Walk along the newly elongated Milagra Battery Trail for a full menu of vistas and overlooks that’ll make your Instagram followers swoon. Stop for a quick snap at the new section of this trail that gives you sweeping vistas toward Daly City. Your four-legged family member can also join you for a romp around this windswept parkland (on leash).
Discover breathtaking selfie spots at the location where the Bay Area was actually discovered. Sweeney Ridge is a hilly hiking area of ridges and ravines between San Bruno and Pacifica, about a 25-minute drive south from San Francisco. The ridge’s 1,200-foot-high summit slopes down to the bay on one side, and the Pacific Ocean on the other. If scenic views and restored habitat doesn’t itch your picture-taking finger, the decommissioned military bunkers may serve as a derelict background for your “Blue Steel” selfie. On-leash pooches are welcome to join you for your photo safari.