No need to pay for great views of Golden Gate Park!
Visitors to San Francisco have been told that they should ride the SkyStar Observation Wheel in Golden Gate Park for the great views. What they have not been told is that the Observation Wheel is environmentally intrusive towards wildlife in Golden Gate Park and historically inappropriate to the Music Concourse.
But wait – visitors don’t have to shell out $18.00 (for adults and $12 for kids under 12!) just to be stuck in a ‘gondola’ and wait for the Wheel staff to move them a few more inches towards the peak during that very expensive 12-minute ride!.
You can find better views of western San Francisco for free at the following locations. And spend as much time as you like.
- The DeYoung Museum Hamon Observation Tower, Music Concourse, Golden Gate Park: Walk across the street to the De Young Museum during open hours and ask directions to the elevator to the Hamon Observation Tower. Once up in the Tower you are indoors, away from any rain, and able to take your time looking over the Music Concourse, Golden Gate Park and beyond at a panoramic view of the City to the east.
- Strawberry Hill, in the middle of Stow Lake, Golden Gate Park: A hop, skip and a jump from the offending SkyStar Wheel. Cross one of the bridges over Stow Lake and take the gradual path to the top of the Hill, to the site of the past Sweeney Observatory. A nice walk, fresh air, and a gorgeous view!
- UCSF Medical Center, 400 Parnassus Ave: The University of California in San Francisco has commanding views from their medical center buildings on Parnassus — and the outdoor viewing balconies are open to the public, 24/7.
You can get there by walking south from the Park to Arguello Blvd or 2nd Avenue and Irving Streets, and taking the elevator next to the parking garage entrances to the 1st Floor, Parnassus Avenue. Walk a little bit east to either the glassed-in room off of the elevators or go around 400 Parnassus, along the eastern edge of the building and be stunned by fantastic views of all of western San Francisco out to the Ocean. And it is higher than the Wheel!
- Sunset District: South of the park go to the Mosaic Steps at 16th Ave & Moraga St. It’s a steep climb, but the steps and view are beautiful and distract from the pain in your legs.
For a great view, continue to Grandview Park above the steps.
- Richmond District from Land’s End: MUNI Bus or drive to the Legion of Honor at Land’s End and look east to the Richmond District and the City.
- Sutro Heights Park: Richmond District south of Geary Blvd: MUNI Bus or drive south of Geary Blvd to Sutro Heights Park to look west at the magnificent Pacific Ocean and south and east to over the Richmond District to Golden Gate Park.
Not only will you have $60.00 for a family of four — which you can spend at a local eatery — but also you will not be contributing to the environmentally damaging night lighting in parkland that should have dark skies, or supporting a diesel generator that spews fumes all day and into the night.
Enjoy San Francisco the way the locals do, for free and on foot!