There's no denying that San Francisco is one gorgeous city. There are countless of scenic and unique locations to choose for your engagement session. I had a hard time trying to narrow it to my top 10. When choosing a location, its best to think about accessibility, parking and restrooms for any outfit changes. All these locations are free, easily accessible and don't require a permit.
1. Sutro Baths
I love this place! Its gorgeous from sunrise to sunset and even photogenic in the rain. There's ample free parking, a cafe and clean public restrooms. On google maps look for Outlook Cafe next to the Lands End Parking Lot. Its best to start from there and work your way along the Lands End trail down to the beach and cave. From here its a one mile hike to the Legion of Honor, number 4 on the list.
2. Battery Cranston and Battery Boutelle
These are just two of the many Endicott period Batteries along the coastal bluffs. Great views of Golden Gate Bridge along the trail . There's ample parking along Merchant Road via Lincoln Boulevard.
3. Golden Gate Park- Stowe Lake
Golden Gate Park has so many scenic spots from the Rose Garden, Tulips under the Dutch Windmill, Conservatory of Flowers to the Japanese Garden. However my favorite has to be Stowe Lake. Row boats are easy to rent from the cafe. There's also free parking and restrooms here.
4. Legion of Honor
The Legion of Honor is a fine arts museum in a beautiful Beaux-arts building located in Lincoln Park. From here, there's views of the Pacific Ocean and Golden Gate Bridge. There's free parking in front of the museum. There's a fee to visit the museum itself (highly recommended), but it's free to photograph in front of the building, courtyard and lawn.
5. Flora Grubb Gardens
Flora Grubb Gardens is an incredibly unique and inspiring garden store. The photos say it all. The staff are so friendly and welcoming to visitors and photographers but please be respectful and seek permission before shooting. I'd recommend giving them a call before your visit.
6. Coit Tower + Filbert Street
Filbert street is crazy steep and one of my favorites for an urban photo shoot. If you're after views of downtown San Francisco and photographs that scream SF cityscape this is the place. You can find parking at Coit Tower and walk down to the street.
7. Palace of Fine Arts
The second Beaux-Arts building on the list. Here you can picnic, stroll by the lake and join the many couples and quinceañeras having their photographs taken. Parking can be difficult.
8. City Hall
Arguably one of the most spectacular City Halls in the United States. Another spectacular Beaux-Arts building on the list. It is very popular for weddings and tourists which can be quite chaotic at times. It is better to go in the morning for less crowds and lots of natural light. $15 underground parking available.
9. Baker Beach
Pretty beach next to Golden Gate bridge with views towards the Marin Headlands. It can be quite windy and busy at times. Free parking and restrooms here.
10. Embarcadero Pier 7
Pier 7 is fantastic for San Francisco city views towards the financial district in one direction and the Bay and Bay bridge in the other. The best time to photograph is morning or late afternoon as the sun light can be quite harsh during the afternoon. Crowds are moderate and parking is sometimes a challenge.