Here are fives places, from waterfront to skyscraper, where you can savour the views along with your favourite drink.
This glass-walled cocktail lounge, located on the 19th floor of the InterContinental Mark Hopkins, was an immediate hit when it opened in 1939 thanks to its breathtaking 360-degree views of the city. During World War II, it was a popular spot for servicemen to have one final drink before shipping out, and soldiers’ sweethearts would crowd the northwest corner of the bar for a last glimpse of the ships bound for the Pacific. Today, this historic and swanky cocktail bar maintains much of its original charm, but with some modern upgrades like a huge dance floor for live performances and an impressive cocktail list featuring 100 kinds of martinis.
Cliff House is perched above the sea in the city’s Outer Richmond neighbouhood and has been a part of the San Francisco landscape since 1863. It has two restaurants—The Bistro Restaurant (more casual) and Sutro’s (more upscale). Both have wide windows and incredible views of the Pacific, and both menus feature local ingredients like fresh seafood. Don’t miss the Sunday Champagne Brunch Buffet in the Terrace Room, which includes everything from breakfast classics like eggs and scones to pasta and steak with mushrooms.
This popular seafood restaurant, located on the waterfront of San Francisco’s Embarcadero, has amazing views of the Bay Bridge, the skyline and the bay from its terrace, patio and dining rooms. It’s widely known for its fresh, sustainable seafood dishes and its impressive oyster selection—sourced from California, Alaska, British Columbia, Maine and Prince Edward Island. It also has a solid wine and cocktail list—try the Bitter New Yorker No. 2 with Dandelion Chocolate Salted Cacao Bitters and Bulleit Bourbon.
The aptly named View Lounge, on the 39th floor of the San Francisco Marriott Marquis, has floor-to-ceiling windows that offer up panoramic views of the Bay Area. It recently underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation and is now a stylish spot serving local craft beers and specialty cocktails along with refined bar snacks like charcuterie and cheese plates.
For a different kind of view, stop by the Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar at The Fairmont San Francisco. This kitschy tiki bar has been around since 1945, and it’s the only place in the city (and possibly the world) where you can sip a Mai Tai while watching DJs play on a floating thatch-covered barge in a lagoon. Oh, and if you stick around long enough, there’ll be an indoor rainstorm.