Public skyscrapers in San Francisco?
February 2, 2008 12:40 PM   Subscribe

What skyscrapers in San Francisco are open to the public?

ie. Where can I go to get an amazing high-up view? Doesn't have to be free, just open to the public.

Bonus question: Best places to go in the city for a geek who enjoys shopping-as-recreation?
posted by Mwongozi to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (13 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I think the highest view is from the Carnelian Room, at 555 California Street. This is also a nice place to eat.

Also, while certainly not the tallest building, I would also suggest visiting the Top of the Mark at the Mark Hopkins hotel. Be sure to get there a little before sunset for an amazing show!

As for shopping, there are lots of options. What are you looking for (music, electronics, clothes, vintage, etc.)?
posted by neurodoc at 1:02 PM on February 2, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips!

As for shopping - electronics/computers etc. mainly. I know that most of the best shopping for that kind of thing will be in Silicon Valley, but since I'm going to be in San Francisco I wondered if there was anything worth browsing around.
posted by Mwongozi at 1:08 PM on February 2, 2008

Best answer: There is also a terrific view from the observation area on top of the DeYoung Museum in GG Park. It's not that tall, but there are no other tall buildings near it and you get a great view of the whole park, downtown, the bay, etc.
posted by beagle at 1:19 PM on February 2, 2008

Huh, the Embarcaderos used to have something I seem to remember was called "City View" that was a lookout from the top of one of the buildings, but I can't find a reference to it now. Maybe they got rid of it after 9/11. :(
posted by rhizome at 1:53 PM on February 2, 2008

Hayes between Gough and Octavia
Japantown Kinokuniya
Chinatown on Grant, particularly The Wok Shop
Upper Haight
The Flower Market at 9th/Brannan(?)
Valencia between 16th and 20th

Central Computers between 4th/5th on Howard next to Buca di Beppo
posted by rhizome at 1:58 PM on February 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

You could consider a meal at the Cityscape if you have a bit of cash. I had a great brunch (sadly no longer offered) there, but it was quite a few years ago now.
posted by teleskiving at 2:26 PM on February 2, 2008

If you're driving, Twin Peaks.
posted by xod at 2:35 PM on February 2, 2008

There's an excellent view from Bernal Heights park if you don't mind a bit of a hike, and Cortland Avenue is a charming, slightly funky shopping street. The Ferry building on the Embarcadero is fun for shopping though it tends to be pricey.
posted by jet_silver at 4:01 PM on February 2, 2008

Yes, the Carnelian Room at the top of the Bank of America building. Very posh, a little too for my tastes, and the best view only from a couple tables. More fun and accessible is the top of the Marriot, the View Bar (and although not technically a skyscraper, I like the rotating restaurant on top of the Hyatt Regency).
posted by Rash at 5:05 PM on February 2, 2008

Not exactly a skyscraper, but the Cheesecake Factory restaurant on the top floor of Macy's has an outdoor eating area with great view. It was particularly impressive at night. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the well-known (I think) square that it overlooks, but it is in the middle of the downtown shopping district, which I think you will be pleased with.

The Apple store will probably be nearby. Check it out even if you're not into Apple computers. Their big city stores can be pretty impresssive.

BTW, we had a couple of good meals at the Cheesecake factory.
posted by 14580 at 5:53 PM on February 2, 2008

That square is called Union Square, and there is a nice nightclub on the 21st floor just on the north west side of that square up the hill. Called the Starlight Room "Harry Denton's Starlight Room is located in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel
on the 21st floor, 450 Powell Street at the corner of Sutter Street". It has nice views of the city at night if you are into that sort of thing.

- boyfriend of goo
posted by goo at 6:03 PM on February 2, 2008

Also, right next to Union Square there's the Westin St. Francis, which has a couple glass elevators so you get the view over the square all the way to the top. It's been some years since I've been there so I don't know if it's technically closed to the public (that is, people who aren't staying at the hotel) but as with all hotels as long as you look like you're supposed to be there no one will say anything about it.
posted by lou at 12:10 AM on February 3, 2008

I had dinner at the restaurant at the top floor of the Hilton hotel. Don't know what it cost (we where invited by a partner company of ours), don't know if you can only go there for drinks, but the view was really impressive. Some pics at my colleague's Flickr account: by night, by day
posted by lodev at 5:18 AM on February 4, 2008

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