photo credit: Anthony Albert for New York Times
Locals and tourists alike enjoy going to Lake Tahoe from the San Francisco Bay Area. The potential to-do list in Tahoe is endless and includes:
- Winter outdoor activities: Skiing (downhill and cross country), Snowboarding Snowshoeing, Ice Skating, and Sledding
- Summer outdoor activities: Hiking, Mountain biking, Kayaking, Canoeing, Water skiing, and Camping
- Restaurants: From casino buffets to high-end dining
- Resorts and Hotels: Gambling, Wine Tasting, Bars, Dining, Shopping, and more
And, of course, many of these activities include spectacular views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains. You’ve got your choice of mixing your favorite activities with mind-boggling vistas.
While the drive from the Bay Area to Tahoe (whether you go I-80 or Highway 50) includes some nice views, you’ll have a lot more to see if you take the train. Amtrak’s California Zephyr departs from Emeryville and arrives in Truckee. If you want a relaxing trip full of great scenery, this ride just might be right for you. After all, what could be better for a view lover than beautiful mountain scenery without the burden of having to watch the road from behind the wheel?
This scenic train ride has been featured in a New York Times article which includes some photos of what you’ll see during the ride.
You can find more information on the California Zephyr from train aficionados, including the blog Trains and Travel which has a wonderful description of this train trip.
Looking for lodging on the Sonoma coast of northern California? Here’s a nice list of hotels and inns in Sonoma with ocean views, courtesy of the Sonoma County Tourism board. There are many to choose from, and we all know that a room with a view makes a coastal getaway so much better!
Photo Credit: Lea Suzuki, The Chronicle
San Francisco has some rare opportunities to catch views that aren’t available in many U.S. cities. These views are from rooftop spaces that are open to the public during buildings’ business hours. Not only is it a lot of fun to see these spaces, but you’ll also get perspectives that most people never see. Here’s a list of San Francisco’s rooftop public spaces, courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Photo Credit: Vincent James via sfgate.com
Fantastic spread at sfgate.com on scenic driving routes in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. You’ll find beautiful views on most of these roads, and there is also spectacular hiking and beach walks near many of these routes.
Photo Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times
The users of OpenTable have voted on the 100 Most Scenic Restaurants in the U.S. for 2016. Very interesting list of restaurants to choose from. You could make a tour of the country just to check out these beautiful views, which include cityscapes and the great outdoors.
HouseBeautiful has created a compelling list of the “Most Beautiful Places in All 50 States.” There are many listings to make view lovers go see these amazing locations.
Photo Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times
Looking for a thrilling time AND a great view in downtown Los Angeles? Try the Skyslide at the U.S. Bank Tower!
The Los Angeles Times featured this thrill for view lovers in a recent article.
You can get more information and tickets for riding the Skyslide and try it out next time you’re in Los Angeles.
OpenTable has published a wonderful article on the best restaurant views in San Francisco. If you’re in the Bay Area, or are traveling to the Bay Area, make sure you check out this article.
San Francisco restaurants listed are:
La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
Top of the Mark
And, other Bay Area restaurants listed are:
Guaymas, in Tiburon
Trader Vic’s, in Emeryville
Murray Circle, in Sausalito
photo credit: Danielle Villasana for The New York Times
Here’s an article definitely worth reading for view-loving travelers: The New York Times list of where to go in 2016.
This will whet your appetite for travel!
Peru’s Sacred Valley, gateway to Machu Picchu and home to several other spectacular Incan sites, offers travelers amazing views and vistas. Now, the cliffs of this valley have become a lodging choice!
Take a look at Slate’s coverage of the Skylodge pods nestled into the cliff faces. This article has amazing photos.
Awe-inspiring? Terrifying? You be the judge!
photo credit: Jason Henry for the New York Times
One of the best views in the San Francisco Bay Area is from the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland. You can drive, jog, or walk into the cemetery, and you’ll find miles of winding paths, stellar views of the San Francisco Bay, and heaps of California history.
You can even take a guided tour of Mountain View Cemetery twice a month.
Mountain View Cemetery was recently included in a New York Times “36 Hours in Oakland” article.
by Joe Cohen
Today’s post is by guest blogger Joe Cohen, who leads customized tours in Northern California. Here are Joe’s five favorite winery views in Napa:
The wraparound balcony at Viader winery offers a spectacular view of a mountain lake far below. The hillside planting of vineyards just beneath the deck and reaching toward the lake enhances an “above it all” experience.
Kuleto Estate is a mountain top winery you access on a precarious narrow road for a lengthy adventure. Your reward is an amazing valley view reaching out miles interspersed with villas, vineyards, wineries, and a pristine lake below (Lake Hennessey). Pat Kuleto built his winery as a massive log cabin villa.
Godspeed winery is a real find. Small in size it sits nestled amongst the Mt. Veeder mountains in its own mountaintop valley. The view from the owner’s house dining room is unparalleled. If you’re lucky he’ll take you through his vineyards on his mini “Mule.”
Hanzell winery boasts a marvelous view of Sonoma from its petite chalet balcony. The balcony and other facilities overlook lush steep vineyards, for what seems like miles and miles. The panorama outside their “Library Collection” barn building is amazing. Hanzell is technically outside of the Napa Valley, but the view is so good it’s included here.
For a unique elegant patio wine tasting you can’t beat the Napa hills as seen from Domaine Carneros. The grand stairs leading up to the chateau balcony and tasting room give a sense of elevated splendor to match the panoramic vista. This is the most accessible of the wineries in this list, as it’s situated just off Highway 12.
Joe Cohen has studied, traveled, and lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for over thirty years. He leads customized tours through his company San Francisco Private Tours. Joe has lived in both Napa and San Francisco. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s notoriously difficult to see the stars at night in urban areas. If you’re a northern California stargazer who loves views of the night sky, there are a few spots that will work for you. The San Francisco Chronicle has put together a list of the Best Places to Stargaze in the Bay Area.
Following up on yesterday’s post, there is a terrific inn & restaurant (with bar) on the drive up to Mount Tamalpais, in Marin County north of San Francisco, California. This restaurant & inn is called the Mountain Home Inn.
It’s located on the aptly named Panoramic Highway, and it’s a must-see destination for view lovers visiting the San Francisco region. Even if you only have time to stop in for a drink during your day driving around Mount Tam, the Golden Gate Recreation Area, Stinson Beach, and other beautiful spots in Marin, Mountain Home Inn is worth it.
Photo credit: Ben Davidson
Spending some time in San Francisco? Here’s a fantastic day trip:
Go across the Golden Gate Bridge to visit Mt. Tamalpais State Park and Muir Woods. There are plenty of trails on Mt. Tam (as the locals call it), and the view from the peak is stunning.
Not a hiker? Don’t worry, you can drive to the top of the mountain, and a short walk across the parking lot gets you to the vista point without any sweat or elevated heartrate!
AAA ran a terrific article in its October 2015 Via magazine on Mt. Tam and other activities in the area. Definitely worth checking out.
A view restaurant, the Mt. Hamilton Grandview, opened in 2014 above San Jose, California. View lovers in Silicon Valley have this spot as an option for sunset dinners, weekend brunches, and special events.
Imagine yourself hoisted high above magnificent scenery at a table for 20, experiencing fine dining prepared just for you. This is the latest offering for view lovers looking for an extravagant dining option that allows you to take in the views in a whole new way – suspended from a crane.
Who knows if this option will last. For now, you can experience it all over the world, courtesy of a company called Dinner in the Sky.
This view lover’s concept has gotten a lot of media attention lately. Here are some recent articles:
San Francisco Chronicle
Monterey Bay, California, has so much to offer for view lovers. Beautiful coastal scenery, wildlife, the occasional breaching whale. Fall is the perfect time to visit this coastal area of northern California, as there is often less fog than in the summer.
Here’s an article on things to do around Monterey Bay, from the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Top of Africa viewing deck, on the 50th floor of the Carlton Centre in downtown Johannesburg, offers 360 degree views of the Johannesburg metropolitan area. The Carlton Centre is Africa’s tallest building, and all view lovers will want to head to the viewing deck when visiting Johannesburg.
The stunning karst mountains of Yangshuo should be on every view lover’s travel list. You can hike to the arch on Moon Hill to take in the view, go for the more rugged mountain climbing approach to catching a great view, or cruise comfortably up the Li River in a tour boat.
UNESCO has announced their 2015 World Heritage sites. Quite a lot of places to find world-class views among the list.
There’s been a lot of great media coverage on this list, with many beautiful images to get the travel bug going in all of us who enjoy seeing the world’s most amazing places.
BBC coverage of the World Heritage Sites
Fodor’s 10 Best of the 2015 World Heritage Sites
Washington Post coverage of the 2015 sites
Lonely Planet is publishing a new book on its 500 top travel destinations in the world. There are a lot of incredibly beautiful places on the list, sure to whet the appetite of any view lover.
TripAdvisor recently published their World’s Top 25 Landmarks, as chosen by their customers. Some great places to visit for view lovers, and they’ve included some remarkable images of these sites.
Here is a fantastic slide show of waterfalls around the world. The photos were aggregated from Instagram and published recently on Huffington Post.
photo credit: laboiteverte.fr
Here’s a wonderful post on Breathtaking Places to Visit that includes some really extraordinary images and ideas for travel.
The observatory at the new World Trade Center building in New York officially opened today. Visitors to Manhattan will once again have the opportunity to take a high-speed elevator to the top of the World Trade Center for 360 degree views of the New York metropolitan area!
Both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times have articles on this momentous occasion for view lovers.
One of the many stunning vistas on the Big Island of Hawaii. Thank you to my friend Raj Raheja for the photo.
You can hike, ride horses, or take a 4-wheel drive to this area of the Big Island.
photo credit: R. Ian Lloyd
Wonderful photo spread of views from the top of iconic landmarks on the Travel+Leisure website recently. All great places to add to your lifetime travel list!
And, remember the ViewGuru philosophy: Get the view from these beloved landmarks, and also be sure to take in the view of these landmarks.
photo credit: Brant Ward / The Chronicle
Waterbar is a terrific restaurant on San Francisco’s Embarcadero. Nice ambience. Great food. Views of the bay, the Bay Bridge, and Treasure Island.
Travel destinations are realizing the power of using views to attract visitors. Here’s a large sign in McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, which I shot from the escalator that takes you to baggage claim – so everyone arriving at the airport will see this.
I’m a big fan of the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas to take in the views. I didn’t have the chance to ride the High Roller on this trip, and I’ll make sure to try it out the next time I’m in Las Vegas.
Okay, this post may be a bit far-fetched, given that there are thousands of truly great, amazing, awe-inspiring places in the world to take in beautiful views. It can be pretty difficult to rank beauty and inspiration.
But, Rough Guides has put together a fun spread on the world’s best views based on input from their readers. It’s fun to look at and may give you some ideas for your next trip . . . or at least to add to you lifelong travel list!
There ARE advantages to the cheap seats in many of the ballparks in the U.S. Along with the game, you can take in a view of the surroundings.
Here’s a fun article on the Major League Baseball parks with the best views.
San Francisco is known for its beautiful views. If you’re visiting, you’ll definitely be eating in some of the 3000 plus restaurants in this city. Might as well choose places that give you spectacular views with your meal!
Here are 10 of the top view restaurants in San Francisco, from a USA Today article.
Valerie Conners recently published a wonderful, short article for Condé Nast Traveler on beautiful road trips through U.S. national parks.
As of now, as I’m posting this, I’ve been to all of the parks listed except Shenandoah, which I’m hoping to see soon. These National Parks are amazing and should be on every view lover’s travel list!
Included in the Condé Nast Traveler article:
- Badlands Loop Scenic Highway, Badlands National Park, South Dakota
- Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana
- The loop road in Acadia National Park, Maine
- The drive from South Rim to North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
- Blue Ridge Parkway, Shenandoah National Park, North Carolina and Virginia
A great way to see Colorado’s San Luis Valley is aboard the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad. The sunset dinner ride offers cocktails and a meal, plus amazing views of Colorado’s peaks. A recent article on the Travel + Leisure website highlights this and other romantic train rides.
The Round Tower (Rundetårn in Danish) is a popular landmark in central Copenhagen that’s a must-see if you’re looking for expansive views of the city. The building is unusual – it has an equestrian staircase, a spiral staircase sloped gently enough to ride horses up!
Here are a couple photos I took from the observation deck on the top of the Round Tower. If you click on the left photo, you can see the bridge to Malmo, Sweden.
While most Americans who visit Denmark go only to Copenhagen, there’s quite a lot to see in this small, beautiful Scandinavian country.
The beaches of western Denmark are popular with German tourists, and one of the most popular is the long, expansive beach on the island of Rømø. If you’re in this area, I recommend visiting the nearby town of Ribe for lodging, restaurants, and nice views of the surroundings.
In Ribe, make your way to the top of the church tower for views of the town, the surrounding farmland, and the North Sea to the west. Make sure to be on the lookout for the storks’ nests that these majestic birds build on rooftops in Ribe. (Click on the right picture below to see one of these amazing nests.)
Heidelberg, Germany is a beautiful, historic town with one of Germany’s top universities. Wonderful castle. Beautiful architecture. Stunning, hilly setting on the River Neckar.
For a nice view of the castle, head across the Old Bridge. (This is where I took the photo to the left.)
And, be sure to visit the castle itself. It offers beautiful views of the town and the river, as you can see in this photo:
Home to Europe’s 3rd busiest airport, Frankfurt is a common stopping point to get to other parts of Europe, and it’s an interesting city to visit.
If you find yourself there, I recommend heading to the top of the Main Tower. (That’s “Main” as in the Main River, which flows through Frankfurt. The city is referred to as Frankfurt am Main in German.)
There’s an observation deck at the top of the Main Tower with great closeup views of the city and distant views to the horizon.
Here are shots from the Main Tower, including one of me and my wife, Stephanie.
Great views elevate a restaurant experience to a whole new level! Food & Wine has a terrific spread on restaurants around the world with spectacular views. Scenic outlooks. Urban landscapes. Sunsets. The beauty of nature. These restaurants have it all.
National Geographic Traveler Magazine recently ran a terrific article on the White Mountains of New Hampshire by Joyce Maynard. Inspiring writing for hikers and people looking for peak experiences. Wonderful vistas available on the hikes in this area!
Here’s a map of the White Mountain National Forest.
Looking for a hike overlooking the San Francisco Bay? Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve in Berkeley, California, is just what you’re looking for!
You’ll get views of the bay, San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the Berkeley campus.
One thing to keep in mind: these views are NOT accessible by car. They require a strenuous hike up some steep trails in this regional park. If you are a hiker and a view lover, this park is for you.
Here’s a map of the area.
McWay Waterfall, Big Sur, California
Big Sur, California, is a magnificent area for view lovers to explore. Beautiful trails, spectacular views of the rugged California coast. This is McWay Waterfall, shot from the Overlook Trail, in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, one of California’s most beautiful state parks.
Thank you to Jim Barringer for the photo!
Here is a map of the area.
Aah, what view lovers worldwide wouldn’t give for space tourism to become a reality. For now, we’ll have to settle for the images from satellites (like these from satellite company DigitalGlobe) and the wonderful pictures from the International Space Station.
The name says it all: The View Lounge at the Marriott Marquis in the SOMA neighborhood of San Francisco, California.
Dead Horse Point State Park, just outside of Moab, Utah, is a terrific place for canyon views. The AAA magazine Via says the park “offers arguably the country’s best single view of the Colorado River.”
If you’re visiting Arches or Canyonlands National Parks, consider spending some time in this Utah state park as well!
Here’s a great list from Thrillist.com of hotel views that are breathtaking – literally! These high-altitude lodgings are terrific choices for view lovers.
The ultimate location for views – space! Hopefully, we’ll all be space tourists someday and get these types of views. For now, we’ll have to enjoy the photos taken from the International Space Station. This article from SFGate.com starts with a view of the San Francisco Bay Area from space. Be sure to scroll down for the full slide show.