San Francisco's 14 Best Rooftops (a Bunch of Which Are Totally Secret)

Published On 05/06/2015 Published On 05/06/2015
Ross Barringer/Thrillist

Whether you're eating, drinking, napping, or even working, it's an undeniable fact that it's way more enjoyable if you're doing it on a roof. And it's an EXTRA-undeniable fact that it's even more enjoyable if you're doing it on one of these: the 14 best ones San Francisco has to offer.

Ross Barringer/Thrillist

Where: 1 Kearny St (at Market St)
How to get there: Sign in at the desk, then take the elevator up to the 11th floor.
Amenities: 2,500sqft of clean, well-maintained roof with benches, outlets, views, and bathrooms!

Ross Barringer/Thrillist

Where: Yerba Buena Gardens
How to get there: Between Third and Fourth, Mission and Folsom Streets
Amenities: Public art, water features, a spacious grass area where you can chill, Samovar Tea Lounge, and B Restaurant & Bar.

Ross Barringer/Thrillist

Where: Wells Fargo Roof Garden, One Montgomery at Market and Post
How to get there: Go through the Wells Fargo doors to the elevators and push R. The roof is open from 10am-6pm, Monday to Friday.
Amenities: Shaded benches, potted plants, a wall-mounted, vine-covered lion’s head fountain, and a giant armillary sundial.

Ross Barringer/Thrillist

Where: The Sun Terrace, 515 Mission St
How to get there: The Sun Terrace is right next to the tall brown building at 100 First St. You enter the terrace through the stairs in between the parking garage and the building itself. Then go up to the 2nd floor. The terrace is on top of the parking garage.
Amenities: Huge patio area with a fountain, grassy spots for napping, and tables and chairs for eating or working.

Ross Barringer/Thrillist

Where: SF Art Institute, 800 Chestnut St between Jones and Leavenworth
How to get there: Walk through the inner courtyard until you enter the rooftop quadrangle.
Amenities: There's no greenery, but there are views of Alcatraz, Angel Island, Treasure Island, Coit Tower, Telegraph Hill, and the spires of Saints Peter and Paul Church, as well as rotating art exhibits. Plus, you can eat at Pete's Cafe, where you can get a juicy burger for broke student prices (under $5).

Ross Barringer/Thrillist

Where: One Maritime Plaza, 300 Clay St
How to get there: Follow the walkway left through the Embarcadero Center Building. The garden is atop the parking garage at the end of the footbridge.
Amenities: Flower-lined walkways, sculpture garden with pieces by Marino Marini, Henry Moore, and Charles Perry, a fountain, and tons of grass.

Ross Barringer/Thrillist

Where: Jones Restaurant, 620 Jones St
How to get there: Walk through the blue steel gates; the terrace is on the third floor.
Amenities: Though taller buildings surround Jones on three sides, it's still one of SF's only rooftop bars, which makes it a favorite on sunny days. Don't worry, though; there are plenty of heat lamps for when the fog rolls in. Plus, $3 beer during happy hour! (5-7pm, Tuesday to Friday.)

Ross Barringer/Thrillist

Where: Garden Terrace, 150 California St
How to get there: Take the second set of elevators to the 6th floor.
Amenities: Garden terrace has a sculpture garden and several tables with chairs for lunching.

Eric Wolfinger

Where: Dirty Habit, 12 4th St
How to get there: Walk inside Hotel Palomar and take the elevator to the fifth floor.
Amenities: Try to get a seat by the fire pit, where you can enjoy creative cocktails and thoughtful, shareable plates.

Joe Starkey/Thrillist

Where: The Westfield Sky Terrace, 835 Market St
How to get there: Go into the building to the left of 835 Market, walk in past the guard at the lobby, and take the elevator to the 9th floor.
Amenities: Lots of sunshine (weather permitting), views of City Hall, benches, and a few tables.

El Techo

Where: El Techo de Lolinda, 2518 Mission St
How to get there: Enter the door to the left of Lolinda and take the elevator to the roof.
Amenities: By far SF's most popular rooftop bar, El Techo serves Latin American street food and weather-appropriate cocktails (margaritas when it's sunny; apple cider with tequila when it's chilly). Best of all? They're open for brunch AND you can make a reservation to avoid the hangry wait.

Joe Starkey/Thrillist

Where: Rooftop patio, 343 Sansome St
How to get there: Walk into the lobby past the security guard, and take the elevator to the 15th floor.
Amenities: Not the best place to come on a windy day, but if the weather cooperates, a perfect place to escape for lunch. An obelisk by Joan Brown that represents the four seasons sits in the central plaza, there are patio chairs and tables, and there are also benches encircling giant planters holding full-grown olive trees.

Flickr/Adam Kuban

Where: The Living Roof, Academy of Sciences
How to get there: First, you'll have to pay admission. Then, take the stairs or the elevators (to the right after you walk in) up to the roof.
Amenities: The roof's seven rolling hills are home to more than 1.7 million plants. Though you can't walk on the hills, you can do everything from stargazing, to eclipse watches, to close investigations of the world of bees. Oh, and there are reindeer on the roof during Christmas. Obviously.

Fairmont San Francisco

Where: Roof gardens, Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason St
How to get there: Walk down a long corridor from the lobby. The patio is adjacent to the Pavilion Room.
Amenities: A fountain masks the noise from the streets and the palm trees would make you feel like you were in a different city altogether if not for the amazing views of the SF skyline. Keep an eye out for the beehives and the culinary garden.

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Daisy Barringer is Thrillist's SF Editor and she's found that a roof really elevates a party. Invite her to your rooftop party on Twitter @daisy.



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