Thinking about eloping in San Francisco? Let me guess. You’re planning an intimate wedding or elopement in San Francisco either with just the two of you or a few of your favorite people. You want your day to be filled only with things that resonate with you as a couple – no unaligned traditions or random guests. Now, all you need is someone to guide you in crafting the most memorable, eclectic celebration – and take some damn good photos of it!
See if you’re a city person at heart but also love some adventure then San Francisco is the perfect place for you. You get to walk from place to place and explore downtown and beyond. The one thing that sets San Francisco apart from other major cities is its nature and beauty. When you drive out to the Susnet and get to the Golden Gate Bridge it’s hard to believe that just 30 minutes before you were in the heart of some giant skyscrapers.
And while a lot of couples op for a City Hall wedding or elopement there are actually tons of other magical places in San Francisco where you can say “I do.” And while yes elopements can just be two people. Elopements can also include your closest friends and family. And these places will hopefully allow you to do just that! Here are 18 of the best places to elope in San Francisco. Whether it’s just the two of you or you decide to include a few family members and friends.
- Marin Headlands
- Point Bonita Lighthouse
- Sutro Baths
- San Francisco City Hall
- Queen Wilhelmina Garden
- Palace of Fine Arts
- Shakespeare’s Garden
- Fort Point
- San Francisco Botanical Garden
- Fort Funston
- Conservatory of Flowers
- Lovers Lane
- Twin Peaks
- Baker Beach
- Legion of Honor
- Marshall Beach
- Yerba Buena Island
- Portals of the Past
1. Marin Headlands
The Marin Headlands has some jaw-dropping views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. And there are a ton of different places from Slacker Hill, Hawk Hill, Moore St. Pier, or even Kirby Cove. Pick your favorite view or explore somewhere new. If you want to elope in San Francisco with views of the Golden Gate Bridge then this may be the spot for you. The Marin Headlands is also the only view that’s above the Golden Gate Bridge unless you’re in a plane.
WHERE TO STAY: If you want to be close to this spot your best bet is actually to not stay in San Francisco but actually in Marin or Sausalito. I would recommend Cavallo Point if you want to be really close to the Bridge and San Francisco. Some other great hotels in Sausalito are the Inn Above Tide and Casa Madrona Inn & Spa.
BOOKING/PERMIT INFO: The Marin Headlands is under the jurisdiction of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. You can find details for permits under their Special Events. Note a minimum of 10 business days is required for permit applications with a $60 application fee.
TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY: This location is only accessible by car. Rideshares here can get pretty pricey so I would definitely recommend driving yourself if possible. Parking is also very limited so prepare to be patient and snag a spot where you can.
2. Point Bonita Lighthouse
Point Bonita is on the Marin Headlands side of the bridge and is on the pre-approved list by the Golden Gate service. This ceremony site holds max 65 people and it’s about 1/2 mile walk from the parking lot. Ceremonies must take place before 11 a.m. or after 4:30 p.m. And since the lighthouse is closed to the public after 3:30 you’ll have the whole place to yourself!
WHERE TO STAY: Since Point Bonita is on the Marin headlands side recommendation for places to stay include Cavallo Point to be close to the bridge. In Sausalito, some recommended hotels are the Inn Above Tide or Casa Madrona Inn & Spa.
BOOKING/PERMIT INFO: As a part of the Golden Gate Recreation, you would need to acquire a permit from them. You can find details for permits under their Special Events. Note a minimum of 10 business days are required for permit applications with a $60 application fee.
TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY: There is trailhead parking at Point Bonita including several ADA accessible spots. This is one location you’ll definitely want to drive to and park at.
3. Sutro Baths
Sutro Baths is a gorgeous place to watch the sunset in San Francisco. If you want to elope in San Francisco to the sound of waves crashing then this may be the place for you. And usually, on a weekday there aren’t tons of people around which can make for a more intimate experience. Also, depending on the tide if it’s low enough there’s a small beach right past the baths which is so cute, exclusive, and a perfect place to say I do.
WHERE TO STAY: Sutro Baths is on the Sunset side of the city where there are very few hotels. So, if you’re looking for a place to stay I would recommend checking Airbnb or VRBO.
BOOKING/PERMIT INFO: Sutro Baths is one of the many places under the jurisdiction of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. You can find details for permits under their Special Events. Note a minimum of 10 business days are required for permit applications with a $60 application fee.
TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY: There is tons of parking at Sutro Baths which is awesome if you’re local to the area. Please remember car break-ins are TERRIBLE here so be sure to leave no valuables in your car. The metro bus also has a stop close by and of course rideshare is available.
4. San Francisco City Hall
While this blog post is mainly for places other than San Francisco City Hall, dozens of people get married here every single day for a reason! This is the draw for so many people when they’re planning to elope in San Francisco. There are 4 options for getting married here: a civil ceremony, a one-hour ceremony, a two-hour ceremony, or a full buyout. It’s highly recommended to book the one-hour ceremony. Which is definitely everyone’s go-to for a reason. If you want more info about getting married in San Francisco City Hall be sure to check out this whole guide!
WHERE TO STAY: The hotels I would recommend near San Francisco City Hall are the Proper Hotel, Hotel 1, and the Line Hotel SF. They are all absolutely gorgeous and very close to downtown. The Proper Hotel is even within walking distance and they offer complimentary car service within 3 miles of the hotel.
BOOKING/PERMIT INFO: While you don’t need an appointment or permit to take photos in the building you do need to make an appointment to book your ceremony location and time. And definitely don’t forget to make a separate appointment for your marriage license.
TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY: Since San Francisco City Hall is right near downtown so there’s Bart, the Ferry, and Muni are all viable options. If you want to drive there’s a parking structure right below City Hall in front of Bill Graham whose rates fluctuate depending on the time of day.
5. Queen Wilhelmina Garden
Queen of Wilhelmina’s Garden is located right below the grand Dutch North Windmill. This is definitely a unique place to elope in San Francisco. Each year hundreds of flower bulbs are donated by the Dutch Bulb Growers’ Association to be planted in the garden. The tulips are usually in full bloom by March which could be the perfect colorful backdrop to your wedding. They also have a fall bloom during September. And it’s important to note that the Garden is closed for the entire month of May and October for replanting so you will not be able to book any of those dates.
WHERE TO STAY: I would recommend staying at a hotel like the Sea Rock Inn which is actually super close to Sutro Baths. On this side of the city 4-star and higher hotels are few and far between and that’s when Airbnb is your best friend.
BOOKING/PERMIT INFO: To book this as your venue you will book through Golden Gate Recreations and Parks by filling out the Outdoor Wedding Application and emailing it to them. The reservation fee is $531 and there is a two-hour minimum of $152 an hour. There is also a $500 refundable deposit.
TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY: Parking is open with limited availability. And the parking is also available to the general public so I would keep that in mind if you have a large guest list.
6. Palace of Fine Arts
The Palace of Fine Arts is absolutely stunning and believe it or not it is bigger in person. As beautiful as this place it’s not all fun in roses. Car break-ins are sadly very prevalent in SF/Bay Area and they can be especially bad here. However, one great plus of this spot is you don’t need to reserve the space for unless you have 30+ guests or would like to have seats.
WHERE TO STAY: The Palace of Fine Arts is close to Lombard St. where there are a plethora of hotels but those are like your Motel 6, Travelodge type places. And Lombard St. is also not the safest place at night. If you want to be close I’d recommend Lodge at the Presidio, Airbnb, or VRBO.
BOOKING/PERMIT INFO: If you’re looking to reserve space the reservation fee is $531 and there is a two-hour minimum of $152 an hour. There is also a $500 refundable deposit. For a wedding reception larger than 30 people, you’ll need to contact San Francisco Recreation and Parks. And though you may be able to reserve the space at the Palace of Fine Arts Rotunda is still open to the public even when there are wedding permits. So, there will be people in the park and in or at the Rotunda at any given time.
TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY: It’s either best to drive or take a ride-share. Just please be aware of car break-ins. Never leave anything in your car but, if that’s not possible make sure nothing is in sight.
7. Shakespeare’s Garden
Shakespeare’s Garden is located in Golden Gate Park right near the San Francisco Botanical Garden. If you’re a book or Shakespeare lover then this may be the perfect spot for you to elope in San Francisco. You can easily access the garden from Nancy Pelosi Dr., Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., or via the path next to the California Academy of Sciences. Springtime, especially the month of April, is the best time to visit with all the flowers and trees in full bloom. And though there is a gate at the front that gate cannot be closed during your reservation however, access would be denied during your wedding. So, you won’t have to worry about people milling about.
WHERE TO STAY: Since the garden is located in Golden Gate Park I would recommend Stanyan Hotel or trying your luck on Airbnb. I have personally stayed in Airbnb near the park and there are a ton of unique options just be prepared to spend some money. Especially if you want to be within walking distance of Golden Gate Park.
BOOKING/PERMIT INFO: To book this as your venue you will book through Golden Gate Recreations and Parks by filling out the Outdoor Wedding Application and emailing it to them. The reservation fee is $531 and there is a two-hour minimum of $152 an hour. There is also a $500 refundable deposit. This is a very popular wedding site so be sure to book far in advance.
TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY: Parking is open to the public, with a paid parking facility located on Fulton Street and 10th Avenue.
8. Fort Point
Fort Point has an amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge. This is also a great spot because you’re close to Golden Gate Beach. This means you could have a really cute picnic and then walk over the bridge or even have a ceremony at Golden Gate Beach before adventuring to the Fort. While this site is not on the pre-approved list from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area you can still possibly have a ceremony here with their permission.
WHERE TO STAY: Since Fort Point is right in the Presidio of San Francisco a recommended hotel is the Lodge at the Presidio. Especially if you want to be close. You could also stay at one of the hotels in downtown like the Proper Hotel, Hotel 1, and the Line Hotel SF and then drive over.
BOOKING/PERMIT INFO: Fort Point is under the jurisdiction of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Be sure to check these Golden Gate National Recreation Area pre-approved outdoor ceremony sites. And you can call their number to inquire about this site too. This site in general is best for people with ten guests or less.
TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY: Fort Point is only really accessible by car, foot, or bike. I would recommend rideshare if you don’t want to drive. However, cars do make things easier and I’ve never really had an issue finding parking. Just be sure to leave nothing in your car.
9. San Francisco Botanical Garden
The San Francisco Botanical Garden is absolutely stunning! There are so many different options if you want to elope in San Francisco here. Whether you’re intending a small ceremony and reception or you want to invite everyone you know. The micro and 2-hour ceremony options are perfect for elopements and you can have them in the prettiest of settings including both the Redwood Grove and Moon Visiting area.
WHERE TO STAY: Located in Golden Gate Park, the San Francisco Botanical Garden is close to the inner Sunset where there are not a lot of hotels. I would recommend either Airbnb or VRBO. Or if you really want to be close to the park check out the Stanyan Park Hotel or the Hotel Castro.
BOOKING/PERMIT INFO: Check out the San Francisco Botanical Garden’s event rental page for more information. You do have to inquire for full pricing information. However, the 1-hour rental is $950 for groups of up to 20 people and is available in all event gardens except the Zellerbach Garden of Perennials. The maximum capacity in the Moon Viewing Garden is 15. And all 1-hour rentals must conclude by 5 p.m.
TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY: Parking for cars and bicycles is located in the Music Concourse Garage. Other public transportation like Muni and Bart are available with some transfers and coordination. So, your best bet is to drive or get dropped off with rideshare.
10. Fort Funston
Fort Funston is on the sunset side of San Francisco. And is kind of a link point between Daly City and San Francisco. The rolling cliffs, sand dunes, and ocean views remind me of Big Sur. If you’re looking for a beach that allows dogs, doesn’t have views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and has limited crowds. Then look no further.
WHERE TO STAY: Fort Funston is on the South End of San Francisco very far from downtown. I really wouldn’t recommend staying over here unless you have other wedding activities in that area. Some other options close to Fort Funston are Mirage Inn & Suites and the Hampton Inn in Daly City.
BOOKING/PERMIT INFO: Fort Funston is under the jurisdiction of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. You can find details for permits under their Special Events. Note a minimum of 10 business days is required for permit applications with a $60 application fee.
TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY: There are free shuttles that pick up in a few places throughout the city during the summer months. But, I would recommend you either drive or use ride-share. An important note is the great highway which stretches along the ocean beach is completely closed to cars on the weekends.
11. Conservatory of Flowers
The Conservatory of Flowers is a beautiful space that’s a perfect indoor option for an elopement or wedding. Be sure to check out their site for full wedding rental details. This is also a great place to elope in San Francisco because of how they can accommodate almost any size wedding. Remember this space is funded by the city so longer wait times between emails are expected; always inquire as soon as possible.
WHERE TO STAY: The Conservatory of Flowers is in Golden Gate Park so, I would recommend either Airbnb or VRBO. Or if you really want to be close to the park check out the Stanyan Park Hotel.
BOOKING/PERMIT INFO: For pricing info and booking details be sure to inquire on their site. You’ll also be able to set up a site tour and hear about the different options in person.
TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY: Public parking is available a short walk away at the Music Concourse Garage, and limited street parking is available near the intersection of John F. Kennedy Drive and Nancy Pelosi Drive.
12. Lovers Lane
Lovers Lane is located right in the presidio of San Francisco and fairly close to lots of good locations like Fort Point, Baker Beach, etc. To the left side of the art installation is a steep hill that leads to a road with fairly constant traffic. So, if you’re looking for a quiet and intimate place to say your vows while eloping in San Francisco. Then, this place may not be it. This is not a private area and you can not reserve it so it’s recommended for small ceremonies of under 10 people.
WHERE TO STAY: There are 2 amazing places that you can stay in the Presidio the Inn at the Presidio or the Lodge at the Presidio. Your other options would be to stay downtown and drive over here or rent an Airbnb.
BOOKING/PERMIT INFO: The Presidio Trust is a part of the National Park system and a National Historic Landmark District. It’s recommended to email email@example.com or call (415) 561-4200 for specific booking or permit information. A permit requires a minimum of 10 business days to complete. And don’t forget to review the Rules for Special Use Permits prior to submitting an application.
13. Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks truly has some of the best views of San Francisco. On a clear day, you can see EVERYTHING from the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate and of course everything in between. If you elope in San Francisco I would recommend keeping the guest count small. There is parking that’s accessible but it is first come first serve so that could be tricky depending on the day of the week and time. And since Twin Peaks Road is now closed your party will have to walk from the parking lot to wherever you’re deciding to hold the ceremony. This spot is ideal for 10 guests or less with standing only.
WHERE TO STAY: Twin Peaks is located fairly close to the Mission and Castro. I would recommend either Airbnb or VRBO if you really want to be close. Some hotels in the vicinity are Stanyan Park Hotel and Hotel Castro.
BOOKING/PERMIT INFO: Twin Peaks is a part of the San Francisco Recreation and Parks and as always check with them. However, the general rule as long as no harm is being done to the area and no production or monitoring is needed by the parks then it is generally okay.
TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY: Street parking is available off Crestline Drive and there is a small parking lot located near the Christmas Tree Viewing Area. Muni Line 37 stops along Crestline Drive and Muni Line 48 stops along Portola.
14. Baker Beach
If you want to elope in San Francisco specifically on the beach. Then, Baker Beach is probably the beach that you’ve been thinking about! It’s super accessible with two parking lots, a ramp down to the beach, and even access from public transport (Muni.) However, Baker Beach is one of those places in San Francisco where you really have no idea what you’re going to get until you get there. And that means everything from the weather, the crowds, the waves(tide), etc.
Baker Beach is also a nude-friendly beach so in the summer and evenings you’ll get a vast variety of different characters. And weekends, holidays, and summer/warm nights, loads of people flock to enjoy the views of the Golden Gate on the beach. So, definitely keep the date and time of day at the top of your mind when planning to get married here.
WHERE TO STAY: Baker Beach is at the very end of San Francisco. So, I would recommend staying in a place like the Lodge at the Presidio if you want to be close. Or renting an Airbnb somewhere in the Sunset, or inner Richmond part of San Francisco.
BOOKING/PERMIT INFO: Baker Beach is a part of the Golden Gate Recreation. You would need to acquire a special event permit to have a ceremony here. You can find details for permits under their Special Events. Note a minimum of 10 business days are required for permit applications with a $60 application fee.
TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY: There are two parking lots and lots of parking at the top of the hill before you walk down to the beach. You can also take a muni line 29 to get dropped right off. At the top of the beach near the street access and then walk a little way down to the beach.
15. Legion of Honor Museum
Legion of Honor weddings are beautiful! And of course, you can also hold a small ceremony if you want to elope in San Francisco. There are 4 different spaces that can be rented here: the Court of Honor, Balustrade Lawn, Rodin Galleries, or Terrace Level. Since the Museum is open to the public most ceremonies have to take place after 6 p.m.
WHERE TO STAY: The Legion of Honor is close the Outer Richmond where there are basically no hotels. I would definitely recommend Airbnb or VRBO if you want to be close by. But, your best bet is to book a hotel in downtown San Francisco and drive.
BOOKING/PERMIT INFO: For ceremonies, you’ll want to reach out to the museum and decide on a date and specific location. If you’re hoping to just take photos here no permits or reservations are required you are just not allowed to take photos inside of the museum specifically.
TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY: There’s a Muni bus line that drops off and picks up right across the street so it is accessible from public transportation. And there is a small parking lot along with more parking along the trail so feel free to drive and not stress too much about parking.
16. Marshall’s Beach
Marshall’s Beach has an amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s very similar to the view at Baker Beach only closer and with more rocks. A couple of key things about this location are that the beach is only really accessible during low tide. So, if you’re planning to go here just in general I would definitely recommend checking out apps and Googling. The hike down is fairly easy and low effort but definitely not accessible for wheelchairs and any other injuries that limit mobility. And for the hike back up you will most like sweating and gasping for air (or at least I was.)
Since it can be challenging to access this beach, especially in comparison to Baker Beach there are a lot fewer crowds of people. If you’re hoping for something a little more private this is definitely a good trade-off for the hike.
WHERE TO STAY: Marshall Beach is in the Presidio. So, I would recommend staying in a place like the Lodge at the Presidio if you want to be close. Or renting an Airbnb somewhere close to that side or even Marin or Sausalito.
BOOKING/PERMIT INFO: Marshall Beach is also a part of the Presidio Trust. I would recommend emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call (415) 561-4200. A permit requires a minimum of 10 business days to complete. And don’t forget to review the Rules for Special Use Permits prior to submitting an application.
TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY: You have the option for Muni 29, Presidio GO Shuttle SOUTH HILLS ROUTE, and parking at Baker Beach then hiking over. And there’s also parking at the Golden Gate Overlook. Just be mindful of leaving your car empty of valuables.
17. Yerba Buena Island
Yerba Buena Island is technically also known as Treasure Island. This is an out-of-the-box place to elope in San Francisco. A big plus is on clear days the views of the city are endless and absolutely EPIC. And you’re probably like you say that about every place. And yeah, because it’s true. From this island, you get amazing views of the city in the background, the Bay Bridge to your left and the Golden Gate to your right. There are even a few restaurants and breweries that could be the perfect location for a small reception or party afterward!
WHERE TO STAY: While there are no hotels on the island at the moment I would recommend staying in downtown San Francisco or Oakland and driving across the bridge.
BOOKING/PERMIT INFO: No permits, are necessary to get married on the Island. There are a few venues if you want to hold a reception or something bigger on the island too.
TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY: There are only two ways to get onto the Island you can either drive or take the ferry from San Francisco. The ferry only runs 7 am – 8 pm on weekdays and 9 am – 8 pm on weekends.
18. Portals of the Past
Portals of the Past is also located in Golden Gate Park right along Lloyd Lake. One of the many great places to elope in San Francisco in Golden Gate Park. This site works best as a standing-only site. But, if you did want to include chairs, about 20 could fit in front of the Portal. And for a little history, this structure was once a door to a house that was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. And it was named by poet Charles Kellogg Field in this quote “This is the portal of the past — from now on, once more forward.”
WHERE TO STAY: Since the Portal is located in Golden Gate Park I would recommend Stanyan Hotel or try your luck on Airbnb if you wish to stay close to the park. If you don’t care about being super close to the park then I would recommend the Monte Cristo Bed and Breakfast or the Laurel Inn.
BOOKING/PERMIT INFO: To book Portals of the Past as your venue you will book through Golden Gate Recreations and Parks by filling out the Outdoor Wedding Application and emailing it to them. The reservation fee is $303 and there is a two-hour minimum of $76 an hour. There is also a $500 refundable deposit.
TRANSPORTATION ACCESSIBILITY: Parking is open with limited availability. And the parking is also available to the general public so I would keep that in mind if you have a large guest list. I have been on a weekend and was able to find a few spots.
How to Decide Where to Elope in San Francisco
It can be a tough decision on where to elope in San Francisco. And now after looking at all of those locations you might be even more confused and stressed. Don’t worry! First, even if you don’t have your location picked or all those details figured don’t hesitate to inquire. I love getting to help couples plan a day that’s geared towards them.
When deciding on where don’t get too tied down to one location. No one’s stopping you from having your ceremony in one spot and getting portraits or doing activities in a few others. Elopements and small weddings are what you make them!
Here are some important things to think about when picking your location.
Prioritize Your Experience
You’ve chosen to elope in the first place because you and your partner wanted to be true to your authentic selves and have a fun, stress-free day. So, don’t pick a location that isn’t aligned with what you two know about yourselves and what you really enjoy doing together.
Don’t Rule Out A Multi-Day Elopement
Can’t decide on a single spot for your elopement or intimate wedding? Then don’t! Going to more than one location is a really great way to get a ton of variety of scenery, activities, and experiences.
Start Thinking About Back-Up Locations
While it’s important to consider all of the factors that will help you narrow down to the most ideal elopement location – it’s just as important to think about backup locations. When deciding on your first choice location, remember that sometimes conditions can be unpredictable (like road closures or bad weather.)
At the end of the day make the decision that’s best for both of you. And your people with happily stand by your side!
San Francisco Elopement Photographer
HOPELESS ROMANTIC AND LOVER OF ALL THINGS SAN FRANCISCO
Hi there! I’m Torez, your go-to San Francisco Elopement Photographer who adores capturing the essence of your unique love story. Just like you, I’m deeply in love – with the city, the architecture, and most importantly, making your dream intimate wedding or elopement a breathtaking reality.
Here are some rapid-fire facts that are important to know:
- My signature style as a photographer is fun, vibrant, and timeless! You can expect true-to-life photos that organically document your wedding or elopement experience
- I have two dogs – Marley and Seymour – and I will always advocate for you to bring your pup on your big day
- I was born and raised in the Bay Area for all my 27 years of life (except for my college years spent in Upstate New York, but then I came right back) so I know this gorgeous slice of California like the back of my hand
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Hi I'm Torez, a die-hard romantic and San Francisco-based wedding photographer with years of experience capturing love stories against the backdrop of our charming city. From intimate City Hall ceremonies to epic coastal elopements, I've seen and photographed it all. I know the ins and outs of navigating wedding planning in San Francisco like the back of my hand - from selecting the perfect location that aligns with your love story, to creating the dreamiest wedding timeline that lets you enjoy your day to the fullest. And guess what? I'm sharing all of that expertise right here with you.