The Best Spots to Stargaze in the Bay Area
Admittedly, the sky is rarely 100% clear in San Francisco and the Bay Area; but on those days when Karl the Fog is on vacation, we can finally enjoy the perks of a fog-free existence. When the clouds part and grant us access to the stars, there are certain spots that are prime for spreading out a blanket, opening up the sunroof, or setting up a lawn chair to check out the constellations. If you’re looking to stargaze in the Bay Area on your next visit, here’s our list of the best locations.
Grizzly Peaks (Berkeley Hills)
Drive up Grizzly Peak Boulevard and you’ll find several places to pull over and check out the night sky. Climbing high up the Berkeley Hills, you’ll enjoy a panoramic landscape of Oakland, San Francisco, the Bay Bridge, and Berkeley and catch unobstructed views of the stars. Since you’re so high above the city, the street lights won’t distract from constellation viewing--and it’s the perfect place to spend a few hours canoodling with your crush.
Hawk Hill (Marin Headlands)
At 923 feet above sea level, Hawk Hill is the perfect place to gaze at the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands, and San Francisco below. But turn your gaze upward to check out the night sky while you’re perched atop the summit. Many come here to check out migratory raptors as they fly south during the fall or to bike up the strenuous hill, but we recommend driving up Conzelman Road at night to park yourself for stargazing.
Mt. Tamalpais (Marin County)
On Saturdays between April and October, you can participate in free astronomy nights at Mt. Tamalpais State Park in the Mountain Theater. The evenings begin with a 45-minute lecture by a professional astronomer, physicist, or space scientist, followed by a Night Sky Tour that highlights prominent constellations, stars, and planets, and then an observing session with telescopes provided by the SF Amateur Astronomers. From November through March, you’ll still find stunning views from the 2,571-foot peak of Mt. Tam and excellent access to the night skies without the informative sessions.
Chabot Space & Science Center (Oakland)
Hankering for more of a view than what you’ll find on a scenic overlook? Chabot features three massive, research-quality telescopes that bring you up close and personal with Orion (one of which allows 180-degree views of the sky). The observatory decks offer impressive views 1,500 feet above the Bay and admission is free to the public on Friday and Saturday evenings from 7:30 – 10 p.m.
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