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The 5 Best Places to Fly a Drone in San Francisco

A list of the best places to fly your drone in San Francisco, California.

In this article, we’ve scouted out the best places to fly a drone in San Francisco, California.

If you live in (or are traveling to) San Francisco, please use this page as a resource to better understand not just where to fly, but also where it’s legal and illegal to fly a drone. We provide guidance on regulations to help you stay compliant with both federal and local rules.

fly drone san francisco

A Sectional Chart of the airspace surrounding San Francisco, CA. Source: VFR Map

San Francisco Drone Laws — Recreational vs. Commercial

The first thing to understand about flying a drone in San Francisco (or any city for that matter) is that under federal FAA regulations, you are either operating recreationally or commercially.

  • Recreational drone pilots fall under the FAA’s model aircraft rules, which are laid out here. As long as your aircraft is registered and you follow the guidance on that page, you’re good to go.

Also, as a recreational drone pilot, you must notify the airport operator and air traffic control tower before flying within five miles of an airport. When we list the locations below, we’ll share whether or not there are airports within five miles of the location.

If flying commercially, it doesn’t matter if you’re flying within five miles of an airport. What matters is whether or not you’re in controlled airspace (Class B, C, D or E) or uncontrolled airspace (Class G). If you’re operating commercially in Class B, C, D, or E controlled airspace, you’ll need to request airspace authorization. When we list locations below, we’ll share whether they sit in controlled or uncontrolled airspace.

Get up-to-date airspace information, including temporary flight restrictions, using tools like B4UFLY, Kittyhawk, or Airmap.

Interested in becoming an FAA-certified drone pilot so you can operate under the Part 107 regulations and make money flying your drone? Check out our industry-leading, online training course over at Drone Pilot Ground School.

So those are the federal rules.

But what about local San Francisco drone laws?

Here’s a guide we put together for drone laws in California. Make sure to consult that to see if there are any local drone ordinances you should follow in San Francisco. When in doubt, use good judgment and follow the FAA’s guidelines.

Note: The content on this page is meant for informational purposes only and is not meant to take the place of legal counsel. If we missed something, or if you have further questions, please send an email to support[at]uavcoach[dot]com, and we’ll do our best to help you out.

Where to Fly a Drone in San Francisco

Alrighty—without further ado, here are our top picks for the best places to fly a drone in the San Francisco area. We selected these locations based on airspace restrictions, accessibility, and attractions. You’ll find that most of the locations we’ve chosen are located in uncontrolled, Class G airspace where you don’t need to request permission to fly. Additionally, we made sure to highlight any locations with designated sUAS/remote aircraft fields.

1 — Great Lawn

Avenue of the Palms, San Francisco, CA 94130

Great Lawn is a narrow strip of green park lined with palm trees on the west side of Treasure Island. The island is located on the San Francisco Bay. It is a manmade island formed by the U.S. Government in 1936. It features astonishing views of the city skyline and the surrounding bay area. The Golden Gate Bridge and the Oakland Bay Bridge can both be seen from the park. It is important to note that the Golden Gate Bridge area is a No-Fly Zone. With the expansive view of the bay area, this location truly offers drone pilots a little bit of everything.

fly drone great lawn

Source: Fishyfool

2 — Pioneer Park

1 Telegraph Hill Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94133

Pioneer Park may be a small park, but it is full of history and is located close to Downtown San Francisco. It features the famous Coit Tower, which offers panoramic views of the city standing at 210 feet tall. The tower was built in 1932 with unpainted reinforced concrete; it is said to have the best views of the bay area. This is the perfect location for drone pilots to do a 360° capture of the tower. The city skyline, bay views, and the historic tower should satisfy the needs of all drone enthusiasts.

fly drone pioneer park

Source: Pixabay

3 — Sue Bierman Park

Washington St & Drumm St, San Francisco, CA 94117

Sue Bierman Park is located in the Financial District in Downtown San Francisco, California. It is often called Ferry Park because it is located across the street from the historic San Francisco Ferry Building. The building was constructed in 1898 as a terminal for ferry passengers to travel around the bay area. The building is known for its most iconic feature, the 245-foot-tall clock tower. The park offers incredible views of the clock tower and bay, and the large green park offers the perfect place to capture the scenery.

fly drone sue bierman park

Source: JaGa

4 — Cesar E. Chavez Park

11 Spinnaker Way, Berkeley, CA 94710

Cesar E. Chavez Park is a 90-acre park that extends out onto the San Franciso Bay in Berkley, California. It not only features stunning views of the Bay Area, but also all three bay bridges. The entire property is a wide-open grass area which is ideal for drone flights. It is important to note that the area is popular for kite flying. Please always remain vigilant of kite flyers and avoid flying near them. The view of the San Francisco skyline off in the distance creates the perfect backdrop for some epic drone footage.

fly drone César Chávez Park

Source: Staeiou

5 — Richardson AMA Field

2475 Cabrillo Hwy S, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

Richardson AMA Field is owned by the PCC Flying Club and is located in Half Moon Bay, California. The field has a live camera that can be viewed through their website if you want to check current conditions. There is a large runway area and a field area that surrounds the runway. The airfield sits across the street from farmland and the sandy shores of the Pacific Ocean. Drone pilots will appreciate the wide-open area and views of the ocean that seem to never end.

Radio Controlled Airplanes at PCC Thursday 1/31/2019

Take a Drone Flight Training Class in San Francisco

If you’re new to drones or looking to take your flight skills to the next level, we offer hands-on drone flight training in the San Francisco area. Our classes are typically 90 minutes long, and our expert instructors walk you through what to do before, during and after your flight—you’ll practice intelligent flight modes and learn how to stay safe but also how to get the shots or data you need. During the class, you’ll also get a chance to ask questions about regulations, software, flight operations management, checklists and more.

Sign up for a hands-on drone flight training class in San Francisco.