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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.

Drone operators are no longer required to independently contact air traffic control when flying within five miles of an airport. Instead, both recreational and commercial flyers can use the automated LAANC system to request airspace authorization to fly in controlled airspace around and above many airports. If you’re operating in Class B, C, D, or E controlled airspace, you’ll need to request airspace authorization. You may do this through LAANC or through FAADroneZone in areas where LAANC is not available.

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 — Blue Park

Yerba Buena Island Nimitz Ln, San Francisco, CA 94130

Blue Park is located on Yerba Buena Island which is located on the San Francisco Bay. The island is connected to Treasure Island, which 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 — Public Park

San Francisco, CA 94133

Public park is a strip of green space located between Pier 39 and Pier 35 in San Francisco, California. There is a marina directly in front of the property that makes this a great location to watch boats. The Oakland Bay Bridge and the numerous islands throughout the bay can be seen from this location. Drone pilots will enjoy the diverse landscape and the picturesque feel of the area.

The Beauty of Pier 39 at Fishermans Wharf San Francisco

3 — Empowerment Park

462 Bellevue Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

Empowerment Park is located on the east side of Lake Merritt just outside of San Francisco in Oakland, California. This open park features incredible views of the lake, which spans 140 acres and is designated as a National Historic Landmark. The lake is known for its “necklace lights” which are made up of 126 light post and 3,400 light bulbs. It has numerous islands which were made to serve as a wildlife sanctuary that sees fluctuations of bird species throughout the year. It was the first wildlife refuge in the country, dating back to 1870. With that in mind, please always remain vigilant for birds when operating a drone at this park.

fly drone Empowerment Park

Source: Mike Disharoon

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

Have Another Place You like to Fly Your Drone in San Francisco?

We hope this list was helpful.

Do you have any other locations in San Francisco where you like to fly your drone?

Let us know in our community forum over here: https://community.uavcoach.com/topic/5880-where-to-fly-a-drone-in-san-francisco/

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 start at 2-hours 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.