San Francisco Helicopter Tours: Three Fun Options

Are you looking to add a little adventure to your visit? If so, then one of these San Francisco helicopter tours might be right for you! 

Below you will learn about the helicopter tours that you can take to get a breathtaking and unparalleled perspective of the city and its surroundings. 

You'll also learn about when I had the chance to fly high above the SF Bay.

It's a life changing experience and one I highly recommend! 

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

1. Golden Gate Helicopter Adventure 

View from above of the Golden Gate BridgeThis is a view from above of the Golden Gate Bridge. It's just one of the views that you will experience on a helicopter flight.

This San Francisco helicopter tour begins in Mill Valley, a quaint town in Marin County about 15 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge. You will meet your pilot there, but you have the option of paying more for a shuttle from Fisherman's Wharf and back. 

After a short introduction with basic safety instructions, you'll experience an exhilarating takeoff. Then your helicopter will take you along the coast over the Golden Gate National Reserve. You'll fly past Baker Beach and the Point Bonita Lighthouse, over to Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park, then right over the legendary Golden Gate Bridge.

Your views above the city will include Crissy Field, downtown San Francisco, Oracle Park, and Alcatraz Island. Finally, you'll fly over Angel Island before landing back where you started.

Helicopter near Pier 39

Your time in the air will be about 25 to 30 minutes. This short, but heart-pumping adventure is worth it for the incredible vistas.

The most dramatic part of the trip is when you fly by the Golden Gate Bridge! This unbelievable view will showcase not only its beauty, but also its massive size.

This tour is offered on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays. There are various start times: 11:30 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm.

This flight starts at $319*. You will be asked to book for at least two participants. Since they require a minimum number of guests to fly, your flight date or time may change in order to combine small groups with reservations on the same flight.

If you book the tour with the shuttle option, your entire journey from the San Francisco and back will last about 1.5 hours. 

>> Find more details and reserve your tickets on Get Your Guide

2. San Francisco Helicopter Tour from Sausalito

Helicopter flying high above San Francisco

This tour begins with a scenic drive to the heliport in the lovely seaside town of Sausalito, located just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

You'll hop onboard an R44 Helicopter for your 25- to 30-minute flight. From the air, you'll get incredible views of Sausalito, the Golden Gate National Reserve, Angel Island, and more as you make your way over to the city.

You'll fly alongside the iconic Golden Gate, circle around Alcatraz Island, and admire downtown San Francisco, including our famed sports venues, Oracle Park and the Chase Center.

Throughout the journey, you'll be accompanied by music and in-flight narration. Every trip is unique, as your pilot will determine the best flight path according to weather and visibility.

This tour is also offered Friday through Monday. It starts at $389* per person and has a passenger minimum for flights to go ahead.

>> Visit their website to check availability

Golden Gate Bridge with Sausalito from the airThis is a look at what you'll see when you first start. It's the Golden Gate Bridge with the waterfront town of Sausalito in the lower right-hand corner.

3. SF City Tour or SF Golden Tour from Hayward

The final option for top San Francisco helicopter tours is a flight that starts in the East Bay city of Hayward. 

This company, Specialized Helicopters, runs two different San Francisco tours: the 30-minute City Tour, and the 40-minute Golden Tour. 

The one inconvenience is having to get over to the Hayward Airport to take off. On the positive side, by starting across the bay, you get to see much more of the region and approach San Francisco from a different angle (the other tours described above start from the north). 

You will first fly over Oakland and get a sweeping view of the state-of-the-art Bay Bridge that connects the two cities.

In the 30-minute tour, you'll then fly over downtown San Francisco and Fisherman's Wharf and circle back to Hayward. In the 40-minute tour, you'll additionally head over to the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park before heading back. 

Note that during SF Giants baseball games, certain no-fly zones require the pilot to change the flight path slightly, but you will still get incredible views.

These tours start at $299* per person for the 30-minute experience and $349* for the 40-minute experience. There is a two-ticket minimum purchase, but since these helicopters can only accommodate up to three passengers, you're likely to get a private tour.

If you do happen to have a party of three, check out the Groupon deal that costs $727* in total.

>> Find more details on their website.

*Prices are subject to change at anytime.

San Francisco Bay Airplane Tour

Alternatively, you might consider taking a small airplane tour over the San Francisco Bay. You won't be in a helicopter, but you'll be able to see just as much.

This airplane tour starts in San Carlos, a small city on the Peninsula just half an hour from San Francisco. Since this one starts from the south, you'll have the chance to fly over Half Moon Bay, a beautiful area on the Pacific Coast, as you make your way up to the city.

You'll also fly over the Golden Gate Bridge, circle around Alcatraz Island, and get to see other downtown SF landmarks up close, such as Coit Tower

This tour is offered most days at various times in the afternoon or evening. The price starts at $245 per person with a minimum two-ticket purchase. The maximum number of passengers is three, so this is also a private tour. 

>> Book tickets for this small airplane tour. 

*Prices are subject to change at anytime.

My Experience

Above the Golden Gate Bridge looking at the Marin HeadlandsThis is a great photo looking out the window at the Golden Gate Bridge with the Marin Headlands behind it. So gorgeous!

I've been lucky enough to fly over the San Francisco Bay. It's an experience like no other.

Being in a small aircraft like this and getting the chance to look out the windows at the amazing views all around is such a treat.

From high above, you'll get to see the Golden Gate Bridge from several angles. It gives you a unique and fascinating view of this structure (and of course, the chance for amazing pictures).

You'll also fly high over Alcatraz. It's an interesting view and makes you realize what a small island is it. It made me even more curious about the people that worked and lived there. It must have been so isolating.

Flying over Angel IslandThis is what it looked like as we approached the flyover of Angel Island.

Other top attractions you will get to see from above include Angel Island (a fantastic place to hike if you have a full day free), Sausalito, and downtown San Francisco.

The other thing that is so striking when you fly above is just how close all of these places are and how small San Francisco is in area. You'll see that Alcatraz is only about a mile from the shores of SF. It was so close, but yet so far for many of its prisoners.

You'll also see that the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz aren't that far away from each other.

No matter what, taking one of these San Francisco helicopter tours is an experience you will never forget. I highly recommend it if budget is not a problem. 

Things to Know Before Booking

There are just a few things you will want to know before you book. 

  1. They require that you purchase two tickets per booking. Most will not accept single bookings and some will not accept groups of odd numbers.
  2. The helicopters are pretty quiet inside and seat four to six people. They will combine you with other travelers if you have less than four or six people in your group. However, everyone gets a window seat! 
  3. They do have a weight restriction of 300 lbs. (136 kg) per person. You must send them your height and weight a few days before you arrive. This is so that all passengers are able to properly use their standard seatbelts. 
  4. They do no allow those with heart conditions or serious medical conditions to fly. 
  5. They will double-check everything before they allow you to fly. They do have the right to refuse (no refunds) if you are not honest with them before you arrive.
Picture with the Golden Gate Bridge and a helicopter touring over San Francisco.

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?

I would love for you to join me in my private Facebook group

It's a great place to interact with me and others who know the area well.

You can ask questions, get advice for your upcoming stay, and then share your photos and advice with others when you return home. It's a great community and the fastest way to get answers to those nagging questions about your visit!

Come join the fun here!

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Exclusive Member of Mediavine Travel

Copyright © 2009-2024 by All rights reserved.

This website does not sell any personal information. (See privacy policy)