Can You Fly Drones in San Francisco?

Yes, you can fly a drone in San Francisco. As long as you follow the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) regulations for flying drones and adhere to any local regulations.

Hello, fellow drone enthusiasts! My name is Lavelle and I am a long-time drone enthusiast and pilot. Over the past decade, I have flown my drones in cities across the US, including cities in Northern California. 

In this article, I will provide general information about the regulations governing drone flights for recreational purposes and discuss some of the restrictions for some of the zones in San Francisco.

Key Takeaways

  • San Francisco offers many nice places to fly recreational and commercial drones.
  • Obtain the necessary permits to fly in city parks.
  • Remember that all National Park areas are restricted fly zones.

Can You Fly Drones in San Francisco

As with most cities in the US, you are allowed to fly drones for recreational activity and commercial purposes in San Francisco. There are, however, certain zones in the city where flying is restricted. 

In general, the FAA requires all drones to be registered. Drones weighing less than .55 lbs do not require a license. When flying in San Francisco remember that drones shouldn’t be flown over crowds of people including sporting events and stadium crowds.

One of the zone restrictions in San Francisco is within the city parks. Specifically, public parks either have complete restrictions or require a permit from the city. 

Another noticeably restricted zone is in Golden Gate Park, which is situated at the base of the Golden Gate bridge. This area is restricted because the land sits on federal park property. Flying over the bridge is also not permitted.

Recreational Flights in San Francisco

Recreational flights in the city are allowed with the acquisition of a permit. For instance, many drone enthusiasts obtain permits to fly in the Public Park area of the city, along Piers 35-39. This area offers a great view of the Marina and Bay Area. 

Another nice area to fly for recreational purposes is the Treasure Island location. This area offers some great views of the city and of the greater San Francisco metro area.

Commercial Flights in San Francisco

Part 107A pilots (commercial drone pilots) can fly their drones in San Francisco, provided all FAA regulations are followed. Commercial pilots should be careful to obtain airspace authorization if they are flying within 5 miles of the airport

Authorization may be requested from the (Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability) LAAN system

Where Can I Fly Drones in San Francisco?

There are many beautiful places in San Francisco to fly your drone. Some of the notable areas include:

1. Blue Park, San Francisco Bay

Located on Yerba Buena Island, which is also home to Treasure Island, this park is a great location for launching your drone. This park boasts a great view of the city skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge.

2. Cesar E. Chavez Park

Sitting on 90 acres of land, this park offers views that extend all the way to the city of Berkley, CA. The park also offers a lot of open space for launching and landing.

3. Public Park

Situated between Piers 35 and 39, this park is the closest one to the Bay Marina and gives drone operators a beautiful view of the Bay Area. You can also watch many of the eye-appealing yachts and you can see the Oakland Bay Bridge from this location.

4. Richardson AMA Field

This park rests on one of the more notable San Francisco area attractions, Half Moon Bay. Flying in this park gives you some incredible views of the Pacific Ocean shoreline.

5. Empowerment Park

Found on the east end of Lake Merritt, this park covers approximately 140 acres and is home to renowned Necklace Lights. For birding enthusiasts, this park is home to a gorgeous sanctuary home for many species of birds and is a wildlife refuge as well.


Here are some answers to a few frequently asked questions.

Can You Fly a Drone Over the Golden Gate Bridge?

No, you cannot fly over the Golden Gate Bridge. Flying over Golden Gate Bridge is prohibited by law since 2014.

Do You Need a Permit to Fly a Drone in San Francisco?

Yes, if you are flying your drone in city park areas in San Francisco, a permit is required.

Where Can I Practice Drone Flying in the Bay Area?

The Bay Area offers many open spaces to practice drone flying. Rockaway Beach, Empowerment Park, and Richardson AMA Field are a few good choices to take advantage of for practice flying.

Final Thoughts

The San Francisco Bay Area is a great place to catch some amazing views with your drone. Ensure you follow all FAA regulations and obtain permits when flying in city parks. Follow all local rules for flying in the metro and surrounding areas and most of all, have fun and be safe!

Have you ever flown a drone in the San Francisco area? Did you obtain a permit to do so? Share your experience in the comments below.

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