San Francisco - Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge is perhaps San Francisco's most famous landmark, recognizable by almost everyone.
The bridge opened in 1937 and used for cars rides and tourist attraction, each year there are more than 10 million visitors coming to see this engineering marvel.
During the last 25 years I saw the bridge countless time, the sight of it never gets old, whenever I am driving, walking, biking or seeing the bridge from any viewpoint I always think how amazing this view is.
The Bridge main span of 4,200 feet (1,280 m), the height of it 2 towers are 746 feet (227 m), and clearance above the bay water averages 220 feet (67 m).
The 1.7-mile-long suspended road hangs on two cables, each more than 7,000 feet in length and containing 80,000 miles of wire.
Construction of this large suspension bridge design began on January 5, 1933, and the grand opening celebrations were held 4 years later, on May 27, 1937.
The Golden Gate Bridge stands at the entrance to California's San Francisco Bay as a symbol of American ingenuity and engineering.
Today, on top of being at tourist attraction the bridge carries about 40 million vehicles a year and it is a vital connecting element in San Francisco and Marin County transportation.
There are many “elements” that transform this bridge into Iconic famous structure:
· The connection across the bay and the large opening between San Francisco Presidio and the hills of Marin County. At the time it was built this was the largest suspension bridge in the world.
· The suspension bridge with its hanging cables has its unique fluidity wave shape that attracts the eye.
· The GGB painted with International Orange color. This color was chosen because it will both stand out and blend with the Marin County hills on its north side and contrasted with the ocean, sky and the fog that is here many days of the year.
· We can also add to that list the Fogy environment that add mystery to this bridge, sometime completely covering the bridge, in other times only the towers upper section can be visible from the hills …
· At night the bridge orange color together with the yellow road lamps create amazing view of “glow” over the water.
You can walk/run across the bridge on its bay side (east side) and bike on the other side facing the ocean (west side).
Rollerblades, skateboards, roller skates, and electronic scooters are not permitted on the bridge.
Dress warmly and in layers, do not think that if it is summer and there is sun it is warm.
This is good advice for anyone visiting San Francisco but especially correct for the Golden Gate Bridge. It's colder on the bridge compared to the city because cool winds are usually blowing from the cold ocean and the famous fog can cover the bridge and create even colder temperatures.
The Golden Gate Bridge links the City of San Francisco with the County of Marin along U.S. Route 101.
Drivers pay tolls only in the southbound direction, on the south end of the bridge. There is no stopping to pay tolls at this bridge.
Do expect some traffic congestion before the bridge and at the at the toll plaza, especially on weekends, and holidays.
One-Time Payment: For rental cars you have 48 hours to pay a toll after crossing the bridge, Payments can be made online:
Parking near the bridge:
There are vista points on both the north and south sides of the bridge. Both vista points have parking lots, parking is extremely limited at the GGB.
At the south parking lot, you can find the new Bridge Welcome Center, gift shop with some educational displays about the bridge.
Important note: GGB parking lots are closed to vehicles on weekends and holidays from 11AM to 5PM. This includes Vista Point at the north end and the Welcome Center and Merchant Road lots at the south end.
When driving north out of San Francisco on the 101 you can park at the very small parking lot just before crossing the bright to the north (look for sign warns for the last SF exit) or once you cross the bridge to the north side (take the first exit) that has a larger but still crowded parking lot. After your stay here you can still drive from the parking lot onto highway 101 north.
You can also drive on Lincoln Boulevard from Presidio that will lead you to the south parking lot.
If you are coming from the north, you can exit just before the bridge and park at Headlands Parking (you need to walk under the bridge to the north Vista Point.
Once you cross the bridge from the north take the first exit after the tollbooth to the right and look for a parking lot.
As in any other place in San Francisco do not leave valuables in your vehicle!
Although it is crowded location with many people around so car brake in are less common here but if you want to be extra safe with your belonging, one of your party will stay in the car and wait to the others than he can go can enjoy the view.
You can cross the bridge with your bike.
There are number of excellent bike paths that lead from the city to this area.
You can rent bikes at several places near Fisherman's Wharf and several others tourist locations.
You can also ride your biking across the bridge all the way to Sausalito and take the ferry back to the city.
My favorites GGB Viewing points:
There are many viewing points to this amazing bridge and the view is always dependent on the time of day and the weather, especially the fog conditions.
There are many other locations where you can see the Golden Gate Bridge, including the north side of the city but the below are my favorite’s locations.
I will list below my recommendation locationsת not in specific order, any view of the Golden Gate Bridge is amazing view..
Viewing points North of the bridge:
North Vista Point:
This is probably the best bridge and San Francisco Skyline viewpoint.
When driving north get off the bridge at the first exit, find parking space and walk to the viewing deck.
Here you can also see the Lonely Sailor Statue near the restrooms.
This location is good at sunrise where the sun is rising over San Francisco or at sunset and night where you can see the bridge yellow and orange lights on your right and San Francisco on the other side of the bay.
Another popular viewing point is from this location.
It is located above the bridge on a hill, so the view is to the bridge below and the inner bay.
When it is foggy you can see the bridge glow below in the fog where only the tips of the bridge towers are rising above the fog layer.
To reach this point you need to get off the 101 and drive into Marin Headlands on Counselman Rd.
It is easy to access this location when driving south and exit just before the bridge. Drive up the road until you reach the small Battery Spencer parking lot, this parking lot is usually always full.
If you do not want to wait for empty spot you can also try to find parking along side the road where it permitted.
You can also reach this location from the side of Marin Headland. The one-way road will lead you down across the hill edge to the Battery Spencer, you can fid many parking spots along this one-way road.
This is maybe less popular (because it is not on the road) but not less impressive overlook.
When you are driving up on the park road leading to the ridge you will reach a large roundabout. You need to park your car on the roundabout parking lot (this will be the first exit on your right).
From here walk down the road to the marked road crossing, cross to the other side and climb the steep up-hill 0.5-mile-long trail all the way to it end on the right side of the ridge. The short steep climb worth it, from this high view location, you can see 360 degrees view and you will be here with few other people or even by yourself.
When looking around you can see Mount Tam to the north, the beaches and rocky cliffs of the Marin Headland Park to the west, the bay ocean opening, Golden Gate Bridge below you, and the city of San Francisco on the other far side of the inner bay.
Fun place to spend the afternoon and sunset.
Make sure to bring warm clothes with you. It can be very windy or foggy up here even in warm summer days.
Located below the Bridge on it northeast side, you need to exit the first highway 101 exit (after the viewpoint) in the direction of Sausalito and then take the first turn right.
In this location you can find Bay Area Discovery Museum and the upscale Cavallo Point Lodge. Drive all the way to the end of Moore Rd, here you can look for parking on the side of the road, from the pier you will have a nice view of the bridge and the city across the bay.
From here you will have a unique view of the bridge. Located at the Marin Headlands Ocean shore nested inside the rocky cliffs. You need to walk 1 mile (20-30 min) down from Battery Spencer parking lot to the ocean on a dirt road. You need to climb the way up when you are going back to your car.
This is a popular beach and people are even spending the night here at the camping site.
Viewing points South of the bridge:
South Golden Gate Overlook:
This overlook is well-known for its direct line of view with the Golden Gate Bridge's twin towers framed between two Cypress trees. It's a popular Instagram and wedding shoot location. It is located just off Lincoln Boulevard not so far south from the bridge exit and there is a nearby Langdon Court Parking lot. You can also spend time here exploring the former military batteries (Battery Godfrey).
This is also the start of the short but steep hike to Marshall's Beach.
Battery Marcus Miller:
This is one of the popular high viewpoints on the south side of the bridge.
From here you can frame the bridge between to large trees and see the lens crossing to the other side.
There is a parking (Langdon Court Parking) just south from this point.
You can walk from here to Marshall beach below the cliff.
This is one of my favorites locations for taking sunset and night pictures of the bridge.
You start your hike down to the ocean from Langdon Court Parking (South Golden Gate Overlook).
Find the Battery to Bluffs Trail at the south side of Langdon Court Parking, walk down the trail and at the first official junction take the trail that is leading down to the ocean level.
At the small Marshall's Beach, you can have an amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the best time to visit here is at sunset and after dark where the bridge orange lights are reflected by the water.
You can take pictures of the first rock, the beach below or you can pass the rocks and walk closer to the bridge.
Slackers Hill Viewing point:
Golden Gate Overlook, Presidio Battery West