The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic San Francisco landmark. This 1.7-mile long suspension bridge connects San Francisco and Marin Counties, two of the most beautiful counties in California. This means there are ample Golden Gate bridge viewpoints from either side and even more spectacularly from on the Bridge itself! Let’s explore some of the best places to see the Golden Gate Bridge.
But first, here are five fun facts about the Golden Gate Bridge
- Construction was completed in 1937
- The unique color of the Golden Gate Bridge is called “International Orange”
- Its name does not come from its color, instead it is from the strait that it crosses, The Golden Gate Strait
- It held the world record for being the longest suspension bridge in the world for 25 years when it was eclipsed by the Verrazano Bridge in New York City
- Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s the most photographed bridge in the world!
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So, where do you go to get frame-worthy pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge? Pick any of the places below, and you’re sure to find the best Golden Gate Bridge views.
One of the best, and perhaps the most challenging, aspects of photographing the Golden Gate Bridge is that you could go to the same viewpoint two days in a row and end up with entirely different pictures!
The fog could roll in, obscuring parts of the Bridge. You could get a clear blue sky day, an epic San Francisco sunset, or be totally fogged out!. Going at night offers an even different perspective as you’ll see the lights come up on the Bridge and in the city!
That’s why it’s important to be open and flexible with viewing the Golden Gate Bridge. One spot, or time of day, may not work out. That’s why I’ve listed as many as possible, so you have options to help you end up with a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
One of the best places to see the Golden Gate Bridge with the San Francisco skyline is from the Northside of the Bridge, or the Marin Headlands and Sausalito. I highly recommend heading to this area for the sunrise because the sun will rise near the Bay Bridge which creates awesome colors over the city. But if you’re not an early riser, really any time of the day is a great time to view the Golden Gate Bridge.
Located on the North Side of the Bridge in Sausalito is Fort Baker, offering up epic Golden Gate Bridge views and panoramic views of the entire San Francisco skyline.
You can typically find a decent parking spot here and take a walk down to the Pier, where you’ll find several fishermen trying their luck with the fish.
Or you could pick up a to-go meal from a restaurant in Sausalito and enjoy it at one of the picnic benches!
Also on this side of the Bay is Battery Spencer. This old Fort overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge and really makes you feel like you’re up close and personal with it.
Battery Spencer is the perfect place to watch the sunrise over San Francisco, making it a photographer’s dream. It does tend to get quite windy here, so dress warm, especially if you’re there before the sun is up!
There are multiple places to pull over to park, but first thing in the morning, you shouldn’t have any trouble. If you happen to go later in the day, you may have to park further up the road at another outlook, pull off, and walk to Battery Spencer. Or simply enjoy the view from where you are, you really can’t go wrong. Fair warning, though, it is a one-way road, so if you try your luck with parking right next to the old Fort and aren’t lucky enough to snag a spot, you’ll have to go all the way around again.
If you’re already at Battery Spencer, you should definitely head up the hill to check out the Golden Gate viewpoint at Hawk Hill. Hawk Hill is a great place to take in sunrise or sunset over the city and there’s also battery remnants here.
Hawk Hill is where you can get that photograph of the entire Golden Gate Bridge with the skyline in the background. Also, if it’s a particularly foggy day, Hawk Hill may be the better option as it’s higher than Battery Spencer you may actually be able to hike above the fog. Getting above the fog is such a unique aspect of San Francisco life, if you can, try to do it at least once!
Similar to Battery Spencer, parking is limited at Hawk Hill. If you’re planning to come at prime times like sunrise and sunset, then be sure to get there early. You will risk a ticket if you park in an unauthorized parking spot!
When you’re here, don’t forget to look North, away from the bridge for beautiful views of the Marin Headlands.
San Francisco City Limits
After you get your sunrise views of the Golden Gate Bridge, cross it back into San Francisco and explore the wide range of places to see the Golden Gate Bridge from within San Francisco city limits.
Lands End is an incredibly popular walking trail located in the Sutro Heights neighborhood, right next to the Sutro Baths.
This is a great place to mix some activity with your views, especially around sunset. Start your walk from Sutro Baths about 1 hour before sunset. You’ll have excellent views of the Golden Gate Bridge for most of the walk and see the beautiful colors in the sky surrounding the Bridge.
Lands End is also where you can find the labyrinth, although you have to know where to look.
Keep a lookout for a small sign that says Mile Rock Beach and follow the seemingly endless stairs down. Instead of turning left for Mile Rock Beach, stay to the right and follow the well-worn path to the Lands End Labyrinth. This is a great place to stop your walk if you’d like, you’ll be able to see the sunsetting in the west over crashing waves and the Golden Gate Bridge all at once.
If you do continue, know that there are two more sets of stairs to contend with.
The entire round trip walk from Sutro Baths to Eagle Point will be roughly 3 miles.
There is parking located at Sutro Baths and along Seal Rock Rd.
Baker Beach is one of the best beaches in San Francisco. It’s the perfect place to relax on a sunny San Francisco day, with your toes in the sand, the crashing waves as your soundtrack, and the Golden Gate Bridge as your backdrop. Although fair warning, the closer you get to the Bridge the less clothing people will be wearing. Baker Beach is a bathing suit optional friendly.
Baker Beach is located in the Presidio, off of Lincoln Ave. There are two parking lots and restrooms. There are also battery remnants. The missile of one remains which makes for an unique photo opportunity.
Marshall’s Beach is also located in the Presidio, about a mile closer to the Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach. However, it’s not as easily accessible as Baker Beach. On the ocean side of Lincoln Ave, there is a place where about five cars can park. Other than that, you’ll have to park at Baker Beach and walk the Batteries to Bluffs trail to Marshall’s Beach or park in a lot near the Golden Gate Overlook and hike down steep stairs.
Your efforts will be greatly rewarded when you see the waves crashing into the rocks underneath the Golden Gate. Another similarity between Baker Beach and Marshall’s Beach (besides the stunning views of the Golden Gate) is that it is nude friendly. In fact, you’ll see more nudity here on a sunny day compared to Baker Beach, especially as you get closer to the Bridge.
It’s typically all men in the buff when I visit, and they don’t bother anyone. But, if nudity bothers you. Then I would advise finding another spectacular Golden Gate vista using this post as your guide.
Golden Gate Overlook
Make sure your camera is fully charged and has space on the memory card because Golden Gate Overlook provides a classic view of the Golden Gate Bridge. On a clear, sunny day, you can photograph the Bridge framed in between two Cypress Trees. On the other hand, a foggy San Francisco day may prevent you from seeing the Bridge at all, or it could make for an even more exciting photo if the fog obscures the Bridge just slightly, and you can still see the top!
This area is also an old battery that you can walk through that provides varying vantage points of the Golden Gate Bridge.
There are two parking lots to access the Golden Gate Overlook, Langdon Court Parking and CNG Parking. Alternatively, if you decided to hike from Baker Beach to Marshall’s Beach, you could continue the hike up the stairs to the Golden Gate Overlook. Simply follow the signs for the Golden Gate Bridge.
Gain a different perspective of the Golden Gate Bridge by getting under it at Fort Point. The Fort itself is currently closed. However, you can walk seemingly right up to the Bridge before a chain link fence stops you from going any further.
What’s crazy is when the waves are right, surfers will surf off of the rocks underneath the Bridge!
Parking can fill up, but there are spots reasonably close to the Fort. I visited on a Monday evening and could’ve parked right next to it had I known. Instead, I parked at Crissy Field and walked, another great place to view the Golden Gate Bridge.
Crissy Field (& Beach)
All along Crissy Field, you’ll find locals living their best lives with the glorious Golden Gate Bridge as the backdrop. Crissy Field is a sprawling park with a long sandy beachfront that extends from the Marina almost right up to the Bridge. There are also large grassy fields where you’ll see dogs chasing after tennis balls thrown by their owners.
What I love the most about this Golden Gate Bridge viewing location is that you can not only take in the Bridge but when you turn back to the city, you’ll see the Palace of Fine Arts and other beautiful San Francisco buildings curving their way along the coast.
It is a beautiful place to spend a sunny San Francisco day with epic views and ample space for your favorite activities.
If you do get chilly, visit the Warming Hut for a cup of hot cocoa and take it out to Torpedo Wharf to watch the sunset behind the Bridge.
The Golden Gate Bridge
I am saving the best for last with the best place for getting up close and personal with the Golden Gate Bridge. Drive, bike, or walk across it! I suggest walking or biking across the Bridge. You don’t have to walk across the entire Bridge, but at least get to the first tower. You can walk across it from either side of the Bridge and park in any of the parking locations we’ve already covered.
Plus on a clear day, the Golden Gate Bridge offers awesome views of San Francisco, Alcatraz, and Angel Island!
If you want to drive across the Bridge, there is a $9 toll for crossing the Bridge. Right now, they don’t have toll collection, so “they” just mail you a bill.
If you’d like to make a full day out of seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, you could bike across it and extend your bike ride into Sausalito or the Marin Headlands. You can rent a bike from Sports Basement for $20-100.
Is this an exhaustive list of places to see the Golden Gate Bridge? It’s pretty darn close! But some of the best views of the Bridge come when you least expect it. Like walking down a street that allows you to see the tops of the towers. So get out there and explore the best places to see the Golden Gate Bridge with the locations in this guide as your jumping-off point. If you find any gems that should be included on this list, please let us know, and we’ll go check them out!