The 17 Best Places to See the Golden Gate Bridge

best places to see the Golden Gate Bridge

Last updated on February 19th, 2024 at 11:55 am

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 the Bridge itself! I’ve lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, and San Francisco proper, for the majority of my life. Yet, I still get chills every time I catch a new vantage point of the Golden Gate. In this post, I’ll share with you some of the typical best places to see the Golden Gate Bridge as well as some of my favorite hidden gems.

But first, here are five fun facts about the Golden Gate Bridge:

  • Construction was completed on the bridge 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!
  • Bonus fun fact: My Aunt’s Dad helped build this beauty!

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View of the Golden Gate Bridge through two Cypress Trees at the Golden Gate Overlook.
View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Fort Point.

So, where do you go to get Insta-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 the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge. 

Golden Gate Bridge from Battery Spencer at sunset

Where to See the Golden Gate Bridge in the Marin Headlands

One of the best places to see the Golden Gate Bridge with the San Francisco skyline is from the Marin County side, including 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. Alternatively, sunset is a great time of day as well to get that golden hour glow.

Fort Baker

Located on the North Side of the Bridge in Sausalito is Fort Baker, offering epic Golden Gate Bridge views and panoramic views of the entire city skyline. 

You can typically find a decent parking spot here and take a short 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!

Golden Gate Bridge from Fort Baker

Battery Spencer

You’ve likely seen the classic view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Batter Spencer on Instagram or postcards. 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 make sure you follow my San Francisco packing guide so you have the appropriate clothing!

Battery Spencer is located off of Conzelman Road in the Marin headlands. There are multiple parking areas leading up to Batter Spencer, but fair warning, it’s a one-way road. So if you’re hoping to secure one of the parking spaces directly next to the old fort, you may be out of luck, particularly on sunny days. and spectacular views of the Bridge along the entire road.

As you turn onto Conzelman  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.

Golden Gate Bridge from Battery Spencer at sunrise

Kirby Cove

If you have time, while at Battery Spencer, walk down to Kirby Cove for a different angle of the bridge! This is a small little beach with a unique view of the Bridge. The roughly mile walk down to the beach is quite steep, so be prepared for the climb back up. If you want a truly unique experience, you can camp at Kirby Cove – if you’re lucky enough to secure a campsite!

Hawk Hill

Also located on Conzelman Road, but north of Batter Spencer is Hawk Hill. Hawk Hill is a great place to take in sunrise or sunset over the city and there are also battery remnants here.

Hawk Hill is where you can get awesome Golden Gate Bridge photos of the entire 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. Being able to get above the low rolling fog and see just the tops of the towers poking out is such a unique perspective of the Bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge from Hawk Hill at Sunrise

This section of the road is two-way, however, parking is limited. 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!

If you have time, continue driving beyond Hawk Hill (it turns into a one-lane road), and check out Black Sand Beach and Point Bonita Lighthouse (where you can also see the Bridge!)

View of the Marin Headlands from Hawk Hill.

Angel Island 

A fun day trip from San Francisco is to Angel Island. You’ll drive across the bridge into Tiburon and take the short ferry ride across to Angel Island. Once on the island, you can ride a bike or walk around the perimeter of the island and learn about the Chinese immigration process at the immigration center. 

As you walk the perimeter of the island, you’ll be able to soak up the natural beauty of the area with multiple viewpoints offering unobstructed panoramas of the Golden Gate Bridge.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Camp Reynolds

Where to See the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Once you’re done in Marin, head back into the city of San Francisco to explore the wide range of places to see the Golden Gate Bridge. 

Lands End

Lands End is one of my favorite places in San Francisco. It’s a great walking trail with hidden beaches, a ruined bathhouse, and of course, great views of the bridge! 

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.

Golden Gate Bridge from Lands End

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 sun setting in the west over crashing waves and the Golden Gate Bridge all at once.

Mile Rock Beach San Francisco

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 free parking located at Sutro Baths and along Seal Rock Rd.

Baker Beach

Baker Beach is one of the best beaches in San Francisco. Located in the Presidio of San Francisco, it’s the perfect place to relax on a sunny San Francisco day, with your toes in the sand, the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean 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.

There are two parking lots and restrooms. There are also battery remnants and a lovely hiking trail that will take you to the next incredible view.

Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach, San Francisco

Marshall’s Beach

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. 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.

You’ll also have to time your visit with the tides as at high tide, the beach is inaccessible. But at low tide, you can walk almost to the base of the Bridge!

Golden Gate Bridge from Marshall's Beach

Golden Gate Overlook

Make sure your camera is fully charged and has space on the memory card because Golden Gate Overlook is where you can take iconic photos 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 is free and directly next to the overlook and CNG Parking which requires parking fees and is across Lincoln Ave. Alternatively, if you decide 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.

Golden Gate Bridge view from Golden Gate Overlook

Fort Point

Gain a different perspective of the Golden Gate Bridge by getting under it at Fort Point. The Fort itself is only open certain days of the week.. 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.

If you really want to get your steps in, you could park at Baker Beach, hike the Batteries to Bluffs Trail to the Overlook, then follow the pedestrian walkway down under the toll plaza, stop at the Golden Gate Observation deck, and then continue to follow the trail down to Fort Point. I did this during the pandemic when I had ample time and it’s still one of my favorite walks in the city!

Golden Gate Bridge from above Fort Point.

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 neighborhood 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 buildings of downtown San Francisco 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.

Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field.

Coit Tower

Coit Tower itself is an iconic landmark in San Francisco. You can see the bridge in little spaces through the trees from the base of the tower, but if you make the climb to the top of the tower, you’ll get 360-degree views of the city and the bridge! 

You can walk up to Coit Tower from the North Beach neighborhood or drive up the windy road to the small parking area. 

Alcatraz Island

I’m sure that a visit to Alcatraz Island is on your San Francisco bucket list, as it should be! On the ferry ride over to the Island you’ll have panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge. As you explore the prison grounds, you’ll see the bridge from the prison gardens and even from the exercise yard.

View of the Golden Gate bridge from the Alcatraz recreation yard
View of San Francisco skyline from Alcatraz

Grandview Park

Grandview Park is a great hidden gem in San Francisco. Located at the top of the famous 16th Ave tiled staircase, Grandview Park offers amazing views of the city including Golden Gate Park and the Golden Gate Bridge. This park is a great place to take it all in, with a perfectly placed bench to relax on after the climb up.

When you’re done, head down into the Inner sunset for dinner!

View of Golden Gate Park and the Golden Gate Bridge from Grandview Park.

The Legion of Honor

The Legion of Honor is a fine arts museum perched on a hill in Lincoln Park, near the Lands End Trail. Wandering the museum’s diverse exhibits is the perfect way to spend a rainy day in San Francisco, but the panoramic scenes of the bridge and the grounds are equally impressive. 

A visit to the Legion of Honor is a great way to combine multiple aspects of history and culture into your trip to San Francisco.

Aquatic Park

Aquatic Park nestled along the San Francisco waterfront combines recreation with iconic Bridge views. The park features a historic maritime museum with a picturesque promenade, offering unobstructed views of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Whether strolling along the waterfront after exploring Fisherman’s Wharf, enjoying a refreshing swim in the park’s historic municipal pier, or simply soaking up the sun, Aquatic Park is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy a tranquil escape from the busyness of the city. 

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. 

Golden Gate Bridge view from the Golden Gate Overlook

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!

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