No traveler to San Francisco leaves without checking out the stunning views along the Golden Gate Bridge. The iconic, red-orange suspension bridge rises high above the San Francisco Bay and spans 1.7 miles (2.7 km) across, connecting the city’s northernmost point to Marin County. While it’s a major route for Bay Area commuters, the famous landmark attracts visitors from around the world with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, the Marin headlands, Alcatraz, and San Francisco.
The Golden Gate Bridge is free to walk and bike across, with a protected, shared walkway for pedestrians and cyclists. Travelers can walk, bike, or bus across the bridge; sail or cruise the waters below it; or fly high above the attraction aboard a seaplane. Visitors can take advantage of photo opportunities on either end of the bridge, enjoy a scenic stroll over the bay, or explore the Welcome Center at the San Francisco terminus to learn about the bridge’s history and shop for souvenirs. It’s possible to combine your visit with sightseeing in the city; admission to Alcatraz; a half-day tour in Sonoma and Napa Valley; or hikes in Marin or on Angel Island. Popular sights in Marin County include seaside Sausalito, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and Muir Woods National Monument, home to Northern California redwood trees.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Tour options are available from San Francisco and Sausalito, and range from leisurely outings to athletic excursions.
- Most tours depart from Fisherman’s Wharf in the city and last three to four hours.
- Choose a bike tour or a hop on, hop off bus around the city for a scenic ride to the bridge. You’ll catch many of the city's famous attractions, including Union Square, North Beach, Coit Tower, Golden Gate Park, the Palace of Fine Arts, and Russian Hill.
- While it’s possible to rent a bike on your own, a guide can help you navigate the hilly streets and commuter traffic.
- Many travelers opt for a guided bike ride across the bridge to Sausalito, then explore the town on your own with a 24-hour bike rental or hop on a 45-minute ferry back to the city.
How to Get There
The San Francisco end of the bridge is located in the Presidio and can be reached from all parts of the city by car or public transportation. The bridge forms part of US Route 101 and California State Route 1—take any bridge-bound Golden Gate Transit bus to the Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza. By car, take the last San Francisco exit, right before the toll plaza, and park in the southeast parking lot.
Where to Find the Best Views of the Golden Gate Bridge
With scenic lookout points on both ends of the Golden Gate, you can pick your backdrop. Capture the bridge in its entirety on a coastal walking tour through San Francisco’s Presidio, where you’ll spot beautiful bridge views from vantage points at Crissy Field, Fort Point, and Baker Beach. To snap a photo from the north end of the bridge, choose a tour that crosses the bridge to the Marin Headlands. While Vista Point is the most popular bridge viewing spot in Marin, it can get crowded with cars, so take a short hike toward Battery Point and Slacker Hill for sweeping views of the city.