Best Places to View the Golden Gate Bridge
I drive across the bridge several times a week and never tire of its moods, magnificence and changing faces.
Here are some of the best viewing spots. Those listed below are all free and open to the public. Note for out-of-towners: San Francisco can be very windy, particularly in the summer. Remember to wear layers, sunglasses and sunscreen.
Crissy Field, a former military airfield located south of the Golden Gate Bridge in the Presidio, was restored in 2001 and offers wide, fully-accessible walking and cycling trails between the Marina Green and Fort Point. Offering stunning views of the bridge, Crissy Field offers picnic areas and a small beachfront popular among families. Along Crissy Field, visitors can stop for lunch at the Warming Hut near Fort Point, the Beach Hut Cafe near the Marina Green, or check out the House of Air, a trampoline center in one of the repurposed buildings. Map
Distance from Golden Gate Bridge: 2.4 miles from the Marina Green
For an up-close view of the bridge, visit Fort Point, a Civil War-era brick fort accessible via the Marine Drive lot at Crissy Field. Although Fort Point never had any military action, the Golden Gate Bridge’s chief engineer Joseph Strauss redesigned the bridge to preserve the fortress as a “fine example of the mason’s art.” Map
Distance from Golden Gate Bridge: 1.2 miles
Stretching a half mile below the rugged cliffs along the Presidio’s western shoreline, Baker Beach offers spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Accessible by public transportation (Muni 29-line), the beach offers a picnic area with tables and grills, lots of parking and restroom facilities. Note: the northernmost end of Baker Beach is frequented by clothing-optional sunbathers. Map
Distance from Golden Gate Bridge: 1.2 miles
Located in the Seacliff neighborhood, China Beach is a tiny, sheltered pocket of sand with a picnic area, a sunbathing deck, restrooms, cold showers and unobstructed views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Note: the beach is only accessible by a steep, paved drive or natural stairway of approximately 100 steps.
Distance from Golden Gate Bridge: 2.0 miles
The Eagle’s Point trailhead of Lands End near Lincoln Park offers jaw-dropping views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Near the popular hiking trail, which is also a short walking distance to the Legion of Honor, visitors can walk along a paved sidewalk near the 17th hole of the Lincoln Park Municipal Golf Course. Here, there are several benches and photo opportunities to reflect and capture the beauty of the bridge. Map
Distance from Golden Gate Bridge: 3.0 miles
Glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge
For slightly obstructed, but nonetheless dramatic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, visitors can enjoy views from several, unexpected vantage points.
Lover’s Lane, the Presidio
As the oldest foot trail in the Presidio, Lover’s Lane ,a half-mile, pedestrian friendly, paved trail, begins at the Presidio Gate at the corner of Presidio and Pacific Avenues in Presidio Heights. As you stroll down the trail, protected by majestic eucalyptus groves, you’ll get a Hollywood-esque glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge which will eventually disappear as you continue down the trail toward the Presidio’s Main Post. Map
Distance from the Golden Gate Bridge: 2.2 miles
De Young Museum, Golden Gate Park
Located in the east end of Golden Gate Park, the Hamon Education Tower Observation Deck at the de Young Museum offers dramatic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as spectacular panoramic views of the city and Pacific Ocean. Touring the museum requires admission, but visiting the observation deck, open daily until 4:30 p.m., is free and open to the public. Map
Distance from Golden Gate Bridge: 2.9 miles
Library at the University California, San Francisco – Inner Sunset
Keep quiet here. Located at 530 Parnassus Avenue in the Inner Sunset, the library at the University of California, San Francisco, offers stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge from its main reading room. Map
Distance from Golden Gate Bridge: 4.1 miles
Coit Tower, Telegraph Hill
Coit Tower, a slender white concrete column rising from the top of Telegraph Hill, provides 360-degree views of the city and bay, including the Golden Gate Bridge. The most-spectacular views can be seen from the observation deck, which is reached by elevator and requires tickets ($7). Map
Distance from Golden Gate Bridge: 4.9 miles
Golden Gate Bridge through the Waldo Tunnel
As San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge are hidden from the northern approach of U.S. Route 101 by the Marin Headlands, drivers going through the Waldo tunnel, the unofficial name of the tunnel on U.S. Route 101 between the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito, can enjoy the first view of the city and the bridge upon exiting the tunnel’s southbound bore. This view may be one of the most dramatic views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Map
Distance from Golden Gate Bridge: 3.1 miles
Rooms with a (Bridge) View
For those in search of a room with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, a handful of San Francisco hotels offers rooms with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Presidio: The newly-opened Inn at the Presidio offers several rooms with bridge views. Located in historic Pershing Hall, previously the post’s bachelor officers’ quarters, the inn offers 22 rooms, 17 of which are one-bedroom suites.
Union Square: The historic Westin St Francis offers rooms with gorgeous views of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Tower Building; request guest rooms starting on floor 26, or book one of its two suites, the Pacific and the Bridge View.
Nob Hill: The Intercontinental Mark Hopkins, perched atop Nob Hill, offers several guest rooms with partial views of the bridge, as well as its California suite. Visitors can also drop by Top of the Mark, the hotel’s popular roof-top bar, for an exquisite view of the bridge from the northwest corner of the room.
Across the street from the Mark Hopkins, the Fairmont San Francisco also offers multiple views from its Tower Building.
Fisherman’s Wharf: The Argonaut Hotel,an easy walking distance to all of the shops and restaurants on Fisherman’s Wharf, offers waterfront views of the Golden Gate Bridge from several of its rooms.
Golden Gate Bridge: By the Numbers
Span: 6,450 feet
Total length: 8,981 feet
Completion date: May 28, 1937
Cost: $35 million
Date paid in full: July 1971
Engineer: Joseph B. Strauss
Road height: 260 feet
Tower height: 746 feet
Swing span: 27 feet
Deepest foundation: 110 feet under water
Cable thickness: 37 inches
Cable length: 7,650 feet
Steel used: 83,000 pounds
Concrete used: 389,000 cubic yards
Miles of wire cable: 80,000
Gallons of paint annually: 10,000
Color: International orange
Rise, in cold weather: 5 feet
Drop, in hot weather: 10 feet
Traffic: 3 million vehicles per month
CashToll: $6 (southbound only)
Thanks to the The San Francisco Travel Association for ideas, content and photos.
Filed Under: San Francisco
About the Author: Marybeth Bond, the Gutsy Traveler, National Geographic author of 11 travel books, featured guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and founder of the Online Travel Magazine www.GutsyTraveler.com She has been featured over 1,000 times on TV, radio and print. She is a Contributor to CNN, CNN Airport Network and CNN.com Speaker, spokesperson, author, travel expert, Marybeth, the Gutsy Traveler walks the talk. She's an adventurer; biked two months across the USA, traveler to over 90 countries, media travel expert for CBS News, CNN, ABC, NBC, NPR and National Geographic.