Four Ways To Experience The Golden Gate Bridge

Destination Guides - San Francisco, The Travel Tales Blog

The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic landmark and a must-visit for any traveller to San Francisco. Here are my top four tips for planning your visit and finding the right location for that perfect picture.


ABINGDON ON THAMES – November 19, 2023.

The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic landmark and a must-visit for any traveller to San Francisco. My first visit to the bridge was in July 2012 and I have to say it was very underwhelming as I actually didn’t see the whole of it due to the famous San Francisco fog.

Since that first visit I have been a regular visitor to the Golden Gate Bridge over the last decade and on every occasion I have enjoyed much better views. So here are my top four location tips which give you the best views and pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge History.


The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the one-mile-wide (1.6 km) strait connecting San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The structure links the U.S. city of San FranciscoCalifornia and the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula to Marin County, carrying both U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1 across the strait. It also carries pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and is designated as part of U.S. Bicycle Route 95.

01. Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center.

The Welcome Center is on the San Francisco side of the Golden Gate Bridge. This is by far the most popluar point to view the bridge. It’s the view you see many holiday brochures.

From here you’ll get spectacular views of the bridge from a number of different angles. My favourite view is from the cycle path that leads up to the Welcome Center.

From the Welcome Center you can also cycle or walk across the bridge to Vista Point North which affords great views of the bridge, the Pacific coastline and downtown San Francisco.

Here you’ll find a café, gift shop and restrooms.

The Welcome Center is also accessible by public transit. You can take Golden Gate Transit bus routes 101, 130, or 150 from San Francisco to the northbound Toll Plaza bus stop. From there, it is a short walk to the Welcome Center.

I have also cycled from Fishmans Wharf, San Francisco and on the last occasin I was there, I took an Uber to catch the early morning sunshine.

02. Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point North.

This is a vantage point offering stunning views of the surrounding city, bay, and the iconic bridge. It is located on the north side of the bridge in Sausalito, California. There is a parking lot and restrooms available. There are two vista points for the Golden Gate Bridge: one in the north and one in the south.

The north vista point is officially called the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point, while the south vista point is called the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point South. My first picture of the Golden Gate in fog was taken from Vista Point South.

03. Battery Spencer at the Golden Gate Bridge.

This  is a 19th-century concrete battery featuring panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. In my view, this is by far the best view of the bridge.

Battery Spencer sits at the bottom of the Marin Headlands, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, is a vast expanse of rolling hills directly north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Head left on Conzelman Road, and the vistas abound. Literally anywhere you see cars parked, stop. The view is going to be amazing. Hawk Hill, the end of the two-lane part of Conzelman is a perfect place to see the Golden Gate Bridge framed against the entire city of San Francisco in the background.

Be warned though that the Headlands are extremely popular so it may be hard to find parking. You can, however, take the 76X bus which runs along Conzelman Road from San Francisco on the weekends.

04. Golden Gate Bay Cruise.

A Golden Gate Bay cruise is a must-do for any visitor to San Francisco. It is an excellent way to see the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and the San Francisco skyline from a unique perspective. I did this for the very first time in September 2023 with Red And White Fleet and throughly enjoyed it.

There are many different cruise companies to choose from, each offering a variety of options, such as one-hour cruises, sunset cruises, and dinner cruises.

When to Go.

The best time to visit the Golden Gate Bridge is during the day when you can enjoy the views and take photos. However, the bridge is also beautiful at night when it is lit up. If you’re planning on hiking or biking across the bridge, be sure to go early in the morning before the traffic gets too heavy.

What to Do.

There are many ways to experience the Golden Gate Bridge. You can walk or bike across the bridge, take a ferry ride under the bridge, or hike to one of the many viewpoints for stunning views. There are also several museums and visitor centers dedicated to the bridge’s history and construction.

Where to Park.

There is limited parking at the Golden Gate Bridge, so it is best to take public transportation or park at a nearby lot and walk to the bridge. There are several parking lots near the bridge, including the Vista Point parking lot and the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center parking lot.

What to Bring.

Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, as you will be doing a lot of walking. Bring sunscreen and a hat, as it can be sunny and windy at the bridge. If you are planning on taking photos, be sure to bring your camera and tripod.

Here are some additional tips for visiting the Golden Gate Bridge:

  • Arrive early to avoid crowds.
  • Be prepared for wind and fog.
  • Check the weather forecast before you go.
  • Bring your own food and drinks, as there are limited options at the bridge.
  • Be respectful of other visitors and take your trash with you.

Visiting the Golden Gate Bridge is a truly unforgettable experience. With a little planning, you can make the most of your visit and enjoy this iconic landmark.

Andrew Wright


Andrew Wright is a highly experienced media professional with over three decades of experience working in the broadcast and online industry managing on air programmes and websites for some of the UK’s largest broadcasters.


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