Golden Gate Bridge Guide: Exploring The Span
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the world’s most beautiful spans, so how lucky are we that from Marin, it’s our main way in to San Francisco. Anchored on one side in San Francisco, and the other side in Marin, the bridge is a (stunning) vital link between our two counties. If you are staying in Marin at Acqua Hotel, an easy 6 minute drive from the hotel puts you on the bridge in postcard perfect scenery. With the Pacific Ocean on one side, the San Francisco Bay on the other, and the towers of the bridge above, it’s an iconic Californian experience.
We suggest going deeper than just driving over the bridge, so we’ve put together a list of our favorite ways to get above, under, around, and on the Golden Gate Bridge. Some destinations are on the San Francisco side of the bridge and some are on the Marin side. Add them all up, and you have the Top 10 Best Views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Above It All
Battery Spencer in the Marin Headlands. There are many reasons to explore the Marin Headlands and bridge viewing is among the best. Particularly from Battery Spencer, the first stop in the Headlands, and the spot with the best Golden Gate Bridge view. Josh, author of California Through My Lens has the full rundown of Battery Spencer here. (If you love California like we do, and want to explore the state, all of California Through My Lens is worth a read!)
Under The Span
Fort Point. On the San Francisco side, tucked just under the southernmost section of the Golden Gate Bridge sits Fort Point. There is (improbably) almost never a crowd there. We usually have the place to ourselves — the top floor of the place that is. It’s a ton of stairs to the top, but just gut it out. Trust. You’re going to feel tiny, the bridge is going to feel huge. And your photos are going to be amazing.
Bay Cruise. Getting out on the San Francisco Bay is a must-do! Make sure your excursion takes you under the Golden Gate Bridge for an only-in-San Francisco experience. In San Francisco, book the Red and White Fleet. They have been cruising under the bridge since 1939, when the bridge was only two years old. On the Marin Side the Angel Island Tiburon Ferry departs from Tiburon for a uniquely Marin spin.
The Side Perspective
Golden Gate Overlook. With a name like that, you know the views are going to be good at Golden Gate Overlook. Even though it’s called “Overlook”, at this spot you’ll feel more like you’re on the same plane as the bridge. Stunnnning first thing in the morning, when you’ll even have the chance to get a photo with not a single car on the bridge. Also: evening for some night lights.
Baker Beach. From Golden Gate Overlook, pop down the hill the Baker Beach. Walk a few steps onto the beach and look to your right. WOW! This is another of those inexplicably uncrowded vantage points, so enjoy the solitude and the unobstructed views of the bridge.
Crissy Field. Complete your “side views” tour by heading over to Crissy Field East Beach. Look to your left this time. WOW!
Let’s Get On It!
Biking. On two wheels, you’re going to get that free feeling of wheeling above the Pacific Ocean. If you’re staying at one of the Marin Hotels, it’s literally a free feeling because the bikes are complimentary for our guests. If you want an electric assist, consider renting an electric bike from Pedego in Tiburon located a few steps from Waters Edge Hotel. The ride from downtown Tiburon over the bridge and back is pretty stellar. However you do it, go early to avoid the crowds.
Walking. We suggest parking on the San Francisco side* of the bridge and walking to the Marin side and back. The roundtrip is a little over 3 miles; we like to plan a leisurely 90 minutes to 2 hours for this walk. You’ll walk over on the side that faces San Francisco and the Bay. Fair warning: you are going to have your “I’m the king of the world moment” at some point.
At the end of the bridge on the Marin side, you’ll arrive at Vista Point. As advertised, vistas, vistas, and more vistas. Make sure your camera is charged!
*Here’s an excellent map of where to park for access to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Want to learn some history and facts about the Golden Gate Bridge before you explore? Here you go.