The Golden Gate Bridge: San Francisco’s Iconic Masterpiece
Walk, bike, or drive San Francisco’s most iconic landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge!
The Golden Gate Bridge, a marvel of modern engineering and a symbol of San Francisco offers breathtaking views and a rich history that captivates visitors and locals alike. From its opening in 1937 to its status today as one of the most photographed structures in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge is more than just a means of transportation; it’s a destination in its own right.
A Storied Beginning
Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge began in 1933, a bold endeavor to span the Golden Gate Strait and connect San Francisco to Marin County. Despite challenges, including strong ocean currents and thick fog, the bridge was completed in 1937, instantly becoming a symbol of architectural beauty and resilience.
Did you know?
- The bridge’s signature International Orange color was chosen for visibility in San Francisco’s famous fog.
- At its completion, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world, a title it held for 27 years.
- The bridge’s two towers stand 746 feet above the water, making them taller than the Washington Monument.
The Bridge Today
Today, the Golden Gate Bridge is not only a vital transportation link but also a major tourist attraction. More than 10 million people visit the bridge each year to walk, bike, or simply admire its grandeur against the backdrop of the San Francisco Bay. The bridge’s architecture, combined with its stunning natural setting, makes it a must-see for anyone visiting the city.
Not to Be Missed
Walking Across the Bridge
Walking the 1.7-mile span of the Golden Gate Bridge offers unparalleled views of the city, the bay, and the Pacific Ocean. Allow at least an hour for a leisurely walk and photo opportunities.
Both the southeast and northeast Vista Points offer spectacular views of the bridge and San Francisco skyline. Parking is limited, so consider public transportation or a guided tour.
Keep an eye out for dolphins, porpoises, and sea lions frequently spotted from the bridge. Binoculars can enhance your experience, offering a closer look at the marine life and the cityscape.
Location and Information
Address: Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA
Website: For more details on visiting the bridge, including parking information and tour options, visit The Golden Gate Bridge’s official website.
Visiting the Golden Gate Bridge is an unforgettable experience that offers a glimpse into San Francisco’s history, engineering marvels, and natural beauty. Whether you’re crossing on foot, capturing the perfect photo, or simply taking in the views, the Golden Gate Bridge is a testament to human ingenuity and a symbol of the city’s enduring appeal.
The Golden Gate Bridge opened to vehicular traffic in 1937 after four years of construction. Spanning 1.7 miles over the Golden Gate Strait, more than 100,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day. It is at an average height of 220 feet above the water, a distance that was designed to allow navy ships unencumbered passage beneath the bridge. It is currently ranked as the 9th-longest suspension bridge in the world. The bridge was painted International Orange to blend in with the natural warm earth tones of the surrounding hillsides and to increase the bridge’s visibility in the Bay’s infamous fog.
Crossing the Bridge
On Foot: Walking the bridge is perhaps the best way to appreciate the sheer architectural majesty of the bridge. Give yourself a good 35-40 minutes to walk each way; this allows for a leisurely walk and enough time for photographs against the stunning San Francisco skyline.
Driving: Only vehicles going in a southbound direction (driving into San Francisco) pay the toll.
Parking at The Bridge
Parking is EXTREMELY LIMITED at both the southeast and northeast visitor areas of the Bridge. Park (some paid meters) and pose for pictures, or walk across the bridge for free. Optimally take public transportation, a City Tour by Jeep or bike to the bridge.
Access to Southeast Side Visitor Parking Lot
This parking area has a range of visitor services, including a café, gift center, gardens, and an array of scenic vistas. Parking is metered with 37 spaces, including 26 general spaces, 6 bus stalls, and 3 accessible spaces for visitors with disabilities who have disabled placards. On weekends and holidays ONLY, additional parking is available in a nearby satellite lot on the southwest side.
Traveling south from Marin County: Follow US Highway 101 south across the Golden Gate Bridge. Tolls are now collected electronically – either by FasTrak or by Pay-By-Plate (visit our Tolls page for info on how to pay your toll!). Proceed through the far right toll lane #1, and make an immediate right to exit US Highway 101 just past the Toll Plaza onto Merchant Road. Make an immediate right onto a roadway that goes down a short hill and into an underpass that leads directly into the southeast side visitor parking lot.
Traveling north from San Francisco: Take a right at the last San Francisco exit off US Highway 101 just before the Toll Plaza. The exit ramp sign reads, “Golden Gate National Recreation Area View Area.” Proceed to the stop sign and turn left into the southeast side visitor parking lot.
Access to Northeast Side Parking Lot
Free parking (with a four-hour limit) and restrooms are the only amenities at this location.
Traveling south from Marin County: To access the parking lot on the northeast side of the Bridge, you must cross the Bridge, pay the toll, and double back across the span. Follow US Highway 101 south across the Golden Gate Bridge. Have exact change ready to pay the appropriate toll, collected southbound only. Proceed through the far right toll lane #1, and make an immediate right to exit US Highway 101 just past the Toll Plaza onto Merchant Road. Make an immediate right onto a roadway that goes down a short hill and into an underpass that leads directly into the southeast side visitor parking lot. Drive through the visitor lot to the first stop sign and make a right to head to the on-ramp to the Bridge. Cross the Bridge and take the first exit called “Vista Point” and turn right into the parking lot.
One often overlooked picture opportunity is at Crissy Field. From this sea-level location, the bridge forms a dramatic ocean backdrop framed by the Presidio and Marin County hills.
The Vista Point overlook at the Northern end of the bridge is perfect for capturing the bridge and the city skyline in one shot.
Even in warm weather, the wind can carry a biting chill; dress in layers on warm days, and in winter be sure to dress in a coat, hat, scarf, and gloves to maximize your enjoyment of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Want to know more about the Golden Gate Bridge? Check out more Golden Gate Bridge info to plan the perfect visit.
- Top 7 Spots for Photos of the Golden Gate Bridge
- 12 Movies Featuring the Golden Gate Bridge
- 25 Fun and Interesting Facts About the Golden Gate Bridge
- 10 Cool Ways to Visit the Golden Gate Bridge
- History of the Golden Gate Bridge
- Everything You Want to Know About the Golden Gate Bridge’s Paint Color – Fun Facts, FAQ and more