Finding the best Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints will be one of the first things on your mind when planning a trip to San Francisco.

Whether you are a photographer looking to capture the best views of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge or need that perfect Instagram shot, you are not alone in the quest for all the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints.

I did the same when I planned my first trip to this charming city.

Capturing the imaginations and the hearts of millions of its residents and travelers worldwide, the Golden Gate Bridge is the symbol of San Francisco, a monument of pride and a magnificent structure.

After being lucky to have experienced the gorgeous views myself, I have curated this guide to the best Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints to help you find those iconic bridge experiences.

The bridge, one of the most inspiring architectural wonders in the world, dominates the skyline of San Francisco.

There are tons of spots to view the bridge from different angles throughout San Francisco.

There are many reasons why the bridge has become synonymous with San Francisco. Its stunning location straddling the Bay’s edge makes it the beautiful gateway to the Pacific Ocean.

It is the landmark bridge that connects San Francisco with the rest of northern California. The excellent architecture and the bright red colours add to the magnificent backdrop comprising the greenery.

The enchanting way in which this grand vermillion-red suspension bridge hovers delicately over the turquoise water below and the mystic fog around it – It’s no wonder a sight to behold.

HOW TO COVER THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE VIEWPOINTS

This guide is about finding the best Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints, categorized into different sections. Viewing the bridge from the San Francisco side, the Marin Headlands, from water or by walking or riding across.

In this post, you will find the details about how to reach, the entry details, tips, best photo spots, and other details about all these viewpoints of Golden Gate Bridge.

In this guide, I will cover all the places centrally to find the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge if you are traveling without a car.

This guide also includes the faraway Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints and the local viewpoints for the Golden Gate Bridge unknown to tourists.

Let us get started on the best Instagram spots of the Golden Gate Bridge views.

TOP GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE VIEWPOINTS FROM THE SAN FRANCISCO SIDE

We will begin the list of the Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints from the nearest ones, all of which you can access without a car.

FORT POINT

Among the famous Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints is Fort Point, an old Civil War fort located right under the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Fort Point was constructed in 1853 at this exact location to protect San Francisco Bay during the Gold Rush to get better sight for tackling the enemy ships at the water level. 

The fort’s perfect sea-level location makes it a fantastic spot for views under the Golden Gate Bridge. 

The fort was also one of the key defences for San Francisco until after World War II. Today the fort is a protected monument.

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Take a tour of the Fort, a museum now, and has fantastic interiors spread across four floors. Admission is free.

They organize seasonal guided tours, so time your visit around it, especially the Fort Point candlelight tours.

To get a beautiful shot under the bridge and the surroundings, head to the rooftop of Fort Point, either in the early morning hours or around the golden hour light.

No matter which time of the year you visit, it’s always very windy here, so bring a warm jacket.

Fort Point Interiors Timings

Summer opening hours – 10 AM to 5 PM

Winter hours – 10 AM to 5 PM, Friday-Monday

Parking Area – Marine Drive, the road leading to the fort, has two parking areas, and parking is free, with no time limits.

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 0.3 miles

Address – Long Ave & Marine Dr, 201 Marine Dr, San Francisco, CA 94129

How to get there – Head north toward Pier 39 from Union Square. From here, follow Bay St to Marina Boulevard.

CRISSY FIELD

One of the easily accessible Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints that you can combine with a visit to Fort Point is Crissy Field, a long and beautiful beach stretching from the Marina to Fort Point.

You can enjoy stunning Golden Gate Bridge views across a grassy field along the beach, where lush mountains and the ocean form the perfect backdrops.

Crissy Field was an airfield serving the Pacific Air Coast Defense Station during both world wars. 

Crissy Field is now a popular spot for enjoying a picnic lunch, playing games, or flying kites.

Golden Gate Bridge Viewpoints

You can also bike on the promenade near Crissy Field to enjoy iconic views of the San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate Bridge, and the Marin Headlands on the northern side.

Unlike the other viewpoints of the Golden Gate Bridge, from Crissy Fields, you can enjoy the night views of the bridge, which are enigmatic and different from what you witness during the daytime.

Wear a headlamp and warm jackets, though, since some stretches are dark and the whole area gets chilly at night.

Although you will get to witness beautiful views of the bridge at any time of the day, sunrise transforms the landscapes. You will see the stunning rays of the sun touching the skyline and casting magic over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Parking Area – There are plenty of spaces on Mason Street or at the Sports Basement. One Mason street, the fees are $1.20 per hour and $7 all day at the kiosks. On Saturdays and Sundays, you have to pay to park there between 10 AM and 5 PM.

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 0.7 miles

Address – 1199 E Beach, San Francisco, CA 94129, United States

How to get there – Crissy Field is located at the northernmost tip of San Francisco. You have the option of driving along US-101. If you prefer public transport, take the 30 bus from Union Square to Sports Basement. Or make use of the free PresidiGo Shuttle, making many stops downtown.

Many walk to Crissy Field from Fisherman’s Wharf, which takes about 30 minutes. Also, you can rent a bike in Fisherman’s Wharf and ride down, enjoying some fantastic views of the waterfront all along.

Golden Gate Bridge Viewpoints

If you have time, I recommend going further from Crissy Field to arrive at the Golden Gate Beach, a sunny beach ideal for relaxing, swimming, taking a stroll and, of course, getting fantastic views of the bridge along with the sailboats around.

Good to know – Use the parking lot, which is a dead-end, at Crissy Field to cover all the three best Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints – Crissy Field, Torpedo Wharf and Fort Point in one go.

Stop at the Warming Hut for a snack bar, hot chocolate or buying gifts. From here, continue to the long pier leading to the Bay, which offers more stunning views of San Francisco city.

TORPEDO WHARF

Another stop that you can make on this list of Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints is Torpedo Wharf, located north of Crissy Field.

You can get the gorgeous views of the bridge from end to end here, along with the ocean views, the pier in the foreground and the bridge in the background.

To reach here, take a short walk from Crissy Field along the San Francisco Bay until you arrive at the Warming Hut, a National Park-run coffee shop.

The pier that you can see from here is Torpedo Wharf, named after the submarine mines of the US Army.

Parking Area – Marine Drive, the road leading to the fort, has two parking areas, and parking is free, with no time limits.

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 0.5 miles

Address – Long Ave & Marine Dr, 201 Marine Dr, San Francisco, CA 94129

How to get there – Head north toward Pier 39 from Union Square. From here, follow Bay St to Marina Boulevard.

MARSHALL’S BEACH

If you are looking for a quiet beach to witness the views, one of the best Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints is Marshall’s Beach offering unique suspension angles and the views of the Marin Highlands.

While Baker Beach is the most popular spot for beach-side views of the bridge, it is almost always crowded. That’s why I prefer Marshall’s beach over this any day.

Located just north of Baker Beach, this beach is also an excellent spot to witness gorgeous sunsets over the Pacific ocean.

Marshall Beach, with its vast volcanic rocks scattered, along the beach, the stairs leading down, and fewer crowds is a great spot to witness the close-up views of the Golden Gate Bridge as Marshall is the closest beach to the bridge on the San Francisco side.

It is also a clothing-optional beach, so do not be surprised if you see people in their birth suits.

The best time to visit Marshall’s beach is around dusk or dawn when you see the stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge above you against the vibrant skies.

Take the stairs to reach the shore. If the tide is low, you can walk up to Fort Point, but you will have to take the same way to come back.

Halfway through the stairs, you will come across the Batteries to Bluffs trail running along the cliffs at the entrance to the Bay.

If you are here after spring or the summer, the hike on this trail is worth trying as the path is carpeted with wildflowers, and the views from here are beautiful.

Parking Area – There is a parking lot near the bridge.

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 0.7 miles

Address – Long Ave & Marine Dr, 201 Marine Dr, San Francisco, CA 94129

How to get there –  Take the 38 bus from Union Square toward the Outer Richmond neighbourhood if you are using public transport.

BAKER BEACH

For those that are looking for the best Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints that involve beach views, Baker Beach is a famous spot, and rightly so.

Since it is also easy to access, and the beach is a popular spot for picnics with kids and even nude beaching, this one-mile stretch of sand in the northwest corner of San Francisco draws many crowds.

Located to the southwest of the bridge below the rugged cliffs along Presidio’s western shoreline, you can admire the sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay from the Marin Headlands and the views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

You can even see Golden Gate Strait and the distant Point Bonita from this stunning beach if the fog favours you.

There is a picnic area at Baker Beach with tables, grills, and restroom facilities.

Parking Area – There is a parking lot near the bridge.

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 1.2 miles

How to get there –  Take Lincoln Avenue to Bowley, where you will find a parking lot if you are arriving by car. Alternatively, you can take the 29 bus, taking the 38 Geary Bus from Union Square towards Outer Richmond.

CHINA BEACH

China Beach is another secluded beach that needs a mention on this list of the best Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints.

China Beach, located in the Seacliff neighbourhood, gets its name from the Chinese fishers. You can find a monument attributed to the fishers.

Located further away from Marshall’s Beach and sandwiched between Baker Beach and the Land’s End, it may not offer similar close-up views, but the location and the absence of crowds make it worth visiting. 

Make sure to bring a binocular or zoom lens for capturing the vistas from here.

Thanks to the rock walls, China Beach is less windy than the other beaches. 

You either need to descend about a hundred steps or do a steep drive to arrive at China Beach. 

Visit the beach during low tides to enjoy the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge. When the waves are low, also check out the marine life here.

You can also enjoy a picnic lunch at one of the many tables here. There are shower rooms, restrooms, and a sunbathing deck as well. 

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 2.1 miles

Address – Long Ave & Marine Dr, 201 Marine Dr, San Francisco, CA 94129

How to get there – From Seacliff Avenue, take the stairs downwards.

Parking area – The parking lot is at the junction of Seacliff Ave and Camino Del Mar.

LAND’S END

Among the top attractions in San Francisco is Lands End, known for its rich history and beautiful landscapes.

Although the Lands End is farther away and is the furthest point in western San Francisco, the wilderness makes it a fantastic spot.

You will pass through gorgeous wild landscapes adorned with wildflowers, cypress, cliffs, coastal trails, ship decks, and spectacular views of the whole entrance to San Francisco Bay, making it one of the fantastic Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints.

One of the iconic attractions of the Land’s End is the labyrinth made from many rocks that have been moved around and reassembled by artists to create a fantastic structure.

Land’s end, a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, has many trails that you can check out. The Lands End Point Lookout area is where you can witness the views of the Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints.

Take the Lands End Trail from the road up to the Coastal Trail for a short and beautiful walk. 

It will take an hour from the Cliff house. You will take some steps down, reaching the Lands End lookout on the cliff’s edge. Also, stop at the Sutro Baths at the end of the trail.

Another trail to witness the Golden Gate Bridge views is the Eagle’s Point trailhead near Lincoln Park.

Located close to the famous Legion of Honour, you can along a sidewalk passing through the Lincoln Park Municipal Golf Course. 

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 3 miles

Address – 680 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121, United States

Parking – Parking is available at Camino Del Mar.

How to get there – From the parking lot at El Camino Del Mar, take the Lands End Trail down the steps and out to the lookout.

COIT TOWER

One of the historical attractions in San Francisco, Coit Tower, may not be the first thing one can think of while looking for the best Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints, but it is worth adding to your list.

This 64 meters high tower located in Pioneer Park in the Telegraph Hill neighbourhood of San Francisco offers splendid panoramic views of the bridge and the beautiful views of San Francisco city and the Bay.

This pretty white concrete column was completed in 1933 to add to the monuments of San Francisco.

Enjoy the most spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city from the observation deck, which you can reach by elevator. The ticket costs $7.

Although you get to enjoy beautiful views any time of the day, sunset is the best time to witness some stunning views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Note that the entry gets closed around 30-45 minutes before the official closing time.

Opening hours – 10 AM to 5 PM

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 5 miles

Address – Telegraph Hill Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94133, United States

Parking area – There is a parking lot on the premises, but it gets packed during the weekends and holidays. Also, you can park only for 30 minutes.

How to get there – You can take the #39 MUNI bus to Coit Tower, leaving from Pier 39 or Washington Square. If you are driving, follow the signs from Stockton Street in North Beach. 

BATTERY EAST VISTA

Located above Fort Point National Historic Site is the Battery East Vista, one of the underrated Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints. The place gets its name from the many old artillery batteries placed along the way.

You will visit the Battery East Vista if you take either the San Francisco Bay Trail in the Presidio or the California Coastal Trail. 

golden gate viewpoint parking

If not, you can take the walking path or the bike trail running from Fisherman’s Wharf that takes you across the bridge and down into Sausalito.

Both are great spots for a pleasant stroll in the evening and offer stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

If you want to rent a bike, you can rent it from one of the many rental shops in the Fisherman’s Wharf area or on Lombard Street.

Opening hours – 10 AM to 5 PM

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 2.4 miles

Address – Lincoln Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94129, United States

Parking Area – There is a large parking lot on the premises, which costs $1.20 per hour and $7 per day. Fees are charged between 10 AM and 5 PM daily.

How to get there – You can walk from the Welcome Center near the bridge to arrive at the Battery East Trail.

BATTERY WEST TRAIL

Like the Battery East trails, you can walk from the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center to head west to arrive at Presidio Battery West Trail.

You will see the distinct views of the rocky cliffs along the shores, the beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge(if the fog favours you), and the San Francisco Bay.

You can also find the remains of the old artillery batteries used to protect the city scattered along the trail that follows the edge.

Opening hours – 10 AM to 5 PM

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 2.2 miles

Address – 124 Lincoln Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94129, United States

Parking Area – Parking is free at the Langdon Court parking lot. Or, you can park along Lincoln Boulevard here.

How to get there – You can walk from the Welcome Center near the bridge to arrive at the Battery West Trail. You can take (MUNI) buses 28, 29 and 43 lines if using public transport.

BATTERY CRANSTON

Another offbeat or less-famous tourist spot among the Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints is Battery Cranston, which is but a popular spot for photographers.

Sunrise is the best time to watch the views here. But the night views of the Golden Gate Bridge are fantastic from Battery Cranston. So if you want a different set of angles and views for the bridge, Battery Cranston will do the job for you.

While you are here, take the pretty coastal trail that will take you right under the bridge.

Opening hours – Open 24 hours

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 2 miles

Address – Cranston Rd, San Francisco, CA 94129, United States

Parking Area – Parking is free at the Langdon Court parking lot. Or, you can park along Lincoln Boulevard here.

How to get there – You can walk from the Welcome Center near the bridge to arrive at the Battery Cranston.

GOLDEN GATE OVERLOOK

One of the relatively new Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints on the San Francisco side is the Golden Gate Overlook, Located above the historic batteries on the southwest side of the bridge.

It has become one of the famous locations for viewing the bridge in recent years, thanks to the parking space and easy access to the spit via a short walk or on a bike.

It is also a popular spot among the locals, especially runners, bikers, and hikers who come for the beautiful views and greenery. 

Compared to the Golden Gate Bridge View Vista Point, you will see the reverse views, which are equally stunning.

Address – Langdon Ct, San Francisco, CA 94129, United States

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 0.6 miles

Parking Area – Park in the Langdon Court Parking lot. But the spots tend to get occupied during busy hours. 

How to get there – You can walk from the Welcome Center near the bridge to arrive at the Battery West Trail. You can take (MUNI) buses 28, 29 and 43 lines if using public transport.

GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE WELCOME CENTER

Sitting at the south edge of the bridge, the official welcome centre may not be your first choice for the best Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints, but it is a trendy spot for the beautiful views of the bridge and the Bay. 

You will see the direct views of the bridge and the ocean, which is ideal for those wanting the total views of this iconic landmark.

Those opting for tour buses or people on a short duration stop by at this centre. But I recommend giving it a visit before you head off to other Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints nearby for a quick cup of coffee and buying souvenirs at the store.

Opening hours – 9 AM to 6 PM.

Address – Golden Gate Bridge, Coastal Trail, San Francisco, CA 94129, United States

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 0.2 miles

Parking Area – There is a small parking lot near the centre. But during peak hours, the other options around the park are better.

BEST GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE VIEWS FROM MARIN COUNTY

BATTERY SPENCER

Battery Spencer is a former artillery battery, constructed in 1897, located on the cliffs close to the bridge’s northern end.

One of the most popular Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints is Battery Spencer, a favourite viewpoint for many locals and visitors alike.

viewpoint golden gate bridge

It is no surprise because from here, you can enjoy some of the most spectacular views of the bridge, looking right down at the north tower. 

You are so close to the bridge that you feel as if you can reach out and touch it from here.

It is the quintessential Golden Gate Bridge viewpoint, and the most common shots of the bridge that you see everywhere are usually shot from Battery spencer.

It is the top spot for photographers eager to recreate the views from Battery Spencer, which are the defining images of San Francisco.

Not just the close-up views, but you can see far into the distance, including pictures of the inner San Francisco Bay, Oakland, Point Bonita Lighthouse, and Alcatraz Island.

the Best Views of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco City

Good to know – Late afternoon is the best time for the most beautiful captures from Battery Spencer. The parking lot here is infamous for being a break-in hotspot, so be careful to ensure nothing is visible and that your car is locked.

Opening hours – 24 hours

Address – Conzelman Rd, Sausalito, CA 94965, United States

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 2.7 miles

Parking Area – There are three parking areas around the premises.

How to get there – After crossing the Golden Gate, take the Alexander Ave exit. Turn left and continue under the highway to arrive at Conzelman Road. Follow Conzelman up the hill to see the lot at the first turnout on the left side. There are two more turnouts from where you can see the distant views.

The battery and the views are a short walk from the parking area, and the site has restrooms.

Other options to reach Battery Spencer are buses. The Sausalito loop of the Hop On Hop Off bus tours stops at the Vista Point on the north end of the bridge. You can take the Marin Headlands Express 76X that stops at downtown SF and Union Square and get down at Kirby Cove Rd stop.

GOLDEN GATE VIEW POINT

If you are driving from the San Francisco side, you will find Golden Gate View Point just a little ahead of Battery Spencer. The next viewpoint

Golden Gate Observation Deck comes a little further, and you have to drive on Conzelman Road to reach any of these.

Golden Gate bridge viewpoints

The views from the viewpoint may not be as great as at Battery Spencer, but it is somewhat similar to those at the deck, where you can enjoy pretty partial views of the bridge, and southern San Francisco bay, including the beaches.

Address – Old Conzelman Rd, Mill Valley, CA 94941, United States

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 1.3 miles

Parking Area – There is a smaller curbside parking lot.

How to get there – If you’re heading from within San Francisco, take Highway 101 over the Golden Gate Bridge and exit 442 to merge onto Alexander Ave, which becomes Bunker Road and continues on Conzelman Road. 

GOLDEN GATE OBSERVATION DECK

One of the easily accessible Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints is the Golden Gate Observation Deck, located higher up on the Conzelman Road access route. 

It is a popular spot among the tourists, thanks to its elevated location that offers splendid views of the bridge and many attractions, including downtown San Francisco, the inner city, the Bay, and the islands nearby.

There is also more parking here than at the Golden Gate viewpoint, so the observation deck may be an attractive option if you are driving.

Golden Gate bridge viewpoints

But note that you cannot see the complete bridge from the deck as the left tower of the Golden Gate is partially covered by the headland. 

But do not let that stop you from going here, as you will witness some of the best views of San Francisco from here.

Address – 5702 Conzelman Rd, Mill Valley, CA 94941, United States

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 3.3 miles

Parking Area – There is a free parking area on the premises. But you will have to wait if you are here during rush hours.

How to get there – If you’re heading from within San Francisco, take Highway 101 over the Golden Gate Bridge and exit 442 to merge onto Alexander Ave, which becomes Bunker Road and continues on Conzelman Road. 

KIRBY COVE 

One of the beaches that makes it to the list of Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints on the Marlin side is Kirby Cove sandwiched between Hawk Hill and Battery Spencer. 

It is famous for its rope swing on the beach with beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

best golden gate bridge views

Unfortunately, sometimes the swing gets cut down or temporarily goes missing, which goes back up later.

It is an easy 1-mile hike downhill to the beach starting west of the parking lot for Battery Spencer, on Conzelman Road in the Marin Headlands, to arrive at the Camp Kirby site. 

It is an ideal campground if you plan to watch the sunrise behind the bridge.

The views of the bridge and the Bay are gorgeous, but it gets to a whole new level of fabulous around the sunset time.

Since there are only five campsites, booking months ahead of your visit is best if you want to camp overnight here.

The beach has a sea cave, tunnel, and some bluffs down the trail. You can access the picnic area with picnic tables, BBQ grills, fire pits, and toilets.

Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 2.9 miles

Parking – Free parking in the Golden Gate View Point parking lot.

How to get there – From San Francisco, cross the Golden Gate Bridge and take the Alexander Ave exit.

HAWK HILL

One of the farthest Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints is Hawk Hill. Hawk Hill is a bit farther along Conzelman Road, but it’s worth visiting. 

From up here, you can see the gorgeous views of the bridge, San Franciso city and the Bay, but you also have a 360-degree view of the whole region.

view golden gate bridge

You can see the entrance leading to the Bay and Rodeo Beach below you and Mount Tamalpais and the hills of Marin County stretching away. 

To the east, check out Mount Diablo. You can also see the Point Bonita Lighthouse from here on a clear day.

This is an excellent place to watch for hawks and other raptors, as the name indicates.

You will need transport of some type unlike the other ones accessible by foot to get there. If you rent a bike, only do so if experienced uphill drives.

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I highly recommend driving to Hawk Hills, as the journey through the Marin Headlands on the Conzelman Road is fantastic.

On this panoramic drive through the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, beginning from the observation deck, you will continue along the coast, winding past Battery Spencer.

There are trails and vista spots all over the area, from where you can enjoy the incredible views from this hilly peninsula, all the way out to the Point Bonita Lighthouse.

golden gate bridge side view

Many more batteries in this area are perfect for off the beaten exploration. You can also hike out to Point Bonita lighthouse.

Late afternoon is the best time to enjoy the views of the Golden Gate Bridge from Hawk Hill.

Good to know – There are not many options for dining, so make sure to carry snacks, drinks, and water. It gets very windy and cold no matter the time of the year due to its elevation. Carry a warm jacket or some layers even if you are visiting during the summer.

Address – Marin County, California, US

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 1.3 miles

Parking Area – There is a free parking area on the premises.

How to get there – If you’re heading from within San Francisco, take Highway 101 over the Golden Gate Bridge and exit 442 to merge onto Alexander Ave, which becomes Bunker Road and continues on Conzelman Road. 

POINT BONITA LIGHTHOUSE

Although you may not get any closer views of the bridge, it is worth adding Point Bonita to the list of the best Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints because of the beautiful views you can see from here.

best view for golden gate bridge

Point Bonita is known for its historic lighthouse built in 1855, located on a rocky spit of land that juts into the entrance to San Francisco Bay on the west side of the Marin Headlands.

The lighthouse and tunnel access to the point can be reached via a trail out that is about 0.5 miles. Although a short one, it is pretty steep, you can get on the suspension footbridge to get to the lighthouse.

From the Point Bonita vantage point, you get sweeping views of the entry to the San Francisco Bay, the bridge and the Headlands. You can also see Kirby Cove, Hawk Hill, and Battery Spencer from here.

Do not miss watching the colony of harbour seals at the foot of the cliffs that you can see from the trail.

Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints

Opening hours – Saturday, Sunday and Monday, from 12:30 to 3:30 PM.

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 7.1 miles

Address – San Francisco Bay entrance in the Marin Headlands, Sausalito, CA 94965, United States

Parking – There are two parking lots at the trailhead.

How to get there – You can take the SF Muni Marin Headlands Express Bus 76X that goes out there on weekends.

GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE VIEW VISTA POINT(NORTH VISTA POINT VIEW)

One of the first Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints you will encounter if you bike or drive towards Marin County is the North Vista Point View.

From here, you will witness the views of the bridge at eye level, allowing you to admire this stunning structure up close, particularly the eastern face of the bridge.

You get beautiful views of the suspension bridge, the two twin towers of the bridge, and the city in the backdrop.

If there is no fog, you may get views of the northern downtown skyline and Angel Island and Alcatraz.

For some distant views, take the walkway leading from this vista point across to the trailheads on the western side, from where you can enjoy the total views from afar. 

If you take the hop off, hop on city bus tours, they have a stop here. Avoid the peak hours if you want to take pictures without being rushed. No matter when you visit, it often gets quite crowded here, though, so be prepared to wait.

Address – Parking lot, Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, CA 94965, United States

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 3.6 miles

Parking Area – There is a small, free parking area on the premises. Note that there is a 4-hours limit here, and the lot remains closed on holidays.

If you can’t find a spot in this lot, head to the Alexander Ave exit, then turn left onto Bunker Road, where few parking options are available.

How to get there – After crossing the bridge from San Francisco, take the first exit, marked Vista Point.

MOORE ROAD PIER

Suppose you are moving further away from San Francisco towards Sausalito. In that case, one of the best Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints for a quick stop before you leave is the Moore Road Pier observation point, which offers entire views of the bridge from below.

Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints

Address –  411 Moore Rd, Sausalito, CA 94965, United States

Parking – There are limited parking spaces at the pier entry point.

How to get there – To reach Moore Road Pier take the Alexander Ave, Sausalito exit of Highway 101. 

POINT CAVALLO

One of the unique Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints is Point Cavallo, a luxury hotel at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. To enjoy the views from here, you can be their guest or make a reservation at the on-site restaurant, Murray Circle, for outdoor seating.

golden gate bridge view

The property has many paths that offer beautiful views of the bridge. If you are looking for a relaxed or a romantic setting, this is a fantastic place to take in the iconic views, savouring your lunch or cocktails with sunsets.

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 4.4 miles

Address – 601 Murray Circle, Fort Baker, Sausalito, CA 94965

Parking – Parking is available on the premises

How to get there: From San Francisco, cross the Golden Gate Bridge and take the Alexander Ave exit, then turn right onto Bunker Rd, and left onto Murray Circle.

SLACKERS HILL

Located at the top of the Marin Headlands is one of the best Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints. Slackers Hill offers fabulous 360-degree views looking down on the bridge and across to the city skyline from the Marin side.

You need to do a one-mile out-and-back hike up to Slackers Hill, beginning at the trailhead next to the parking lot at the intersection of Conzelman Road and McCullough Road, which is short but steep.

There’s no shade on this trail, so be prepared for lots of wind and sun.

view of golden gate bridge

At the top, you’ll see pretty beaches, the Marin Headlands, the ocean, and San Francisco city, apart from the bridge.

Sunsets are fantastic from this hilltop, and I recommend watching them if you have time. Do plan to arrive early, though, if you want to stay back for sunset to include the time for hiking to the top.

If you are up for more adventure, you can also do the more strenuous, 1.6 miles(one way) hike beginning from the North Tower parking lot near the bridge up the SEA Trail to Slacker Hill.

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 3.2 miles

Address – Sausalito, CA 94965, USA.

Parking –  Free parking at Conzelman Road Parking Lot

How to get there – After you cross the bridge, take the Alexander Ave exit, then left onto Bunker Rd, right on McCullough.

FORT BAKER

Just a short ride towards Marin Headlands is one of the best Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints, Fort Baker. 

Fort Baker, a former military training area until WWII and constructed in 1905, is located below the vista point at the northeast end of the Golden Gate Bridge. 

best view of golden gate bridge at night

You can enjoy splendid views of the bridge, similar to the Vista Point view, but a little farther away and at a unique angle.

Besides the gorgeous views, another reason to visit is that the place has many things to offer for history lovers. 

Fort Baker, a part of the Golden Gate Park Recreation Area, currently houses the famous Bay Area Discovery Museum, giving rich insights into San Francisco Bay’s history and ecology.

You can also dine at the restaurant on the premises or grab a drink at the nautical bar at the Yacht Club. The parade grounds and the Coast Guard Station are worth stopping if you are visiting with the kids.

view of the golden gate bridge

Although the views are beautiful at any time of the day, try visiting the Fort before the late afternoon for the best light conditions.

The Fort is massive and needs sufficient time to explore, so leave time for that apart from being here for the views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Also, if possible, do book the cell phone tour arranged by The National Park Service, which is fantastic and covers ten spots on a three-mile walking tour.

Opening hours – 9 AM to 6 PM

Address – Sausalito, CA 94965, United States

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 3.8 miles

Parking Area – There is a free parking area on the premises.

How to get there – Take the Alexander Avenue exit off Highway 101 to get to Fort Baker.

SCA TRAIL

One of the most popular places for hikers, bikers and runners in San Francisco is the SCA Trail. Running for over four miles long, winding through the gorgeous Marin Headlands, it is also one of the best Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints offering stunning views on the north side of the bridge. 

If you are looking for a pretty hike to enjoy the views of the Bay, the SCA trail is the one for you.

golden gate lookout point

Start the hike from the parking lot for the out-and-back trail, which is easy to moderate. Note that there is not much available shade, so start early. 

You can reach Slackers Hill if you want to continue further or take the detour back to the lot.

You will encounter many incredible viewpoints along the trail, offering different angles and views of the city and the bridge. 

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 3.8 miles

Address –  Conzelman Road, Sausalito

Parking – Parking is available in the small trailhead parking lot

GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE VIEWPOINTS FROM THE WATER

ALCATRAZ ISLAND

If you are looking for mystic and unusual ways to photograph the bridge and the cityscapes, one of the best Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints can be found on Alcatraz Island. 

golden gate bridge park

An infamous federal prison for nearly 30 years, Alcatraz looks eerie in the middle of the Bay. This spot has inspired many movies and has a rich and exciting history. 

When it comes to the views, you will be rewarded with stunning 360-degree views of San Francisco Bay and the various angles of the Golden Gate Bridge, making your visit worth your time.

You need a zoom lens to capture the best views, and some of the exciting spots for amazing views include the prisoner’s recreation yard, prisoner gardens, or inside the cells.

Most tourists opt for the return ferry tours, including access to the island and a self-guided audio tour of the national park. You will also sail close to the bridge, which will give you more photo options.

golden gate bridge photo spots

Both the day and night tours are available. You must book this tour of Alcatraz in advance, which you can do here. I recommend booking well in advance since it gets sold out as the boat trip is one of the top things to do in San Francisco.

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 4.4 miles

How to get there – Take the Alcatraz Island ferry from Pier 33 in San Francisco. 

ANGEL ISLAND

One of the best Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints for enjoying spectacular views of San Francisco and the bridge is from Angel Island State Park, located in the Bay, just north of Alcatraz. 

Angel Island is the largest natural island in the San Francisco Bay, and since it is a quick ferry ride out to the island and the splendid views, it is one of the popular attractions.

golden gate bridge viewpoint address

Angel Island has its past around a civil war, the two world wars and the cold war. During WWII, Angel Island also used to be an immigration station. You can learn about the history in the US Immigration Station Barracks Museum on the island. 

The best view of the Golden Gate Bridge is from Camp Reynolds on the west side of the island, where you can see the entire bridge connecting the peninsula with the Marin headlands.

Recommended – 35 Best Things to do in San Luis Obispo California – An Offbeat Getaway

You can hike on the many miles of trails, bike or take a shuttle around the island. Also, explore the two beautiful beaches and nearby picnic areas.

Overnight camping is also permitted at Angel Island, which is very popular among the visitors that come for a stay after enjoying fantastic sunset views.

best view of golden gate bridge

Make sure to book the camp well in advance because these spots book up quickly.

Good to know – There are not many options for food, so make sure to carry snacks, drinks, and water. It gets very windy and cold, so take a warm jacket or some layers even if you visit during the summer.

Distance from Golden Gate Bridge – 4 miles

Parking – Parking is available at Pier 39 or in Tiburon

How to get there – Take the Golden Gate Ferry from Pier 39 or Angel Island Ferry from Tiburon

GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE VIEWS FROM THE BAY

BAY BOAT CRUISE

One of my favourite Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints is not on land but a cruise! How about sailing right under the bridge, especially during the magical sunset? 

views of the golden gate bridge

If you have done it before, you will agree that one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge is from a boat on one of the bay cruises, especially the ones that take you right under the bridge.

On this cruise, you will be rewarded with vistas of Angel Island, Alcatraz Island, and the Bay Bridge. 

It is best to go when the bridge is lit with thousands of lights forming a dazzling panorama, the sights of which will be one of your memorable experiences in San Francisco for sure.

If you book a boat tour, carry warm clothes as it gets super cold.

At the Fisherman’s Wharf marina on Jefferson Street, you can rent one of the fishing boats.

golden gate viewpoints

If you want cruises, you can book bay cruises at the Fisherman’s Wharf and Piers 39 and 41. You don’t need reservations.

Or take one of the ferries that leave from the wharf from Pier 39 and Pier 41. You will spend an hour on the Bay on these ferries and include a trip under the bridge.

TAKING A GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE TOUR 

If you want a hassle-free experience, one of the best ways to explore the bridge is to take a guided tour – It can be a bike, a boat trip, a bus, or a walking tour.

Depending on the one you choose, you will be introduced to the rich history of the bridge, and you will get to admire the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the perfect spots to capture with your guide’s help.

You can even soar high above the bridge in a private helicopter tour if you want to splurge.

RIDING OR WALKING THE BRIDGE

Walking or biking across the Golden Gate Bridge are popular ways to experience the bridge. If you are looking for in-depth shots of the bridge’s architecture or some creative shots, being on the bridge is best.

It is almost 2 miles to walk or bike on the walkway, and there is no charge for walking or biking across the bridge.

golden gate bridge viewing point

If you plan to walk, you can begin from the San Francisco side and after reaching the Marin Headlands, get back on a ferry. Alternatively, you can take a boat to experience sailing under the bridge to reach the Marin side and walk back on the bridge.

Note that there are different paths for bikers and pedestrians on weekends and if you are after that 3:30 PM on weekdays.

MAP OF THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE VIEWPOINTS

TIPS FOR VISITING THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE VIEWPOINTS

Be prepared for the fog

Do you know that the fog in California has a name(and even a Twitter account). He is called Karl, and whether you know him or not, you will most likely feel his presence on your San Francisco trip.

No matter what season it is, do carry enough warm layers or a solid jacket to keep you from the cold weather and the winds, especially those that get notorious as the evening progresses. 

Check the weather before you plan to visit the viewpoints

There is no point in being one of the stunning Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints only to see the bridge entirely swept by the fog. 

Do not be disappointed, though. You can check this Golden Gate Bridge cam for up-to-date weather information to see your chances of witnessing the beautiful views and the types of pictures you can capture of the bridge.

golden gate bridge viewing

Parking areas around the viewpoints

Although almost all of the viewpoints of the Golden Gate Bridge come with parking lots, due to the high volume of tourists, you will find yourself competing for parking spaces, waiting in long lines, or taking detours to alternative parking lots. 

So be prepared for this, and allow some extra time for parking on your itinerary. Also, although now less frequent, break-ins at parking lots are a regular occurrence. So do not leave anything valuable in your car behind, and double-check to ensure your locks work.

GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE VIEWPOINTS FAQS

What is the best time to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge?

For milder and pleasant sun rays in the background, early morning is the best time to see the Golden Gate Bridge when the light casts a golden hue over the landscape. 

In San Francisco, although the fog can descend at any time, your best shot at avoiding it is in the late afternoon, which is the most popular time for many, as most tourists wait until the sunset after.

Sometimes, a touch of fog at the towers may add to the elements of your photos of the bridge if you are here for the views at this time, just enough for the perfect images.

But I also like visiting the bridge and around at night as the lights on the bridge reflect in the water, making views of the Golden Gate Bridge a beautiful sight against the lit-up skyline.

What is the best view of the Golden Gate Bridge?

The best view of the Golden Gate Bridge is subjective as people have different favourites. 

If you want the most famous postcard view of the Golden Gate Bridge from above with the San Francisco skyline behind, which you see everywhere, that can be found from Battery Spencer on the Marin side. 

Where to see the Golden Gate Bridge at night?

Except for Fort Point, all the viewpoints of the Golden Gate Bridge mentioned on this list are open 24 hours. 

You can camp overnight at Angel Island or take the night tour of Alcatraz if you want to see the views of the bridge at night from either of these islands.

How to get a good picture of the Golden Gate Bridge?

Check the Golden Gate Bridge cam for visibility before you plan to visit any of these spots. 

If you are looking for the perfect shots, I recommend visiting at least a few viewpoints and at different times of the day. It is best to bring a tripod or selfie stick.

Can I walk across the Golden Gate Bridge? 

You can walk, bike, or drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. While pedestrians and bikers cross for free, you need to pay a toll if you go across.

TOP TRAVEL TIPS & RESOURCES

Below is the list of the travel resources you can use to organize your travel – from flights to insurance and everything. These are the resources I use myself, which is why I recommend you for a hassle-free travel planning experience and fantastic trips.

Booking Flights: To score flight deals, search on Jet Radar, Kiwior 12go.Asia (for Asia planning). Book and fly mid-week, taking red-eyes flights or those in the early mornings for better deals and lower prices. Avoid check-in bags on a budget airline.

Booking Trains: The best websites for booking trains anywhere in Europe are Rail Europe and TrainLine. Both are easy to manage online and track your journeys.

Booking Cars: For the best prices and easy handling of renting a car for road trips and day trips, I’d recommend Discover Cars or Rental Cars, available throughout the world.

Accommodations: I typically use HotelsCombined or Booking.com to book hotels. There are special getaway deals with amazing discounts(over 50%!) for this year on Booking.com, and you can find them here.

I use Hostelworld and Agoda to book hostels as the deposit is low, easy change/cancellation is available and reviews are excellent on both. Depending on the destination, I love staying in VRBOs/homestays.

Travel Insurance: No matter whether it is a short trip or longer trips abroad, I strongly recommend buying travel insurance for international trips. I recommend either World Nomads or SafetyWing for international travel insurance.

Tours: Being a solo traveler, one of the best ways to optimize my time, budget, and super importantly, meet amazing people from all over the world is by joining tours, especially food tours, walking tours, day trips, culture, and history tours.
You will get a local’s perspective, the best opportunities to experience places and people closely. I book using GetYourGuideKlookViatorand Voyagin.

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Reshma Narasing
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