Golden Gate Bridge Info
This section of the San Francisco Travel Guide, will provide you with useful Golden Gate Bridge info to help you plan your visit to San Francisco’s most iconic tourist attraction.
It’s definitely worth seeing, whether you decide to walk across it, or feel content to view it from afar.
I still get a swelling feeling of pride whenever I catch a glimpse of it, and that's after living here for several years!
Read more below to find out how you can walk, bike or drive across the bridge, as well as get tips for cool places to view it from...
See also: History / Facts / Images
The following are a few recommendations for different ways to experience the Golden Gate Bridge, with more details about each suggestion further below.
- If you are an active type, rent a bike and ride across the bridge into the affluent and picturesque town of Sausalito, returning later by ferry.
- For an excellent photo op, drive across the bridge to the Marin Headlands to get a view of the Golden Gate with the city skyline behind it. After, you can follow a dramatically scenic drive towards a lesser-known gem attraction, Rodeo Beach. For detailed directions on how to access this view point, scroll to the bottom of this page.
- If you don’t find it important to see the bridge up-close, get a long-distance view of it while taking a stroll along the Land’s End or Crissy Field's walking paths.
- If you want to walk across it, you can park in one of the designated viewing lots on either side of the bridge, in order to get an up-close sense of its grand scale.
Side Tip: Before planning a visit to the bridge, pay attention to the San Francisco weather forecast and prepare accordingly. Walking or biking across the bridge is infinitely more enjoyable when the winds aren’t gusting heavily, or when the fog has not completely cloaked it in white.
Golden Gate Bridge Info / Getting There:
By car: the easiest ways to find the bridge are to follow the signs from either Lombard Street in the Marina district, or from Lincoln Boulevard inside the Presidio.
By bus: take either the Muni bus line #28 or #29. They stop at the vista point on the south side of the bridge.
The hop on/hop off tour bus also makes a stop at the south end vista point parking lot, which you can catch at Fisherman's Wharf.
City Guides is a cool tour company that offers all kinds of free tours throughout the city, including one with a stop at the Golden Gate Bridge.
*Skateboards, roller-skates and rollerblades are not allowed, but you can bring your dog with you as long as he or she is kept on a leash.
Golden Gate Bridge Info / Views:
The North and South Vista Points
The most popular places to see the Golden Gate Bridge are the South and North Vista Points which are located on opposite ends of the bridge.
The South Vista Point is located on the end closest to the city, and has a café, gift shop, as well as a cross section of cable demonstrating its thickness. It is also the easiest place to access the bridge's walking path.
Both the South and North Vista Points have restroom facilities and parking lots, although the parking lots on the South end are metered and often full, whereas on the North end the parking lot is free for up to 4 hours.
To access the North Vista Point you must take the first exit off of Highway 101 after crossing the bridge. Keep in mind that if you drive across the bridge to leave the city, you will have to pay the $6 bridge toll to cross back in.
If you are interested in alternative vantage points for admiring the bridge, some cool spots to check out are…
From the south side:
From the north side:
Walk the Golden Gate Bridge Info:
If you are planning on walking across the bridge, you will probably want to station yourself at the South Vista Point, which is at the end of the bridge closest to the city.
The east sidewalk on the bridge is open to pedestrians during the daylight hours, and access is free. Between the hours of 9am-3:30pm the east sidewalk is shared with bicyclists, although they are required to yield to pedestrians.
The length of the bridge is about 1.7 miles, and takes an hour or more if you plan to walk the entire span of it. Even if you do not want to walk the whole length of the bridge, it can definitely be worthwhile to step out and see a small portion of it on foot, as it helps to put its massive size into perspective.
The closest parking lot to the bridge is located at the South Vista Point.
Bike the Golden Gate Bridge Info:
A fun way to see the Golden Gate Bridge is by bicycle. It can make for an excellent day trip, and one I highly recommend.
There are several bike rental companies located in Fisherman's Wharf, and a trip from there to Sausalito will allow you the opportunity to ride through several scenic areas.
It's an 8-mile trip in one direction, but once you are in Sausalito, you can catch a ferry for you return trip back to the city. Bike rental companies provide you with the information, safety gear and maps you need to plan your ride.
For those that choose to see the bridge this way, it can be a very rewarding experience, but that said, there are several things to consider before you go to ensure that you will enjoy your trip...
- The weather: I've mentioned this before, but it's worth repeating. San Francisco often has windy, foggy weather, and even a day that starts out nice can change quickly. It's always a good idea to dress in layers.
- The terrain: Especially if you are traveling with children, make sure that they (and you!) will really be up for the length of the ride. Be aware that some sections are hilly (mostly downhill), and occasionally alongside roads without designated bicycle lanes.
- The last ferry times: This is typically an all-day bicycle trip. It happens all the time that people arrive into Sausalito or Tiburon, only to realize that they have missed the last ferry! If this happens to you, you will have to either bike the 8-10 miles back into the city (which will be much more uphill), or pay for an expensive cab ride back.
Bicycles have free, 24-hour access to the bridge, although at night sidewalks are controlled by security gates. There are times when bicyclists share the sidewalks with pedestrians, at which they must always yield to those walking.
The side of the bridge that bicyclists are supposed to ride on varies with the time of year – see the information below for details:
From mid-March to early November:
- On weekdays: cyclists ride on the east sidewalk from 9pm-3:30pm, and on the west sidewalk from 3:30pm-9pm. Between the nighttime hours of 9pm-5am the east sidewalk is controlled by security gates.
- On weekends and holidays: cyclists ride on the west sidewalk from 5am-9pm, and on the east sidewalk from 9pm-5am via the security gates.
From early November to mid-March:
- On weekdays: cyclists ride on the east sidewalk from 6pm-3:30pm, and on the west sidewalk from 3:30pm-6pm. Between the hours of 9pm-5am the east sidewalk is controlled by security gates.
- On weekends and holidays: cyclists ride on the west sidewalk from 5am-6pm, and on the east sidewalk from 6pm-5am via the security gates.
In the evening hours you will have to wait for a remote controlled gate to let you on and off the bridge.
Drive the Golden Gate Bridge Info:
Driving across the Golden Gate can be a great way to experience the bridge, as well as save time. You still get to take in the gorgeous surrounding views, as well as get a sense of its grand scale.
For photo opportunities, most tourists choose to view the bridge from the two main Vista Points that I mentioned above. That said, for a slightly different (and in my humble opinion better) perspective, I recommend driving up to the lookout point in the Marin Headlands.
Below are some images taken from this very lookout. Also feel free to check out my Golden Gate Bridge Images page. The first three shots are photos that my sister has taken from this spot as well!
Golden Gate Bridge Info - Directions to the Marin Headlands lookout:
- Presuming that you are coming from within the city, make your way to the Golden Gate Bridge. Cross the bridge and keep your eye out for exit 442 for Alexander Ave. It will be the 2nd exit after you have crossed the bridge, and shortly after the North Vista Point exit.
- After exiting, keep left at the fork, and at the stop sign, turn left onto Alexander Avenue.
- Travel 0.2 miles, passing under the highway, and then make a sharp, steep right onto Conzelman Road.
- Continue about 200 feet up Conzelman road, and begin to look for parking on the left side of the road.
The two images below are taken from the lookout point!
Golden Gate Bridge Info - Local tips!
If it is crowded and you don't want to battle for parking, you can continue up Conzelman Road as there will be other pullout areas where you can park your car and step out to take a look.
Also, keep in mind that there is a $6 toll for regular passenger vehicles heading southbound on the bridge, so if you leave the city to drive across the bridge, you will have to pay this fee to cross back over.
Learn more about the Golden Gate Bridge: History / Facts / Images
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