There’s no denying that the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most popular tourist attractions in San Francisco. Because of its immense popularity, the bridge and its surrounding areas tend to be crowded with tourists. Luckily, the most crowded spots aren’t necessarily the best places to view the Golden Gate Bridge.
To see the bridge in all of its glory, you need to view it from a few perspectives. Our list of the best places to view the Golden Gate Bridge includes spots that are well-known, but also places that are a little bit quieter and offer picturesque scenery.
1. A Cinematic View – Fort Point
One of the best places to view the Golden Gate Bridge is right at the foot of it. Fort Point is a Civil War-era structure that sits at the end of a short drive along the Bay’s edge, directly below the southern entrance to the bridge.
The brick fort was slated to be demolished for the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge but was saved by the Chief Engineer of the Bridge, Joseph Strauss. Strauss redesigned the bridge with a special arch to accommodate Fort Point and preserve it for posterity. The Fort is now a National Historic Site and is open most days from 10 am-5 pm. One of the most spectacular views of the bridge is from the roof of the fort, where visitors can see Strauss’ design up close.
The Fort and bridge are an iconic visual combo, as proved by their multiple appearances in many San Francisco-based films and tv series, including Point Blank and The Streets of San Francisco. Perhaps most famous is Vertigo, the Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece where Kim Novak flees from Jimmy Stewart and leaps into the ocean from Fort Point as the bridge looms overhead.
2. A Cheeky View – Marshall Beach
Located at the end of a short hike down the hill from the road overhead, Marshall Beach sits just on the other side of the bridge from Fort Point. The intimate beach is as famous as one of the best places to view the Golden Gate Bridge as it is for nude sunbathing. Hidden from the streets above, visitors to Marshall Beach can pick their way through small rocky tide pools, where the low tide may reveal anemones and starfish hiding among the rocks.
They may also find less inhibited San Franciscans looking to get rid of tan lines! Looking out across the water towards Point Bonita Lighthouse, Marshall Beach has commanding views of shipping containers and boats as they slip under the bridge into San Francisco Bay, and is a great place to watch “Karl the Fog” slowly creep into the Bay.
3. A Historic View – Golden Gate Overlook
Located above the historic batteries at the southwest side of the Golden Gate Bridge that guarded the Bay during WWII, this overlook is accessible by bike or on foot from Lincoln Boulevard. The overlook sits above the Golden Gate Bridge, for a unique perspective on the traffic that crosses the bridge into San Francisco from Marin county. An iconic photo looking down on the bridge can be taken from between two tall cypress trees.
And for those with a sense of adventure, the Overlook is the starting point for the Batteries to Bluffs hike, which is a short 1.7 mi hike along the coast to the Golden Gate Bridge Visitor’s Center.
4. The Close Up View – Golden Gate Bridge Visitor’s Center
It might seem like an obvious choice, but the Golden Gate Bridge Visitor’s Center isn’t just a great place to photograph the bridge. It’s also a great place to learn about its history and pick up a memento or get a bite to eat. Displays at the Center feature hard hats and rivets from the Golden Gate Bridge’s construction in the 1930s as well as a short video about its history.
Souvenir collectors can pick up a poster or postcard, as well as jackets and hats for those chilly days. Finally, The Round House Cafe offers drinks and snacks from its art deco viewing windows.
5. Off the Beaten Path View – Lands End Labyrinth
Built by San Francisco artist Eduardo Aguilera, Lands End Labyrinth is a collection of stones arranged into a maze-like pattern on a small outcropping of land at the most northwestern point of San Francisco. Visitors hike down a short path from either Sutro Baths or Fort Miley to see some of the best places to view the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean.
The best time to visit this spot is Golden Hour, and guests can trace their steps through the labyrinth as the setting sun shines on the entrance to the bay.
If you’re looking to visit any of these places, as well as other famous spots in San Francisco, then consider going on an SF tour with GoCar Tours!