Pacific Coast Highway Travel's guide to visiting the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco including how to get there and free walking tours of the bridge.
Visiting the Golden Gate Bridge is definitely one of the best things to do in San Francisco. No matter how familiar the bridge seems from having seen it in countless photos and movies, seeing it up close still makes you marvel. It's like seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time - a wonderful sight.
If you're driving the Pacific Coast Highway north from San Francisco, you'll drive right over the Golden Gate Bridge. Follow the signs for Highway 101 until the towers of the bridge appear in the distance.
As you approach the bridge on the south side look for a right exit into a Viewing Area. Here you'll find the Welcome Center, a museum telling you the history of the bridge, a cafe, rest rooms, and various viewing points where you can take the classic picture postcard shots of the bridge.
Note that parking on this east side of the highway is very limited if you're coming from the south, the city side. There's more parking on the west side but you can only get to this if you're heading south. There's also an hourly parking charge, with a maximum three-hour stay.
If you get to the east parking area and there isn't a space, drive on to the north end of the bridge, exit at that viewing area, and park there. You can always walk back across the bridge.
Alternatively, instead of going to the north viewing area get back on the highway heading south, and park on the west side at the southern end of the bridge. You can then walk under the bridge to visit the Welcome Center, cafe, and museum.
You aren't done yet, though. On the far side of the bridge is a second viewing area, Vista Point. This looks back towards the bridge but on the horizon you can see the San Francisco skyline, so it's definitely worth a second stop. There are rest rooms here too.
A little further on there's another right exit which takes you to a t-junction. If you turn left here the road goes underneath the highway to yet another viewpoint. You'll have more photos of the Golden Gate Bridge than you know what to do with, and plenty of opportunities for selfies.
If you're driving south towards San Francisco you can still reach all three places from right-hand exits from Highway 101.
If you're cycling the Pacific Coast Highway then you can still get to the viewpoints as you would if you were driving, but on the city side of the bridge you might want to take one of the streets parallel to Highway 101 where there's a bit less traffic.
Cyclists can then cross the bridge using the walkways at either side, which are also used by pedestrians. These can get busy so you may prefer to dismount and push your bike.
There are also several companies in and around San Francisco who you can rent bikes from, along with bike route maps, and other companies who organize bike tours to the bridge and beyond. Search around for those or see this page on the official San Francisco visitor website.
If you're on a city break in San Francisco without a car, you can still visit the Golden Gate Bridge using public transport. For full information on how to do this visit this page of the official Golden Gate Bridge website. It tells you the bus numbers that will take you to and from the city center, where to catch them, and where to get off.
In fact, even if you do have a car with you in San Francisco, you should consider taking public transport to get there. It'll be cheaper than paying for parking, and less frustrating if you can't find a parking place!
There's also a toll for driving across the bridge, payable electronically in the southbound direction. Read the details here. If you're renting a car you should check with the rental company whether your car is registered to automatically pay the toll.
There's also a hop on-hop off tour bus that takes you round the city, and will drop you at the bridge. Then you wait for the same company's bus service to pick you up again.
You can also use apps like Uber and Lyft to visit the Golden Gate Bridge.
Yet another option for visiting the bridge is to take a tour. There are many options available, but check how much time you'll get to spend at the bridge, and whether you visit both the north and south ends.
There are also free walking tours of the bridge, currently on Thursdays and Sundays. It's a service offered by San Francisco City Guides, who currently offer eighty free walking tours around San Francisco. These include music tours, architecture tours, history tours, natural history tours, and much more. They offer private tours too.
Sorry, you can't get to the bridge by ferry but it's a great way to get good views of it. You can find out more details here. You could have a day out, see the bridge, and visit the little city of Sausalito, perhaps have lunch there and catch the ferry back.
Mar 29, 23 10:55 AM
Mar 29, 23 10:55 AM
Mar 24, 23 12:33 PM