Golden Gate Bridge Parking Tips
Golden Gate Bridge parking can seem a bit chaotic if you don’t have a plan in place before you arrive. The two or three lots that are the most popular are usually not the best places to find a spot. They are small and busy. At times, you could drive around them for 30 minutes or more just waiting for a spot to open.
My guide offers you several alternatives to these busy, busy options. Most of my recommendations are still within a half mile walk to the bridge and are not as crowded most of the year.
During the busy summer months, they often close some of the busiest lots on the weekends and holidays as there are just too many people trying to find spots in these small lots. I’ve indicated this next to each recommendation, so you can see if you are visiting during a time when those lots could be closed.
My guide also explains a little about each parking lot as well as which side of the bridge it’s located. You will also find some cost estimates, roughly how many spots are in each one, and a few details to help you find them easily.
What To Wear When Walking The Golden Gate Bridge
Like virtually everywhere in San Francisco: layers, layers, layers! It is hard to overstate just how mercurial the weather in San Francisco is.
On my recent walk across the bridge, it was gusty and windy which made it feel kind of cool, and there was a wall of fog on the west side of the bridge which blocked the views out to the Pacific Ocean .
but it was still warm enough that I managed to get sunburned on my shoulders where my shirt exposed some skin.
So yes, even though San Francisco has a reputation for cold weather and fog, even in the summer, that doesnt mean you cant get sunburned, especially if youre pasty like me. Layer up on that sunscreen!
That said, youll also want to bring a light jacket in the summer, in case the wind gets really gusty or if the fog rolls in. And in the winter, make that a heavier waterproof one, in case of rain.
San Francisco Urban Adventures
San Francisco Urban Adventures offers small group tours where you will be hiking the coastline past the Golden Gate Bridge, Sutro Baths, beaches, and the bay. All of their tours are given by a local, they will let you discover the secret trails and share their local history knowledge of this world-renowned landmark. The tour takes 3.5-4.5 hours in total, and a ticket costs $58 .
Some of the highlights you will discover
- Explore the rich history from the bridge to the beaches, the neighborhoods and beyond
- Capture scenic photos on a leisurely walk along the rugged coastline from The Golden Gate Bridge to Lands End
- Discover the secret trails and mingle with the locals at play in this beautiful part of San Francisco
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Can I Bike Across Golden Gate Bridge
Biking Rules on the Golden Gate Bridge Heres what you need to know: You will ride on the bridge sidewalks, not on the roadway itself. There are no bike lanes on the road and its illegal to ride your bike on the roadway across the bridge. Cyclists can cross the bridge on their bikes 24 hours a day, 365 days a week.
The Detailed Architecture Of The Golden Gate Bridge
All the tiny rivets holding this massive bridge together are worth pondering.
Even the original sign announcing completion of the bridge was made in metal letters.
This model shows how the bridge adapts to the wind and weather by swaying up to 28 feet sideways. I was glad I read this after we were back on land.
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When Is The Best Time To See The Golden Gate Bridge
You can visit the bridge anytime, but the best time depends upon what you want to do while there. If you simply want to check out the viewing platforms and walk the bridge, you can do that any day from 5:30am-6pm .
Its worth visiting the bridge at dawn if you want nice light for your photoshoot. The best spot for that is below the bridge at Crissy Field and Fort Point. For sunsets, the best spot is west of the bridge along the Batteries to Bluffs trail or on the north side in the Marin Headlands.
How Long Does It Take To Bike Ride Across Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is 2.1 miles long and it takes about 10-25 minutes to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, depending on how strong of a cyclist you are and how often you stop. If you plan to bike to Sausalito, plan to spend about 45 minutes to an hour biking from the start of the bridge to Sausalito.
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A Travelers Guide To The 5 Types Of Golden Gate Bridge Tours
More than 10 million tourists make the trek every year to see San Franciscos famed Golden Gate Bridge. Are you ready to join their ranks? If so, youll have a few ways to see it. The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most accessible landmarks in the city, the Golden Gate Bridge is ideal for driving, walking, and biking! Not sure which option will fit into your itinerary the best? Thats where we come in.
Today, were sharing different ways to make the most of your visit, including our top Golden Gate Bridge tour options to explore. Ready to learn more? Lets take off!
What Holds Up The Golden Gate Bridge
Its a simple concept: Two cables anchored on either side of the 1-mile wide Golden Strait are held aloft by two steel towers. Thats it: only two cables, each 36-3/8 inches in diameter. Heres a photo of a cross section of cable displayed at the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center* on the San Francisco side.
How do you hike the Golden Gate Bridge? Here are six hikes to experience the bridge in all its glory. Lands End Coastal Trail. Lands End Coastal Trail, located on the northwestern edge of San Francisco, is a family-friendly stroll along the Golden Gate to multiple scenic overlooks. Batteries to Bluffs Trail. Presidio Loop. East Beach to Fort Point.
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Golden Gate Bridge Tours
Are you ready to trade your 9-to-5 for a few days and dive headfirst into all that San Francisco has to offer? Were excited to welcome you to our city and cant wait to show you around.
Whether you prefer a seven-speed bike, electric bike, or minibus, well showcase the sights in style. Along the way, our well-informed and 100% tour guides will share insider tidbits that bring every destination to life. Whether youre interested in booking a Golden Gate Bridge tour, a city highlight tour, or even a visit to Alcatraz, weve got you covered.
From Baker Beach On The Batteries To Bluffs Trail
This option is nice if you are interested in creeping around some of SFs old military bunkers. And by starting at Baker Beach, you can check out one of the nicest beaches in San Francisco. Its got a wide sand beach and great views of the bridge in the distance. From the beach, walk up to the bluffs and take the Batteries to Bluffs Trail east toward the bridge. Cross under the bridge to the Welcome Center and then continue walking on the Golden Gate Bridge.
Distance to the south end Welcome Center: 1 mileDistance to the north end Vista Point: 2.7 miles
There is some parking at Baker beach, but public transportation would probably be more convenient. From downtown, take the 38BX or the 1 to 25th St. Transfer to the 29 and get off at Bowley.
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Where Do I Park For The Golden Gate Bridge
The Welcome Center has two parking lots very close to the south end of the bridge. But altogether, there are 8 parking lots within walking distance of the south end and another 3 on the north end. Some of these are free and others are paid.
This resource will tell you everything you need to know about Golden Gate Bridge parking. It has a map and will tell you which lots are free.
Driving To The Bridge
Unlike driving and trying to park at many of San Francisco’s favorite attractions, driving to the Golden Gate Bridge is no reason for a nervous breakdown! The surprise is that it’s also easy and cheap to park there.
If you are heading for the bridge on the Presidio Parkway , take the last SF exit before the bridge. You’ll need to be in the far right lane, and a sign warns you it is the last SF exit. From there, you can access the parking areas on either side of the bridge.
You can also approach the bridge from either the east or west sides on Lincoln Boulevard. You can drive under the bridge near the Welcome Center parking lot, and Lincoln Blvd. also goes under the Presidio Parkway.
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Visit The Fort Point Historic Site
Fort Point is a civil war-era brick fort and National Historic site. It sits right under the bridge at the south gateway to the bay. You can walk around the exterior of the fort anytime and the interior is open Friday through Sunday, 10:00am-5:00pm. From Fort Point, you can then walk back toward Crissy Field and then up the East Batteries Trail up to the bridge.
Where To Park To Walk Across The Golden Gate Bridge
Having a car makes it nice to not have to plan a tour bus or use public transportation, but it makes finding parking in the city sometimes tricky. With that in mind, there are two parking areas. The visitor center parking lot on the city side does not have a lot of parking but if you can find it, take it. This is where the buses drop people off for walks and photo ops, so it gets pretty crowded. There is a nice gift shop where I picked up an orange rivet photo stand for a photo I took of the kids. If the weather is where you cant even see the bridge, they have a fun photo op inside. Be sure to check it out.
If you cannot find parking here you can drive across the bridge to the Vista Point and look for parking there. This is a great photo opportunity to get the city view and the bridge. Realize that if you drive across the bridge and cant find parking you will have to pay the toll to come back across.
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Four Cool Routes For The Bridge Walk
When most people think of walking the Golden Gate Bridge, they are just thinking of the pedestrian walkway on the bridge itself. But if you are up for doing some additional mileage, you can take a hike to the bridge from one of several connecting pathways. These extended routes gives you more opportunity to see the bay, the Pacific and the bridge itself from different angles.
Option : The Complete Walk Across The Golden Gate Bridge
Distance: About 3 Miles to go from one parking lot to the anchorage for the cables at the far end of the Bridge and then walk back. if you go all the way from parking lot to parking lot for the familiar postcard views its about 3.5 miles for the round trip .
Time: Allow plenty of time to take photos, enjoy the views and the way the light changes on San Francisco as the sun moves overhead.
Insiders Tip: If you start from the northern end of the Bridge, the Round House Cafe and the Golden Gate Bridge Cafe at the southern end where you can stop for a treat mid-walk. We think you need a minimum of two hours to enjoy the walk, though it can be done more quickly.
The video below shows the sidewalk as you travel from the San Francisco side to the Sausalito side, starting in the fog and ending up under sunny blue skies! Its taken from a bike but gives you a good feel for the walking experience, though they dont show the great views along the way.
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Bike The Golden Gate Bridge
This is one of the most popular ways of experiencing the Golden Gate Bridge. You can ride a bike over and back, or take the popular bike ride over the bridge and down into the seaside town of Sausalito, returning to the city by ferry.
Almost everyone going on to Sausalito opts to ride the ferry back to San Francisco that avoids the tough ride back uphill and puts you on a ferry ride with great views of the city and Alcatraz .
There are two ways to do it:
- Ride over on your own
- Take a guided bike tour
How Do You Get To The Golden Gate Bridge
On the Bus: If you want to take public transportation to the bridge, catch one of the following bus routes to the south end Welcome Center: From downtown and Union Square or from Civic Center . $2.25 one way.
: An Uber from downtown to the Welcome Center will cost ~$17-20 one way.
On a Sightseeing Bus: You can combine a trip to the bridge with other sightseeing using a hop on hop off pass. It will takes you on the tourist trail throughout the city. The bus stops at both the Welcome Center and the Vista Point so you can walk the bridge as a one-way. This kind of pass is only worth it if you also want to have an action packed day visiting further flung spots like Golden Gate Park and Haight Ashbury. Otherwise, just take a city bus or an Uber.
: There is a small pay parking lot at the Welcome Center and a larger one just down the hill at Battery East. There is also a free parking lot at the Vista Point on the north end. Use this guide to find all of the Golden Gate Bridge parking lots.
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Best Time To Photograph The Golden Gate Bridge
Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to see the Golden Gate Bridge when the light casts a golden hue over the landscape.
The Golden Gate Bridge at night can also be a beautiful sight, as the lights reflect in the water below.
In San Francisco, the fog can descend at any time but your best shot at avoiding it is in the late afternoon.
If youre lucky, you might get just a few wisps of fog clinging to the towers, enough for a moody image but not so much that you lose the bridge entirely.
Driving Across The Golden Gate Bridge
The bridge is open for cars 24 hours a day. After you cross the bridge, there are a number of parking options. But first, what about the toll?
The Bridge Toll
Only drivers coming into San Francisco pay the toll it’s free heading out of the city.
The toll for the Golden Gate Bridge is currently $9.05 for two-axle vehicles . If you’ve set up a FasTrack account, it’s $8.05.
It used to be free for motorcycles and carpools of 3 or more in a car during rush hour, but that ended in 2010. Carpools and motorcycles get a discount if they use FasTrack.
Unlike the Bay Bridge, there are no humans in the toll booths, and you don’t need to have cash to get through the toll plaza anymore.
It’s all electronic now. The sensor reads your FasTrack tag or photographs your license plate when you drive through the toll booth you slow down but don’t stop. There are various options for paying:
To set up an account, or make payments, see bridge tolls.
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How To To The Golden Gate Bridge To Walk Across
The best walking experience starts at Golden Gate Bridge Visitor Plaza on the southeast end of the bridge. From San Francisco/Highway 101: going northbound on Highway 101, take the last San Francisco exit. From Marin/Highway 101: Go over the bridge southbound and after you pass through the toll plaza quickly get in the far right lane and exit on Merchant Road. Make a right and another right at the stop sign which takes you underneath the Toll Plaza and then directly to the southeast parking lot.
The Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Centre is a destination in itself!
Stop : Men Of Vision Plaque
Although Joseph Strauss had a vision for the Golden Gate Bridge, he could not build it alone. The first thing he needed was money.
And building what many thought was an impossible bridge was going to require a lot of money!
Luckily, San Francisco was home to another visionary. His name was Amadeo “A.P.” Giannini.
If you have taken our North Beach/Little Italy walking tour you would have heard about Giannini!
Giannini was willing to lend all the money that was required to build the Golden Gate Bridge.
It was a huge undertaking with a massive risk involved, but he believed it was the right decision.
The plaque that you are standing in front of commemorates the meeting of Giannini and Strauss which sealed the future for the bridge.
Continue walking down the path as it curves to the left. You will see a patch of dirt just off the paved road with a great view of the bridge.
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