Friday, March 22, 2024

Where To Park At Golden Gate Bridge

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TheJapanese Tea Garden is heralded as the oldest public Japanese garden in all of the United States. This beautifully maintained facility pays credence to the elegance and beauty of life, and honors the Japanese tradition of beauty. Its Café is also a delicious place to stop for tea and sweets.

The Tea Gardens are located in the same area as the California Academy of Sciences, so the same 4 hour free parking can be considered on Nancy Pelosi, Martin Luther King Jr., and John F. Kennedy drives, as well as on Cloud Forest Path. If all those spots are somehow taken, theres also a parking garage located on 10th Avenue .

Make sure you dont leave anything visible inside your vehicle, since the worst block in San Francisco for car break-ins is in this area!

My Other Favorite Spot

That would be Crissy Field South Beach. Im not sure why it is so named because it is on the north side of this bit of land and further west than East Beach. Nevertheless, this beach is really just a continuation of East Beach, the separation being the tidal channel into the marsh.

About 200 yards beyond the footbridge, under a grove of cypress trees, is a small wooden path leading to the beach. This spot is my other number one favorite part of the walk! Nearby are several wood benches facing the bay. The views are spectacular: the Golden Gate Bridge now a bit closer off to the west, hills and towns of Marin County and Angel Island to the north, Alcatraz Island and the East Bay far to the east, and Crissy Field Marsh to the south.

I always have a sense of peace and contentment when I stop by. These sights are impressive, no matter what the weather or time of day. But if I had my druthers, I would visit only on bright, sunny, windy days, preferably in the late afternoon. This is when the sun is lower in the sky, its rays shimmering and dancing on the white-capped water. And it is when the westerly breeze is brisk and refreshing. Close to perfection.

North Sausalito Side Golden Gate Bridge Parking

Golden Gate Bridge parking on the northern side is popular, but there aren’t as many options. The most popular is Vista Point . I don’t recommend this one as it’s crowded. It’s also where the buses drive through so it can be really chaotic. Here are two alternatives.

5. North Tower Golden Gate Parking

Cost: Free

This lot is not well marked on any maps. It sits on the western side of the bridge and many people use it for the nearby hiking trail. Will it does get busy, it usually isn’t as bad as Vista Point.

To find this lot, you will need drive past Vista Point on Highway 101 and take the first exit .

Take this to Alexander Avenue , take a left and drive under 101.

Take another left and in less than a half mile you will see a sign that ways “Marin Headlands” with an arrow. Turn to the right here which will take you slightly up hill . After you turn, you will see a sign that say “Parking/Trailhead.”

Follow this sign and it will dead end into another parking lot. This lot has about 40 spots with a few handicap only spaces.

To get to the pedestrian walkway on the bridge, follow the waterfront trail. You’ll walk on a walkway that takes you under the bridge . It takes just a few minutes to reach the pedestrian walkway from the Golden Gate Bridge parking lot.

To find it via GPS or on your phone, plug in “Trailhead Parking, Conzelman Road, Mill Valley” and it should lead you to it.

6. Fort Baker Waterfront Parking

Cost: Free

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First Things First: Properly Planning And Packing For Your Journey

Layer up, because temperatures can change rapidly. Sunblock is a must, even on foggy or cloudy days. Wear comfortable shoes. And as always, hydrate!

Anticipate a one-way walk time of at least an hour, depending on rest stops and time spent gazing at the wondrous sights. If walking this far seems daunting, consider renting a bike. Several vendors are available in the area.

East Battery Parking Lot

Golden Gate Bridge : History, Park and Photo Gallery

The East Battery Parking lot is just a bit down the hill from the Visitors Center and it functions as an overflow lot with ~80 parking spots. The lot itself offers a nice view of the south end of the bridge and its only a 2 minute walk to the Welcome Center .

How to get to the East Battery Parking Lot: Follow the same directions as for the Visitors Center, but rather than going left into the Visitors Center lot, go right and slightly downhill.

How much does the lot cost: The parking fee is $1.20/hour or $7.00 for all day. Be sure to display your ticket on the dash.

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C Fort Baker Ggnra Parking Lots

The good news: these lots are reasonably close to the north end of the Bridge and you can usually find a place to park here. The bad news: the lots are gravel and you have climb up the steep road to the top of the hill to reach Vista Point on the eastern side of the Bridge and the Conzelman Road Parking Lot on the western side.

Access from Highway 101 North: Yes, via Alexander Ave. and Bunker Road.

Access from Highway 101 South: Yes, via Alexander Ave. and Bunker Road.

Access via City Streets: Yes, via Alexander Ave and East Road.

North Side Golden Gate Bridge Parking

The map image below shows you three ways to park on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge. There is also a scenic drive that goes west along Conzelman road. There are pullouts and free parking spots along that road and they do provide nice views of the bridge, but they dont offer good access to the bridge.

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There At Last: Reaching Golden Gate Bridge And Fort Point

The walk from the Warming Hut to the Golden Gate Bridge is about half a mile along a well-paved road shared by pedestrians, bicyclists, and motor vehicles. And the views are awesome!

As before, be careful. There are cars to the left of you and crashing waves to the right of you. Youre stuck in the middle. But the up-close sights of the massive bridge, Fort Point National Historic Site, and ocean swells roughly smashing into the bay and shoreline are worth the effort. Tours of the fort are available. Check Fort Point National Historic Sites website for days and times.

Know that walking or biking across the Golden Gate Bridge is a visual treat but can be an auditory misery! It is a story for another time.

Finally, I recommend visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District website for photos, history, further exploration, and even transportation options to cross the bridge and get back downtown.

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Parking Near Golden Gate Bridge

Parking Lot Prices May Rise At Golden Gate Bridge

With the help of SpotHero, enjoy the convenience of booking a parking spot ahead of time, ensuring you have a space waiting for you when you get to Golden Gate Bridge.

To get started, select the timeframe you wish to book parking for, find your ideal spot on the map, and head to checkout to complete your reservation!

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De Young Museum Parking Garage & Alternatives

The de Young Museum is located within Golden Gate Park, and there is a car parking structure right underneath the building: the Music Concourse Garage. Its also suitable for those visiting the California Academy of Sciences, Botanical Garden, or Stow Lake. The garage parking rates vary according to the time of the day and the duration of your staycheck out the de Young Museum Parking guide for more information. It also includes information about accessible parking stalls and nearby paid parking alternatives.

One of the alternatives is the UCSF Medical Center Garage, which charges $3 per hour and $24 per day. The Kezar Stadium Parking Lot in the southeast corner of the park is another option its located near the Stanyan St. entrance and charges $3 to $4 per hour.

Stop : A View Of The Bridge

How Did the Golden Gate Bridge Get Its Name?

Many people think the Golden Gate Bridge was named because of the gold that was discovered in California during the famous Gold Rush. Not true!

If you go all the way back to the year 1846 and you stood in this spot, you would see a wide-open area between San Francisco and Marin County to the north.

In that year, Captain John C. Fremont sailed a ship through that area into San Francisco Bay.

As he was sailing through, he commented that it was so beautiful that he was going to name it “Chrysopylae,” which, translated into English, means “Golden Gate.”

This area kept that name for over 80 years, and when the bridge was built across it, they kept the Golden Gate name.

What to See from This Spot

If you’re looking at the bridge, the first thing you will see behind it is a vast open expanse of land called the Marin Headlands.

This open space was one of the biggest victories that conservation groups have ever achieved in the United States.

Many developers wanted to build houses and businesses on this land, but the local citizens banded together to protect this amazing land.

Looking out at the bay, you’ll also see two important islands.

The first is Alcatraz Island, the famous prison that has turned into a tourist attraction (for information on visiting Alcatraz, check out our post on how to get to Alcatraz.

To the left of Alcatraz, you’ll also see Angel Island. This island has been called the “Ellis Island of the West.”

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Stop : The South Tower

From here, you can see a large amount of downtown San Francisco! Here are some of our favorite sites:

1. Coit Tower

Coit Tower is an art deco-style tower that was created in 1933 in honor of one of our favorite San Francisco ladies: Lillie Hitchcock Coit. You can learn more about Lillie Coit on our North Beach/Little Italy walking tour.

But she was a fascinating lady who lived in San Francisco in the late 1800s. When she died, she left her large fortune to the City of San Francisco for them to create beautiful additions to the city.

San Francisco used a large portion of her fortune to build Coit Tower .

If you want a fantastic view of downtown SF, you can’t beat Coit Tower. Read our full post on the tower.

2. Transamerica Pyramid

The 853-foot Transamerica building is currently the tallest building in San Francisco . It was created to be the headquarters of the Transamerica company.

When it was first designed by William Pereira, it was a very unpopular design. But over the years, it has come to be not just accepted but celebrated as the most famous building in this extremely famous skyline.

If you want to learn more about this building and its Italian heritage, you can join our North Beach/Little Italy walking tour!

3. Salesforce Tower

4. Palace of Fine Arts

Things to Do Near the Golden Gate Bridge

There are plenty of interesting activities near the Golden Gate Bridge.

So have fun, and enjoy your visit to the Golden Gate Bridge!

Stop : Earthquake Testing And Retrofitting

Golden Gate Bridge  Park Jezersko

As many people know, San Francisco has suffered through many major earthquakes in its history.

The largest of these was the 1906 earthquake, which was estimated to be a 7.8 on the Richter scale

Since 1906, the city has experienced numerous other strong earthquakes.

Because of the danger that earthquakes pose, we have to know to a high degree of certainty that the Golden Gate Bridge will survive a strong earthquake.

As part of the design process during the creation of the bridge, scientists put models of the bridge under severe stress to figure out which parts of the bridge would cause trouble.

As you can see from this large beam that is bent in the middle, the researchers discovered one possible fault in the bridge.

They fixed it before the bridge was ever built, but they kept this bent beam for visitors to see.

Walk back under the bridge, and walk up the hill towards the right. At the top of the hill, you’ll see a set of stairs with a large flagpole at the top. Walk up to the area with the flag.

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Vista Point Parking Lot

The Vista Point parking lot is very busy. It’s the first lot you can pull into just after crossing the bridge, and it has one of the best views of the bridge. Not surprisingly, it’s also a popular stop for the tour buses. All of the Hop On Hop Off buses stop here on their Sausalito loop, and lots of people come here on foot walking across the bridge.

Parking is free, but there is a four hour limit.

Getting to the Vista Point lot: take the Vista Point Exit as soon as you get off the bridge. It’s the first exit after the bridge.

On a beautiful sunny day, it can be tough to get a parking spot here. Fortunately, there’s another lot just across the highway that’s not as busy: the North Tower lot.

Coastal Trail Golden Gate Bridge Parking Lot

Just up the hill from the employee parking lot next to the Toll Plaza is another lot, which just re-opened in 2016 after being remodeled and re-paved. Stepping just a few paces down a path from this lot also reveals a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge looking directly north along its roadway.

Access from Highway 101 North: Yes, via tunnel under Bridge.

Access from Highway 101 South: Yes

Access via City Streets: Yes, via Lincoln Blvd. or Mason St. from San Francisco.

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Other Ways To Get To The Golden Gate Bridge

If you plan to drive, then these Golden Gate Bridge parking options are your best bet. You can also get here on public transit or via Uber/Lyft/Taxi.

Transit: If you prefer to avoid the hassles of driving and parking, then I’d recommend looking at the bus options. All Golden Gate Transit buses that service San Francisco make a stop at the bridge. The ones that run throughout the day include the 30, 70, and the 101. They don’t automatically stop at the bridge, so make sure to push the stop button or pull the wire to alert the driver that you need to stop at the bridge. They will drop you off on the southern side. There is no public transit option that drops you off right at the northern end of the bridge. Additional tips for taking public transit in SF.

Uber/Lyft/Taxi: You can also get here via Uber/Lyft/Taxi. This is a good option if you want to be dropped off right at the Welcome Center. It’s also faster than public transit but will cost just a little more. More on taxis in SF.

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Glimpsing Five White Buildings And Five Red Roofs

Golden Gate Bridge Heard ‘Whistling’ Over San Francisco Bay

Opposite Crissy Field is a compound consisting of four white buildings with red roofs, and a pier leading out to a boathouse with the same color scheme. At one time, when ships were made of wood and men were made of steel, this was a U.S. Coast Guard motor lifeboat station, Fort Point Station. Indeed, it was my first duty assignment while serving in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Today it is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary headquarters. Their mission statement says, in part, we protect the wildlife, habitats, and cultural resources of one of the most diverse and bountiful marine environments in the world, an area of 3,295 square miles off the northern and central California coast. Pretty impressive responsibility to be housed in a former motor lifeboat station.

Visitors are welcome.

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My Number One Favorite Spot

Just west of the StFYC is a small terrace with two benches. It is my favorite spot on the entire walk, right at the waters edge, offering direct, unobstructed views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the surrounding bay. Feel the sun and wind, smell the salty air, embrace the beauty. And enjoy the moment. It is an inspiring point.

Just west of this plaza is a compressed-dirt-and-rock pedestrian and bike path leading to Crissy Field East Beach and beyond to the Golden Gate Bridge. This is an entrance into The Presidio, once a U.S. Army base, now a self-sustaining national park. The beach is used for sunbathing on warmer days. Dog walking and playing every day. And when the wind is consistent and strong, expert sail-, kite- and foil-boarders launch from the beach into the bay.

Watch for flights of pelicans, the only birds to have an island in San Francisco Bay named after them Alcatraz is the Spanish word for pelican. At the end of the beach is a pedestrian footbridge over the tidal flow from the bay to Crissy Field Marsh.

Golden Gate Bridge Parking Guide

ALERT: The Golden Gate Bridge District and CHP close the North Vista Point and the Welcome Center parking lot at the South Vista Point to passenger cars from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM on most holiday weekends. We have all the details from past closures here. See below for other parking lots farther from the Bridge that will remain open, but arrive early to have the best chance at getting a spot.

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