Betsy has been writing about California for nearly two decades as a TripSavvy state expert.
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco serves as an iconic symbol of the "City on the Bay". It is one of the most popular attractions and visitors love to photograph it, walk around it and learn about the history of the Golden Gate Bridge. This is one of the most beautiful series in the world.
The real "Golden Gate" is the strait over which the bridge stretches. It was first named "Golden Gates", meaning "golden gate", by Captain John C. Fremont in 1846.
Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints
Here are the two places visitors to the Golden Gate Bridge want to visit the most:
South (San Francisco side) Vista Point:The parking spaces are almost always full, the spaces are metered and if the meter runs out you will pay a fine which can cost as much as a meal in a very nice restaurant. You'll find restrooms, a gift shop, a coffee shop, and an exhibition showing a cross-section of the bridge's cables.
If you think this car park is full or want to spend more time than the meters allow, try the following options:
- Leave the parking lot and turn left onto Lincoln. On the left you will find a lot of gravel. If you're approaching from the Presidio in Lincoln, the lot is directly opposite the two-story buildings that used to be the Presidio's officers' quarters.
- ONLY on weekends and holidays, you will find more paid parking spaces in the nearby satellite car park on the south-west side of the bridge. From there, walk to the bridge and take the underground passage to the viewpoint.
North view (Marin Side):Parking is free for up to four hours and there are toilets. This lot is only accessible from US 101 northbound, and if you cross the bridge and plan to return to San Francisco later, you will pay a toll. Tolls are completely electronic, so it's not as simple as taking out cash. Learn how to pay from the Golden Gate Bridge Toll Guide, written for out-of-towners.
Experience the Golden Gate Bridge
Walk the Golden Gate Bridge if you can. You can't really appreciate size and height unless you've gone through it, at least a little. In the middle of the span, you stand 220 feet above the water and the ships passing below look like little toys. The distance from one viewpoint to the next is 1.7 miles, a nice round trip if you like, but even a short walk will be interesting.
Pedestrians are only allowed on the eastern (city) sidewalk during the day. Dogs are allowed if always on a leash, but not roller skates, ice skates or skateboards.
Guided tour:Many tour operators in San Francisco include the Golden Gate Bridge in their tour plans, but most only allow a few minutes to get out of South Point.City guidesoffers regular, free walking tours. Walk with them and find out who named the bridge, how the structure broke concrete and steel laws, and what members of the Halfway to Hell Club did to join their organization.
Even if you don't take this tour, you may want to learn more about the history of the Golden Gate Bridge and learn some of its most fascinating facts.
The Golden Gate Bridge is open to car and bicycle traffic 24 hours a day, and to pedestrians during the day. A toll is charged, but only southbound.
Take half an hour to visit one of the viewpoints, an hour or more if you go for a walk over the bridge.
The Golden Gate Bridge is especially beautiful on a sunny, windless day. In the morning, the eastern side will be beautifully illuminated. The fog can make it almost disappear.
Getting to the Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge can be seen from many places in San Francisco, but if you want to see it up close, there are many ways to do so.
Golden Gate Bridge by car:Follow signs from anywhere in town, take Lombard Street (US Hwy 101) west. To get to the south face, take the exit marked "Last SF Exit" just before the toll booth. You can avoid the heavy traffic by taking Lincoln Avenue through the Presidio.
Most Golden Gate trolleybuses: City landmarksThe Hop On Hop Off double-decker buses and other attractions stop here. Other similar-sounding services don't stop at as many places or offer as much flexibility.
Most Golden Gate autobusem:San Francisco Muni buses 28 and 29 go south. Consult meSystem Karta Muniplan your trip.
Golden Gate Bridge by bike:Cyclists can use the Golden Gate Bridge 24 hours a day, but the walkways they can visit vary, with the west (ocean) side being the most common. There are plenty of bike rental shops around Fisherman's Wharf, and most will give you a map and directions to cross the bridge to Sausalito and catch the return ferry.
Golden Gate Bridge Facts: Size
The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest span in the world from its completion in 1937 until the construction of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in New York City in 1964. Today it still has the ninth longest suspension span in the world. Some facts about the Golden Gate Bridge that show off its greatness:
- Total length:Including ascent, 1.7 miles (8,981 feet or 2,737 meters)
- Middle Area:4,200 feet (1,966 meters).
- Width:90 feet (27 meters)
- High water purification(average): 220 feet (67 meters)
- Total weight under construction:894 500 ton (811 500 000 kg)
- Total weight today:887,000 tonnes (804,700,000 kg). Reduced weight due to the new floor material
- 746 feet (227 meters) above the water
- 500 feet (152 meters) above the road
- Each leg measures 33 x 54 feet (10 x 16 meters)
- The turrets weigh 44,000 tonnes each (40,200,000 kg)
- There are approximately 600,000 rivets in EACH tower.
Golden Gate Bridge Facts: Construction
One of the most interesting facts about the Golden Gate Bridge is that only eleven workers died during its construction, a new safety record at the time. In the 1930s, bridge builders expected 1 death per $1 million in construction costs, and builders expected 35 deaths during the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.
One of the safety innovations on the bridge was a net suspended under the floor. This net saved the lives of 19 men during construction, and they are often referred to as members of the "Halfway to Hell Club".
- Steel elements:
- Manufactured in New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania and shipped via the Panama Canal
- Total weight of steel: 83,000 tonnes (75,293,000 kg)
- Cable Details:
- Two main cables run through the tops of the main towers and are attached to concrete anchors at each end. Each cable consists of 27,572 strands. The two main cables contain 80,000 miles (129,000 km) of wire and took over six months to turn
- Cable Diameter (including sheath): 36 3/8 inches (0.92 meters)
- Cable length: 7,260 feet (2,332 meters)
- 128 lights were installed on the road surface of the bridge. These are 250W high-pressure sodium lamps, installed in 1972
- The tower's 24 walkway lights are 35W low-pressure sodium lamps
- 12 lights illuminate each tower, each rated at 400 watts, and there is a ventilation light on top of each tower
Golden Gate Bridge Facts: Traffic
- Average passes:Approximately 41 million per year, including north and south crossings, compared to 33 million crossings in the first year of opening. Currently, approximately 112,000 vehicles cross the bridge daily.
- Fewer transitions:January 1982 when a storm closed US Hwy 101 north of the bridge. On January 6, only 3,921 southbound vehicles exceeded the toll
- Most Passes:On October 27, 1989, a few days after the Loma Prieta earthquake, the Bay Bridge was closed. On that day, 162,414 vehicles crossed the bridge (counting those going in both directions).
- Total crossings:As of July 2019, 2.1 billion vehicles have crossed the Golden Gate Bridge (north and south) since the bridge opened to traffic on May 28, 1937.
- Close:The bridge has been closed three times due to weather conditions, due to gusty winds in excess of 70 mph. It was briefly closed for visits by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and French President Charles DeGaulle. It was also closed on its fiftieth birthday. The bridge was closed in the early morning hours for four hours in January 2015 to install a movable center plate.
Golden Gate Bridge Facts: Important Dates
- 25 houses in 1923:The California state legislature passes a bill establishing the Golden Gate Bridge and Freeway District
- August 27, 1930:Joseph B. Strauss lays out the final plans
- November 4, 1930:$35 million bond issue approved by six county counties by 145,667 votes to 46,954
- January 5, 1933:Construction begins
- 27 houses 1937:The bridge is open to pedestrians
- 28 houses 1937:The bridge is open to cars. Tolls were 50 cents one way, $1 round trip and a 5 cent surcharge if there were more than 3 passengers
- February 22, 1985:The billionth car crosses the bridge. Tolls are $2 southbound on Friday and Saturday, $1 the rest of the day. There are no tolls in the north
- 28 houses 1987:Bridge closed to vehicles to celebrate its fiftieth birthday. An estimated 300,000 pedestrians blocked the bridge
- September 2, 2008:The fare increased to $6 southbound. There are no tolls in the north.
- April 2013:Human toll collectors have been replaced by an electronic system. This guide has all the details on the new way to pay for the Golden Gate Bridge.
Golden Gate Bridge Facts: Color
- The color of the Golden Gate Bridge is vermilion orange, also known as international orange. Architect Irving Morrow chose this color because it blends into the background of the bridge and makes the bridge visible in fog
- The bridge was completely painted when it was built and then repaired over the next 27 years. In 1965, the original paint was peeled off due to corrosion and replaced with an inorganic zinc silicate primer and acrylic emulsion topcoat, which took 30 years. Today, painters are constantly improving color
- 38 painters work on the bridge and 17 blacksmiths replace the corroded steel and rivets
The Golden Gate Bridge, a symbol of San Francisco, a marvel of engineering, the object of many photographs, the effect of one man's vision and perseverance, towers over the entrance to San Francisco Bay. Learn the history of the Golden Gate Bridge.
History must Golden Gate
For many years before the Golden Gate Bridge was built, the only way to cross San Francisco Bay was by ferry, and in the early 20th century, the bay was blocked by them. In the 1920s, engineer and bridge builder Joseph Strauss became convinced that a bridge should be built over the Golden Gate.
He was opposed by many groups, each for their own selfish reasons: military, loggers, railroads. The engineering challenge was also formidable - winds of up to 60 mph often blow in the Golden Gate Bridge area, and strong ocean currents flow through the rugged canyon below the surface. As if that wasn't enough, he was in the midst of economic collapse, funds were scarce, and the San Francisco Bay Bridge was already under construction. Still, Strauss persisted, and the history of the Golden Gate Bridge began when San Francisco voters overwhelmingly approved $35 million worth of bonds to build the Golden Gate Bridge.
Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge
The now-famous Art Deco design and international orange color were chosen, and construction began in 1933. The Golden Gate Bridge project was completed in 1937, a notable date in San Francisco's history. Strauss was a pioneer in building safety, making history with innovations such as helmets and daily field sobriety tests. The Bay Bridge (under construction at the same time) lost 24 lives while the Golden Gate Bridge lost only 11, a remarkable achievement at a time when one person died on most construction projects for every million spent.
Where Is the Best View of the Golden Gate Bridge? The best Golden Gate Bridge viewpoint is Hawk Hill. This option provides stunning views of the bridge and the city of San Francisco. Found off of Conzelman Road, you'll need to hike up to this viewpoint to experience the infamous suspension bridge.What is the best time of day to see the Golden Gate Bridge? ›
One of the best times of day to walk the Golden Gate Bridge is in the afternoons, after 3:30 as during the week, cyclists will be on the west side of the bridge. Plus, the lighting is excellent as long as the fog doesn't impede!Where is the best place to watch the sunset at the Golden Gate Bridge? ›
Joined with a rugged cliff line and the crashing waves this is one of the best places to view the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset. With several outlook points offering a different perspective of the bridge, there is also a great place to have an evening picnic as you watch the sun dip behind the skyline.
Moore Rd Pier
This is an observation point recommended especially for those who have crossed the bridge by bike and perhaps want to continue towards Sausalito. Once you have crossed the bridge and arrived at the North Tower Golden Gate Parking, take Conzelman Rd which descends towards the bay.
Our favorite way to hike this trail is to park at Baker Beach and take the Presidio Coastal Trail with the Batteries to Bluffs option all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge overlook and back. This route is 3.5 miles roundtrip while the Batteries to Bluffs section is only 1.2 miles.Is Golden Gate Bridge better at sunrise or sunset? ›
When's the best time to visit the Golden Gate Bridge? The best time to visit the Golden Gate Bridge is between sunrise and sunset. If you're trying to capture the perfect picture, the best shots are typically in the early morning or at dusk.How long does it take to drive past the Golden Gate Bridge? ›
While it's possible to get stuck in traffic for hours, it should usually take you no more than three minutes to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge.How long does it take to ride over the Golden Gate Bridge? ›
1. How Long Will it Take to Bike the 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.Do you pay Golden Gate Bridge toll both ways? ›
Tolls are collected in one direction only — in the southbound direction into San Francisco. Toll rates are effective July 1, 2022.Why is the Golden Gate Bridge so amazing? ›
Acclaimed as one of the world's most beautiful bridges, there are many different elements to the Golden Gate Bridge that make it unique. With its tremendous towers, sweeping cables, and great span, the Bridge is a sensory beauty and engineering wonder featuring color, sound and light.
Safety. Today, 39 million vehicles cross the Golden Gate Bridge.Where can I take pictures of my car on the Golden Gate Bridge? ›
3. Golden Gate Bridge photo spot: Battery Spencer. Just like Fort Point, Battery Spencer was another area of defence for San Francisco bay and harbour.How close to sunset is golden hour? ›
The golden hour starts roughly one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset. If you want a more exact time for when the golden hour starts, you can use a golden hour calculator app like The Photographer's Ephemeris. Or try other apps like Helios Golden Hour (for iOS) and Blue Hour Calculator (for Android).Can you walk on the Golden Gate Bridge at night? ›
Golden Gate Bridge Walk: Practical Info & What to Expect
There's no charge to walk across the bridge– it's free for pedestrians and cyclists. However, the walkway is not open 24 hours a day. Pedestrians can cross during daylight hours.
Yes, you can see the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge from both Fisherman's Wharf and Alcatraz.How long is the drop from the Golden Gate Bridge to the water? ›
The Golden Gate Bridge is the most popular suicide spot in the world—on average, people jump from the bridge once every two weeks. A person jumping from the highest point on the bridge will drop 245 feet before plunging into the frigid San Francisco Bay waters below.How long is the Golden Cathedral hike? ›
Explore this 9.1-mile out-and-back trail near Escalante, Utah. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 4 h 16 min to complete. This is a popular trail for camping and hiking, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of day.How hard is Golden Ears hike? ›
DIFFICULTY – While beautiful, this is not a beginner hike. It is steep, long, and difficult! Those wanting to complete the hike in a single day need to start early and be prepared to be finishing late. Summiting Golden Ears requires a full day's work.What beach is best for Golden Gate? ›
Marshall Beach makes the list for one of the best places to view the Golden Gate Bridge because of its seclusion. Less crowded than Baker Beach, Marshall Beach offers a similar natural landscape that Baker Beach does.Can you see the sunset from Golden Gate Bridge? ›
Golden Gate Welcome Center
There are so many beautiful vistas of the bridge, you can just hike around to find them. I really like coming here in spring or summer to capture blooming flowers. The best light here is during golden hour and sunset.
Most any vantage point of the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the best views of San Francisco at night. With the bridge's lights that illuminate the colorful structure, piercing the sky above, it is truly a spectacular sight to see.How do I avoid tolls on Golden Gate Bridge? ›
How can I avoid TollPass™ charges? To avoid our TollPass™ Convenience Charge simply pay for your toll BEFORE or within 48 hours AFTER you cross the Golden Gate Bridge southbound into San Francisco. You may make a one-time payment by going online at www.bayareafastrak.org or by calling (877) BAY-TOLL (229-8655).Is the Golden Gate Bridge 1 mile long? ›
Length, Width, Height, Weight
Total length of Bridge including approaches from abutment to abutment is 1.7 miles (8,981 ft or 2,737 m). Total length of Bridge including approaches from abutment to abutment, plus the distance to the Toll Plaza, is 9,150 ft (2,788 m).
Experience this 4.2-mile point-to-point trail near San Francisco, California. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 1 h 43 min to complete.Can tourists use bay wheels? ›
Bay Wheels' pricing is structured to encourage short trips, and we've found that because it's such a useful transportation option for the busiest travel times, mainly Bay Area residents and commuters are using Bay Wheels, although it's also popular with tourists who are looking for a shorter, more flexible bike rental.How much does it cost to cross the Golden Gate Bridge one way? ›
This includes the FasTrak Account rate (from $8.05 to $8.40), the Pay-As-You-Go rate (includes License Plate Accounts and One-Time Payments, from $8.60 to $8.80), Toll Invoice rate (from $9.05 to $9.40), carpool rate (from $6.05 to $6.40), and multi-axle vehicle toll rates.Do you walk or bike on the Golden Gate Bridge? ›
After viewing the bridge, head out onto the bridge to begin your walk. The west side of the bridge is for bikes, and the east side is for walkers. Splitting the two is an excellent way to do it as you don't have to watch for bikes hitting you, and the bikers don't have to swerve between people.Does Golden Gate Bridge accept cash? ›
There are four easy ways to pay a Golden Gate Bridge toll - a FasTrak Account, License Plate Account, One-Time Payment, and Toll Invoice. Tolls may be paid using credit card, cash, check or money order, and can be paid online, by phone, or in person.Why is Golden Gate Bridge toll so expensive? ›
On July 1, 2022, the tolls increased by 35 cents for most drivers. The hike is meant to cover a budget deficit of $7.4 million attributed to rising inflation and costs.How do tourists pay tolls in California? ›
All tolls on The Toll Roads are collected electronically -- there are no toll booths at which to stop and pay cash. Visitors and infrequent drivers can pay tolls within 5 days before or 5 days after driving The Toll Roads using The Toll Roads app or online at TheTollRoads.com.
Cons of Suspension Bridges
They can be unstable in extremely turbulent conditions, requiring temporary closure of the bridge. Suspension bridges are built to move, and high wind can cause damage to the bridge.
Only rarely must the Golden Gate Bridge withstand earthquakes or strong wind, but everyday it must fight another threat: corrosion of the steel which creates a byproduct called rust.What was the controversy about the Golden Gate Bridge? ›
Critics attacked Strauss' engineering abilities, and described his initial design as "an upside-down rat trap." Still more criticism came from residents who did not wish to disturb the aesthetic beauty of the Gate. Opponents of the bridge's construction were collectively known as the "Old Guard."How many bodies have been found under the Golden Gate Bridge? ›
Since it opened on May 27, 1937, there have been an estimated 1,600 deaths in which the body was recovered, and many more unconfirmed.How deep is the water under the Golden Gate Bridge? ›
Want to swim over the deepest part of the bay? Maybe you've already done it and had no idea - you'll find the deepest water in our Golden Gate Bridge race just under the bridge at over 370 feet.How many bodies have been recovered from the Golden Gate Bridge? ›
Between 1937 and 2012, an estimated 1,400 bodies were recovered of people who had jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge, located in the San Francisco Bay Area in the United States.Which side of Golden Gate Bridge is better? ›
Some of the most spectacular views of the bridge are from the other side, in Marin County just across the bridge, and especially from the cliffs of the Marin Headlands lining the entrance to San Francisco Bay.How do you pay for parking at Golden Gate Bridge? ›
Parking fees may be paid at the parking meter machines, or with your mobile phone via Parkmobile - instructions can be found here >. Parking lot hours are 7am - 9pm, 7 days a week (including holidays). Traveling south from Marin County: Follow U.S. Highway 101 south across the Golden Gate Bridge.What are the red bars for on the Golden Gate Bridge? ›
To aid in the safe travel of vessels as they pass under the Golden Gate Bridge, foghorns have been mounted on the Golden Gate Bridge since its opening in 1937. The foghorns are located in two distinct locations: at the middle of the Bridge (mid-span) and at the south (San Francisco) tower pier.What time is best for golden hour? ›
The last hour before sunset and the first hour after sunrise are coveted by professional photographers. Referred to as “the golden hour” or “magic hour,” these times provide the perfect light to capture stunning photos.
The rule of thirds is a composition guideline that places your subject in the left or right third of an image, leaving the other two thirds more open. While there are other forms of composition, the rule of thirds generally leads to compelling and well-composed shots.What time of day is best to go to Golden Gate Bridge? ›
One of the best times of day to walk the Golden Gate Bridge is in the afternoons, after 3:30 as during the week, cyclists will be on the west side of the bridge. Plus, the lighting is excellent as long as the fog doesn't impede!What time of day is best to visit Golden Gate Bridge? ›
Also if you go in the summer season, the best hour to visit this bridge is the afternoon when the sky is clear and the weather is blissful. Also, avoid going there in the morning as the entire place is covered with fog and you barely get to see the main attractions of this place.Which side of the plane to sit on to see Golden Gate Bridge? ›
Golden Gate Bridge: Landing in San Francisco
On many flights arriving from Asia or Europe or from points north of the city, a seat on the left side is a good bet for a great view of the bridge and city.
The Golden Gate Bridge has two main towers that support the two main cables. The height of a tower above water is 746 ft (227 m). The height of a tower above roadway is 500 ft (152 m).Can you see Golden Gate Bridge from Pier 39? ›
PIER 39 is known for its spectacular views of San Francisco Bay, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge and Alcatraz, as well as the world-famous California sea lions hauled out on K-Dock.Is it better to sit on the left or right side of the plane? ›
If you're travelling east, choose the right side of the plane. If you're travelling west, go for the left side of the plane. That rule should help you out if you're travelling in the Northern Hemisphere, especially during the winter months.Do you pay in both directions on the Golden Gate Bridge? ›
Golden Gate Bridge Tolls Rates
Tolls are collected in one direction only — in the southbound direction into San Francisco. Toll rates are effective July 1, 2022.
If you can snag a seat forward of the wing, do it, as it will be a little quieter and offer a better view. It's also worth keeping an eye out for bulkhead seats. Bulkhead seats, those next to one of the vertical bulkhead walls that separate sections in the aircraft, can sometimes be great.How long is the Golden Gate Bridge walk? ›
How long does it take to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge? The bridge is 1.7 miles across, so it's about a 35 minute walk each way. If you do the Hop On Hop Off bus tour, you can walk one way and catch the bus at the other end (Vista Point) to avoid the return walk.
Want to swim over the deepest part of the bay? Maybe you've already done it and had no idea - you'll find the deepest water in our Golden Gate Bridge race just under the bridge at over 370 feet.Which is better PIER 39 or Fisherman's Wharf? ›
Fisherman's Wharf is a place where tourists love to spend the day so, depending on which part you are visiting, you can expect some crowds. Pier 39 is by far the busiest part of Fisherman's Wharf. The attractions and famous sea lion dock make for this pier to be the main attraction.Can you see whales from the Golden Gate Bridge? ›
In fact, the Golden Gate Bridge right now is a decent place for whale-watching; if it doesn't pan out, you're at least likely to see some pinnipeds. For folks who want to head out to observe the whales, here are some of Keener's favorite spots.Why is Fisherman Wharf famous? ›
Fisherman's Wharf is best known for being the location of Pier 39, great waterfront restaurants, Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco Maritime Museum, Musée Mécanique, the Cannery Shopping Center, a Ripley's Believe it or Not museum, the Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf.Is there a nice beach near the Golden Gate Bridge? ›
If you're looking for a secluded experience, Marshall's Beach is the spot for you. Located just north of Baker Beach, this is one of our beaches near the Golden Gate Bridge. It's incredibly photogenic, offering spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and the Marin Headlands.