The world-famous Golden Gate Bridge is an icon of the San Francisco Bay area. You can’t consider your trip to San Francisco complete without capturing the view of this deep-orange Art Deco suspension bridge. It spans 1.7 miles above the namesake strait in California where the waters of the bay meet the Pacific.

The International Orange-painted bridge is so iconic that it’s depicted in many Hollywood blockbusters, usually being destroyed by disasters and monsters – it's become something of a cliche for such movies set in San Francisco, in fact. In real life, the bridge with its twin towers and steel cables stand proud as it has for about a century, connecting the city of San Francisco to its south and Marin County to its north.

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco - one of the highlights of 12 Best Things to Do in San Francisco and 10 Best Viewpoints in San Francisco (Read all about San Francisco here)

History of the Golden Gate Bridge

Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge began in early 1933. Upon its completion 5 years later, it reigned supreme as the world’s tallest and longest suspension bridge – a title it held for decades until Verrazano Narrows Bridge opened in Staten Island in the '60s.

Over the years, the Golden Gate Bridge has seen various enhancements, including the installation of advanced security systems such as motion detectors, high-definition and closed-circuit security cameras, as well as the latest Suicide Deterrent Net System (SDNS) along the bridge’s length.

At 90 ft wide, Golden Gate Bridge has 6 driving lanes and 2 sidewalks suspended 220 ft over the waters of the mile-wide strait. You can hike, bike, take a guided tour, or simply take in the grandeur of this engineering marvel from a viewpoint.

Where are the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge?

Popular vantage points offering the best views from the bridge’s northern end include Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands and an old concrete artillery position known as Battery Spencer. The Golden Gate Bridge shows its splendor best during sunset – the water’s surface glistens from the bridge’s subtle lighting against city lights later into the night. Head up at dawn, and you’ll have the occasional fog complementing the magical scenery.

For splendid views from the southern end and within the city, head to the piers around North Beach such as Hyde Street Pier and Pier 39. You may also catch rare angles of the bridge from aboard a ferry ride. If you’re the active type, hike or bike and take in panoramas of the strait from the bridge itself along both of the sidewalks. You can rent a bike from the many rentals available in San Francisco.

Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center and other highlights

Besides hiking, biking, and simply admiring the scale of the iconic bridge from afar, a good starting point for a visit to this San Francisco landmark is the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center. The welcome center is set within the lush Presidio of San Francisco, known for its wooded trails and historic landmarks. You’ll find exhibits and info that’ll help you learn more about the site’s fascinating history.

Check out the original 12-ft stainless steel bridge ‘test tower’ model used during the bridge’s early construction phase. You may also grab some colorful merch and take home a bit of San Francisco history with you from the gift store – these include a mini-scale model of the towers or even bookends that look neat on any shelf.

The Golden Gate Park is a few minutes’ drive from the southern end of the bridge. This scenic, 5-acre spot has so many standalone sites that it’s worth spending an entire day here. A must-see is the Japanese Tea Garden, where you can enjoy some zen with matcha and rice cakes. Founded in 1894, it’s known as the oldest public Japanese garden in the USA.

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Location: Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA, USA

Phone: +1 415-921-5858

Ari Gunadi | Compulsive Traveler