If you’re searching for the best view of Golden Gate Bridge, these 10 spots will leave you speechless. Be sure to add them to your California bucket list!
Where to Find the Best View of Golden Gate Bridge
Okay, but did you really visit San Francisco if you didn’t get a photo with its most iconic landmark?
Golden Gate Bridge attracts more than 10 million visitors per year and is the number one most photographed bridge in the world.
Before I spill all the beans on where to take pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, here are a few crucial pieces of information to be aware of…
Best Time to Visit San Francisco
First thing’s first, it’s important to establish the fact that San Francisco is extremely foggy. In fact, it gets so misty here that the infamous fog itself has been nicknamed Karl the Fog. (Believe it or not, it even has its own Twitter and Instagram pages!)
Foggy sunrise view of Golden Gate Bridge in mid-March.
While summer tends to be peak season for a lot of destinations, June, July, and August are perhaps the absolute worst months to visit the Bay Area – if you want to see the best view of Golden Gate Bridge. This is because hot inland temperatures create a low-pressure zone. As a result, cold air gets sucked in from the Pacific Ocean thus creating condensation.
Instead, opt to visit in September or October when the weather is pleasant with not too much rain or fog. There are also far less crowds so that’s always a bonus!
If, however, your schedule only allows you to travel during summer, it’s good to know that Karl usually clocks out around noon then circles back in again in the late afternoon/early evening.
I suggest checking local fog cams if you are worried about weather.
What most first-time visitors don’t know is that it costs money to cross Golden Gate Bridge. Luckily, tolls are only collected in the direction heading back into San Francisco.
As of July 2022, the fee has increased to $9.40 USD per trip.
If you are renting a vehicle, your rental company will most likely charge the credit card on file automatically.
To help you save $$, I have grouped my favorite Golden Gate Bridge lookouts into two categories: before the bridge (numbers 1 to 6) versus after the bridge (numbers 7 to 10). This way you can better plan your trip to avoid paying the toll multiple times.
Where to See Golden Gate Bridge (Without Toll Fee)
1. Battery Godfrey
Battery Godfrey is a coastal gun battery originally built during the Endicott Period to outshoot enemy battleships at up to ten miles. It has since become a popular Golden Gate Bridge view point and a fun place for an afternoon stroll with furry friends.
One of the most unique Golden Gate Bridge photography spots here is right by the bluffs towards the coast. (Exact coordinates are 37.803890, -122.477669.) The cypress trees frame the bridge perfectly, making it a picturesque postcard scene.
Tip: Parking is available at Langdon Court Parking. Don’t leave any valuables in your vehicle, as theft is high in San Francisco.
2. Golden Gate Overlook
Just a short walk away from Battery Godfrey is where you can find this prime Instagram photo spot.
Tip: The photo on the left was taken with a 16-35mm wide-angle lens. The one on the right was taken with an 85mm. I quite like being able to see the entirety of the cypress trees, but if you want the bridge to show up bigger in pictures, you will definitely need a telephoto lens or one with a longer focal length. If you are shooting on your phone, simply choose 2x or 3x zoom to achieve the same effect.
3. Marshall’s Beach
Marshall’s Beach is a secluded (unofficial) nudist beach that stretches from Golden Gate Bridge to North Baker Beach. It’s the best place to see Golden Gate Bridge up close. The only catch is that it is somewhat of a trek to get to with lots of steps going down.
Tip: Allocate extra time in your itinerary if you plan on coming here for sunset.
4. Baker Beach
Feeling lazy? Baker Beach is a fantastic alternative to Marshall’s Beach. You can walk down directly from the parking lot and golden hour here is simply mesmerizing.
Like Marshall’s Beach, the north end of Baker Beach is also clothing optional. Keep in mind that both beaches have large waves and rip currents. Swimming is strongly discouraged!
5. Crissy Field
Situated on the northern shore of the San Francisco Peninsula, Crissy Field is a stunning 100-acre park perfect for biking, picnicking, and enjoying the best view of Golden Gate Bridge. Pack some sandwiches and come spend a relaxing afternoon here in the sun.
Tip: Blazing Saddles offers a wide range of bicycle rentals ranging from road bikes to e-bikes, tandems, and more. Daily rates start at as low as $28.80 USD and I highly recommend booking with them.
6. Fort Point National Historic Site
This historic military base is the absolute closest you can possibly get to Golden Gate Bridge.
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Tip: It is open Friday to Sunday from 10:00AM to 5:00PM.
I’d read online that the parkade here is accessible at all times. When I visited during closing hours, however, I got as far as 1989 Long Avenue before a gate blocked off the entrance.
That said, I was only able to snap a quick photo from the outside. Definitely a stunning Golden Gate Bridge photo spot nonetheless and great for stargazing too.
Where to View Golden Gate Bridge (With Toll Fee)
7. Hawk Hill
Not only is this considered the best place to take pictures of Golden Gate Bridge, it’s a prime location for watching migrating raptors like eagles, hawks, eagles, falcons, and various vultures.
8. Golden Gate View Point
Golden Gate View Point is one of the most famous San Francisco tourist attractions and can be seen in countless “Golden Gate Bridge picture spot” travel guides.
Tip: I’ve numbered this list based on their geographical locations, meaning you will pass by #7 + #8 before #9. While Hawk Hill and Golden Gate View Point both offer beautiful Golden Gate Bridge views, I wouldn’t spend a ton of time here. After all, #9 is the main star of the show!
9. Battery Spencer
Battery Spencer is yet another crowd favorite when it comes to the best place to view Golden Gate Bridge.
No matter how often I frequent San Francisco, I always make sure to drop by this Golden Gate Bridge best photo spot.
Tip: Pack a warm jacket because it can get super cold and windy (even during summer). Parking is also limited. If you plan on coming here for sunset, be prepared to park on the shoulder or wait awhile.
10. H. Dana Bowers Rest Area & Vista Point – Northbound
To be completely honest… I stumbled upon this Golden Gate Bridge view while trying to navigate to Battery Spencer my first time around. I made a wrong turn, but that wrong turn doesn’t seem so wrong now!
Bonus: Cavallo Point Lodge
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Cavallo Point Lodge is is a stunning 4-star property situated in Sausalito.
Their Contemporary Lodging, in particular, allows guests to marvel at the beauty of the bridge without having to crowd around other tourists.
Check availability and book here.
And there you have it! Top 10 places to catch a glimpse of San Francisco’s icon.
Hope you enjoyed my recommendations on where to take pictures of Golden Gate Bridge. Don’t forget to pin this San Francisco guide for later!