I can’t believe it, but we’re coming up on our 5 year anniversary of living in the California Bay Area. We’ve loved exploring literally hundreds of hikes, museums, restaurants, festivals, and more. It’s so fun finding hidden gems, but it’s also lovely doing some of the iconic things of the area – including finding the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and beyond!
Do remember that San Francisco is famous for its fog for a reason – it can creep up at any time! Sometimes “Karl the Fog,” as it’s colloquially known, appears seemingly out of nowhere. It can be really beautiful, but may also obscure your perfect view. So just be prepared for a variety of viewing opportunities!
Here are some of our favorite spots that aren’t just great for photos, but also to picnic, play, and just drink in the beauty of the City by the Bay. Keep reading if you’re wondering where to see the Golden Gate Bridge!
Don’t forget to check out the BEST 3 Day San Francisco Itinerary with Kids!
This post on the best Golden Gate Bridge views contains affiliate links, but all opinions are 100% my own. That means I earn a small commission if you purchase through my link, but doesn’t change your price.
20+ of the Best Views of the Golden Gate Bridge
Table of Contents
How to Get Around to the Best Golden Gate Bridge Viewpoints
While the main parts of San Francisco are relatively easy to get around without a car, many of these viewpoints are much easier to access if you have a vehicle. While some public transportation does exist to the San Francisco side ones, buses tend to not be very frequent in the city. So if you’re planning to visit a lot of these spots, I’d recommend a small rental car if possible.
If you don’t want to rent a car, though, you can certainly use Uber or Lyft. This will be trickier on the Marin side, but won’t be too difficult on the San Francisco side. You could also consider the hop on hop off bus!
We often find some of the best rental car deals while traveling right here!
Where to Stay in San Francisco
San Francisco has a number of incredible hotels as well as plenty of rental apartments. Check out the maps below to help you find some in your price range! When visiting, I recommend staying near Nob Hill, North Beach, or the Marina if possible.
San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge Views
Marshall’s Beach is one of my favorite places to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge! While some of the other spots are stunning for how expansive they are, Marshall’s Beach is a photographer’s dream. It’s also my number one recommended spot for sunset views of the Golden Gate Bridge!
It’s a relatively small strip of sand that is rarely crowded but always stunning. This one is a bit of a trek, though – about a mile round trip with about 250 feet of elevation gain (all on the way back up). But it’s still very doable, even with kids, and there’s plenty of space to climb and run around when you arrive. I love that this spot sits just to the west of the bridge, so you get a compressed angled view with gorgeous waves and rocks in the foreground.
To get there, park at the Langdon Court Parking Lot and take the Batteries to Bluffs Trail until you see the sign to turn to get down to Marshall’s Beach.
It’s worth noting that this is a clothing-optional beach, so we prefer to go in the winter or late afternoon when it’s chillier so most people are bundled up. 😉 Still, the views are worth it, and perfect for sunset in San Francisco.
Golden Gate Bridge Overlook
This is one of the most popular views of the Golden Gate Bridge, as it’s one that tourists often frequent when going to visit the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a classic view that takes in the bridge almost head on, so it’s fun to see from that angle! You can head to either the east or west sides for different vantage points.
Fort Point is one of the very best places to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge, and one of my favorite spots in all of San Francisco. It’s an old Civil War fort that sits at the far northwest corner of San Francisco. I love that it sits underneath one end of the bridge, giving you a unique vantage point.
Crissy Field is a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike to run around, fly kites, and more. And it’s a classic for a reason – the views all around are stunning! This view is a bit more expansive with the Bay sitting in front of you. Take a blanket down to East Beach and play while you take in the views, or bike along the path that goes next to the water.
San Francisco Wave Organ
This wave organ is one of my favorite hidden gems in San Francisco. This sculpture is actually built into a jetty in the Bay, and creates different tunes based on how the waves hit. It’s so neat! And it has some pretty great bridge views, too. (You can learn more about it here.)
Here are 101 other San Francisco hidden gems!
This is another favorite area of San Francisco. The Land’s End trail is well worth it, and be sure to explore other parts of the area while you’re there (like the Sutro Baths!). The trail itself is short and easy and gives you classic views of the Bridge from the western side. You’ll easily see it heading all the way into Marin.
The entire loop trail is about 3 miles, but you can easily head out to see the bridge and back in about 0.5-1 mile.
Here are some of the other best and easy hikes in San Francisco!
Hyde Street Pier
The Pier and the Maritime National Historic Park there are one of my very favorite stops in San Francisco. Run by the National Park Service, you can go aboard historic ships and learn about San Francisco’s maritime history. Then if you walk to the end of the pier, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Baker Beach & China Beach
This beach is the perfect spot for little ones to run around and play as it has a wide sandy area and some of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Be sure to pack a picnic and a blanket and stay a while at this one!
China Beach is just barely up from Baker Beach and has a very similar view, but is a smaller and a bit quieter beach. Pick either one!
From the Water
Be sure to get out on the water while in San Francisco! You can take a tour to Alcatraz or get out on sailing on the Bay. Or you could do a sunset cruise on the water! Whatever you choose, you’re sure to find incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
While you’ll be much further away from the bridge at this spot, I love seeing the Bridge with the city sprawled out before it. It’s an especially beautiful sunset view of the Golden Gate Bridge. You can hike or drive to the top, so it accommodates a variety of preferences.
Bernal Heights Swing
While this is another one with the Bridge further in the distance, you’re also rewarded with incredible city views and a fun swing from which to view it. The swing is on and off, but even if it’s not there, it’s a fun and short/paved hike (about half a mile) so it’s worth it either way!
Marin Golden Gate Bridge Views
Hawk Hill in Marin is a truly iconic spot to hike around and see the bridge in the distance. While you won’t get close up shots here (unless you have a great zoom), it’s so fun to see it with the entire Bay and city sparkling in the background. (Note – it has trouble showing up on Google Maps, which is why I have it last, though I would actually recommend doing it in conjunction with Point Bonita.)
If you’re looking to get a closer up shot from the Marin side of the bridge (looking over the water to San Francisco), Battery Spencer is your place. It’s a short 5-10 minute walk from the parking area to feel like you’re practically standing on top of the bridge. It’s just stunning up there, but be sure to take a layer as it gets windy!
This one is one of the really unique views of the Golden Gate Bridge since you see not just that one, but also the small pedestrian bridge heading out to the Point Bonita Lighthouse! It’s so fun being up on top of a “mini” suspension bridge that is similar in style to the big one. Kids especially love crossing here (although the bridge has railings, keep a secure grip on little ones). Be sure to check the hours as they vary from day to day!
Bay Area Discovery Museum
If you have little kids in tow, the BADM is a must visit and a great places to spot the Golden Gate Bridge, too! There’s just something so idyllic about seeing it through the trees surrounding happy little play areas.
The Hippie Tree is one of the furthest off – you’ll need to look closely to see the Bridge. If it’s clear, though, you’ll be able to see both the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge, and there’s a fun swing where you can sit and watch. It’s worth the trek up just for that, and the expansive views of the entire Bay are the cherry on top.
From the Bridge Itself!
Truly, there’s something special about seeing the Golden Gate Bridge while you’re actually on it. You can drive, bike, and walk across, and I recommend trying all 3 at some point. It’s incredible to feel the sheer scale of it!
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