Want to know where the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge are? I’ve got you covered – here are 15 of the most epic Golden Gate Bridge photo spots that you need to check out!
The iconic red bridge is a breathtaking sight no matter where you see it from, but some views are better than others. Have you wondered where to find the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge?
After living in San Francisco for over 10 years, I have spent a lot of time scouting out the best Golden Gate Bridge photo spots – from the iconic views, popular photo spots, to those secret spots only locals know about. Over the years, I’ve scouted out some of the best and most beautiful Golden Gate Bridge view points.
There are many places where you can see the bridge and like I said, there is never a bad view of it…but not all views are created equal. So, I now share with y’all my favorite spots for the best views of Golden Gate Bridge!
Some Tips for Visiting the Best Golden Gate Bridge View Points
Best Times to Visit the Golden Gate Bridge
When choosing the best time to visit San Francisco, consider coming in September or October. This is when the city experiences the warmest temperatures and sunny days (we locals call it “San Francisco summer”), so you’ll have the best chance of catching the best Golden Gate Bridge views.
Most people think that summer is the best to visit – it is not! San Francisco doesn’t experience those typical warm California summer days. Summer is when fog is most common. It’s also windy AF and chilly. If you see people walking around in cheesy “I <3 SF” sweaters – well, it’s because they didn’t know and had to scramble to buy something warm (usually at Fisherman’s Wharf).
If you do visit during the summer, the fog does tend to burn off around noon, and come back in the late afternoon. So, use that window to try to find the best place to see the Golden Gate Bridge.
Check the conditions before you go
San Francisco experiences microclimates – this means that the weather on one side of the city might be sunny, and the bridge might be completely covered in fog with blustery winds. I’ve heard so many stories of people who visit the Golden Gate Bridge only to be heartbroken when they show up and discover that you can’t even see it at all.
Don’t be one of those people – you can check the live webcams before you go to see what the bridge looks like. Another thing I’ve done in the past is to go on Instagram and check the geotag for the Golden Gate Bridge to see recent footage that people posted.
Bring a jacket!
It tends to be chilly and windy near the bridge, so bring a jacket! Also no short skirts, especially at Battery Spencer (my friend Jess once wore a short dress and she spent the entire time trying to hold it down while taking pictures, haha).
The Best Views of the Golden Gate Bridge
Best Golden Gate Bridge Viewpoints on the Marin side
You know that postcard shot of the Golden Gate Bridge, with the panoramic view of the bridge with San Francisco in the background? The one that they use for all those computer screensavers?
Well, if you ever wondered exactly where they got that shot, Battery Spencer is the spot. Up in the Marin Headlands off Conzelman Road, Battery Spencer was one of the main protection points for San Francisco in the 19th century, and you can see the remains of the military site today, but what you are coming here for is that jaw-dropping view.
There are always people here, but there is plenty of space for you to get that perfect shot. This is my personal favorite pick for the best Golden Gate Bridge view because it bridge always looks larger-than-life here.
Keep in mind that it gets super windy and chilly up here, so bring a jacket – or just suck it up suffer through the wind and freeze, which I’ve also done, because it’s one of the best Golden Gate Bridge picture spots and well, a girl’s gotta look cute in photos.
It is definitely known as one of the best \Golden Gate Bridge view points at sunset – if you actually get one, since it is not uncommon for the fog to roll in in the late afternoon, especially during the summer. It may get freezing cold here in the winter (remember that wind I talked about earlier?), but it tends to be a lot less foggy in the winter than in the summer.
You can sometimes even get an epic shot in the fog, if you’re lucky – sometimes the top of the bridge peeks up from the fog, which makes for a super cool shot! I haven’t been lucky to see this happen though, just seen it in photos from other people.
You may have to battle crowds, but if you’re patient, you will definitely be able to snap an epic shot at one of the absolute best Golden Gate Bridge photo spots.
Want to avoid the crowds? It’s an excellent place to watch the sunrise, although I’ve never been to Battery Spencer in the morning (this girl loves her sleep too much).
Note: There has been increased reports of car break-ins and smash and grabs at Battery Spencer. If you go, be sure to leave nothing of value in the car, and make sure nothing (and I mean NOTHING) is visible!
I actually discovered Fort Baker while running a half marathon – such a beautiful part of the course!
You will find everyone else clamoring for a perfect shot at the Vista Point. Instead, take the trail down the hill, which will lead you to Fort Baker. It is much less crowded, and the what you’ll find is one of the best Gate Bridge picture spots, with those bluffs and a the hills of San Francisco in the background.
Hawk Hill is such a magical places to see the Golden Gate Bridge because you get to see it from above, and in a way, it’s almost like you’re standing above the bridge. This is another one of my personal picks for the best Golden Gate Bridge view because of that cool perspective.
Plus, you can’t go wrong with the contrast from the rolling green hills, the blue of the Pacific Ocean, and the urban landscape of the city of San Francisco off in the distance. It really makes the iconic reddish orange color of the bridge pop, making it one of the best Golden Gate Bridge photo spots.
Hawk Hill is within walking distance from Battery Spencer. If you really want to get your fix of some of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge, start at Hawk Hill first, then walk down the hill to catch the sunset at Battery Spencer, then call an Uber back or take a bus into the city.
Kirby Cove is a popular Golden Gate Bridge photo spot because there is sometimes a swing there, and if it’s there, you get a perfect shot of yourself swinging with the bridge in the background. Unfortunately, this has since been taken down (it used to come back every once in awhile, but I haven’t seen or heard about it in awhile), and I’ve never been there while the swing was still up – I have a bit of FOMO because I’ve never been able to get *the shot* here.
However, it is still a beautiful places to see the bridge, with the cove and the beach, with the city in the background. It’s a perfect place to sit and hang out and enjoy the view. Even without the swing, I think it’s still one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
This one is kinda (ok very) touristy, but I do prefer Vista Point over the main viewpoint on the San Francisco side.
I kinda love this side angle of the Golden Gate Bridge – it’s a unique perspective from all the other views of the bridge. It’s not quite vertical, but not straight on either.
I like sitting on the ledges here when taking photos – the rocks contrast really well with the red of the bridge. Also use a bit of zoom (the above was shot at 75mm) to make the bridge look a bit larger in the background.
Best Golden Gate Bridge Viewpoints on the San Francisco side
Battery East is a trail in the Presidio that begins just underneath the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center. From here, there are spectacular views of the bridge, with beautiful greenery in the foreground, making it one of the most awesome Golden Gate Bridge photo spots.
You can also see a perfectly situated view of the coastline and Fort Point from here as well. Another plus – it is much less crowded than the viewpoint at the Welcome Center, making this a much better Golden Gate Bridge view. This is a great place to take in the sunset.
Ok, so the beaches in San Francisco suck in the sense that they are always cold (and covered in fog half the time), and you can never go in the water and have a “beach day” in the traditional sense. But come on, in what other place can you find a beach that has one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge? Yeah, didn’t think so.
PS – Baker Beach is a nude beach, so if you see some, uhhh, sausages, don’t be alarmed. Also, Baker Beach is super pretty and super peaceful around sunrise, if you manage can to get out of bed for one.
The beautiful brick Fort Point defended San Francisco from the Gold Rush into World World II, and offers a unique vantage point of the bridge because it seems like you are so close to it and it seems like you’re almost underneath it.
Keep in mind that the hours are kind of limited (it is only open Friday-Sunday 10am-5pm), but if you can, definitely stop by for a walk around through the gorgeous brick halls (the light is always perfect for photos), and up the spiral staircase for one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
However, even if the fort itself is closed, you can still find one of the best Golden Gate Bridge photo spots just outside of it. Although you don’t get the unique perspective of being underneath it, you are still pretty up close and personal to it.
You might even get to see some surfers who are catching a wave right underneath the Golden Gate!
If you keep walking down the path leading from Fort Point heading towards Crissy Field, you will pass through Torpedo Wharf, which is also an amazing Golden Gate Bridge picture spot.
This is a pretty common running path – every single race that I’ve run in San Francisco ends up passing through here, and I can’t help but stop to snap a photo every single time, since it is definitely one of the best Golden Gate Bridge photo spots.
The bridge looks picture perfect against the rocks, and the waves of the Pacific. The giant rusted chain fence adds for a nice touch as well. Careful though, the tide sometimes gets high, and if you aren’t paying attention, you might get soaked from one of those aforementioned waves!
A lot of people also like to drive their classic cars along this road, so if you get lucky, you might be able to photograph one of them against the bridge as an epic backdrop!
One of my favorite urban hikes in San Francisco is the Coastal Trail, which takes you from the Golden Gate Bridge to Baker Beach. While there are some epic Golden Gate Bridge photo spots along the entire trail, another one of my favorite views is from the little grassy hillside is just after you start the trail from the bridge.
This is one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge because it gives you a unique vertical perspective of it, with the towers stacked over each other. Plus the greenery adds a beautiful touch. It is truly one of my favorite places in the city!
Golden Gate Overlook
This has become a super popular Golden Gate Bridge photo spot on Instagram recently, and it is easy to see why – two trees that perfectly frame the towers of the bridge. A lot of people say that it is the best Golden Gate Bridge view because of that cool vertical perspective.
If you have seen a photo of this spot on Instagram but are wondering exactly where it is, I’m here to tell ya! If you are using GPS to navigate to this spot, a good address to use is 1600 Langdon Ct. (you can also find parking there).
There are also some of the best Golden Gate Bridge view points further down the trail, so keep on going (I highly recommend you do the entire Coastal Trail hike – and even keep going to Lands’ End if you want even more gorgeous views).
Marshall’s Beach is one of my absolute favorite places in San Francisco – bonus points for it being one of the best Golden Gate Bridge view points!
You can’t go wrong with that breathtaking coastline combined with the vibrant red orange of the bridge. If you continue on the Coastal Trail as mentioned above, you will spot a turn off for steps leading down to Marshall’s Beach.
Even if you don’t go all the way down to the beach itself (the steps can be strenuous and the tide is often high), you can still enjoy one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge from the top of the steps.
If you do make it down to the beach itself (which I highly recommend), make sure you keep walking towards the end of it, towards the bridge. You will reach a little cove and will have to scramble through some rocks, but once you get to the other side, you will come across some breathtaking views of the bridge and find a bunch of photographers camped out there. This is truly one of the most beautiful Golden Gate Bridge photo spots!
It is also perhaps the best place to see the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset (in my opinion, anyway).
West Bluff Picnic Area
I love this spot because of the grassy hills, along with the perfect view of that cute little house and the bridge. So perfect.
I would advise coming here during the week, or early in the morning on weekends, because it is a picnic area and there are lots of people around on weekend afternoons. If you are there when there are no other people around, it is definitely an awesome Golden Gate Bridge picture spot.
If you are in the mood to have a picnic or a BBQ, this is definitely an awesome spot for one! Just be sure to bring a jacket because it does tend to get chilly sometimes. But you can never go wrong hanging out with good friends, enjoying some good food, and taking in one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
I have a thing for frolicking in wide open green spaces so naturally I am drawn to Crissy Field because you get that with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. On a clear day, the bridge with the green grass is pretty magical (unfortunately, I happened to catch it on a hazy day when I took these photos, but it’s still pretty beautiful). You can also gaze at the bridge from the beach.
This is one of my favorite places to hang out on a sunny day. There is also a promenade trail that is a super nice walk with great views of the bridge – and also one of my favorite spots to go for a run (one of my favorite things about running races in San Francisco is that most of them go through this spot). Run around, frolic, or lay out with a book and enjoy one of the best Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints.
On the bridge
I mean…you just have to see it up close and personal. Even if you don’t walk the entire span of it, I highly recommend just walking to the first tower and admiring that iconic red orange up close. You also get pretty spectacular views of the rugged coastline and of the San Francisco skyline, just sayin’.
One of my favorite things about San Francisco is all the urban hiking that you can do in the city, and one of my favorites is Land’s End. It is seriously one of my favorite places in San Francisco, and another spot for one of the Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints!
You are a bit further away from the bridge so it looks a bit tiny, but that might be one of the reasons I love it – you get to see the beautiful coastline as well as the headlands. It is such a gorgeous panoramic view!
If you happen to come during golden hour on a sunny day, you absolutely cannot beat the light here – it is truly magical. The golden light kisses the coastline and it is absolutely gorgeous.
It tends to be foggy on this side of town, but no worry – it adds a bit of mystery to the landscape, and I still think it’s beautiful in its own way on a foggy day.
Land’s End and the the Coastal Trail connect via the Seacliff neighborhood and I absolutely suggest doing them on the same day – altogether it is about 6 miles and definitely worth doing both!
FAQs for the Best Golden Gate Bridge Views
What is the best Golden Gate Bridge view?
This is all based on personal preference – ask anyone, and they’ll each have their own personal favorite. For me, I think the best place to see the Golden Gate Bridge is Battery Spencer, because it’s that perfect postcard view and the bridge looks larger than life there.
If you want the best place to see the Golden Gate Bridge that is more of a hidden gem, then a close second is Marshall’s Beach.
I know others who say their favorite is Golden Gate Overlook, because of the unique vertical stack.
Which side of the Golden Gate Bridge is better?
Oof, this one is tough because I love them for different reasons! I’m going to go with the Marin side, as many of the views also include the city of San Francisco in the background. The hillsides in the Marin Headlands are also really pretty.
Is it worth walking the Golden Gate Bridge?
It’s worth doing at least once in your life – but keep in mind that it’s over three miles roundtrip. If you’re limited on time, you can just walk part of it to get the same experience. Or, I recommend biking across it!
How do I travel between the San Francisco and Marin sides of the bridge?
Besides walking and biking, you can also use the following methods of transportation:
- Driving: Bridge toll is $8.40 for FastTrak users and those with a license plate account, and $9.40 if you don’t have either. Toll is collected upon returning to the San Francisco side. No cash is accepted for toll – they will scan your license plate and charge you accordingly. Do note that if you have a rental call, you should go online to pay the toll on your own, otherwise, the rental company will bill you later and usually tacks on a hefty sum on top.
- Golden Gate Transit bus: The 130 bus stops on both ends of the bridge, as well as downtown San Francisco.
- Hop-on, Hop-off bus: This is a fun way to see and learn more about the city, and makes a stop at Vista Point. From here, you can walk to Battery Spencer, Kirby Cove, and even Hawk Hill.
- Uber/Lyft: I’ve done this many times in the part, but I’ve heard that cars aren’t readily available on the Marin side, so I’m not sure this is the best way, but I’m listing it anyway as an option.
How to take photos of the Golden Gate Bridge
I often get asked what gear I use to shoot my photos – I love my Sony a6000 as it is compact, lightweight, produces high-quality images, and is ideal for travel.
You’ll also want a wide angle lens to capture the bridge in its entirety, and a zoom lens to capture lens compression (or making the bridge look large in the background, even when shot from far away). I have a Tamron 17-70mm f2.8 lens that achieves both of these effects.
I also use my iPhone 13 Pro for a good number of photos – it has both wide angle and 3x zoom to achieve a similar effect.
If using a tripod, be sure to get a very sturdy one that can withstand the wind! My old dSLR died a very quick and painful death because it got knocked over on my flimsy tripod. I have since upgraded to this tripod, which is very sturdy and easy to set up!
Have you been to San Francisco? Where are your picks for the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge?
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