17 Best Views of the Golden Gate Bridge & Photo Ops

As a Southern Californian, it’s always a treat to head up to San Francisco and explore the magnificent San Francisco Bay and its surroundings.

The most iconic image of San Francisco has to be the Golden Gate Bridge, drawing millions of visitors every year trying to snap a (good) shot of this burnt-red beast of construction. But as it turns out, finding the perfect view of the bridge is not that easy.

Luckily for you, I’ve already explored all the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge, and I’m here to bring you the ultimate list of vantage points. So, join me as we discover all the incredible places to capture the true magnitude of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Apart from tips on the best views, I’ll share some fun tours that you can take on the way to spice up your journey. Bear in mind though, that you’ll need to book the tours in advance to save your spot.

Let’s get started!

If you are in a hurry

San Francisco and the surrounding bay are notoriously busy. Make sure you book in advance for any of your must-do activities!

Here are the main things to book in advance:

And here are the best hotels: Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco (luxury), Hotel Nikko San Francisco (mid-range), Petite Auberge (budget)

The San Francisco Bay Area is quite large, so I’ve included a map below to help you get familiar with it:

1. Get snappy with the Golden Gate Bridge at Fort Point

a large bridge over a body of water

The Golden Gate Bridge is comparable in height to a 62-story building, which means at Fort Point, you stand at its base with this goliath towering high above you!

One of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point, gives you a unique perspective of the Golden Gate Bridge, unlike some of the other more obvious lookout points. Sitting at the southern base of the Golden Gate Bridge and the very far end of Crissy Field, Fort Point is a Civil War-era fortress with spectacular views of the bridge.

Strategically placed at the mouth of San Francisco Bay, Fort Point is the perfect place to get a photograph of this iconic landmark, and one of the best photo ops known to locals is from the south side of the fort. Get up close to see the bridge’s famous red-orange color and really investigate the details of this architectural marvel.

2. Play overlooking Golden Gate at Crissy Field

a scenic view of the golden gate bridge

Welcome to one of my favorite places in the Bay Area, Crissy Field, a 100-acre (c. 40 hectares) green space right on the water overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and close to Fisherman’s Wharf.

Bike, rollerblade, walk, wander – the possibilities are endless in this former U.S. Army airfield turned community park. The protected marshland in this area is a pretty spot for nature lovers, and it has some of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Grab lunch and a treat at Ghiradelli’s Chocolate Factory in Fisherman’s Wharf and enjoy dining outside in a designated picnic area overlooking the bridge.

PRO TIP: Park at Crissy Field East for the best chance to find parking, as they have a bigger parking lot.

NOTE: Like all major cities, car break-ins are common, so be mindful not to leave anything valuable in the car.

3. Discover an easy photo op at Baker Beach

a woman standing on a beach next to the ocean

When you think of views of San Francisco Bay, Californian ocean shores, and that fabulous iconic red bridge in the background, you’re picturing this beach.

I affectionately refer to Baker Beach as the lazy man’s Marshall’s Beach, where instead of a long hike, you can walk just a few steps from the parking lot into the sand. One of the best spots for west side Golden Gate Bridge views, Baker Beach is a must-do on your trip to the Bay area.

PRO TIP: Come at sunset for the most incredible golden hour photography!

4. Hug the coast at Lands End to get the best shot

a stone maze in the sand with a bridge in the background

The 3 acres (c. 1 hectare) bathhouses were opened in 1894 as the world’s largest indoor public pool facility.

Lands End is a well-maintained area known for its stunning coastal trail and the Lands End Labyrinth, which is nestled into the cliffside path. It’s a hidden gem on the city’s outskirts with various trails, a secret beach, and captivating ruins of former bathhouses.

Leave time to walk downstairs to the Sutro Baths of the 1800s to explore the remains of what was once a giant public bathhouse. The view of the Golden Gate Bridge is smaller here, however, the history and opportunities of the park make it well worth a stop.

PRO TIP: Stop at the Visitor’s Center to pick up information on the historic bathhouses and information on Golden Gate Bridge.

No need to fret about parking as well. There are 2 large parking lots on the southwest side of Lands End.

5. Travel back in time and take a great photo at Fort Baker

the golden gate bridge overlooking the water

Located just a quick drive across the Golden Gate Bridge from downtown San Francisco, Fort Baker sits in Marin County.

Once a military post, it now offers a great deal of history and fantastic photo opportunities of the Golden Gate Bridge. During the Cold War, Fort Baker was used for training Army Reserve troops and also as the headquarters for anti-aircraft missile units defending the Bay Area.

6. Gaze at the Golden Gate Bridge from Hawk Hill

a view of the golden gate bridge at sunset

Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands acts as the lookout point for the largest known flight of diurnal raptors on the West Coast!

One of my favorite spots in San Francisco and an excellent place to view the Golden Gate Bridge is Hawk Hill. Just off Conzelman Road, Hawk Hill is an app. 920-foot (280 m) peak in the Marin Headlands made famous by the hawks that frequent the area. Situated just over the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County, the Marin Headlands natural oasis is brimming with wildlife like ospreys, eagles, and vultures, making it a great option for nature lovers.

In comparison to other lookout points on Conzelman Road, the Marin Headlands has more parking, and you have views right from the parking lot. Take an extra 5-minute climb up Hawk Hill itself to get an even better city skyline and Golden Gate Bridge view.

Conzelman Road is a scenic one-way bypass that will take you to many of the north-end viewpoints of the Golden Gate Bridge.

PRO TIP: After Hawk Hill, stop at the Marin Headlands Vista Point on Conzelman Road for the best of the best viewing locations.

7. Visit Marshall’s Beach to view the Golden Gate Bridge

a view of the golden gate bridge from the shore

With stunning vistas, long stretches of white sand, and epic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, there’s no doubt that Marshall’s Beach is one of the best places to view this icon.

During the day, it seems like the sand and ocean glisten in the sunshine, and vibrant wildflowers line the beach. Stretching from the bridge to North Baker Beach, it’s also important to note that this spot is known to locals as an unofficial nude beach, so don’t be surprised when you see sunbathers sans clothing.

NOTE: Marshall’s Beach is also quite a trek with lots of steep steps down to the sand, so be prepared to leave plenty of time in your schedule and wear practical shoes.

8. Hike into Kirby Cove to spot the Golden Gate Bridge

a man swinging on a rope near the ocean

Another spot that offers some of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge, this mini 1-mile (less than 2 km) hike into Kirby Cove takes you on a journey to spectacular views of the bridge.

The sweeping views of San Francisco’s skyline, the bay, the Pacific Ocean, and the bridge make this an easy decision for your itinerary. Once you hike into Kirby Cove, it’s almost like you’re in this little warming hut, protected from the wind, fog, and elements.

Kirby Cove also offers campsites so you can wake up to bridge views!

PRICE: entrance is free; camping rates vary

9. Make a detour at Battery Spencer to view Golden Gate Bridge

a couple of people sitting on a bench under an umbrella

Battery Spencer is an impressive fort structure that helped to defend San Francisco Bay from 1897 until 1942.

Beautiful, yes! Cold, also, yes! Battery Spencer, a historic military fort on the Marin County side of the bridge, offers an elevated 500-foot (c. 150 m) viewing point for the Golden Gate Bridge. The Golden Gate Bridge views, including San Francisco, the bay, and the city skyline, make Battery Spencer a great spot for capturing memorable photographs.

PRO TIP: If you’re headed to Battery Spencer for the stunning views of sunrise or sunset, pack socks, a jacket, and a hat – all the warm layers. You get it, it’s cold!

NOTE: Parking is limited at Battery Spencer, and the hike back up to the viewing point is about 0.25 miles (less than a km) up.

10. Go on a bay cruise of Golden Gate, Angel Island & Alcatraz

a large boat in a large body of water

Angel Island served as the US Immigration hub for the West Coast from 1910 to 1940.

Located in San Francisco Bay, this jewel in the bay provides one of the best viewing points for admiring the Golden Gate Bridge.

As you hike or bike along the island’s scenic trails, breathtaking vistas of the bridge emerge, framed by the glittery waters of the bay. Angel Island offers a unique perspective of the bridge and Alcatraz Island in the distance. I recommend jumping on a bay cruise to take advantage of the best views not only of Golden Gate but also of Alcatraz Island and Angel Island, too.

PRICE: US$40 per person

Book Your Bay Cruise

11. Capture stunning photos at Golden Gate Observation Deck

a large red bridge over a lush green hillside

Sitting higher up on Conzelman Road, the Golden Gate Observation Deck offers an elevated viewpoint with a panoramic view of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge.

With ample parking available, it provides a better chance of securing a spot compared to the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point, which is the first exit over the bridge on the Marin side. This highly photographed bridge brings visitors from all over the world, so be patient while looking for parking spaces.

NOTE: Golden Gate Bridge is partially obscured from this vantage point. You won’t see the entire bridge view here.

12. Glimpse at the iconic bridge at Golden Gate Vista Point

a view of the golden gate bridge from the top of a hill

A short distance from the Golden Gate Observation Deck, you’ll find another parking lot (albeit smaller) known as the Golden Gate Vista Point.

The left tower of the bridge is partially obscured by Battery Spencer, but this spot still offers stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the southern side of the bay, including the picturesque Baker Beach. It’s undoubtedly one of the best locations to capture breathtaking views of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

NOTE: Parking is tricky here, as the parking lot is small at Vista Point.

13. Check out this Golden Gate overlook at China Beach

a person standing on a beach next to a body of water with a view of the golden gate bridge

Less crowded than the nearby Baker Beach, this shoreline oasis offers equally breathtaking views of the iconic bridge. Interestingly, the beach acquired its name from a Chinese fisherman who would often hang about in this area and who helped build San Francisco at its inception.

Spend the sunset enjoying the beautiful ambiance of this special spot with the most spectacular views of the bridge.

14. Explore the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center

a bus parked in front of a red building

A great stop on your adventure, visit the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center and dive into the fascinating history of the Golden Gate Bridge and snag a Golden Gate viewpoint while you’re at it.

Explore their interactive exhibits showcasing the Golden Gate Bridge’s construction, architectural awards, and cultural relevance. Take in stunning bridge views and its surroundings, as the center has expansive windows for impressive vistas.

HACK: If parking is full, try the lot on Merchant Road that often has overflow parking.

15. Breathe in the views of Marin County & sip some wine

a view of the golden gate bridge from the top of a hill

As you cross over the bridge and enter Marin County on the northern side of San Francisco Bay, you’ll find 2 of the most popular Golden Gate Bridge viewpoints for taking a photo of the bridge – Marin County Vista Point and the Point Bonita Lighthouse.

Point Bonita Lighthouse is known to locals not only for its famous structure but also for being “the world’s end” with stunning panoramic views of the bridge, and a challenging hike to reach it.

Fair warning, the parking lot fills up quickly, so it’s best to get there as early as possible to avoid fighting the tangle of tour buses and cars for this densely populated overlook.

While you’re in Marin, this is a great time to do some wine tasting at the local vineyards of Sausalito and their tasting rooms. Rather take a tour? I highly suggest this tour which includes a pickup, a drive through the Golden Gate Bridge, and a visit to 2 wineries, with tastings included.

NOTE: Keep in mind that the fog can roll in at any time, especially during summertime, and can obstruct your view of the Golden Gate Bridge.


Book Your Wine Tour

16. Step foot on Alcatraz Island

a small island in the middle of a body of water

Did you know the prison was originally constructed as a fort for our military? It wasn’t turned into the prison we know today until 1934.

Alcatraz Island, known for its infamous prison, also offers remarkable views of the Golden Gate Bridge. There are many guided tour options which include a tour of the prison and a cruise, as well as combo tours of San Francisco’s main attractions, including Alcatraz.

Alternatively, you can take the ferry (US$54/person for a round-trip) over and explore the island on your own with an audio guide provided at the prison. While exploring the island and its historic nooks and crannies, you’ll be able to soak in stunning vistas of the Golden Gate Bridge from various angles.

TIP: The island’s shoreline actually provides some unique viewpoints, don’t forget to step out onto the beach.


Book Your Combo Tour

17. Get an incredible Golden Gate view from Coit Tower

a view of the golden gate bridge in san francisco

Not the first place people think of to view the Golden Gate Bridge is the Coit Tower, located in Pioneer Park atop Telegraph Hill. It actually has a ridiculously awesome 360-degree panoramic view across San Francisco and an epic view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The downstairs foyer houses some really unique local art, while a trip up to the 2nd floor will require you to purchase admission (from the gift shop).

Coit Tower is open from 10 AM – 5 PM, and the last entrance is 45 minutes prior to closing.

PRICE: 2nd floor US$7 for adults, 1st floor, FREE.

HACK: Tired of looking for parking everywhere? Jump on a GoCart and explore downtown on these fancy wheels instead.

TOUR PRICE: from US$170 per person

Book Your Tickets

Where to stay near the Golden Gate Bridge

Okay, I pointed out the best places from where you can see the Golden Gate Bridge, but what do you say to wake up with views of the bridge? Some of the hotels that I picked below do have those views, but nevertheless, they are all near the Golden Gate Bridge, so you can easily walk there and enjoy the views whenever you feel like it. 

There are hotels for every budget and the prices range from US$200 to US$500 a over. 

collage with hotel's building, bedroom and vintage looking lounge area
  • Luxury (US$500 and up)
    Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco – This beautiful luxury option is located in downtown San Francisco, offering impeccable service and extravagant guest suites.
    The Ritz Carlton San Francisco – The Ritz brand never disappoints, and this Nob Hill stunner is no different, offering opulence and comfort simultaneously.
  • Mid-Range (US$250 – US$500)
    Hotel Nikko San Francisco – A swanky and hip option, Hotel Nikko is located in Union Square, with all of San Francisco’s activities at your doorstep.
    Beacon Grand, A Union Square Hotel – Historic charm, grand architecture, and an amazing location make the Beacon Grand a perfect option.
  • Budget (up to US$250)
    Layne Hotel, San Francisco – Layne Hotel is an inexpensive option within the San Francisco city limits and close to attractions, with comfortable rooms and a hotel concierge.
    Petite Auberge – Adorable and practical, this budget-friendly boutique hotel is conveniently located between Union Square and Nob Hill and just a short walk to local attractions.

Check the Rates Here

FAQs about the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge

a woman with a backpack is looking at the golden gate bridge

❤️ Where is the best viewpoint to see the Golden Gate Bridge?

Some of the best places to view the Golden Gate Bridge are Lands End, Golden Gate View Point, and Fort Point.

☀️ What are the best beaches for nice views of the Golden Gate Bridge?

The beaches with the best vista point for the Golden Gate Bridge are Baker Beach, China Beach, and Marshall Beach.

???? Is it worth walking across the Golden Gate Bridge?

Yes, it’s worth walking across the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a wonderful way to see, experience, and remember the bridge.

???? Where is the safest place to park to view the Golden Gate Bridge?

The safest places to park to have bridge views are public parking lots at Battery Spencer, Golden Gate Overlook, Bonita Lighthouse, and Fort Baker, and most of the beaches will have more parking than random pull-offs on the road.


the golden gate bridge at sunset in san francisco, california

As you can see, there are so many different places to go in San Francisco to get the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge. While many of the viewpoints are accessible on your own, I find the most fun and enjoyable way to see cities with multiple regions is by guided tour.

Keep in mind, San Francisco is a bustling city, and things book up well in advance, so grab your tickets ahead of time!

Don’t forget to share your favorite spots in the comment section below!

Aloha and safe travels,

Hayden Goldberg

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