As one of the San Francisco’s most famous landmarks and the most photographed bridge in the world, we wanted to share our favorite spots from which to gaze upon the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge. From the beautiful Marin Headlands to the city’s beaches and parks, there are awesome vantage points from which to view the Golden Gate Bridge all across the city.
If you’re searching for the places with the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge then read on and take note!
First up: avoiding the San Francisco haze and fog!
Anyone who has spent time in San Francisco will be well acquainted with the haze that descends over the city on an almost on a daily basis. This means you are not guaranteed views of the Golden Gate Bridge even on sunny days.
Due to this we highly recommend keeping your San Francisco plans flexible! The weather conditions do change quickly in San Francisco so be prepared to change your plans during the day if the fog lifts. It also pays to be patient at the viewpoints. The view of the Golden Gate Bridge can switch from non-existent to completely clear in a matter of minutes as the fog rolls across the city.
Best Views of the Golden Gate Bridge tip: June, July and August tend to be the worst months for fog, although it often breaks the mid-afternoons. September and October are generally considered the best months to visit although when we visited in late October we had fog on most days! During the times when the fog broke, we quickly made our way to the best view points!
Getting around San Francisco
It’s relatively easy to get around San Francisco with a mix of public transport, walking and Uber/Lyft. A good flexible option for getting around San Francisco quickly is the hop-on-hop-off bus that services the city It’s possible to get to most places in the city with the Deluxe tickets which covers both the Red and Green Route and the handy app shows you live bus information. You can order your digital tickets in advance on Klook.com (we’ve used them extensively) – check prices now!
We rented a car twice in San Francisco so we could explore the best views of the Golden Gate bridge more easily and we highly recommend it. We rented the car during day time hours so we could avoid the expensive overnight parking rates that are common in the city. For the best rental car prices we use Rentalcars.com – check prices now!
Best views of Golden Gate Bridge tip: Car break ins are common in San Francisco so make sure to be vigilant when you park your car. Make sure nothing is visible, not even a charging cable, and that your car is definitely locked when you leave it. Don’t leave anything important in your car that you can’t afford to lose.
13 Best Views of Golden Gate Bridge
From the Marin headlands in the north of San Francisco Bay to the panoramic views from Coit Tower in downtown San Francisco there are plenty of great places to see the Golden Gate Bridge.
Best views of Golden Gate Bridge tip: Most of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge are located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Park which stretches from the Muir Woods north of San Francisco down along the coast to the south.
How to Use This Google Map: Click on the grey star at the top of the map and this map will be added to your Google Maps account. You can then view it on your phone or computer in Google Maps by clicking on the menu button, going to “Your Places” and selecting this map. We use these maps all the time as you can set out your itinerary ahead of time and quickly reference the saved maps.
Where to Stay in San Francisco
With so much selection it’s difficult to narrow down where exactly to stay in San Francisco. We spent a lot of time researching where to stay in the city and narrowed it down to two areas – Union Square and Fisherman’s’ Warf. Both areas offer the best base for exploring the city. We prefer Union Square as it has better links with the city trams and buses and offers a greater selection of reasonably priced hotels.
- The Palace Hotel – based in downtown San Francisco close to Union Square. We had an incredible stay at this luxury hotel. The highlights were the beautiful atrium where breakfast is served and the rooftop pool. We can’t recommend The Palace Hotel highly enough – check prices now!
- Hotel Nikko San Francisco – located just off Union Square Hotel Nikko is a great option for a stay in San Francisco. With breakfast included, an on-site pool, friendly staff and a great restaurant, this is a great option – check prices now!
- Argonaut Hotel – this boutique hotel is one of the best hotel options in Fisherman’s Wharf. The Argonaut features stunning views of the bay including the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. If you’re looking for a great place to stay in Fisherman’s Wharf make sure to check it out – check prices now!
1 | Hawk Hill at Marin Headlands
The Marin Headlands is a scenic drive through the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It starts from the observation deck and continues along the coast. The views from this hilly peninsula just north-west of the Golden Gate Bridge are truly breath-taking. The coastal road is one way only and follows the hill all the way out to the Point Bonita Lighthouse.
The best place to see the Golden Gate Bridge is from the Marin Headlands Vista Point on Hawk Hill and it was one of our favorite views of the Golden Gate Bridge. The viewpoint is located at a small parking area located on the Conzelman Road that weaves along the Marin headlands.
From Hawk Hill, the bridge perfectly frames the city of San Francisco in the background. We were lucky to have a relatively clear day when we visited and the panoramic view is incredible.
It’s possible to see some of the city’s top sights from up here. We spotted the Bay Bridge and downtown San Francisco with the Transamerica Pyramid and Alcatraz Island.
If you have the time it’s worth taking a short hike up Hawk Hill from the parking lot for another great view of the bridge.
Best View of Golden Gate Bridge tip: Due to its elevation and how exposed it is to the elements, Hawk Hill can get very windy and cold. If you plan on spending some time up here definitely pack some warm layers, even during the summer months.
There are more great views of the Golden Gate Bridge from the viewpoints dotted along Conzelman Road between the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge. There are two perfect stops on this stretch of road – the Golden Gate Observation Deck and the Golden Gate View Point:
2 | Golden Gate Observation Deck
The Golden Gate Observation Deck viewpoint is located higher up on the Conzelman Road access route. Due to its higher elevation, you can see further across the city. There is also more parking here compared to the Golden Gate view point so you have a better chance of grabbing a spot!
The only downside of the observation deck is that the left tower of the Golden Gate is partially obscured by the headland. The view is still beautiful but it’s not possible to see the entire bridge from here.
Best View of Golden Gate Bridge tip: The small parking lot tends to get pretty busy here so it’s often full at peak times. As most visitors only spend a few minutes it’s worth waiting for a space to open up. The access road, Conzelman Road, is one way only so if you pass the pull-in you’ll have a long detour around the hill and back to Bunker Road in order to return.
3 | Golden Gate View Point
Shortly after you leave the Golden Gate Observation Deck, you’ll come to a second smaller curb side parking lot known as the Golden Gate view point.
While the left tower of the bridge is partially obscured by Battery Spencer there are great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the south side of the bay including Marshall’s Baker beach.
4 | Battery Spencer
The view from Battery Spencer is pretty much the defining image of San Francisco. Once the location of a gun battery, was decommissioned in 1943. Today Battery Spencer is open to the public and is one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
The view of the Golden Gate stretching far into the distance is the reason why the crowds flock to Battery Spencer.
The viewing area at Battery Spencer is a short walk from the parking lot just off Conzelman Road. The parking lot here is a lot bigger than the other three viewpoints on Conzelman Road so you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting a space.
For safety reasons there is a chain-link fence along the left and front sides of the Battery Spencer and it makes taking photos a little tricky. We had to hold our camera above the fence to get a clean shot of the bridge.
Best View of the Golden Gate Bridge tip: The parking lot at Battery Spencer is a break-in hotspot so be careful when you’re parking your car. Make sure nothing is visible and that your car is definitely locked when you leave it. Don’t leave anything important in your car. There was a constant police presence at the Battery Spencer parking lot when we visited but it pays to be extra vigilant!
There is also a great view of the inner San Francisco Bay and Alcatraz Island from Battery Spencer.
5 | Golden Gate Bridge View Vista Point (North East of the bridge)
Golden Gate Vista Point is located to the northeast of the Golden Gate Bridge. It offers a unique perspective of the bridge.
Best View of the Golden Gate Bridge tip: The parking lot can only be accessed as you drive north of the Golden Gate Bridge. If you’re driving out of the city to the Marin Headlands and Fort Baker make sure to stop at Vista Point as you leave the bridge heading out of the city. Otherwise, you’ll need to get back into the city and back again (paying another toll)
Vista Point has one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge due to its incredible panoramic view across the bay to the city.
If you walk to the right-hand side of the viewing area there is also a unique view through the bridge itself.
Best View of the Golden Gate Bridge tip: The parking lot at Vista Point is super busy at most times during the day. The lot is circular so if you don’t get a spot right away it’s just a matter of circling until one comes free. We had to wait around 15-20 minutes for a spot when we visited in the late afternoon.
6 | Fort Baker
Fort Baker is located below the Vista Point on the northeast side of the bridge. Fort Baker is a former military training area but today it’s part of the Golden Gate Park Recreation Area and has one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Standing at the waters edge makes for a really unique view and the true scale of the Golden Gate Bridge unfolds before you.
We visited Fort Baker as part of the San Francisco Fire Engine tour which we can’t recommend highly enough. We booked it for our toddler’s birthday treat and loved being driven around San Francisco in an open-top vintage fire engine! It was such a fun experience in San Francisco – check prices now!
7 | Baker Beach
Baker Beach was one of our favourite spots in San Francisco and it also rewarded us with one of our favourite views of the Golden Gate Bridge. The beach is located to the south-west of the bridge and there are sweeping views of the bay from the Marin Headlands round to the Golden Gate Bridge itself.
The views of the waves lapping on the beach with the gorgeous reds of the bridge in the background are unforgettable and the walk along the beach was one of our favourite San Francisco memories.
Best View of the Golden Gate Bridge tip: We recommend visiting in the early afternoon as this might give you the best chance of avoiding fog over the bridge.
8 | Golden Gate Overlook
The Golden Gate Overlook view point is located on the southwest side of the bridge. It offers the reverse view of the bridge compared to the Golden Gate Bridge View Vista Point. To visit the overlook, you’ll need to park in the Langdon Court Parking lot.
There are lots of interesting views of the Golden Gate Bridge from the overlook as there are a series of military battery’s along the trails that offer great views.
Best Views of the Golden Gate Bridge tip: Langdon Court parking lot is very busy – we visited twice and both times it took a while to get a spot. It is also prone to break-ins. Most visitors use this parking lot to access the hike to Marshall’s Beach.
9 | Marshall’s Beach
If you make the trip to the Golden Gate Overlook then it’s definitely worth making the additional 1-mile walk to the nearby Marshall’s Beach. This small stretch of beach has a similar view of the Golden Gate Bridge as Baker Beach but it is a little closer to the bridge.
Best Views of the Golden Gate Bridge tip: If you can, try to visit Marshall’s Beach in the late afternoon as the sunset views here are some of the best in the city
10 | Golden Gate Bridge Panoramic View
We pulled in to the Panoramic View parking lot on a whim as we were driving out to the Marin Headlands and we’re glad we did! The view of the Golden Gate bridge from here is pretty spectacular.
The panoramic view is located on the south-east corner of the Golden Gate Bridge and has a unique view of the bridge with Fort Point below you. Even on a slightly foggy day, the views are great.
11 | Crissy Field
Crissy Field is a large park area that is part of the Golden Gate Recreation Area. It is located on the south side of San Francisco Bay. The park is very popular with runners and cyclists and lots of people picnic in the park on sunny days. The view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy field is definitely one of the best in San Francisco.
Best Views of the Golden Gate Bridge tip: For even better views try to get down to the beach area of Crissy field where you can gaze at the bridge from the water’s edge.
11 | Fort Point National Historic Site
The views from Fort Point are really unique as you are almost directly under the Golden Gate Bridge when you visit the site.
The fort was one of the key defences for San Francisco until after World War II. Today the fort is a protected monument. If you’re planning to visit Crissy Field make sure to check out For Point as it’s a short walk between the two.
13 | Coit Tower
Coit Tower isn’t an obvious choice for the best view of the Golden Gate bridge but the vistas from this elevated area of downtown San Francisco are spectacular. The iconic white concrete Coit Tower building is located on Telegraph Hill has been around since 1933. From the top of the tower, you will have 360-degree views across San Francisco and most importantly an epic view of the Golden Gate Bridge
Best Views of the Golden Gate Bridge tip: Try to visit Coit Tower for sunset on a clear day to be rewarded with some epic views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Access to the tower itself typically closes 30-45 minutes before the official closing time. If you do miss it make sure to check out the views from the parking lot!