The Golden Gate Bridge ranks up there with the Statue of Liberty, the Lincoln Memorial, and Mount Rushmore as an architectural marvel and an iconic American landmark. Instantly recognizable by its soaring towers and distinctive color, it’s been the focus of countless photographs, movies, YouTube videos, and TV travel shows. But to fully appreciate the true magnificence of the Golden Gate Bridge, you need to walk across it.
A round trip walk across the Golden Gate Bridge takes approximately 90 minutes, but that’s if you do a brisk walk without stopping to take in the incredible views. But no one does that, because walking the bridge should be enjoyed and savored, so expect to spend at least two hours or more.
Walking the Golden Gate Bridge tops many a bucket list, and there’s a reason why 10 million people a year make the bridge a top destination. Quite simply, walking the bridge is a true one-of-a-kind experience that even locals never tire of. Continue reading so you can learn more about this unique, “only in San Francisco” experience.
Walking the Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge spans the Golden Gate Strait that divides the city of San Francisco to the south and Marin County to the north. The pedestrian sidewalk runs along the bridge’s eastern side.
So while walking, you will see genuinely awe-inspiring views of the San Francisco skyline, Crissy Field, and the domed Palace of Fine Arts, the beaches of the Presidio, Angel Island, Alcatraz, the Bay Bridge, and the sprawling San Francisco Bay. Needless to say, with such expansive views, the bridge is a selfie lover’s paradise.
Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge ranks right near the top for one of the most enjoyable things you can do while in San Francisco, and you know what makes it even better? There is no charge to walk the Golden Gate Bridge.
The bridge is accessible to strollers and wheelchairs, but the pedestrian sidewalk can be narrow in parts, especially around the towers, so the going can be a little slow at peak times. Fortunately, side outs offer off-sidewalk places where you can comfortably rest and take in the view.
At the end of the pedestrian sidewalk on the Marin side is North Vista Point, one of the most popular visitor areas in all of the Bay Area. The views of the bridge’s entire span, the surrounding Marin Headlands, and the San Francisco skyline are second to none. If you’re fortunate enough to get there when the fog starts rolling in, you’ll think you’re in heaven.
North Vista Point also offers an excellent opportunity to rest before heading back across the bridge. There are restrooms and benches here, as well as a parking lot. While there are no coin-operated binoculars on the bridge itself, you’ll find plenty of them here.
Bay Area Answers Fun Fact: The official color of the Golden Gate Bridge is neither gold nor copper, but “International Orange.” The U.S. Navy wanted the bridge painted red and blue stripes, but bridge architects decided that International Orange helped the bridge stand out better in the fog and because it complemented the surrounding natural environment.
When Is the Pedestrian Sidewalk Open
The pedestrian sidewalk on the Golden Gate Bridge is open year-round.
Bridge hours are:
- 5:00 AM to 6:30 PM, November to March
- 5:00 AM to 8:00 PM, 9:00 PM on weekends, March to November
An automatically controlled gate closes the sidewalk off at the closing time.
Biking the Golden Gate Bridge
Bikes are permitted on the Golden Gate Bridge, and both the west and east sides of the bridge have bike paths. On the eastern path, depending on crowds and the pace of your ride, a round-trip bike ride can take 30 minutes to an hour.
The west side of the bridge is open to cyclists only, who can access the path after 3 PM on Fridays and weekends. The west biking path offers its own set of incredible views of the long sandy beach, rolling surf, and windmills of Ocean Beach and the vast Pacific Ocean.
Cyclists on the bridge are required to wear helmets. There are no bike rentals at the Welcome Center, so you’ll need to ride your own bike or rent one from local vendors. An online search will show that there is no shortage of bike rentals near the Golden Gate Bridge. Click here for more information on biking across the bridge.
Golden Gate Bridge Parking
Drivers coming from San Francisco will find plenty of places to park their car but be forewarned parking lots fill up fast in peak hours. Your best solution would be to get there early or take alternative means, like ride-shares or public transportation.
The majority of visitors will access the bridge from the San Francisco side, and parking lots around the bridge are the first to fill up early.
Parking is also available a little further down the road at Fort Point and Crissy Field, but both lots are a fifteen-minute uphill walk from the bridge and not recommended for those with strollers or wheelchairs. Click here for detailed information on parking near the bridge.
Other Posts of Interest
- Do You Need A Car To Live In San Francisco?
- How Long Is The Bay Bridge Trail?
- Is San Francisco An Island Or A Peninsula?
- Why Is San Francisco So Foggy?
A Word About the Weather
“The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco,” this quote is often attributed to Mark Twain and aptly applies since June, July, and August in San Francisco can be cold, windy, and foggy. The fog can be unpredictable at this time of year, and the bridge is often so “socked in” with fog that you won’t see anything but grey.
Your best bet is to watch local morning TV news programs to get an idea of what the weather might be before planning your bridge walk. If it’s still foggy in the early afternoon, plan your trip for another day.
Summing It Up
Walking over the Golden Gate Bridge is a true “one of a kind” experience that has amazed and delighted visitors and locals since its opening in 1937. It doesn’t make any difference how many times you walk across the bridge; the experience never disappoints. And remember to take your camera along with you so you can capture all of those magnificent views.
If you’re a first-time visitor to the city, walking the Golden Gate Bridge should be right at the top of your itinerary. It’s the best place to see why so many people leave their hearts in San Francisco.