The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most, if not THE most iconic suspension bridge in the world and back in September last year I was fortunate enough to be able to pay it a visit during my 2 days in San Francisco.
At one mile across, the Golden Gate Bridge spans the Golden Gate strait, standing out from every direction. You live life seeing photos of the bridge but when you see it with your own eyes it definitely doesn’t disappoint – it’s far more impressive than any photograph.
The first thing that struck me when seeing it for the first time was simply how enormous it is. It really is a major feat of engineering that is something for America to be proud of.
Arriving at the Golden Gate Bridge
Having cycled to the bridge via the Golden Gate Park, we approached via Merchant Road just off of Lincoln Boulevard. If you’re coming in this way it’s quite easy to miss the signs directing cyclists which way to go so be careful not to head onto the toll road that takes traffic across the bridge (cyclists aren’t allowed on the road). If approaching from Merchant Road, you need to take a sharp left down Cranston Road and head underneath the road to the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center.
Once you arrive you should see something like the Google Maps image below – 2 cafe’s to your left, visitor center to you right, toilets behind you and the bridge directly in front.
At the Welcome Center there is plenty of tourist information available as you would expect, describing the history of the bridge. The 2 cafes (Bridge Cafe and Roundhouse Cafe) offer a good selection of food and the public toilets are well maintained and cleaned. We grabbed a quick bit of food and snacks from Bridge Cafe and then made our way to the Battery E Trail.
The Battery E Trail takes both cyclists and foot passengers around to the bridge, offering a great photo opportunity on the way.
Unlike when the Google Street View guys visited, the day I visited wasn’t quite so clear with beaming blue skies!
Cycling across the bridge
Due to the volume of traffic on the bridge there are very strict rules in place. The road is solely for vehicle use whilst pedestrians walk down one side of the bridge and cyclists use the opposite side. Following the trail, this led us straight up to the bridge.
If you’re planning to cycle across the bridge like I did, be prepared for it to be very busy with both tourists and locals. The locals go a lot faster than the tourists (too fast in my opinion) so you need to have your wits about you with them overtaking. It’s also a single track route for cyclists going in both directions so you need to be prepared to be overtaken and avoid oncoming cyclists(!).
You can see how much space you have on the path here:
Whilst on the bridge it’s incredibly windy so be warned! It was also pretty cold the day we went due to the poor weather so we also had quite restricted views due to the famous mist that makes its way up the strait.
Along the bridge’s paths there are numerous viewing points so it’s easy to stop to take some photos. At each of the bridge’s 2 supports there’s a much wider area jutting out which offers some incredible views back along the bridge and across the strait. Luckily by the time we reached this point, the poor visibility had passed so we could enjoy everything the bridge had to offer!
Having cycled the full distance across (it really did feel like 1 mile!), we took a left turn down Conzelman Road. This took us under the far side of the bridge onto Moore Road as we were making our way to Sausalito to catch the ferry back across the strait. This side isn’t really advertised as a key tourist spot however in my opinion this offered one of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge going – if you’re planning a visit, this is definitely a spot you should head to!
Ferry from Sausalito back to San Francisco
Having made our way to Sausalito, we jumped on the ferry to head back to San Francisco. I thought at this point that we had exhausted every view of the bridge however there was one last treat in store for us.
Heading across the strait, the bridge came into view offering one last photo opportunity right as a sailing boat passed across the front of us.
The perfect end to the day and the perfect end to our Golden Gate Bridge visit.
I absolutely loved this trip and if you’re in San Francisco it’s something that you have to do. My top takeaways would be to wrap up warm, be prepared for it to be windy and enjoy every view. Superb.