3 of the best places to get photos with the Golden Gate Bridge
It might no longer be the tallest, or the longest but it is most definitely the most photographed bridge in the world. More than 10 million people come to visit Irving Morrow’s iconic structure each year and is it really any wonder why? With its 746ft tall towers, art deco style and unmistakable “International Orange” the Golden Gate Bridge is a triumph to be marvelled at.
The bridge was built over four years to connect San Francisco to Marin County which previously was reached by ferry boat. On May 28th 1937 the bridge was opened to traffic and as of January 2014, 2,025,883,491 vehicles have crossed the Golden Gate Bridge*.
What’s truly magic about the bridge is her relationship to the ever changing fog that rolls across the bay, sometimes concealing her entirely and often allowing only the very tops of her towers to peak through. No matter what time of year you visit you’re in for a treat.
I’ve picked these three spots because each one offers a completely different perspective of the bridge and none of the environments are the same. Baker Beach offers views from far away, putting the whole bridge in the distance, Battery Spencer takes you up a mountain to look down on the bridge and the city and Fort Point gives you to opportunity to view the bridge from underneath whilst looking out across the bay.
Baker Beach is a mile long public beach located Northwest of the city. It’s not safe for swimming due to large waves and rip currents but it’s popular for fishing and incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
You can easily do all three in one day but if you’re going to do that, I suggest planning them all around Baker Beach as the best photo spot is reliant on tide times. The earlier you can get there the better because unlike the other two, there isn’t a lot of space on top and around the rocks so if it’s busy people might get in your shot or worse, be impatient with you.
To check the tide times in advance click here. For anyone who is unsure of tide times, you want to arrive as close to low tide as possible, and avoid getting there around high tide.
There is a free beachfront car park with an overflow. Continue past the overflow and down to the beach front to get the closest spaces to the beach. Please don’t leave any belongings visible in your car, San Fran is notorious for car break-ins so lock it away or keep it on you.
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Where to go
If you’re facing the beach, the entrance is in the right hand corner of the car park. Once you’re on the beach turn right and keep walking until you reach the rocks that prevent you from going further, this will take about 15mins. As you’ve planned to be there around low tide, you will be able to walk around the left of the first set of rocks. Climb up the second set of rocks from the right hand side, you want to be standing along the third ridge on the far left. BE CAREFUL, wear shoes with good grip and be sensible when climbing these rocks. They’re not very high, but you don’t want to slip.
To get to the spot where I was for this image, you want to walk between the rocks marked out on the map below. It doesn’t look wide enough from the image but it is plenty wide enough to get through, just be careful not to damage any of the mussels attached to the rocks on either side. Once you’re through to the other side it is here that you’ll be able to stand in the sand with an unobstructed view of the bridge. This is my favourite spot out of them all.
FYI the far end of the beach, near the rocks, is the nudist section so don’t be alarmed if people around you start shedding their clothes.
Fort Point was built between 1853 and 1861 with the means to protect and defend San Francisco Bay. It has survived the Gold Rush, earthquakes, Civil War and World War II and even escaped demolition in 1930 before the original plans to build the Golden Gate Bridge changed to build around the fort rather in place of it. These days it’s a museum which is only open Friday - Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm.
There are free parking spaces all along the waterfront leading up to Fort Point. For the best angles of the bridge aim to park in the second from last section of parking spaces. It’s not the end of the world if you can’t, it just saves you from having to walk there.
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Where to go
All you have to do is step over the chain railing that’s in front of the parking bays to the edge of the promenade and you’ve got the perfect spot anywhere along there, depending on how much of the bridge you want in. The closer you get to Fort Point the less you will capture as you are underneath it, but if you want the whole bridge in, position yourself in front of the parking spaces I mentioned in “parking”.
Just like Fort Point, Battery Spencer was another area of defence for San Francisco bay and harbour. Though the buildings are in poor shape as they were scrapped for anything that could contribute to World War II, you can still walk around them and see where the 12” guns would have been manned.
Unlike the other two, Battery Spencer requires driving across the Golden Gate Bridge. There isn’t a toll fee to leave the city but there is an $8 fee to enter the city. To save time crossing, the toll booths have been removed and payment is now made online. To pay for the crossing click here - you will need a credit card, the vehicle license plate, the state of registration and the dates of your toll crossings.
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Parking is free but a bit pot luck up here, the best parking is right outside the park entrance but it’s hard to tell if there will be empty spaces at the top as you’re going up, so I suggest parking when you see a space and walk up to the park entrance from there.
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Where to go
From the entrance of the park walk up the path until it opens out at the edge of the cliff. There’s no one monitoring the area so it is possible to get photos on the other side of the rope, but of course this is at your own risk.
PFH Top Tip: It’s incredibly windy up there so make sure you don’t wear anything that can blow away. I rarely wear false eyelashes, but chose to the day I went to Battery Spencer and it was so windy my lashes actually ripped off my face! It’s true!