Why You Should Add The Golden Gate Bridge To Your California Bucket List

At 1.7 miles long, the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge on Highway 101 connects San Francisco to Marin County. Built in 1937, the iconic structure is instantly recognizable worldwide and a must-see for any visitor to the Golden State. But with so many beautiful landmarks in California, why should tourists add the Golden Gate Bridge to their California bucket list?

There are so many reasons! First of all, the International Orange landmark is unique and simply stunning. The city views from its accessible walkway on the eastern side of the bridge offer one-of-a-kind vistas of the San Francisco skyline, Alcatraz, and the San Francisco Bay. Yes, that's right! Visitors can walk, bike, or drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. While all excellent options, walking across the Golden Gate Bridge offers tourists a chance to get their hands on the famous paint and experience its beauty up close and personal. And not only is the bridge itself a marvel to visit, but there's also plenty to do within walking distance from either side. Just be warned that the walkway can be bustling during peak hours, and the cars zooming by can sound quite noisy. As with many popular tourist attractions, the best time to visit is early morning or evening. 

Getting to the Golden Gate Bridge and what to expect

There are multiple ways to get to the iconic California landmark. Parking is available on the southeast and northeast sides of the bridge, but it's scarce. Tourists are encouraged to park farther away, such as in the Presidio, or take public transport. The Presidio Promenade Trail takes about 45 minutes and offers some of the state's best views of the Golden Gate Bridge. For a shorter walk, park near the Warming Hut at Crissy Field. Pop in for a coffee and something sweet before the 0.6-mile stroll to the bridge.

Public transport is also a great option. Tourists can hop on a Golden Gate Transit Bus from the Salesforce Transit Center in downtown San Francisco (Routes 101, 130, and 150). More routes are available throughout the city. Rideshares like Lyft or Uber are also a great way to get to the bridge.

On the San Francisco side of the Golden Gate Bridge, visitors will find a Welcome Center. This area includes a gift shop and fun onsite exhibits detailing the history and construction of the California landmark. There's also a coffee shop, Equator Coffee, where guests can buy hot drinks to sip on a (most likely) foggy San Francisco day.

What to do near the Golden Gate Bridge

Both ends of the Golden Gate Bridge offer more walking, cycling, and hiking opportunities. On the city side of the bridge, visitors have a few options. Exploring the Presidio provides endless possibilities. With 24 miles of hiking trails, the Presidio also offers beaches, the Fort Point National Historic Site, a bowling alley, a golf course, and more. For those visiting with kids, the Walt Disney Family Museum gives a peek into the history of Mr. Walt Disney. For families seeking more movement, try Presidio Tunnel Tops. Little ones can go wild on a natural setting playground with gorgeous views of the Golden Gate Bridge. 

On the Marin County side of the Golden Gate Bridge, there are even more opportunities for hiking and biking. The Marin Headlands offers dirt trails through valleys, up mountains, around lakes, and parallel to dramatic cliffsides. For a more urban adventure on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge, head to the seaside city of Sausalito. Here, visitors will find fresh seafood, art galleries, boutique shops, ice cream parlors, and amazing views of the San Francisco Bay.