Catch A Glimpse Of The Golden Gate Bridge At This Beautiful Beach

Few manmade landmarks are more recognizable than San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. The art deco architecture with the iconic vermillion hue — known as International Orange — attracts more than 10 million visitors each year, making it one of the most visited destinations in America. While the bridge is visible from many parts of the city, the mile-long stretch of Baker Beach offers a particularly striking view of the steel and sea, particularly around sunset.

Baker Beach sits inside the Presidio, a historic army post with a 200-year history on the northern end of San Francisco. Apart from the fact that this beach was the birthplace of the Burning Man festival, another highlight is that parking is available right next to the shore, giving visitors access to sweeping views with relative ease. If you can snag a spot to park before the crowds arrive (the earlier, the better), the trek from your car to an Instagrammable frame will take about five minutes. 

Things to do at Baker Beach

Baker Beach is an ideal place to take a break from the city, be it kicking around a soccer ball or playing frisbee with your dog — once you're done taking a million pictures, of course. When the weather is warm, locals flock to the shores to sunbathe and grill food near the picnic tables. Should you feel so inclined, the northern end of the beach is clothing-optional.

If nature trails are more your thing, an easy 0.15–mile trail leads to the Battery Chamberlin, an army cannon built in 1904 to protect the harbor. There's also the Lobos Creek Trail, an accessible boardwalk loop that takes you through the sand dunes for a taste of what the area was like before the development. For more exercise, hike 200 stairs up the "sand ladder" for an epic ocean view.

Though a California beach may bring to mind hours of surfing, Baker Beach is unsuitable for swimming, as there are large waves and rip currents. But if you don't mind the cold water, feel free to dip your toes in the Pacific. While you're there, keep your eyes peeled for sea lions and harbor porpoises popping their heads above the water.

What to know before you go

Baker Beach is free for visitors along with the entire Presidio all year round. You can access the shore with a bike, car, or the Presidio Go Shuttle via the South Hills Route. It's no secret that this is one of the best places to view the Golden Gate Bridge, so be prepared for crowds and limited parking spots, especially on the weekends.

You'll need to bring your food and water, as limited restaurants and shops are within walking distance. Also, be sure to dress in layers, as San Francisco is known to be chilly when Karl the fog rolls in (yes, that's its real nickname). To avoid throngs of tourists, the best time to enjoy Baker Beach is during the shoulder seasons, either from April to May or September to November. But no matter when you visit, even if the bridge is draped in a moody mist, the view from the beach is well worth it.