Home Bay Area Best View of the Golden Gate Bridge: A local’s guide to Top 4 Golden Gate Bridge lookouts

Best View of the Golden Gate Bridge: A local’s guide to Top 4 Golden Gate Bridge lookouts

written by ParoChak February 12, 2017

How to Best View the Golden Gate Bridge?

Millions of people visit San Francisco every year to get a view of the world’s most famous bridge, aka, the Golden gate bridge. However, most of them make the mistake of viewing the bridge from the touristy, crowded spots  on the SF side or simply walk across the bridge to the landing site on Marin, which do not offer the best vantage points to photograph the bridge. The best Golden Gate bridge viewpoints are actually from entirely different spot in San Francisco and Marin headlands, and some of these Golden Gate bridge lookout points are not very well known to outsiders.  In this guide on how to best view the Golden gate bridge, I will let you in the closely guarded secret of my four favorite spots from where you can best view Golden gate bridge. Read my guide (I am an SF resident after all) to find the four best places to see golden gate bridge, which are tried and tested by me, to obtain the best Golden Gate bridge photos! For more San Francisco related inspiration and free things to do, read my posts on cheap, fun and free things to do in SF or my top twenty recommendations/must do things in San Francisco.

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# 1. Best View Golden Gate bridge from: SLACKER RIDGE TRAIL

This is one of the least known short hikes that will get you the best view of Golden gate Bridge. If you drive up into Sausalito (the quaint little European arty town right which is the first exit post crossing the bridge on the north) and do not stop till you go just past the roundabout along Conzelman Road, you will come across a small, partially hidden gate that leads to one of the best kept secrets of the Bay area, i.e. the Slacker Hill/Slacker Ridge trail. This spot has also been voted to be the best Golden Gate bridge lookout point. Once you find a parking spot nearby (which we did), be prepared to hike up on this short (0.4 miles) yet extremely steep trail (ironically, this trail gives you no excuse to slack at all) till you reach the end, i.e an elevated area which provides the absolute best view of the Golden Gate bridge, the city of San Francisco and Alcatraz island perched on the blue waters of the Pacific, with glistening white dots of sailboats and ships leaving white streaks on the water. If you have enough steam remaining in you to venture further down through the rolling hills, you will hit the bridge up and close at about 1.2 miles or so. Dress warmly because it is chilly and windy up here and do not forget to bring your wide angle camera lens for the most panoramic view of the Golden Gate bridge that the Bay Area has to offer. Also, this trail is not dog friendly, so please keep that in mind if visiting with your furry friends. For dog friendly hiking trails in SF bay area, read my recommendations here.

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#2. Best Place to see the Golden Gate Bridge :HAWK HILL

Hawk hill, just past the Golden Gate Bridge, is a hilly elevation which gets it’s name from being the observing point of many a raptor (hawks and the like, thus the name Hawk hill) is one of the very few areas belonging to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area which has a dog friendly trail. What it is famous for is the view that it offers once you get to the top of this 0.57 trail of moderate hiking ability, which includes an unobstructed view of the bridge and is definitely one of the best places to photograph the Golden Gate bridge from. Unlike all other pit stops chock full of tourist cars beyond the bridge on the Marin side, one can get a majestic, sweeping view of the Golden Gate bridge, the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz and the San Francisco skyline on a clear day. Hawk hill is a favorite of birdwatchers in the fall season to observe the migration of hawks, condors and other raptors. This spot, still unknown to a lot of tourists, is a must visit if you want to best view Golden Gate Bridge and the surroundings and is a great Golden Gate bridge lookout point.

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Hawk Hill is located just before the exit to Sausalito, north of the Golden Gate bridge. If you are driving from the south, the GPS on Google maps does a good job of getting you there or you can refer to this website for help. You can park on the side of the two way Conzelman road and the Hawk hill trail head begins from where Conzelman road becomes a one way. You can either walk around the hill and climb up the winding path or take the tunnel (as we did) and climb up the stairs to go to the top of Hawk hill to be greeted by a gorgeous Golden Gate bridge viewpoint. Dogs must be on leash all the time on the trail and on Hawk hill.

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#3.Best Golden Gate Bridge viewpoint: MARSHALL’s BEACH

Marshall’s beach, located in San Francisco’s Presidio, is another place to best view Golden Gate Bridge.  You can even hike down to below the bridge if you want once you get to the beach. The easiest way to get to Marshall’s beach is by parking on any of the side lots designated for car parking on Pershing Drive (we parked on Lincoln Blvd, close to its intersection with Pershing), cross the street (be super careful while doing so because of oncoming speeding vehicles from both sides) and then get onto the trail flanking Pershing drive that merges with the Batteries to Bluff trail leading to Marshall’s beach. Lookout for posted signs indicating the direction of the beach and keep on walking to Marshall’s beach. At the very beginning, there is an elevated area from where you can get a great view of the bridge, but do not stop there. Steep steps lead down to the trail further ahead and so keep on moving till you get the trail leading to a lookout point.  Staying on the trail at all times is important since restoration work is in progress for native vegetation all around.

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Marshall’s beach is another gem of a beach to hike to and enjoy, owing to it’s solitude and because it doubles up as an excellent Golden Gate bridge viewpoint. Unfortunately, it is not dog friendly (although we did see a few people bring in their dogs, something I do not condone) and it is not a good idea to bring in young children to this beach owing to the steep hike that is involved. If you ever find yourself in San Francisco on a very warm day, head straight to the Presidio and visit either of its beaches (Baker/Marshall’s beach) and you will be very thankful that you did so, because both these beaches are two of the best places to view and photograph the Golden Gate bridge!

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#4. Best place to view the Golden Gate bridge: BAKER BEACH

This popular beach in the Presidio, welcoming to man and canine, is another spot get the best view of Golden gate bridge which is only 1.3 miles away.You can either hike through the coastal trail from the immigration lookout point and get to the beach or walk down the batteries to bluff trail and make a left, to be greeted by a gorgeous view of the Golden Gate bridge. Further up this trail is Marshall’s beach, but dogs are not allowed there. There is a lot to do and see at the Presidio and you can hike through its many trails, have lunch at some of the cool restaurants inside or simply drive/walk to the beach. A bright, sunny, spring day is perfect to spend at Baker beach with a picnic basket and a book. Our pups had a lot of fun and so did we. Hope you enjoy the photos! Here is the website for more info on San Francisco’s Presidio.

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I hope you enjoyed reading this post and have gotten several ideas for spots to best view Golden Gate Bridge. These Golden Gate bridge lookout points are definitely some of the best spots to photograph the bridge from (on a clear day, of course) and are a must visit!

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Best view of Golden gatebridge San Francisco California Bay area travel

Where can you find the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, USA? This local's guide tells you the BEST four spots to get the most sweeping views of the iconic Golden Gate bridge from in and around San Francisco, Bay Area. Read this insider guide to know the local's secret spots and pin it to your California travel board now! A must read for photographers! #bayarea #californiatravel #california #sanfrancisco #USA #goldengatebridge #northamerica

 

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25 comments

Emma June 10, 2017 at 8:20 am

Such a bucket list item. I hope I get to experience these amazing views one day! Beautiful photos 🙂

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Leslie Price June 10, 2017 at 11:02 am

You are amazing! Thank you so much for this. I’ll be in San Francisco with my dog in August and I was literally just wondering where I should go to get good photos. I can’t thank you enough for including which sites are dog friendly and which aren’t. You’re a total lifesaver.

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Diana June 10, 2017 at 4:16 pm

Ive been wanting to go back to sf!! I still remember biking across the bridge now i wanna go to some of these view points!!
Cheers
Diana
http://www.seaofblush.com

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Lisa - The Wandering Lens June 10, 2017 at 4:26 pm

This post is perfect! I visited San Francisco 10yrs ago but only had a day and just quickly photographed on the bridge and from a park beside it, definitely need to go back and visit these spots for a better view!

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Rachelle June 10, 2017 at 5:05 pm

Love this! Of course, it’s always fun to get a crowded shot of yourself on the bridge, but I agree with getting a little farther away. My grandma lives in Alameda and I often visit her and the city. I love going to Baker Beach around sunset on a clear day!

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Julia Dent June 10, 2017 at 5:43 pm

All those views are beautiful! I didn’t have much time with I was in SF so I’ll have to check out some of these spots the next time I go!

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Kayla June 10, 2017 at 6:34 pm

I’ll be there in a week! Thanks for the insight. If I walk across the bridge, is there public transit that I can take to get back across?

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ParoChak June 10, 2017 at 6:43 pm

Hi Kayla, I think you can but that will be a really long walk! I suggest walking a little bit along the bridge up to the midpoint and then turning back. You can get excellent views of the bridge from
SF marina, Crissy field and of course the Presidio, all of which have bus services.

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Lia June 10, 2017 at 6:35 pm

Wow, I actually haven’t heard of many of these! My fave viewing spot is Batteries to Bluffs trailhead, above Baker Beach. It’s also a great little hike!

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Anna June 10, 2017 at 7:10 pm

I never got a chance to explore SF, but I definitely want to see these views if I get there! Thanks for sharing, they look so pretty!

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Alyssa Jaren June 10, 2017 at 7:28 pm

This could be off-topic, but your dog is super cute!! The hike looks super good, I like the view from Slacker Ridge best!

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C-Ludik June 10, 2017 at 7:47 pm

I visited San Francisco 7 years ago and I love this city. Of course, I have taken photos of the bridge on a foggy day 🙂 . I definitely need to go back and visit these spots for a better view (you can do nothing about the weather, right ?) !

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Jamie June 10, 2017 at 7:54 pm

I would love to go to any of these places! San Fran has been so high on my list for so long!

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Jill at Reading the Book June 10, 2017 at 8:29 pm

Love these unusual suggestions on where to view the Golden Gate Bridge, and your photos prove what good suggestions they are! I’ve not yet had a chance to visit San Francisco, but I did transit in the airport and got a stunning view of the bridge as we took off again! So I would make that tip #5, lol!!

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Kiara Gallop June 10, 2017 at 9:06 pm

As someone who is passionate about photography, I find posts like this really helpful, as I always like to capture iconic sights or landmarks from a slightly different viewpoint/angle to the norm. I especially love the view from Slacker Ridge Trail 🙂

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Kelly June 10, 2017 at 9:59 pm

Man. I wish I had this when I visited San Francisco. I got terrible views of the Golden Gate Bridge. This list is amazing and full of such great suggestions. Thank you times 10,000.

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Jen June 11, 2017 at 12:11 am

Very detailed tips! Will definitely use this post if I’m ever in the area to snap great photos of the Bridge!

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Gabby June 11, 2017 at 7:29 am

great post! I’m a Northern California native (Sacramento) and I always encourage visitors to SF to go to the Marin Headlands to get a view of the bridge. Love these tips from you.. they also made me a bit homesick! It is so beautiful there

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Tasha June 11, 2017 at 9:26 am

I’ve seen many photos of the Golden Gate Bridge but not from all the angles you’ve posted here. The view from Hawk Hill looks lovely and also your dog is gorgeous!

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Milou June 11, 2017 at 9:32 am

I love this! Could’ve used this post when I visited three years ago 🙂

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Ilse June 11, 2017 at 11:44 am

Love your different perspective and what a great idea to share these alternate locations with tourists!

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Christine June 11, 2017 at 2:43 pm

Beautiful photos! I wish I would have came across this post before my trip! So helpful on how to get great photos of the bridge!

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Melissa June 12, 2017 at 5:39 am

Loved this post! I live in the Bay Area and have been to Baker Beach, but have done neither of the hikes for views of the bridge. They are now on my list to check out – Thanks for sharing!

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Nicola August 15, 2017 at 9:39 am

I loved San Francisco. It was my last stop on my road trip and the first stop in SF was Marshall Beach to capture the bridge. It was empty and perfect to setup my gear. One evening I went to Hawk Hill and captured the bridge after sunset. It was amazing. Thanks for refreshing my wonderful memories on SF.

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Chris May 1, 2018 at 11:37 am

We’ll be back this summer with a little more time to explore. Thanks for posting this.

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