We spent about an hour visiting the most iconic bridge in the world. During that time, we visited a small outdoor museum, a shop that serves as a National Site, and walked on the Golden Gate Bridge. All this cost only $3 for parking, and it was a moment our family will never forget. If you’ve only driven across the Golden Gate, consider stopping and spending a few moments with the bridge.
On the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge is a parking lot called Battery East. Our phones took us right to this parking lot, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it. The parking lot is on the east side just before you start out on the bridge. There is a kiosk that takes a credit card, and parking is $3 per hour. We found one hour to be enough if you hurry, but if you’d like to take your time, you may need a little more. After all, this is the cheapest you’ll park in the Bay Area.
We took a few pictures on the steps just north of the parking area toward the bridge. There is a better platform closer to the bridge, but you can take photos and then pay parking, which will save a few minutes.
A walking trail leads toward the bridge, but it is used by bikers as well, so be courteous. The trail was extremely busy. After about 100 yards, you come to a platform on the right, which is great for taking photos with the bridge in the background.
Another popular spot for photos of the bridge is on the other side of the bridge at Baker Beach. This parking area was closed when we visited, so we were unable to check it out. These views are right from the beach, but they are not close enough to walk on the bridge.
Another 100 yards brings you to a set of a half-dozen steps. At the top is a small outdoor museum about the construction and facts about the bridge. It is a good gathering place. There are some fun hands-on activities for the kids about how the bridge works, and lots of information signs about the bridge. There is also a small Visitor Center, though it mostly serves as a store. We didn’t really bother entering, but if you have questions about the bridge, this would be the place to go. The bridge is part of the Golden Gate Recreation Area, so you can find more info on their website.
Walk on the Bridge
After another flight of stairs, you are on level with the bridge. We took the time to walk almost all the way to the first tower, and it is a lot further than you think! Walking on the bridge is a bit scary, but there is plenty of fence and rail to keep you safe. As you look over, you are 500 feet above the level of the water. Far below, we could see small boats, and we even spotted a sea lion swimming under the bridge. It is much like looking down from a skyscraper.
We felt safe walking on the bridge, but it is a little intimidating, especially if you are afraid of heights. The cars are also driving very close, but there is a fence between the road and the walkway. Hopefully these pictures give you a good idea of what it’s like. Just hold on to your little ones’ (and teenagers’) hands.
We enjoyed getting up close and personal with the Golden Gate Bridge. It was much more interesting than just driving across it. For unique views underneath the bridge at ground level, consider visiting Fort Point, which is free. You can read about other cool family adventures in San Francisco here.
Be careful with your car. Don’t leave anything valuable inside or in sight. This is a big city, so just be wise, but this is also a public area, so we felt safe.