Millions of tourists and admirers visit the Golden Gate Bridge every year. It is still one of the most recognized structures in the world. Even as the Bridge ages, its popularity never wanes. What better way to experience the Bridge than to actually walk across it. There is nothing like it in the world.
TAKING IN THE AWESOME VIEW
Standing on the sidewalk at midspan — the lowest point of the main cable — will give you an unbelievable view of San Francisco Bay. Here are just a few of the sights you will see:
To your left is the picturesque Marin Headlands that leads down into Marin County where Tiburon Island and Angel Island rest. Gazing straight ahead, you can see Alcatraz Island, home of the historic federal prison, flanked by the East Bay Hills.
Shifting your view to the right, you can’t miss the Bay Bridge, the area’s other famous bridge as it heads directly into downtown San Francisco, which can be viewed in all its splendor from the Bridge sidewalk. Directly below the Bridge on the San Francisco side is Fort Point, which served as a Union Army fort in the civil war and is one of the oldest buildings in San Francisco.
The east sidewalk is for pedestrians and the west sidewalk is reserved for bikes. You can start your walk from either end of the Bridge. From the San Francisco side, you enter the sidewalk from Vista Point South. To enter on the North Side, start at Vista Point in Marin County. From one side of the bridge to the other, it’s about 1.7 miles. It’s a straight path that veers around each of the iconic towers. There is a slight upgrade on the sidewalk as you get near midspan, as well as a gradual descent as you get away from the midpoint of the Bridge. Give yourself about an hour each way, as you will definitely want to stop and take photos of the Bridge and its surroundings, not to mention, you’ll want to lean on the handrail to take in the magnificent views.
Seasons don’t matter when it comes to weather on the Bridge. Mark Twain once said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” The Bridge seems to have its own distinct environment.
Predicting the weather on the Bridge can be nearly impossible. The weather can change in an instant. It may be sunny and clear throughout the entire bay, but this doesn’t mean it won’t be cold and windy at the bridge. Winds in the afternoon can tear through your body, so it’s best to be over-prepared when coming to the Bridge.
Wearing layers is highly recommended. Wearing shorts isn’t recommended, and make sure to bring a jacket no matter what the weather in other parts of the bay. Oh, and women should probably not wear skirts, or you will probably be holding it down the entire time.
Note: September and October are not as cool and windy as the rest of the year.
THE BEST TIME OF DAY TO WALK
The time of day you decide to walk the Bridge could make a big difference in your experience:
A foggy morning could really test and stimulate your senses. The thick white fog swallows the Bridge, giving the illusion you’ve entered a whole new world. Although you can no longer see it, the distinct salty air reminds you the ocean is close by. Walking down the sidewalk, a white mist slowly consumes you and a slight icy breeze begins nipping at your face. Chill permeates each new breath, and little puffs of vapor surround your face each time you exhale. And, the eerie boom of the foghorn two hundred feet below startles you back into reality.
Mid-morning can also be a wonderful time to be on the Bridge. The fog is burning off, and the wind hasn’t had a chance to rev up yet, resulting in a great time to enjoy the view.
Your ideal experience may be the early evening. There’s less pedestrian traffic, and cyclists are only on the west sidewalk. As night approaches, the dazzling lights of the city can be absolutely breathtaking; and watching the sun go down in the west over the endless expanse of the Pacific Ocean is incredible.
After your walk, check out the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center at the south end of the Bridge. Stop into the historic Round House Café, first opened in 1938 to take in one of the most amazing views in the world.
The sidewalk is open for walking all year long. Hours are:
November to early March 5am-6pm
March to early November 5am-9pm