When someone mentions the city of San Francisco, what’s the first thing that pops into your head? For me it’s the Golden Gate Bridge, and I’m sure that I’m not the only one. After all, it’s featured on almost every souvenir available in the city and has become somewhat of an icon around the world. Which is why walking and biking across it was at the top of my bucket list of things to do in San Francisco. Since, I only live 45 minutes north, I’m not sure why it took so long to check it off!

While it can be tempting to just drive across to a viewpoint, it’s much better to take a bike ride or walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. The journey is actually much shorter than it looks, coming in just under 2 miles, and makes for a memorable experience full of picturesque views and a stroll through one of San Francisco’s most historic moments.

Golden Gate Bridge: San Francisco Bucket List: Best Things to Do in the Fun City of SF


Tips to Bike or Walk Across
San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge


Golden Gate Bridge Facts

The Golden Gate Bridge connects San Francisco and Marin County. Completed in 1937, the landmark was nothing short of a miracle. Due to treacherous conditions and just sheer disbelief, many dubbed it “the bridge that couldn’t be built”. But 10 years of planning, 4 years of building, over 80,000 miles of wire and $35 million later the iconic spectacle was finally finished and deemed the longest suspension bridge in the world. While it no longer holds this title, the Golden Gate Bridge is still one of the most recognizable in the world with its iconic “international orange” color and 746 foot towers.

How Long is the Golden Gate Bridge

A common questions for visitors is “how long is the Golden Gate Bridge?”. Its length is 1.7 miles (8,981 ft or 2,737 m) and the walking path is about a 225 foot drop to the water.

How Long Does it Take to Walk Across the Golden Gate Bridge

Round trip will be approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on how many times you stop to look at the stunning views along the way.

How Long Does it Take to Bike Across the Golden Gate Bridge

Biking across the bridge will be a lot quicker than walking, taking approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the traffic on the path.

Tips to Walk (or Bike) Across San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge

Where to Park Your Car

Whether you are parking on the North our South end of the bridge, there are multiple parking lots available for use. However, it can be very limited during the peak traveling seasons, in which case I recommend either getting there really early or taking other means of transportation such as Golden Gate Transit.

Southeast Side Parking Lot

The visitor center has a small 37 space metered parking lot with a rate of $.25 per 15 minutes. Needless to say, this one fills up quickly due to its close access to the bridge as well as the visitor center’s café, gift shop, and gardens. On the weekends, a satellite parking lot is opened on the southwest side for a flat rate of $5.

To access this lot if you are traveling south from Marin, take the first exit right past the toll booth and go under the underpass and this will take you to the lot. If you are traveling north from San Francisco take the exit right before the bridge that says “Golden Gate National Recreation Area View Area”.

If you’re willing to make a bit of a trek, there are multiple other lots in the vicinity that offer free parking with no time limit. The closest of these is the Battery East Vista, located just below the visitor center. Two other options are to park at either Chrissy Field or Fort Point and take a quick 15-minute walk uphill to the visitor center.

Northeast Side Parking Lot

Parking options are much more limited on the Northern side of the bridge. There is one parking lot located off of the Vista Point Exit that offers great views of the bridge and city. The parking limit is 4 hours, which gives you plenty of time to walk the bridge.

For more parking options visit  Fog City Secrets.

Tips to Walk and Bike Across San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge

Tips on How to Walk Across the Golden Gate Bridge

Unfortunately, you’ll have to leave your roller blades, skateboards, and scooters at home (in addition to animals, wheelbarrows, and pushcarts). So, if you don’t want to bike, then walking across the Golden Gate Bridge is your best option! Roundtrip it takes the average person about an hour, so it’s the perfect way to burn some post-lunch calories. Pedestrians have access to the East sidewalk of the bridge, which can be accessed from both the North and South ends during the following hours:

5:00AM-6:30PM from the first Sunday of November to the second Sunday of March

5:00AM-9:00PM from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday of November

While the bridge is a beautiful way to see the city year-round, at times it can be cloaked in a fog that makes it difficult to take in its panoramic views. That being said, I have found that the best time of the year to take a stroll Is between the months of September and October.

Bike Across the Golden Gate Bridge

Tips on How to Bike Across the Golden Gate Bridge

Biking across the Golden Gate takes a smidge more planning than taking it on by foot. There are no bike rental locations at the visitor center, so if you want to feel that sea breeze in your hair you’ll have to stop at a nearby rental location such as Sports Basement, Golden Gate Bridge Bike Rentals, or Parkwide Bike Rentals & Tours. Electric bikes are allowed if you peddle them across the bridge without turning on the battery. You also take a tour (like this one: Golden Gate Bridge: 3-Hour Ferry and Cycle Tour) that will take you across the bridge and stop at other landmarks.

Cyclists have access to both the East and West sidewalk with the contingency that they yield to pedestrians. This can be trickier when passing by the towers, so for those portions I would suggest slowing down, or possibly walking your bike if there is heavy foot traffic. The hours for cyclists are different than those for pedestrians:

From the first Sunday of November to the second Sunday of March

Weekdays

5:00AM-3:30PM East sidewalk
3:30PM-6:30PM West sidewalk
6:30PM-5:00AM East sidewalk*

Weekends & Holidays

5:00AM-6:30PM West sidewalk
6:30PM-5:00AM East sidewalk*

from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday of November

Weekdays

5:00AM-3:30PM East sidewalk
3:30PM-9:00PM West sidewalk
9:00PM-5:00AM East sidewalk*

 Weekends & Holidays

5:00AM-9:00PM West sidewalk
9:00PM-5:00AM East sidewalk*

*Cyclists must press the buzzer located next to the security gate to be granted access 


If simply biking across seems like too short of a trip for you, another option is to start your journey at Fisherman’s Wharf. After walking around the shops and stopping at Boudin for a clam chowder bowl, you can bike along the bay for 23 minutes before you hit the bridge. Roundtrip it totals out to be around 12 miles.

Interested in more fun tours and activities in San Francisco? Like a Seaplane Flight + Alcatraz Cruise!! Then Check these tours out.

Regardless of which way you decided to see the Golden Gate Bridge, it really is a bucket list experience. Despite how many times I have crossed its path, I never cease to be amazed by its powerful beauty. Between the breathtaking views of the city, dizzying height, and picture-perfect opportunities, it’ll be a moment that you will never forget.

Tips to Bike or Walk Across San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge


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