6 Things to Do When Visiting the Golden Gate Bridge
Visiting the Golden Gate Bridge is a great experience. It needn’t end with the bridge itself, though. There’s a wide range of things to do within walking distance of the bridge.
Marvel at the Golden Gate Bridge Strauss Plaza
Approaching from San Francisco heading north, visitors come to the Golden Gate Bridge Strauss Plaza, a handsome gateway named for the bridge’s dynamic first chief engineer, Joseph Strauss. The plaza, opened in 2012 just southeast of the bridge toll stations, includes the Bridge Pavilion, the Round House Café and a small parking lot. Approaching from Marin County heading south, the parking lot is accessed from the bridge’s far-right lane via the Merchant Road exit.
Buy Gifts at The Bridge Pavilion
The Bridge Pavilion, a glassy modern building in signature International Orange, is the place to go for branded Golden Gate Bridge merchandise. This attractive visitors’ center highlights orientation and interpretive information about the bridge and its construction from 1933 to 1937 and offers views of the bridge and the Pacific Ocean.
Eat at the Round House Café
The neighboring Round House Café, a circular 1938 Art Deco building, was reopened in 2015 as a contemporary eatery. The café offers barista service behind large, view-friendly windows and a classic roadside menu of clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls, apple pie, hot dogs and the motorist’s friend, hot coffee. All are sourced from Bay Area companies.
Visit the Walt Disney Family Museum
The Walt Disney Family Museum in the Presidio, located inland and south of the bridge in a repurposed heritage building on the expansive, eye-pleasing former Army base offers an engaging variety of changing, interactive exhibits about the famed movie studio and its entrepreneurial founder, appealing to children and adults.
Wander Down to Crissy Field
Another lure is waterside Crissy Field, the Presidio’s transformed former airfield, located downhill and to the east of the bridge. It includes a popular and helpfully flat pathway. It winds past beaches and restored sand dunes studded with native plants all the way to Fort Point, which affords commanding views of the world-famous bridge from the water’s edge.
Look out at the Bridge from Battery Spencer and Vista Point
On the Marin side, aptly named Vista Point overlooks the bay, the bridge and the city skyline from just off the bridge’s east sidewalk. From the west, head up Cozelman Road to Battery Spencer, a reinforced concrete battery that was a part of the Harbor Defense of San Francisco.
Run along Baker Beach
Stretching a mile below the rugged cliffs on the Presidio’s western shoreline, Baker Beach’s spectacular outside-the-Gate views of the Bridge and the Marin Headlands are unsurpassed. The beach lies on the shore of the Pacific Ocean to the northwest of the city. It is roughly a half mile long, beginning just south of Golden Gate Point (where the Golden Gate Bridge connects with the peninsula), extending southward toward the Seacliff peninsula.