- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
Mobile AppDownload Fodor's City Guide App for FREE!
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge Review
With its simple but powerful art-deco design, the 1.7-mile suspension span that connects San Francisco and Marin County was built to withstand winds of more than 100 mph. It's also not a bad place to be in an earthquake: designed to sway almost 28 feet, the Golden Gate Bridge (unlike the Bay Bridge) was undamaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. If you're on the bridge when it's windy, stand still and you can feel it swaying a bit.
Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge under your own power is exhilarating—a little scary, and definitely chilly. From the bridge's eastern-side walkway, the only side pedestrians are allowed on, you can take in the San Francisco skyline and the bay islands; look west for the wild hills of the Marin Headlands, the curving coast south to Lands End, and the Pacific Ocean. On sunny days, sailboats dot the water, and brave windsurfers test the often-treacherous tides beneath the bridge. A vista point on the Marin County side provides a spectacular city panorama.
A structural engineer, dreamer, and poet named Joseph Strauss worked tirelessly for 20 years to make the bridge a reality, first promoting the idea of it and then overseeing design and construction. Though the final structure bore little resemblance to his original plan, Strauss guarded his legacy jealously, refusing to recognize the seminal contributions of engineer Charles A. Ellis. In 2007, the Golden Gate Bridge district finally recognized Ellis's role, though Strauss, who died less than a year after opening day in 1937, would doubtless be pleased with the inscription on his statue, which stands sentry in the southern parking lot: "The Man Who Built the Bridge."
You won't see it on a T-shirt, but the bridge is perhaps the world's most publicized suicide platform, with one jumper about every 10 days. Signs on the bridge refer the disconsolate to special telephones, and officers patrol the walkway and watch by security camera to spot potential jumpers. A public campaign to install a suicide barrier is underway. The unobtrusive net supported by most locals—not unlike the one that during construction saved 19 workers—completed the design phase in 2013.
While at the bridge you can grab a healthy snack at the art deco-style Bridge Café. The recently erected Bridge Pavilion sells attractive, high-quality souvenirs and has a small display of historical artifacts. At the outdoor exhibits, you can see the bridge rise before your eyes on hologram panels, learn about the features that make it art deco, and read about the personalities behind its design and construction. Head up to the Round House to join a 45-minute bridge tour, or have a photo taken ($20) of your family walking up the main cable—courtesy of a background screen, of course.
- Address: Lincoln Blvd. near Doyle Dr. and Fort Point, Presidio, San Francisco, CA, 94129 | Map It
- Phone: 415/921-5858
- Cost: Bridge free, tour $12.95
- Hours: Pedestrians Mar.--Oct., daily 5 am--9 pm; Nov.--Feb., daily 5 am--6 pm; hrs change with daylight saving time. Bicyclists daily 24 hrs. Tour on the half hour, 10:30--3:30.
- Website: www.goldengatebridge.org
- Location: Presidio
Free Fodor's Newsletter
Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Go List: Fodor's Top 25 Places to Go in 2013
- Hotel Awards 2012: Fodor's 100 Top Hotels
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe
- $211 & up -- 4.5 Star The Fairmont San Francisco, Save 35% Expedia
- $117 & up -- San Francisco Union Square Hotel, 50% Off BookIt.com
- $128 & up -- San Francisco Hotel w/Breakfast, 45% Off — $128 BookIt.com
- $199 -- San Francisco Hotel near Fisherman's Wharf — $199 Courtyard San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf
- $159 & up -- Historic San Francisco 4-Star Hotel, 50% Off — $159 Westin St. Francis
Just thought I'd post our trip report from this past weekend at the Big Sur Marathon. Read more
I’m just going to state the nitty-gritty to keep this post short. Read more
We will both be 22 years old by the time we fly out and have recently completed university. We are coming over to the USA to experience the big cities, the bars, the beaches, the culture Read more
· News & Features
The James Beard award winners were just announced this week, so the race is on to try and get a table ... Read more
From a hidden drum circle in Washington DC to awesome sushi in Chicago's Ukrainian neighborhood, we've... Read more
You could go to San Francisco ten times and still not see it all, so we're here to help curate your nex... Read more