Have you ever zoomed in on a map close enough that you lost your sense of direction? A momentary state of confusion about where you are in relation to another place? I do it all the time when I am searching for a specific place. I hone in on, for example, a specific hotel but then have to zoom out to check its location in relation to the airport. I think the saying is “you can’t see the forest for the trees”. Sometimes you need to step back and get a different perspective.
My first time in San Francisco began by driving from Sacramento to San Fran via the Gold Gate Bridge – you know, like the opening credits for Full House – minus Uncle Jesse and the 1961 Ford Mustang convertible. We were in a convertible though and the wind and huge metal structure were impressive. But honestly, driving over the bridge was just that – driving over the bridge. My expectations were not met.
Fast forward four years to another trip to the amazing San Fran and I fell in love with the beauty and science behind the bridge. The difference – my perspective. I backed up and saw the bridge from a distance. I saw its drama. I saw its enormity. I saw what all the hype is about.
Here are my favorite views of the famed Golden Gate Bridge.
From the Water
Being perfectly perpendicular to the bridge helps you see just how long and high the architectural marvel really is. It is massive. I had no clue just how big the bridge is until we got further away and looked at it straight on. We took a ferry to Sausalito for the day and cruised by Alcatraz and then stared at the changing views of the bridge as we neared Sausalito. This view is highly recommended. Whether you rent a sail boat, charter a boat or take the ferry, seeing the bridge from the water is worth the costs.
Crissy Fields is the easiest for most San Francisco tourists to get to. You can walk to this waterside park for a look at the bridge and the city skyline. It is a fun place to picnic, but it is right on the bay so it is foggy and windy most days so bring a blanket to sit on and to wrap up in.
Baker Beach is my favorite place to snap pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge. I like that there are cliffs and the beach in photos and the feeling of being below the bridge. The perspective makes you realize how small you are in comparison to the bridge. Just be careful as it is legal to sunbathe in the nude (or at least not stopped!) on Baker’s Beach. You could get more of a view than you bargained for in your photos, if you know what I mean!
Land’s End Park
I thought that Land’s End was just the name of a clothing store until stumbling upon the park with the same name. This was an awesome place to see the bridge from. The red bridge popped against the blue water and sky. The park is on a cliff and puts you “above” the bridge, and the bridge still looks big!
I still want to go back and marvel at the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands. This view will give let you see both the city skyline, the bridge and the cliffs surrounding the bay. It is amazing to think that I went from thinking the bridge was just “eh” to “I want to go back to stare at it again!”