Golden Gate Bridge

Things to Do: Cross the Golden Gate Bridge

Very few, if any, Bay Area icons can match the Golden Gate Bridge for its ability to evoke the unique look and flavor of San Francisco. It is instantly recognizable in most places around the world, and even a fleeting glimpse can make one think wistfully about visiting our fair city some day. If that wistfulness has been transformed into motivation and you’re planning to visit the area, you really should make at least one crossing of this landmark. You can cross in any number of motorized ways, but the best way to see hear, smell and feel the full Golden Gate Bridge experience is to cross it via bicycle or your own two feet. Both are excellent choices for intrepid souls, but if you’re going to make this crossing, remember to do the following:

  • Dress warmly and in layers. The cold winds off San Francisco Bay can get in your bones very quickly in any season and linger there for quite some time, making a really cool experience into an entirely miserable one.
  • Leave your critters at home. Only service animals are allowed to cross the east and west sidewalks of the bridge.
  • Also leave the skateboard, rollerblades and roller skates at home. Crossing the bridge on small wheels is a cool idea, but it is also illegal and will turn an adventure into an embarrassing anecdote when you return home.

If you’d like to pedal across the bridge, there are plenty of bike rental options that are a web search and a few keystrokes away. It’s a very good idea to check out review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor to sort the helpful and fairly inexpensive bike rental outfits from the expensive and unsavory ones. Bike rentals are available from the Sausalito and San Francisco sides of the bridge and can be rented by the hour or the day. Bicyclists can cross toll-free via the east or west sidewalks, but please remember that pedestrians have the right of way on the east sidewalk.

Pedestrians are only allowed to cross on the east sidewalk, and this applies to wheelchairs and other mobility devices as well. During daylight saving time, the walkway is open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., when the automatic gates close at both ends of the walkway. During the rest of the year, the walkway is open from 5 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., when the gates also automatically close. If it takes you longer to cross than expected and the gates lock you in, riders and walkers can press the buzzer located near the gates to alert the security staff, who can see you via a closed-circuit camera and buzz you through the gate.

When you get across from either side, there are lots of places to chase the chill with a hot chocolate or something stronger and get a well-earned bite to eat. If you like, take the ferry back across the Bay for an entirely different perspective of this landmark. In any case, you will have a great time, an unforgettable Bay Area experience and, if the fog allows, some stunning photographs to document your travels!