I cannot really recall when I first became aware of San Francisco or the desire to visit this beautiful city, but I guess I must have seen pictures of the international orange Golden Gate Bridge sometime when I was small. Movies such as The Birds and Dirty Harry I only saw in my mid-twenties, while living in Japan (it is possible to see these movies at least three times per year, being broadcasted at all hours on Japan’s various networks). Finally seeing the bridge really made my day, and after many trips, I still enjoy both seeing and crossing the bridge as much as I did the first time.
$35 million ($1.2 billion in today’s money!)
$5 per car, southbound only
The Golden Gate Bridge connects San Francisco and Marin Head County to the north. It can be seen from many vantage points inside the city, but I prefer the views close up from the Marin Heads, looking back towards the city. Here a road with the most amazing views of the bridge, city, and Pacific Ocean hugs the hillside. Several vista points are available. I prefer the stops closest to the bridge, where it seems almost within touching distance. Driving further along the road, the panorama becomes wider, with the bridge increasingly playing a smaller part in the larger overall picture (the photos below were taken from the third and second viewing points. The first was slightly crowded, and we were in a hurry elsewhere).
To get to this road, turn right at the end of the Golden Gate Bridge when
driving from San Francisco. Ignore the crowded vista point immediately next to
the road and turn left at the first opportunity. Cross underneath the highway
and then turn left again and veer to the right (or return straight back onto the
bridge!). From here, enjoy the curvy road and several viewing points. If in a
hurry, turn back before the road becomes one-way only. The one-way section
starts with a dramatic, very steeply sloped road that gives the impression that
you are going to plunge into the Pacific Ocean – a feeling enhanced when you are
not yet accustomed to the rather soft feel of the rental car’s brake pedal.
However, after this dramatic moment, the views are not particularly good, and
the return to the main road is via uninspiring but dead-slow back roads through
this nature conservation area. However, if planning to get out of the car and
walk, do continue and enjoy the views on the walk to Point Bonita Lighthouse