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Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge
In honor of its 75th birthday in 2012, the visitor experience at the Golden Gate Bridge was enhanced with new visitor facilities at both ends of the 1.25-mile-long span.
Most points of interest are centered around an all-new Bridge Plaza on the San Francisco side, but there's also a parking lot and information kiosk on the Marin County side. The views from either vantage point are stellar.
In 2011, the bridge was posted "no dogs allowed," ending the longstanding opportunity to share one of the West Coast's most memorable opportunities with your pet.
The reason given by the National Park Service is that the bridge is too congested. Cyclists and pedestrians share the walkway (on weekends it's walkers on one side of the bridge, cyclists on the other), creating sometimes hazardous conditions. (For sidewalk hours, click here.)
However, you and Fido can enjoy great views from several perspectives at vista points on either end of the bridge and in the Marin Headlands. The visitor center on the San Francisco side includes outdoor exhibits, gardens, restrooms, snack bar and, of course, a gift shop.
Parking at the visitor center is limited, but if you have a dog with you, public transportation isn't an option. Our suggestion; arrive early (i.e. before 8 a.m.) to snag a spot. Summer is the high season for visitors, so if you show up after 9 a.m., you'll be out of luck. September and October are the months with the clearest views and least fog.
Access to Southeast Side Visitor Parking Lot
Parking is metered ($0.25 per 15 minutes) with 81 spaces, three of which are handicap designated. There are five spaces for tour buses. On weekends and holidays, additional parking is available in a nearby satellite lot on the southwest side at a rate of $5 per day (as of 2/4/13).
Traveling south from Marin County: Follow Highway 101 south across the Golden Gate Bridge, get in the far right toll lane, pay toll and make an immediate right, exiting just past the Toll Plaza onto Merchant Road. Make an immediate right onto a roadway that goes down a short hill and into an underpass leading directly into the southeast side visitor parking lot.
Traveling north from San Francisco: Take a right at the last San Francisco exit off Highway 101 just before the Toll Plaza. The exit ramp sign reads, "Golden Gate National Recreation Area View Area." Proceed to the stop sign and turn left into the southeast side visitor parking lot.
Access to Northeast Side Parking Lot
Free parking (with a four-hour limit), a small information kiosk and restrooms are the only amenities at this location.
Traveling south from Marin County: To access the parking lot on the northeast side of the bridge, you must cross the bridge, pay the toll (collected southbound only) and double back across the span. Cross the bridge in the far right (No. 1) lane and make an immediate right just after the Toll Plaza onto Merchant Road. Make an immediate right onto a roadway that goes down a short hill and into an underpass which leads directly into the southeast side visitor parking lot. Drive through the visitor lot to the first stop sign and make a right to head to the on-ramp to the bridge. Cross the bridge, take the first exit called "Vista Point" and turn right into the parking lot.
Traveling north from San Francisco: Follow Highway 101 north across the Golden Gate Bridge. Take the first exit called "Vista Point" and turn right into the parking lot.