Best Places to Photograph the Golden Gate Bridge

I hadn’t been to San Francisco since I was about 8 years old.  So, I thought I would do something a little bit on the cliche-tourist side of things well I was there: photograph the Golden Gate Bridge.  In fact, it’s the one really iconic thing in the United States that I had been dying to photograph.  Thus, I decided to turn my goal of getting some cool images into a bit of an article, assuming there are many other people wanting to find the best places to photography the Golden Gate Bridge.

In the end, I shot three locations.  However, I’m sure there are probably a couple dozen different spots that offer different perspectives of the bridge.

This was my experience in San Francisco, and below is some information on the different locations I photographed.


Best Places to Photograph the Golden Gate Bridge

Though I obviously didn’t have time to go everywhere to photograph the bridge, I think I did find the 3 best places to do so.  I didn’t get the classic fog on any of my shoots, and got fairly average light on 2 of my shoots, but the bridge and landscape surrounding it makes it fantastic no matter what.

Battery Spencer

This is likely the most typical postcard photo of the Golden Gate Bridge.  The location atop an old military battery offers nice clean views of the bridge.  It also gives you the opportunity to put the San Francisco skyline in the back of your Golden Gate Bridge photos.  From what I saw, this was the favourite spot for tourists to come and get that classic image of the bridge and city. There is only a very minimal amount of parking available up near the battery, so you might need to be patient when coming here. There actually weren’t a lot of photographers up shooting with us, but there was a constant stream of tourists.  Anyways, here are a couple of the photos from this viewpoint. The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Presidio Park

Presidio Park is essentially on the opposite side of the bay from Battery Spencer.  The views are fairly similar except for the fact that you have a nice green backdrop to the images of the Golden Gate Bridge from here rather than the city light as is the case from the other side.  I actually preferred photographing this side to Battery Spencer because there were far more compositions available for photos here.  There were nice rocks down on the beaches below, you could shoot straight onto the bridge, and I even found a couple giant Cedar trees that I used to frame the bridge within. Here are a couple of images I took from Presidio Park: Golden Gate Bridge, Presidio Park Golden Gate Bridge, Presidio Park Golden Gate Bridge, Presidio Park

Marshall Beach

On the day I left San Francisco, I got up before 5am and headed to Marshall Beach.  I had actually spotted this beach the day before and it looked like a fantastic place to get a different perspective of the bridge.  I was right.  Hiking down to the beach gives a sense of nature in the foreground of the bridge.  I even managed to get a couple photos where there are stars visible over the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a bit tricky getting down here in the dark, and would likely photograph better at sunset rather than sunrise, but this was easily my favourite location to photograph the bridge.  The rocks and beach make great anchors to the photos.  Unfortunately, the light I got on the morning of my visit to Marshall Beach was fairly average.  However, I still managed to get a couple cool images. Golden Gate Bridge, Mackenzie Beach Golden Gate Bridge, Mackenzie Beach Golden Gate Bridge, Mackenzie Beach

Other places to Shoot the Bridge

Here are a couple other places that you could photograph the Golden Gate Bridge.  However, I didn’t photograph these locations.  But, if you have more time than I did and you want to shoot as many location as possible, you could add these to your list.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Down at the wharf, there are a couple places that might be interesting to photograph the bridge.  It’s a bit off in the distance, but using things like the piers and sea breakers might make for some interesting images.

Marin Headlands

This location is above Battery Spencer and is a favourite spot for photographers to capture the bridge when there is low fog.  Had there been fog, this is exactly where I would have headed.

The Bridge Itself

Of course, you can go onto the bridge itself.  From there, you’re going to have to contend with traffic, but there are certainly some opportunities to create interesting images there as well. Driving, Golden Gate Bridge

Some Bonus Photos

I couldn’t squeeze all the images of the Golden Gate Bridge into the sections, so here are some extras. The Golden Gate Bridge The Golden Gate Bridge The Golden Gate Bridge The Golden Gate Bridge

What’s Next on the Travel Photography Blog

I’ve got one last article from the US before heading to South America for about a half a year.  Stay tuned, lots of interesting stuff on the horizon.

Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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  1. I love this post – I need to re-read before I go back to SF! I haven’t posted my SF pics yet, but I like the angles you got of it so much better.

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    • What a great post idea. As an SF resident, it amazes how many angles and locations you can try and get the best photo of the Golden Gate bridge. Also, I’d recommend Marshall beach almost getting near the bottom end of the beautiful Golden Gate.

      Amazing pics and a wonderful site. Keep up the great work!

      Post a Reply
  2. Hi Brendan:

    I just wanted to commend you on this video and on what you do.

    I stumbled upon your site from PetaPhotography, just browsing, and was impressed. I watched this SF video, as well as reading up about how you earn enough to be a travel photographer.

    I really truly commend you. It’s very rare to see someone eager enough to pursue their dreams in today’s materialistic world.

    I am 50 years old, gave up my dreams when my dad convinced me to “get a real job” instead of pursuing art. He passed away 3 years ago, and I’ve since taken the brushes back up.

    I’m not sure making a living as any artist is an easy thing. I’m sure not. I do IT consulting and Online (web) work to keep me afloat. If I had to rely on my art, I’d be starving literally. You can’t eat your canvases. Paints are toxic!

    Anyways, that doesn’t prevent me from appreciating encouraging stories like yours. I doubt I will ever be in a position to make a living off of my art alone. That’s ok.

    But I do keep the dream alive, with a realistic belief that I can enjoy doing my art and earn *something* to support myself that way. Whether or not I make the transition to completely living off my art, that’s not likely, but possible. It’s just going to take continued perservereance.

    Better to try and fail than never have tried at all.

    But more than that, there’s such a feeling that transcends anything when I create a piece of art. When you stare at a painting you made which was previously a blank white canvas, it’s just amazing! You give birth out of your spirit and soul to something wonderful! And that is worth more than anything…it’s priceless.

    Keep on doing what you are doing. I’ll pop in from time to time.

    I wish you the best.


    Post a Reply
    • Robert,
      Thank you so much for you comment and kind words. I really love getting feedback like this, and hearing other people’s stories.
      Failure is inevitable, without failures we can never learn and grow. But, as long as your passionate about something, and you can survive doing it, you should.
      If I got a dollar for every time someone told me what I was doing wouldn’t work, or won’t make money, etc. I’d be bloody rich! haha.
      Anyways, I wish you all the best in your dream chasing!

      Post a Reply
      • Thanks Brendan for the clarification, I can’t wait to give it a try!

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  3. Thanks for sharing this. It’s always a pain in the butt to find the right locations to shoot from. It has stopped me from photographing a lot more than I already have! Especially when you’re just visiting on vacay.

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  4. Wonderful post! It’s hard to say which view of the Golden Gate Bridge I like best; they are all spectacular! Thanks for sharing these images and this information.

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  5. Wow those are stunning photos i cant wait to get there i just arrived in the states and cant wait to explore.

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  6. Great shots, Brendan! I’m planning my first trip to San Fran in a couple weeks and found your information very useful as I prepare. I have a quick question for you though. I can’t find any other evidence of their being a beach named Mackenzie Beach. Are you sure this isn’t Marshall Beach? Your shots look approximately like the location of what I’m seeing described elsewhere as Marshall Beach. There’s a Baker Beach nearby but further away from the bridge and I too like what I see as an ideal shooting location with the rocks in the water, but I think this may be called Marshall Beach. Please let me know if you think I’m right about that, thanks!

    Post a Reply
    • It’s there. I was told by a couple people that the difference between Marshall Beach and MacKenzie Beach is that MacKenzie is just around a patch of rocks and that it’s actually a nudist beach. But yeah, regardless, you have to walk down to the beach the same way and then along the beach towards the bridge for the place to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a fantastic place to photograph it!

      Post a Reply
  7. You are lucky to be able to select various view points to consider …
    but there is also a problem with low visibility because of fog … which one is better placed in any weather ?

    I tool few photos from that area too during my trip :

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  8. Great Photos i am not a professional photographer but i am sure this with be usefull to me

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    • I hope so! Getting some cool Golden Gate Bridge photos is actually fairly easy once you know where to go. Such a beautiful place!

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  9. I really love the view from the MacKenzie Beach. But all these location seems stunning the capture the bridge from. Excellent post.

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  10. Thanks for another great post Brendan, will take these shots in my travels. more power always.

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  11. Very beautiful. Thank you for sharing the article. Hope to hear more from you.

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  12. what a beautiful place! thank you for sharing with us.

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  13. Great recommendations Brendan, thank you.

    I went this morning to Mackenzie Beach and after looking for it and googling a lot, I can say that this is the same as Marshall’s Beach. Since this was my first time in the area and It was pitch black, I tried to go down to the beach straight down the mountain, Huge mistake! There are way too many plants. I came back up and stared walking towards the bridge on the road and then found stairs going down, obviously. Just follow the signs to Batteries to Bluffs Trails. Nice spot for sunrise

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  14. So amazing. Thank you for sharing. Hope to hear more from you.

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    • My pleasure! There are some awesome places to see the Golden Gate Bridge!!

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  15. would you be able to send me the addresses for marshall beach, presidio park, and battery spencer? and is it hard to find parking at those three locations? i have never been to sf and i heard horror stories. i don’t want to get lost in the city. after seeing your beautifully taken shots, i must go there. please email me back with the details.

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    • Just add the names in google maps, you’ll find them. Parking is a bit of an issue, but not impossible. There are parking areas in all these locations.

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  16. beautiful shots you have here. just amazing. would you possibly be able to add the addresses of each location?

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  17. Hi Brendan! I’ll visit San Francisco on vacations and I want to take some pictures of Golden Gate Bridge and other places, my question is did you need a permit in order to take and publish this photos?

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  18. Nice read, found some equally crazy person to photograph GG bridge. Lovely pictures
    Well 10 years back did photograph the bridge with Point and shoot, from many different locations.
    Now have a different taste for photography wildlife and such with some prime lens 🙂

    Post a Reply

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