Best Places to Photograph the Golden Gate Bridge

After a second trip to San Francisco, I feel like this list of the best places to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge is a bit more complete.  Still, there are just endless places to take pictures of the iconic view.  Honestly, I think I could spend a year photographing the Golden Gate Bridge and still not cover all the places to shoot it.  Moreover, there are places that are better for photography different types of year.  For example, the fog in San Francisco rolls through the bay in the summer months.  So, if that’s the shot you want, don’t bother coming in the winter.  That said, there are endless locations to take pictures of the bridge. No matter the time of year or date.

Best Places to Photograph the Golden Gate Bridge

These locations were spread out over 2 different visits to San Francisco over 4 years.  So, the experiences were different.  These are all the locations I shot; and some others I know of that I didn’t shoot.

Hawk Hill

Over in Marin Headlands, this is a local favourite location to take pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge from.  You get high enough that if there’s fog you might get the bridge poking through the top.  It can be epic.

Myself, I got stuck and had to shoot my pictures before getting to Hawk Hill.  The road to the view point was closed because of the government shutdown, and I had to walk.  I settled for a location about 500m before the hilltop.  And, to be honest, I kind of got there a little late for the blue light.  But, I still got this image.

Golden Gate Bridge

It turned out to be a blessing in disguise that I didn’t get all the way to Hawk Point as the vantage point had the sunrise right over bridge.  And, the light was amazing.

Golden Gate Bridge

Baker Beach

This is a pretty traditional spot for photography of the Golden Gate Bridge.  But, the location is actually better as an epic beach hang out than it is a photo spot.

There really are only one or two compositions to be made from this area.  But, if you can, get closer up onto some of the rocks towards Marshall’s Beach for some better compositions.

Golden Gate Bridge

Fort Baker

This location was surprisingly good.  Across the bay from San Francisco, this park has lots of parking – which is one of the challenges of some of the other locations.  And there is a pretty clean view of the bridge which makes it nice for some portraits.  I got some cool shots of @Alajode there.

Golden Gate Bridge

Model = @alajode

But, the real gold of this location is the low vantage point if you walk towards the bridge. There was some beautiful green algae on the rocks and the bright green really contrasted the red of the bridge nicely.  There were really only one or two compositions to be had down here, but it was pretty stellar.  It was also a challenge to get my tripod down without getting hammered by waves, but it was worth it.  I imagine, had I gotten better light, this place could be an epic place for sunset.

Golden Gate Bridge

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.
The Golden Gate Bridge

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.  I think it’s a unique image, and that’s hard to do in San Francisco. So, I’m proud of it.Golden Gate Bridge, Presidio Park

Marshall’s Beach

On my first visit to San Francisco, this was my favourite location.  But, I didn’t get good light. It was bland in the sky, and there was this nasty haze on everything too.  But, the rocky foreground and wild seas here can make for some perfect long exposure photography.  In fact, even if I’ve never gotten great photos of it, this might be my favourite place to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge

This recent trip, I wanted to get to Marshall’s Beach again.  But, unfortunately, my luck and time just didn’t match up.  That said, I did pop over to have another look at it after shooting at Baker Beach, and it’s still stunning.  In fact, after the light was gone I used this location to make a bit of hero photo.  I think it works.  But, I’d love to get back with the light is better.

Golden Gate Bridge

Crissy Beach

I actually tied to get photos of the Golden Gate Bridge from a place called “The Wave Organ”.  But, the location was just way too far away from the bridge.  So, I shot some landscape photography before walking back to the car.

But, just before getting back to the car, I realized there were some really nice long lens shots of the bridge from the east side of the park.  I grabbed this still of the bridge in the very last light of the day.

Golden Gate Bridge

However, it looked like if you got to the west side of the park there would be even better compositions.  However, it did also look crowded up that way.  I guess, add this to my list of locations I need to get back and shoot again in the future.

Other places to Shoot the Bridge

There are so many places for photography of The Golden Gate Bridge.  This list is simply my experience.  I’ve listed a couple other locations that people have mentioned below.  However, if you have other cool photo spots of the bridge, please mention them in the comments and I’ll add them.  Better yet, drop a photo example with it!

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.

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

What’s Next on the Travel Photography Blog

I’m going to try to put together more of these “best places for photography” blog posts.  I think the next of this series will be “The Best Places for Photography in Arizona”.  As for real time, I’m continuing a California road trip right now.  You can follow along with the series on my photography YouTube Channel.

Afterwards, I’m leaving the US for Wales. It should be fun!



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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31 Comments

  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.
    Todd.

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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!

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  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.

    Godspeed.

    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!
      B.

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      • 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!

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    • 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 🙂

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  19. Wow – this is like the only list you need if you are into landscape, bridge photography. I only do point and shoot – it works for me – but I have found that if you need expansive photos of bridges like that of GG, you gotta have some extra equipment. Having an extra set of lenses would do you very good. As a traveller who intends to start blogging soon, being good at photography is essential. Thanks for writing this.

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  20. Wow! I’ve seen many shot of the Gold Gate Bridge but yours are simply amazing. You are a very talented person it shows through the shots how passionate you are in what you do. This pictures definitely makes me reminisce about all my beautiful experiences when I was still in San Francisco. Traveling makes life complete.

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