Sausalito is a town with many iconic sights: on a clear day, you can enjoy views of the San Francisco skyline, the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz Island, neighboring Tiburon, and Angel Island. Unfortunately, though, you can’t see the Golden Gate Bridge from Sausalito itself – though this is a question many people ask before visiting.
To be clear, you will certainly see the Golden Gate Bridge as part of your visit to Sausalito; by ferry, bike, or car, you can’t miss its iconic hue as you travel north from San Francisco to Sausalito. But you can’t see it from the town itself.
You might wonder then if there’s a great place to view the Golden Gate Bridge near Sausalito, and there is: the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point. Located on the Sausalito side of the Golden Gate Bridge, this is a must-view site of San Francisco’s most iconic site.
Below, I’ve put together a guide to help you visit the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point. You’ll see photos to understand why this spot is worth visiting, and all the logistics of arranging your own trip there. Because of the bridge and traffic patterns, it can be a bit tricky to reach – but it’s well worth making a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point if you’re visiting Sausalito for the amazing views you’ll find here!
Where is Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point?
There are actually two named vista points for the Golden Gate Bridge: one in the north end and another in the south end of the bridge. This creates more confusion than you think, so read below to learn about each and learn which one is the “official” Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point.
North (Marin Side) Vista Point
The northern end of the bridge has one fantastic viewing area, the “Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point” according to Google Maps (and me). The vista point on the Marin side provides the best view of the Golden Gate Bridge, with San Francisco’s skyline in the background, and allows you to create a cool photo lining up both towers of the bridge.
While it doesn’t have an address other than Highway 101 in Sausalito, you can’t miss it if you’ve ever crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and are curious about where people are taking those beautiful photos.
South (San Francisco Side) Vista Point(s)
San Francisco also has two vista points on the southern end of the bridge. Many people call them “vista points,” too, which has created confusion since the one at the northern end shares the same name.
If you do a bit more research (as I did), you’ll learn they actually have different names. One is called “Golden Gate Postcard Viewpoint” (near the visitor center and parking area), and the other is “Golden Gate Viewpoint” (along a trail from the same area).
In either case, these two vista points (lower case) are not the Vista Point (upper case). The rest of this post will focus on the official, Marin-side Vista Point.
How to Get To the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point
There are three ways in which visitors can get to Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point. Below I explain each one and how convenient they are.
Driving is the most troublesome way to reach Vista Point for two reasons: first, finding a parking space is a nightmare. Second, depending on where you’re coming from and going as part of your visit, you’ll have to pay the Golden Gate Bridge toll which is not cheap!
- Driving via Northbound Highway 101: The Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point has its own exit from northbound Highway 101 at the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge. So all you have to do is follow the U.S. Highway 101 north across the Golden Gate Bridge, stay on the far right-hand lane and take the first exit called “Vista Point.” Then, turn right into the Northeast Bridge Visitor Parking Lot.
- Driving via Southbound Highway 101: Unfortunately, the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point doesn’t have its own exit from southbound Highway 101. Instead, you’ll need to navigate to “Headlands Parking” by making the final exit before the Golden Gate Bridge and then crossing on foot under the Bridge using the marked walkways.
There are no direct bus services to the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point from Marin or San Francisco. However, if you’re willing to walk a bit after your ride, buses are still a convenient alternative.
Whether you’re coming northbound from San Francisco or southbound from Golden Gate Transit runs numerous services that will get you closer to Vista Point.
- From San Francisco: Line 130 departs from McAllister St & Polk St in San Francisco and arrives at Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza. Services depart every 30 minutes and operate every day. Hop off at the “US-101 Off-Ramp/Sausalito Lateral Rd” stop just after exiting US-101/CA-1 and walk back up the highway to Vista Point (0.3 miles)
- From Sausalito: Line 101 is the quickest way to get from Sausalito to Golden Gate Bridge. It departs from Spencer Ave bus pad and you should hop off at “Alexander Ave & Danes Dr.” Cross Alexander Avenue for safety and walk from there to Vista Point (0.8 miles).
Biking is the most exciting way to reach the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point. This way, you get to see and experience the bridge from all sides and perspectives.
If you’re coming from San Francisco, go to Fisherman’s Wharf, where you’ll find most bike rentals. Golden Gate Bridge is open for bicycles 24 hours a day, but which sidewalk is available for them varies depending on the season and hour.
You can check my guide on how to bike from SF to Sausalito over the Golden Gate Bridge to get all the info you need.
Tips for Visiting Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point
As you may have noticed, there’s a lot to take into account when visiting Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point. Below you’ll find helpful tips to make the most of your visit.
- I don’t recommend driving to Vista Point; parking is limited and it can get crowded especially on weekends. If you don’t want to ride a bike or use public transport, consider ridesharing services such as Uber or Lyft.
- If you’re sold on driving, go early! The Northeast Bridge Visitor Parking Lot offers free parking (4-hour limit), but spaces fill up in a second, especially during March-October and on weekends.
- … or go late in the afternoon. If you’re not up for an early morning ride across the bridge, head there between 4 and 5 pm. Crowds will have dissipated by then and your chances of finding a parking space are higher.
- If you want an even better view, travel to the opposite side of US-101 and take the drive up Conzelman Road (use Google Maps to best navigate this process; you’ll definitely need a car). The vista points here are a photographer’s dream.
And there you have it – all you need to know to plan a visit to the most iconic, most unique, and maybe even the most beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Have any other questions about how to visit the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point? Let me know in the comments!