San Francisco July 17, 2016
Here’s San Francisco’s Top Outdoor Attraction… And You’ll Definitely Want To Do It
Well, this may not be a shocker, but the prize for San Francisco’s top outdoor attraction goes to… the Golden Gate Bridge! One of the Wonders of the Modern World, the city’s most prestigious, iconic structure has a fascinating history and continues to amaze tourists and locals alike.
The Building of the Bridge
A bridge spanning the Golden Gate Strait, where ocean meets bay, was first proposed in 1872. Due to dense layers of fog, fierce winds, and strong tides below, experts were dubious about the building of such a structure connecting San Francisco with Marin County. Still, construction began on January 5, 1933, and took over four years to complete. During that same time period, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge was also being constructed. This photo shows the beginning stages.
Opening Day: May 27, 1933
The Golden Gate Bridge officially opened on May 27, 1937, and saw 200,000 people cross the bridge via foot, stilts, unicycles, or roller skates. Each paid 25 cents to cross. The next day, a motorcade of San Francisco officials made its way across, officially opening it up for vehicle traffic. The celebrations lasted a whole week. At the time, and up until 1964, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge main span in the world, at 4,200 feet (about 0.8 miles).
No, It’s Not Red
The U.S. Navy wanted to paint the Golden Gate Bridge black with yellow stripes for greater visibility (could you imagine?!), but architect Irving Morrow selected the “International Orange” color to blend well with the natural environment. We think it was a good choice.
Another reason the International Orange color was chosen is that it works well for visibility. The bridge itself actually influences the direction of the fog. There are fog horns located at the middle of the bridge and at the south tower pier (on the San Francisco side). On average, the fog horns operate about 2.5 hours per day.
The best way to experience the bridge? Walk it…
Pedestrians are allowed on the east sidewalk (the one facing downtown San Francisco), starting everyday at 5am until 6:30pm or 9pm during Daylight Savings Time.
Or hop on a bike…
Cyclists have access to the bridge’s sidewalks 24 hours a day. Rental bikes are not available at the bridge, but there are several places to rent around the Fisherman’s Wharf area.
Or see it from below…
Take a ferry, boat, or private yacht (if that’s the way you roll) to catch awesome views of the bridge from the bay.
Or from above?!
In case you don’t have access to a small prop plane, check out
, which offers introductory flight lessons. You’ll get to fly over the Golden Gate Bridge, and it’s pretty incredible.
Or, you know, you could drive across it, too.
A car will do as well—the bridge already carries some 110,000 vehicles daily between San Francisco and Marin County—though it really doesn’t have the same jaw-dropping effect.
You can also catch classic shots of the bridge around the city.
Our favorites include Crissy Field, especially at night…
…Baker Beach, and along the Coastal Trail and Batteries to Bluffs Trail.
For a truly unique bridge experience, sleep right alongside it at Kirby Cove.
This little cove sits at the bottom of the Marin Headlands, just west of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s one of the most quaint (and most in-demand) camping spots in California. You can reserve a spot up to 3 months in advance, but be quick—they go fast.
What’s your favorite memory on, by, under, or over the Golden Gate Bridge?
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