Golden Gate Bridge Parking
We have several unpublicized lots as well as the official parking areas all listed below, including one parking lot that isn’t even displayed on area road maps! Scroll down for all the details.
Insiders Tip: Pedestrians are required to walk on the eastern sidewalk of the Golden Gate Bridge, the side facing San Francisco. On weekends and on weekdays after 3:30 PM bike riders use the western sidewalk, facing the Pacific Ocean. The rest of the time they have to share the eastern sidewalk with pedestrians.
Insiders Tip: On weekends and holidays, especially during the summer and early autumn, all the parking lots for the Golden Gate Bridge can fill up (even the semi-secret ones), especially from mid-morning through the afternoon. If you’re traveling at a busy time consider:
- Taking Muni from San Francisco to the Golden Gate Bridge
- Taking a Marin Transit Bus from Marin County (north of the Bridge)
- Parking in Sausalito and taking a taxi up the hill to visit the Bridge, and getting their cell number to call for a return trip when you’re done
- Come early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The afternoon crowds abate a lot earlier on weekdays than on weekends.
Coming from the North (Sausalito Side)
Scroll down for information on parking if you’re coming from the San Francisco side of the Bridge, where there is far more parking.
“There’s a big parking lot at the north Vista Point!” But…
The Vista Point parking lot at the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge can only be reached coming from the south. Since the Bridge toll is only collected from cars traveling southbound, you will have to pay a toll to reach that northern lot, even if all you do is turn around and re-cross the Bridge. If you’re going to San Francisco anyway it doesn’t matter — just stop to visit the Bridge on your way back north. But if you come from Sausalito or points north and the Bridge is your final destination you want to try to park somewhere else on the north end. We have the secret spot waiting for you…
The North Parking Lot That’s Not on the Road Maps
Insiders Tip: If you want to walk across the span from the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge and DO NOT want to drive into San Francisco itself, you can avoid crossing the Bridge and paying the toll by parking in a “secret” lot at the north end. Local bike riders in particular, however, know about this lot, so you can’t count on finding an open space without a wait.
The satellite map below is a close-up of the two parking lots. The larger lot on the right is the famous Vista Point, which has a big sign and its own freeway exit.
The smaller one on the other side of the freeway is the undocumented Conzelman Road lot, which does not appear on street maps. It can fill up readily, but it’s always worth checking.
Use the Google map controls to zoom in and out on the satellite image below to get an idea of its location and how it aligns with Conzelman Road, which heads sharply uphill into the GGNRA after you take the Sausalito exit from southbound Highway 101 right before you get to the Golden Gate Bridge. Once you’re going up the hill on Conzelman take the first turn on your left (actually the only left side exit for miles!) and a short driveway will take you down to this small lot.
Google Map Instructions: Use the “+” and “-” buttons to zoom in and out, grab and pull to scroll the map, and click on the photo in the lower left to see the map view.
In the summer and on weekends the rest of the year this lot may be full. There are a limited number of on-street spaces at the turnout just uphill from the lot on the road that runs along the edge of the bluffs.
If both these areas are full you can try hovering and waiting for someone to leave, or you may elect to pay the $6 southbound toll, cross the Golden Gate Bridge and park in the larger lots at either end of the Bridge (which also include undocumented lots that we describe below). Or you may park in downtown Sausalito and take a taxi or a bus to the Bridge.
A path for pedestrians and bikes leads down from this parking lot to the western sidewalk of the Bridge. Pedestrians and weekday bike riders take the walkway under the Bridge (a fun part of the trip!) to reach the eastern walkway.
Insiders Tip: Walkers should look out for bike riders as you walk down the dual-use path from this lot before reaching the Bridge. Most are considerate, but some first-time-Bridge-bikers incorrectly think this path is bikes only and aren’t expecting to see pedestrians. (Guess how I figured this out!)
Coming from the South (San Francisco Side)
Driving from the south brings you from the direction in which no $7 toll is collected, and also gives you many more parking options. If you’re going to keep going north to Sausalito and the Wine Country the toll is a moot issue, but if you’re planning on turning around and driving back to San Francisco without crossing the Golden Gate Bridge it can be avoided.
To avoid the $7 toll, take the last exit before the Bridge and park in one of the lots at the southern end of the Bridge. We cover several choices about where to park below.
Insiders Tip: There is a lot of construction on the southern approaches to the Golden Gate Bridge in 2014-15 as the new earthquake-resistant Doyle Drive is constructed, with much of it buried in tunnels to open up parkland above. Coming north on either route to the Bridge from San Francisco get in the extreme right hand lane a full mile before you reach the toll plaza and watch carefully for signs for the last San Francisco exit so you turn off before crossing the Bridge. It’s easy to miss!
When you’re ready to return to San Francisco after walking around the area, do NOT follow the road up to the Toll Plaza from the main parking lot (which we describe in detail below). Instead take the tunnel beneath the Bridge, and turn left after you emerge from the tunnel. When you come to a stop sign next to the Bridge District employee parking area turn left and you will re-join the flow of traffic just south of the Toll Plaza.
Pedestrians and bikes cross the Bridge for free.
Note: If you don’t have a lot of time for your visit and just want to park close to the Golden Gate Bridge, ignore these paragraphs about Fort Point and skip down one section to the South Parking Lot and GGNRA View Area.
Before we get to the parking lots at the top of the bluffs where the Golden Gate Bridge connects to San Francisco, let’s start with the lot at Fort Point, which sits directly below the Bridge. A Civil War era stone fort, Fort Point is well worth visiting as an historic site, and features spectacular views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.
It’s also the location of a famous scene from the classic Alfred Hitchcock movie Vertigo, which is included below the next map.
Fort Point has its own small parking lot, the route to which is displayed in blue on the map below. It’s a somewhat stee0p climb, but a paved path connects Fort Point to the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge and you can walk up the hill to the Bridge view area. Or you can park at the top of the hill and walk down the path to the Fort.
Insiders Tip: If you’re up for a beautiful walk you can park at Crissy Field in San Francisco, where there is ample parking near the Bay. From there you can see the Golden Gate Bridge clearly and just walk towards it along the edge of the Bay, stopping at Fort Point en route if you wish to do so.
South Parking Lot & GGNRA View Area
The Main Lot at the Southern Vista Point is located at the last northbound exit as you leave San Francisco on Highway 101, just as you’re about to cross the Golden Gate Bridge. The sign for the exit reads “Golden Gate National Recreation Area View Area.”
Insiders Tip: Because of extensive road construction in the area there’s a trick to making sure you don’t miss this parking lot exit coming north from San Francisco. As you approach the Golden Gate Bridge a) on Doyle Drive from Lombard St. and the Marina, or b) on Park Presidio Blvd. from Golden Gate Park (the two arteries that feed traffic to the Bridge), stay in the far right hand lane. The satellite photo below of the toll plaza and parking area shows both these roads merging from the lower right hand corner of the image.
If you’re on Park Presidio Blvd. it’s easy: stay in the right lane as you come up the hill, and about 100 yards after the two roads start to come together the exit will be on your right.
If you’re on Doyle Drive, which is being completely rebuilt for earthquake safety, it’s trickier. Stay in the right lane as you approach the Bridge, which as the roads merge becomes the 3rd from the right lane. You have about 100 yards to merge 2 lanes right and take the exit. When traffic is clogged it’s easy because people will eventually let you in and you can get through. When traffic is flowing freely just slow down and proceed carefully and you should be fine — it’s when people aren’t expecting the exit to appear so quickly that they are surprised and miss it.
Immediately after exiting, you’ll see the main parking lot on your left. There are 81 spaces here, along with rest rooms and a snack and gift shop. These spaces are metered, and take $1.00 (four quarters) per hour.
The view from this parking lot will be familiar: you’ve probably seen it on postcards a hundred times.
If this lot is full: We have more options — some of them insider secrets — below.
The satellite map below is a close-up of this parking lot. Use the Google map controls to zoom in and out to get an idea of its location and how it aligns with the northbound entrance to the Bridge. It may look like the water is just beyond the parking lot, but the lot actually sits on top of a bluff alongside the toll plaza.
Walkers and weekday bike riders can proceed directly from this lot to the east walkway of the Bridge to walk across. Weekend bike riders take an underpass to reach the western walkway, where bikes are required to go on Saturday and Sunday.
Insiders Tip: You can also reach this lot traveling south on the Bridge. Stay in the far right lane as you approach the Toll Plaza and pass through the toll gates. Take the first right after the Toll Plaza and then another immediate right turn. This will take you downhill and into the tunnel that goes underneath the Toll Plaza. On the other side of this short tunnel is the main parking lot described above. It will be on the right as you exit the tunnel, adjacent to the visitor rest rooms.
The 3 Parking Lots Not Listed on The Bridge’s Own Website
Insiders Tip: Three different parking lots at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge are not listed on the Bridge website, primarily because two of the three are in GGNRA administration rather than being run by the Bridge District.
Hidden Lot 1: On weekends or holidays (NOT on weekdays), am employee parking lot next to the Bridge administration building on the west side of the Toll Plaza offers a limited number of spaces for $5.00 for a full day. To reach it coming from the north, take the first right after the Toll Plaza and you’ll see the lot to your right. To reach it coming from the south, take the underpass beneath the Bridge that is located at the end of the street that goes through the south parking lot. After you come back up to ground level turn right, and the lot will be directly on your right. Again, this lot is open weekends and holidays only, and if you park here on a weekday you’ll be towed.
Hidden Lot 2: Just up the hill from the employee parking lot is another lot, half of which is paved and half of which is gravel. Half of the paved part is reserved for Bridge employee parking, but the rest of the paved part and all of the gravel lot are free parking for visitors to the GGNRA areas near the Bridge. Yes, you heard that right: free parking. Stepping just a few paces down a path from this lot also reveals a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge looking directly north along its roadway.
Hidden Lot 3: Across the freeway from Hidden Lots 1 and 2, the road descends from the main South Parking Lot towards Fort Point. Just below the main South Parking lot is an auxiliary gravel lot with its own dedicated pay machine. Parking here is $1 per hour or $5 for the whole day, but you must buy a ticket from this lot’s machine (not from anywhere else) and place it on your car’s dashboard. This lot has a view of the Golden Gate Bridge that may be even better than the famous picture postcard view from the Vista Point at the southern end of the Bridge.
Northern Vista Point and Parking Lot
After passing the North Tower northbound on the Golden Gate Bridge, move to the far right lane. Look for the exit sign labeled “Vista Point”.
Insiders Tip: The entrance to the Vista Point at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge often gets backed up when the parking lot is full, usually on weekends or in the summer. As you approach the exit watch for cars that stop suddenly — many fender-benders and rear-enders have happened in this area when drivers were distracted.
As you are about to complete your crossing of the Bridge, exit at the right at the first possible off-ramp, with a sigbn that reads “Vista Point.” The circular road will lead you to parking. There are rest rooms here, but no other services. The view will again remind you of many postcards of San Francisco. Parking is free here, but there is a four-hour time limit.
If you reach the Alexander Ave. exit you have gone too far, and there is no way to get back to the Vista point by car without paying another toll to again cross the Bridge. See the “Coming from the North” section above for the smaller parking lot across the freeway you can still reach if this happens.
The satellite map below is a close-up of Vista Point, and it’s the large lot we referred to above when we discussed the hidden, smaller parking lot on the western side of the freeway. Use the Google map controls to zoom in and out to get an idea of its location and how it aligns with the exit from the Bridge. The satellite is deceiving, and the lot actually sits on top of a cliff alongside the Bridge rather than right on the edge of the water.
Walkers and weekday bike riders can proceed directly from this lot to the east walkway of the Bridge to walk across. Weekend bike riders take a (very cool) underpass to reach the western walkway, where bikes are required to go on Saturday and Sunday. The only downside is that you have to carry your bike up and down some stairs.