As San Francisco's most iconic landmark, no trip to the City By the Bay would be complete without a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge. Although walking across the bridge may be the most common activity, there are many other ways to experience the Golden Gate's beauty and grandeur. Here are five of my favorites.
1. Crissy Field: Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Crissy Field and Crissy Beach once housed a U.S. Army airfield. Loved by locals and tourists alike, today the large waterfront park offers a great vantage point on the bridge and serves as a fun place to go for a jog, afternoon picnic, or even just a stroll along the promenade.
2. Walk or Ride Across: Obviously the more up close and personal you get with the bridge, the better. Either walk across the bridge or rent a bike and ride across the roughly 1 1/2 mile span (one way), peering through the surprisingly open fencing at the water over 200 feet below. Beware the throngs of people. And the wind. And fog.
3. Hawk Hill: On a warm, sunny weekend, you will see an endless line of cars snaking up 923-foot Hawk Hill, towering over the north side of the bridge. You can most definitely drive to the top via Conzelman Road, but my favorite way to experience Hawk Hill is either by bike or taking a hike. Whichever way you choose, be sure to drop down the backside towards Rodeo Beach, as nothing could be more exhilarating that careening down an 18% grade hill that precariously hugs the coast.
4. Lands End: One of my favorite hikes in the city, the Lands End trail and Coastal Trail take you out along the cliffs, with views back on the bridge and the possibility for whale sightings. You end up at Sutro Baths, Cliff House, and Ocean Beach, all worth a visit in themselves.
5. The Bay: If you aren't fortunate enough to know someone in the Bay Area who owns a boat, hop on the ferry to either Sausalito, Angel Island, or Alcatraz for a view of the bridge from the water.