The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most famous landmarks in the United States, but there is a lot more to it than just the bridge. There is a lot more to see in the surrounding area. One of the best ways to explore it is by taking a bike and spending a couple of extra hours to take in the view of the bay, appreciate the local architecture, and enjoying some really good food.

There is nothing like exploring a city via bike rides. Most tourists speed through the major landmarks in a city and end up missing the less crowded, more quiet parts of a city. The Golden Gate Bridge area in San Francisco, in particular, has a lot of hidden gems.

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Planning

Biking along the Golden Gate Bridge only takes a few hours. It’s a quick weekend activity that allows cyclists to have a bird’s eye view of the bay.

Prepare for the trip by securing a bike, safety gear, and a map. Those who already own a bike can, of course, use their own, but there are several bike rental shops near the Golden Gate Bridge and the Fisherman’s Wharf. Here are some of the shops:

  • Goldstar
  • Bike Rentals San Francisco
  • Blazing Saddles
  • Bay City Bike

Some rental shops allow walk-in rentals, but try to book in advance online to score some deals and promos. Budget about $25 to $40 for a standard bike. Check for the availability of children’s bikes, tandem bikes, and electric bikes if needed. Rentals usually include a helmet. Download a Golden Gate Bridge biking trail map and save it on your phone for easy access.

Access To The Bridge

Cyclists have 24-hour access to the Golden Gate Bridge via the east and west sidewalks. Here is the schedule for bikers:

March to October

  • Weekdays: 5:00 am to 3:30 pm (East Sidewalk) / 3:30 pm to 9:00 pm (West Sidewalk) / 9:00 pm to 5:00 am (East Sidewalk) – riders have to ring a buzzer to be allowed entry and exit Weekends and Holidays: 5:00 am to 9:00 pm (West Side Walk) / 9:00 pm to 5:00 am (East Sidewalk)

November to February

  • Weekdays: 5:00 am to 3:30 pm (East Sidewalk) / 3:30 pm to 6:00 pm (West Sidewalk) / 6:00 pm to 5:00 am (East Sidewalk) – riders have to ring a buzzer to be allowed entry and exit
  • Weekends and Holidays: 5:00 am to 6:00 pm (West Side Walk) / 6:00 pm to 5:00 am (East Sidewalk)

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Routes

Biking at the Golden Gate Bridge can be a fun family activity. The sidewalk on the Golden Gate Bridge is paved, but there is some slight elevation. Take some breaks if needed; take advantage of the moment by taking pictures of the scenery.

The biking trail is beginner-friendly, as it is mostly flat. Start from the Fisherman’s Wharf, then to the Aquatic Park, then to Fort Mason, then to the San Francisco Marina and Crissy Field, Presidio National Park.

More experienced cyclists may want to take the trail to Sausalito. The Golden Gate Bridge is 2.5 miles long and would take about 25 minutes to complete. The trip down to Sausalito will take an additional 1 hour, depending on a person’s skill level. While in Sausalito, explore the shops, art galleries, and quaint little restaurants, then take the ferry back to San Francisco (with the bike).

Bike Tours

Most people do a DIY bike tour. They rent a bike, use a map, and explore the area at a leisurely pace. There are guided bike tours as well, which are highly recommended for tourists. Fees start from $55, which covers bike and helmet rental. The guides will be able to provide information about the tour stops, important landmarks and talk about significant events that took place.

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Spots To Check Out

  • Fort Point. This historic site was built to protect the San Francisco Bay. It is open from Thursdays to Mondays, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. No entrance fee.
  • Abraham Lincoln Brigade Monument. Unveiled in 2008, this monument commemorates the volunteers during the Spanish Civil War.
  • Hopper’s Hand Sign. Located right by Fort Point, this sign represents a tradition that is unique to the runners in the Bay area. Find out why runners give a fist bump or a high five to this sign when they arrive at this point.
  • Bridge Pavilion. The Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion welcome center contains artifacts and photos that commemorate this iconic landmark.
  • Palace of Fine Arts. Located in the Marina District, this beautiful structure is the only remnant of the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915. No entrance fee is required. Spare a few minutes to soak in the scenery.

Tips And Reminders

  • Dress warm, and wear light layers as it can get windy on the Bridge
  • The Golden Gate Bridge gets crowded during weekends and holidays
  • Using selfie sticks while riding a bike is highly discouraged as it is a safety risk
  • In case you forget the schedule of the east and west sidewalks, just follow the signs along the bridge
  • Cyclists aged 18 and under are required to wear a helmet

When To Visit

Take a bike tour during the warmer months of June to September. The winds get stronger and colder starting October, so unless you are an experienced cyclist, it is best to go during summer. Weekends and holidays draw bigger crowds. If you can’t avoid going on these days, try to have an early start. To avoid crowds, it is best to go on weekdays, at around 8:00 AM.

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