It has been called the most photographed bridge in the world and for many, it is also the most recognizable landmark in the United States. Those of us who were already alive during the pre-Facebook era remember that the very first postcards sent home by family and friends newly-arrived in the USA (particularly and usually in California) almost always featured the Golden Gate Bridge. The Empire State Building, the lights of Las Vegas, the big ‘Hollywood’ sign, the Grand Canyon and, I daresay, even the Statue of Liberty were second stringers.
The Bridge which turned 75 years old last year is now visited by more than 10 million people every year. On our recent trip to San Francisco, my sister and I decided that adding two more to that number wouldn’t hurt, so off to the orange bridge we went.
We drove up in our tiny rental car to the Southeast Visitor Area. Parking is free for 15 minutes (enough time for several pose & click moments) but we ended up staying for almost an hour. Ahh, tourists.
We went on a weekday in late fall so there were fewer sightseers around.
One can have a good view of the bridge from the Strauss Plaza, named after the bridge’s chief architect Joseph B. Strauss.
(That’s him standing over there with his back to the bridge, saying nothing.)
The plaza is surrounded by a lovely garden which was abloom even in late November. This is California after all.
There are also scale models of the bridge for those interested in civil engineering concepts and scientific explanations. 🙂
A few steps down from the Strauss Plaza, one can get an even closer view of the bridge.
There are also pedestrian paths and bike lanes for those in pursuit of six-packs and golden calves.
This part of San Francisco has a long history as a military station, from the time of California’s Spanish conquistadores to the American Civil War. Below one arch of the bridge is the Fort Point National Historic Site.
Near Fort Point and below the bike lanes is an area called Battery East where earthen mounds used to house some of the Fort’s cannons.
Seen in the distance is the island of Alcatraz which is also quite popular with tourists. (I’ll always associate it with Clint Eastwood, hehe.)
From the Strauss Plaza, one can go up to the Golden Gate Bridge Roundhouse and Pavilion to grab a snack, inquire about guided tours, and buy souvenirs. (Of course, I got myself a new bookmark.) On the stairs leading up to the Roundhouse, ‘Welcome’ is written in several languages, including Pilipino, which I think is a very nice touch.
We decided not to walk across the bridge as it was already getting late and there will be more opportunities for it in the future but then, after we left the Visitor Area we took a wrong turn and found ourselves driving on the bridge anyway.
We considered it a happy accident. 🙂