The post was contributed by my nephew Jack, who is studying business at Dundee University. He’s an avid traveller and technology addict!
With only one day to see the sights of San Francisco and 4 children (10 to 18yrs) to entertain, we decided to cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge. Parking near Fisherman’s Wharf was easier than expected, but look out for cheap offers displayed roadside for the various covered lots. We picked up a free Baycity flyer from a kerbside newsstand which included a 25% discount from Wheel Fun Rentals (conveniently located at Pier 43) – always appreciated when multiplying by 6!
The bikes all had quick release seat adjustment, maps, (with several suggested routes), phone holders, cycle locks and a free audio tour was available. Helmets were, of course provided. The helpful squad at Wheel Fun recommended cycling out towards the Golden Gate Bridge then crossing over to Sausalito and getting the ferry back.
Be aware that on leaving Fisherman’s Wharf, you need to share the road with cars and trams for a few hundred metres. We then got onto a cycle path which takes you past the Ghirardelli Factory and store for those with a sweet tooth. This is followed by a short hill climb that was a bit of a challenge for a certain more mature member of the group (mum) who had to push the last section!
When breathing rate had returned to normal (!), we were able to appreciate the wonderful view over Fort Mason towards the bay and over to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. By this time (mid-morning) it was free of the infamous fog which very often obscures it. We had an unobstructed view all the way through the park with the cycle path marked out for pedestrians on one half and cyclists on the other.
After a further pleasant flat section of the path, we reached the Warming Hut Visitor Centre, which had a shop and restaurant with free restrooms and plenty of bike racks. We had a wander out to the old pier to watch the locals fishing; we took a few photos with the bridge in the background. From here we also saw Alcatraz and the city of San Francisco skyline. Following our short break we had the challenge of another uphill (which most of the group managed without pushing) to a newly built viewing platform area just below the visitor centre. As we were on bikes we decided to just head onto the bridge but if you want to go into the visitor centre there is plenty of bike parking.
Due to the huge numbers of people and lack of cycle lane, we pushed our bikes for the first 20 metres of the Bridge, but soon got into our rhythm – single file in the cycle lane, ringing our bells if a pedestrian strayed onto our path. There are plenty of places to stop on the bridge and the views are spectacular. The best stopping places are at the bottom of the towers on the bridge.
Once we had crossed the bridge we had a rapid descent into Sausalito, a picturesque Mediterranean-style seaside town. Beware of an “official” looking chap in high vis vest directing the hoards of cyclists to paid cycle parking. We rode a further 150 metres to find plenty of free parking. We dined streetside at the Venice pizzeria, with waterfront views across the bay to the City skyline. After looking around a few of the shops we caught one of the frequent ferries for a 30 min journey back direct to Fisherman’s Wharf. Rows and rows of bikes leaning side by side occupied the bottom deck! This leisurely return journey took us past Alcatraz and gave us a different view of the Bridge.
On our return, we cycled to the famous pier 39 to watch the antics of the sea lions and look around the pier – filled with shops and eateries, before returning the bikes and taking one of the old trams up to Union Square, to Lori’s Diner, before returning to pick up our car, satisfied we had experienced some of the best sights of San Francisco.
IF YOU GO
There’s a very detailed Trip Advisor step-by-step guide for biking the Golden Gate Bridge here.
Wheel Fun Rentals 627 Taylor St, San Francisco, CA 94133 +1 (415) 770-1978 http://wheelfunrentals.com/ca/san-francisco/fishermans-wharf-taylor-and-north-point/
Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals and Tours 555 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94133 +1 202-8888 https://www.blazingsaddles.com
San Francisco Bicycle Rentals 425 Jefferson St, San Francisco, CA 94109 +1 (415) 922-4537 http://bikerentalsanfrancisco.com/
Bay City Bikes 501 Bay St, San Francisco, CA 94133 +1 (415) 346-2453 http://www.baycitybike.com/
Dylan’s Bike Tours 782 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133 +1 (415) 932-6993 https://www.dylanstours.com