If you visit San Francisco, I recommend biking the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. My family took a last minute trip to San Francisco this past week, and this was a perfect way to spend one of our days in this area.
Biking the Golden Gate bridge entails starting from fisherman’s wharf and riding along the water on a designated bike path over the bridge. The views from the bridge over the Pacific ocean are breathtaking, and everyone should experience standing on this iconic architectural structure!
To the end of the bridge and back to the wharf is about 5 miles. The bike path continues from the end of the bridge on to Sausalito which is about 8 miles from the wharf, then further onto Tiburon which is another 11.5 miles from Sausalito. So, from San Francisco to Tiburon is about 19 miles! There are ferries at both towns to ride back with your bike.
The following are six things to know before biking the Golden Gate Bridge
Pick a good bike company
There are several companies where you can rent bikes. In San Francisco, some companies are MUCH better than others. We experienced a bike company with poorly maintained bikes, lack of good information and horrible service, to the point we canceled our ride within the first mile and decided to start the next day again with a different company.
The extra 10 minutes to look on YELP before we booked would have saved us energy and unpleasant experience. YELP is not always 100% accurate as these days; they have inauthentic reviews being posted to boost companies’ online presence. But for the most part, I’ve found it to be accurate.
After we picked a company on our 2nd attempt at riding, our experience from the moment we were greeted by the staff to start the rental process was 100% pleasant. Their bikes were in better shape too.
The largest companies don’t mean they are the best! Always check customer reviews before booking.
Stop in Sausalito
We biked the 19 miles all the way to Tiburon. It was beautiful, but a little too long of a ride for me and the kids. My husband loved it. So, it depends on how active you want to be that day. For most people (especially families), I recommend riding to Sausalito, having lunch, and then taking the ferry back.
Leave early in the morning
Depending on the bike company you choose, they will encourage you to start your ride even after 1 pm if that’s when you arrive to inquire. But the later you leave, the less pleasant your experience will be for the following reasons:
- Fog over the bridge as the day progresses will diminish visibility.
- Ferry lines will take way too long on the way back.
The best time to start your ride is 9:00 am. You can take your time riding over the bridge with stops along the route to enjoy the scenery. Arrive in Sausalito by 11:30, just before the lunch rush to get a table at one of the restaurants along the water. You will notice (especially during summer) the crowds are HEAVY on the bike routes. Whatever you can do to plan around it will lead to a much more enjoyable day.
Get on Ferry Early
The Sausalito ferry gets very crowded. After 2:30, the lines can be more than 2 hours. The ferry can only hold a few hundred people and bikes per trip which leads to waiting for many ferries coming and going before it’s your turn to get on.
The Tiburon ferry station is less crowded, with 4:30 as the cut off before the wait times increase. We took the 4:30 from this location and the ride back was pleasant with great views of Alcatraz and the San Francisco skyline.
Bring water and snack
Bring water and something to snack on during your stops. You will be happy you have it! The ride isn’t particularly strenuous other than a few hills, but still, you will get thirsty and hungry.
Dress in layers
The bridge gets very windy! And the temperatures from San Francisco (60s during summer) to Sausalito (70s) increase quickly. Dress in layers to warm up or cool down when you need.
After biking the Golden Gate Bridge to Tiburon, we were wiped out! We got some great exercise, though! And created some wonderful family memories.
Check out my 3-minute video capturing some highlights!
If you are looking for more family-friendly trips to learn about, you may enjoy the following posts: