Visiting the United States is one of my biggest dreams since my high school days. Back then, I had a notebook with a list of attractions in each State. I collected picture clippings as well which include the Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, the Grand Canyon, and Death Valley. I also had the Golden Gate Bridge or the man-made category. Never in my life had I imagined that one day, me and my loved ones would set foot in one of these famous landmarks. A pipe dream that turned into reality!
Our two-week vacation with my mom and my daughter in my sister’s house in California is not entirely to visit the famous attractions in the United States. Gie is presently working so we have no car to use. We can only go for a stroll upon her availability. It was just fine since getting to this dream country is enough for us to thank for. I have to thank again Gie, my niece Miko and her husband Derrick for sponsoring our US trip. Love you guys!
However, the Golden Gate Bridge was in my sister’s schedule except for the Lake Tahoe because it is not passable to go down the lake because of heavy snowpack! Owwww! Sad for me. Anyway, she promised us that we could visit this famous state park when we get back in the summertime.
The day of our visit to the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most anticipated parts of our US trip. We rose up early to beat the 7:00 am call time. Gie is very particular with the time (American time!) so we ate our breakfast fast and quickly dressed to winter suits! Haha!
The journey on the wide California roads was indeed delightful. There was no traffic and no pollution. I savored every minute watching the staggering natural view in the window thus, making myself widely awake during the trip.
When the famous Bridge started to get visible, me, my mom and Shen excitedly peaked at the window with awe (except my sis who had been there already). I was only dreaming of this many years ago, but now I was here (we were here!), and I could not contain my excitement when we started crossing the so-called world-renowned suspension bridge.
We reached the park after a few minutes. The sun was up but it was cold and moderately windy. The parking lot was not yet full. My sister paid for the parking fee ($5.00).
And so, off we went to the most anticipated part of our U.S. trip.
The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the 1.7-mile wide Golden Gate Strait that connects San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. It is San Francisco’s crown jewel and said to be the most photographed bridge in the world.
The Chief Engineer Joseph Strauss initially designed it in 1917. His ambition overcame many struggles like securing official approvals that eventually won the public support. He faced a lot of strong opposition but he was determined to move on. He assembled an outstanding team of engineers, architects, geologists, and construction workers to design and build the bridge that eventually set a world record.
As of the time of its opening in 1937, the bridge is said to be the longest (main span of 4,200 feet) and the tallest suspension bridge in the world (total height of 746 feet).
In reality, the Bridge is not color gold but an orange vermilion called international orange. The consulting architect chose this color as it enhances the bridge’s high visibility in fog.
The View Area
Pedestrians and even bicyclists are allowed to enter on the walkways of the bridge that were built on either side. It was awesome to explore the whole Bridge and other attractions but since we have limited time, we opted to go to the View Area and the nearby sections only.
The Bridge was captivating. Its massive size, the history and the architectural feat behind its construction were something to behold. It felt surreal standing in the most prominent view deck to take a picture of the iconic structure. This is a dream come true for me and to my mom (now 70 years old) who were so fortunate enough to reach one of her dream travel destinations.
It was still early morning and few people were in sight. We had a great time for picture taking. From where we stood, we saw Angel Island and the Alcatraz, a former military prison now a famous tourist attraction.
After having our fills of the magnificent view and taking pictures to our heart content, we started to explore the complex. We went to the area of the stationery outdoor exhibits. It was so nice to read about history, science, important people, and the engineering of the Bridge’s construction. I felt we traveled back in time.
The Bridge Plaza
The most prominent feature in the Bridge Plaza is the Joseph Strauss Legacy Circle statute with the date below, May 27, 2012. It commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Bridge and honors the man behind the construction of one of the engineering wonders in the world. The Plaza provides outdoor benches for visitors who want to take rest.
Welcome Center Information & Store
Our last stop is in Welcome Center to buy souvenir goodies. Aside from collectibles, the store offers historical information telling stories of the Bridge. This was opened in 2012, in time for its 75th-anniversary celebration. They sell t-shirts, hoodies, jackets, hats, bags, keychains, toys, posters and a lot more. I bought a bag tag ($7.99), a ref magnet ($6.99), and the pennant ($6.99).
Operating Hours: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
There are two coffee shops in the complex, the Round House Cafe and the Bridge Cafe. They both offer drinks and snacks. Round House Cafe was closed upon our visit.
Operating Hours: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
Adjacent to Welcome Center is the restroom. I am not sure if there are any.
It was said that the climate at the Bridge is unpredictable. Mornings can be foggy but afternoons can be sunny. As of our visit, it was cold but sunny. It was so nice to see the Bridge with no huddling fog.
The memorable experience
If given more ample time to explore the Bridge and the Recreation Area, we will do so. However, we will cut this visit as we will drop by at Vacaville Premium Outlet for some cheap buys and we will watch the NBA at night.
I could say, this visit is one of our memorable experiences in the United States. By merely closing my eyes, I was thinking of how much happiness seeing a slice of America’s iconic wonders.
As I said, this is a dream come true. For me, for my mom and to Shen!
To have your fills of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area this is what you may do -
If you have one or two hours:
1) Take the Bay Trail beneath the Golden Gate Bridge to discover Fort Point.
2) Picnic beside the restored tidal marsh at Crissy Field.
3) Investigate the old batteries along the Coastal Trail.
4) Hike along the historic railroad bed at Lands End.
5) Take the cell phone tour of Fort baker to the North.
6) Sink your toes in the sand and watch the sunset at Ocean Beach.
If you have three to four hours:
1) Search for raptors soaring above Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands.
2) Listen for the croaking red-legged frogs at Mori Point.
3) Bicycle to the beach at Tennessee Valley
4) Stroll through the giant redwoods at Muir Woods.
5) Take a ferry ride to Alcatraz Island.
6) Hide along Sweeney Ridge and enjoy the views.
- There are free guided tours to learn more about the Bridge every Thursday and Sundays. For information and schedule, you may visit the San Francisco City Guides website.
- Parking is extremely limited so it is best to take public transit in getting to the Golden Gate Bridge. However, we used a private car and left home early to assure of an available slot.
- There is no entrance fee in getting inside the Bridge complex. One has to pay the toll in four easy ways – a FasTrak Account, a License Plate Account, a One-Time Payment, or a Toll Invoice. It can be paid online (like what we did), by phone, using a credit card, check money order, or in cash in payment location.
- Bicycle rentals are not available at the Golden Gate Bridge. There are bicycle rental shops on Lombard Street with fees depending on which bike you prefer to use.
- According to the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, the Bridge carries about 112,000 vehicles per day. Amazing!
- The American Society of Civil Engineers has declared the Bridge one of the Wonders of the Modern World.
- The name Golden Gate does not refer to its color, but the name of the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean, which is called the Golden Gate Strait.
- It set the world record for the longest bridge span when constructed in 1937, the distance between supports (4,200 feet, 1,280 m), and the tallest towers.
- Each cable is composed of 27,572 wires. If the wires were one continuous length, they could wrap around the earth over three times.
- The weight of the Bridge, not counting the concrete anchorages, is 840 million pounds (383 million kg) – heavier than the Empire State Building.
- Physical Suicide Deterrent System is being installed along the west and east sides of the Bridge. It will compose of horizontal stainless steel nets connected to the Bridge. This is to prevent disconsolate people from jumping into the water.
For more information about the Golden Gate Bridge visit, www.golgdengate.org.
|Our first unforgettable visit in San Francisco, California (with tips and travel guide)|
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