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Viewing the Bay, Bridge and July 4 Booms and Bangs from Marin

The magical view of the Golden Gate Bridge at night from the Marin Headlands
Photo by Ben Davidson/

With Independence Day coming up in a few weeks, now is the time to plan a trip to Marin County and stake out a site to take in the fireworks show over San Francisco Bay. A scouting trip is also a great excuse for some Marin-side viewing of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, a magnet for Bay Area visitors since it opened for business in 1937.

Most Marin-side visitors view the Bay and bridge from the crowded Vista Point parking area or spectacular Battery Spencer, the former seacoast defense fortification just above the north end of the bridge in the Marin Headlands. Higher up Conzelman Road a series of turnouts provide a parade of viewpoints that peak at Hawk Hill. Here you can park and make a short ascent to a ridgetop for a panorama of the Golden Gate, San Francisco Bay and the open Pacific Ocean. On fog-free days and clear evenings, the sparkling view of the city and glowing flood-lit bridge is out of this world.

Fewer visitors head to the equally dramatic, water-level view of the bridge at Fort Baker, which can be especially colorful in the morning and dramatically fog-swept in the afternoon and evening. This is an especially good spot for viewing the 4th of July fireworks, but be sure to get here early as parking is limited. Further afield but equally alluring are views of the bridge and bay from Ring Mountain Open Space Preserve on north end of the Tiburon peninsula and from Angel Island State Park, where campers on the island’s south side campsites enjoy exclusive cityscapes and, on July 4, a unique perspective of San Francisco’s fireworks extravaganza.

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