Top 20 San Francisco attractions

Point Bonita Lighthouse

free admission
Point Bonita Lighthouse

The Point Bonita Lighthouse is the only US lighthouse at the end of a suspension bridge.

The Point Bonita Lighthouse is across the Golden Gate Bridge in the southwest tip of the Marin Headlands.  

It was constructed to protect mariners at the treacherous entrance to the San Francisco Bay, that claimed 300 shipwrecks during the Gold Rush era.

The only access to the Point Bonita Lighthouse is along a steep 1/2 mile trail, that passes through a handcarved tunnel and across a suspension bridge to the edge of the world!

Check limited opening hours here.

10 BEST things to do at Point Bonita Lighthouse

1. Start the half mile walk to the Point Bonita Lighthouse 

Park at at the Point Bonita Lighthouse parking lot in the southwest Marin Headlands. (Try the Battery Alexander parking lot if it's full).  Follow the signs and start the half mile trail to the Point Bonita Lighthouse.

2. As you walk along the trail, enjoy soaring views above Bonita Cove.

Views from Marin Headlands on foggy day.Views from Marin Headlands on foggy day.

3. Peer down at secluded beaches, inaccessible from the clifftop trail.

4. Look for the remains of an old pier in Bonita Cove.

5.  Walk through a hand-carved tunnel dug by Chinese workmen in the 1870s.

When the Point Bonita Lighthouse was moved to a lower location in 1877, Chinese workmen dug an 118-foot tunnel through hard rock to access it. The Old Point Bonita Lighthouse was originally built at a higher elevation in 1855, roughly 300 feet above sea level.  However it wasn't visible to ships at this higher elevation through the marine fog, and needed to be moved lower.  

Point Bonita Lighthouse hikePoint Bonita Lighthouse hike

The tunnel door to the Point Bonita Lighthouse is only open limited hours. If the door is closed go to the nearby overlook at the end of Mendell Road to see distant views the Point Bonita Lighthouse. This overlook has high cliffs, so be careful with kids.

Point Bonita Lighthouse tunnelPoint Bonita Lighthouse tunnel

6. Enjoy the stunning vistas on the other side of the tunnel, all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge.

7. Look out at the old army buildings visible across the water.

8. Walk along the suspension bridge to reach Point Bonita Lighthouse. 

The suspension bridge wasn’t originally there when the Point Bonita Lighthouse was moved, and was only constructed when the path eroded. Check out those sheer cliffs on either side of the suspension bridge!  

Point Bonita Lighthouse suspension bridgePoint Bonita Lighthouse suspension bridge

The main span runs 156 feet, with a 55 foot approach on the west, and 33 foot approach on the east.

Suspension bridge at Point Bonita LighthouseSuspension bridge at Point Bonita LighthouseHike out to Point Bonita LighthouseThe lighthouse at Point Bonita.

 

#1 Guide to Point Bonita Lighthouse.#1 Guide to Point Bonita Lighthouse.

9.  Walk around the Point Bonita Lighthouse.

The Point Bonita Lighthouse is still an active national aid maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard, and is therefore not open for tours.  However, you can still watch its distinctive light pattern of 3 seconds on, 1 second off, and listen to the electric horn if fog reaches the lower elevation.

Continue down the stairs to the Lighthouse Keeper's Quarters buildings on the lower ledge.  Stand on the edge of the world with soaring views across the San Francisco Straits!

10. Explore other cool attractions at the Marin Headlands. 

There's so many other attractions at the Marin Headlands, like coastal trails, abandoned military forts, a Visitor Center, and Cold War missile site.

Know before you go 

  • Location: Marin Headlands (Golden Gate National Recreation Area).
  • Lighthouse hours:  Check here.  
  • Trail length: 0.5 miles.
  • Parking:  Limited parking at Bonita Lighthouse, so try the Battery Alexander Parking lot, 0.3 miles away.
  • Marin Headlands Visitor Center: Fort Barry, Building 948, Sausalito, CA 94965.

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