California's Most Epic Bridges

The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge | ©Free-Photos/Pixabay

There’s something really exciting about driving, biking, or walking over the architectural wonder that is a significant bridge. California has a number of them, many reaching dizzying heights to connect cities along the coast. The state also boasts one especially gorgeous pedestrian bridge that’s an operational sundial. Here are seven of California’s most epic bridges.

Golden Gate Bridge

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Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco.
Golden Gate Bridge | © Andriy Bezuglov / Alamy Stock Photo
The Golden Gate Bridge is arguably California’s most iconic, spanning 4,200ft (1,280m) in length between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The red, art deco bridge opened in 1937, and has since been featured in numerous films, TV shows, magazines, and publications, with pretty much any work set in San Francisco featuring an established shot of the landmark. In the family sitcom Full House, it appears in the opening credits.

Bixby Creek Bridge

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Bixby Creek Bridge, Pacific Coast Highway, Big Sur, Central Coast, California, USA
Bixby Creek Bridge | © davidwallphoto.com / Alamy Stock Photo
This stunning reinforced concrete bridge opened in 1932, and is frequently photographed and featured in media. It is 714ft (218m) in length and over 260ft (79m) high. When built, it allowed passage for residents of Big Sur, especially during the winter, which often left other roads challenging, if not impassable. Drivers will find it along Highway 1, against the Pacific coast, between Big Sur State Park and Carmel.

San Diego-Coronado Bridge

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San Diego-Coronado Bridge
San Diego-Coronado Bridge | © Kenny Chung/Flickr
This bridge towers over the San Diego Bay, connecting San Diego and Coronado. It is 11,179ft (3,407m) long, and opened in 1969. Its proximity to a US Naval base allows visitors to view ships as they pass, but some of the most interesting art in the San Diego area can be found beneath the bridge. Chicano Park consists of a huge collection of Chicano murals—the largest collection in the world—using the bridge’s pillars as canvas.

Colorado Street Bridge

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The Colorado Street Bridge is shown spanning the Arroyo Seco (dry stream) in Pasadena, California, USA during the day.
Colorado Street Bridge | © Kilmer Media / Alamy
Built in 1912, the Colorado Street Bridge crosses the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena. It is considered a historic landmark, and is the subject of numerous Los Angeles urban legends and ghost stories, including that of Myrtle Ward who, in 1937, threw her three-year-old daughter from the bridge before jumping herself. The child miraculously survived, some say Ward’s ghost spends her nights searching for her baby.

Sundial Bridge

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sundial-bridge
Sundial Bridge | © Peter Alfred Hess / Flickr

The Sundial Bridge is particularly striking. Accessible to bikes and pedestrians only, the bridge allows guests of Redding’s Turtle Bay Exploration Park (one of our top picks for budget-savvy family vacations) to cross the Sacramento River. The name is not a misnomer; this bridge is actually a huge sundial, as the bridge’s support tower also acts as a gnomon.

Oakland Bay Bridge

Bridge, Building
Map View
The Oakland Bay Bridge is actually three bridges, which span over the San Francisco Bay to Oakland and San Francisco. Guests might see a light show, designed by artist Leo Villareal, called The Bay Lights. It was installed in 2016, and consists of some 25,000 LED lights that shimmer along a portion of the bridge.
These recommendations were updated on June 30, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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