Best Photography Spots Marin Headlands

Best Photography Spots Marin Headlands (Sausalito, CA)

Best Photography Spots - Marin Headlands - Golden Gate Bridge

Landmarks Around the Marin Headlands in San Francisco (Sausalito, CA)

There are quite a few spots in the Marin Headlands to shoot. For your sake, let’s hope you get a cloudy day or some epic sunset shots. During this visit, we had to deal with hazing remanents of California Wildfires (Currently, there are about 15 of them). It was an interesting day, to say the least. While fun and exciting to see the rich history of the Marin Headlands, the Golden Gate Bridge views and other notable landmarks, the smoke from the fires was killing any chance of a good shot.

This is one spot that is incredibly easy to stop in at. If you are heading down highway 1 into San Francisco, you can swing up to Hawk Hill and get some stunning shots of the Golden Gate in about 30 minutes. However, if you want to see the majority of the Marin Headlands, it will take you a few hours.

One of the pluses to this visit was the lack of humans. There was barely anyone out in the Marin Headlands on this day, which is rare. Maybe it was the time of day (Friday 11 am) or maybe it was because the air quality was poor.

Photography Spots Around the Marin Headlands

Some of the most notable photography spots around the Marin Headlands are stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Point Bonita Lighthouse, Rodeo Beach and the wide variety of Military Batteries throughout the Peninsula.

  • Marin Headlands Visitor Center
  • Marin Headlands Hostel
  • Headlands Center For the Arts
  • Hawk Hill
  • Point Bonita Lighthouse
  • Rodeo Beach
  • NatureBridge/ Coastal Camp
  • Kirby Cove Campground
  • Bicentennial Campground
  • Headlands Lookout
  • Hawk Campground
  • Battery Mendell
  • Countless Military Batteries

A good time to visit the Marin Headlands would be anytime during the weekday, while crowds are low. You really want to avoid Saturday and Sunday as these days are gridlock tourist traps all the way up towards Hawk Hill. Good days for photographers and sight seeing would be overcast weekdays days around sunset.

To experience the Marin Headlands in full takes close to 5-6 hours with multiple stops and you can’t really “experience” the headlands without going through the one-lane tunnel that goes under highway 1. The one-way tunnel heads under Highway 1 just after the Golden Gate Bridge and you may have to wait for an entire 5+ minutes for traffic on the other side to come through.

The history around the Marin Headlands is incredible, unmistakable and almost unbelievable. From the Military Batteries to the seaside cliff views and the stunning panoramics of the Golden Gate Bridge, this is a must-see landmark if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Best Photography Spots – Marin Headlands – Point Bonita Lighthouse

Best Photography Spots - Marin Headlands - Point Bonita Lighthouse

Point Bonita Lighthouse is a rather small California lighthouse on the western most point of the Marin Headlands. Depending on the time of year you visit, you have the option for guided tours or the option to explore on your own. During our visit, the tunnel through the rock onwards toward the Point Bonita Lighthouse was closed. This shot is from the top of the hill at Battery Mendell looking down on the Point Bonita Lighthouse.

A Little History on the Point Bonita Lighthouse

A secret jewel of the Bay Area, the Point Bonita Lighthouse, built in 1855, was the third lighthouse built on the West Coast and helped shepherd ships through the treacherous Golden Gate straights. Today, the lighthouse is still active and is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. The National Park Service provides access to visitors.

Best Photography Spots – Marin Headlands – Hawk Hill

Best Photography Spots - Marin Headlands - Hawk Hill

Hawk Hill is located at the very top of the Marin Headlands. From here, you can see stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and experience history in the flesh. The concrete foundations are now covered in graffiti but still breath rich California history. Hawk Hill sits almost level with the Golden Gate Bridge at 923 feet. When you are atop this peak, you can literally look eye-to-eye with the top of the Golden Gate Bridge. Pretty Impressive. For hikers, bikers, 4Runner explorers and everyone in between, you will have an amazing experience atop this peak.

Best Photography Spots – Marin Headlands – Rodeo Beach

Best Photography Spots - Marin Headlands - Rodeo Beach

Rodeo Beach features a wide variety of Marin Headland landmarks. Rodeo Beach features such landmarks as Rodeo Lagoon (a beautiful lagoon that sits just inside Rodeo Beach), Hawk Tail Beach, Fort Cronkhite (military base with preserved barracks), The Marine Mammal Center and many other Military histories. Furthermore, Rodeo Beach has a massive open stretch of beach with summer peeps and surfers.

Best Photography Spots – Marin Headlands – Feild Rd.

Best Photography Spots - Marin Headlands - Feild Rd.

Feild Road on the Marin Headlands is a history packed scenic route with “the hills have eyes” style buildings all over the place. Most of these buildings are still occupied and are in use today. There are some really cool opportunities for photos at every point of this drive.

Best Photography Spots – Marin Headlands – Battery Mendell

Best Photography Spots - Marin Headlands - Battery Mendell

The Marin Headlands are rich with Military Battery landmarks. Battery Mendell (Fort Barry, Mendell Rd, Northwest Marin, CA 94950) is one of the most notable landmarks on the Marin Headlands. This Military Battery among others was used in the civil war. There is some really rich history information about Battery Mendell all over the web.

At every moment on this hike, walk or drive, you can’t help but stop and stare the history. The Marin Headlands feature an amazing amount of post Civil War landmarks that still look great today.

Marin Headlands – Nike Missile Control Site SF-87

Marin Headlands - Nike Missile Control Site SF-87

This info below is straight from Wiki. I could not type or explain it any better.

Construction of SF-88 was already under way by July 7, 1954, when the San Francisco Chronicle reported that four Nike launching sites were being built in the area: near Lake Chabot (SF-31) and at Forts Baker (SF-89), Barry (SF-88), and Cronkhite (SF-87). Captain Henry Paine assumed command of Battery A of the newly-renamed 9th Antiaircraft Artillery Guided Missile Battalion of the 30th Antiaircraft Artillery Group on October 1, 1954, and the first temporary emplacements were ready for service by October 28, 1954. The Nike-Ajax missiles were removed and replaced with Nike-Hercules missiles in November 1958. Read More Here

Best Photography Spots – Marin Headlands – Golden Gate Bridge

Best Photography Spots - Marin Headlands - Golden Gate Bridge

One of the most photographed bridges in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge is a beautiful piece of art. The Marin Headlands is THE place you want to go, to shoot the Golden Gate Bridge. With that being said, there are hundreds of cool places to get shots of the Golden Bate Bridge but the views from the Marin Headlands are mind-blowing. With panoramic views of San Francisco and the entire Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands are an amazing place to visit anytime of year.

Best Photography Spots – Marin Headlands (4Runner & Golden Gate)

One for the 4Runner Books with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. Very cool.

Best Photography Spots - Marin Headlands (4Runner & Golden Gate)

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4 years ago

Wheels ?

6 years ago

What beautiful shots! The views are amazing right there and I love crossing the GGB to Marin. Nice work, would love to see more of your work!

Jeffrey Bowdoin
6 years ago

Wow great shots and recommendations!! Love the San Francisco bridge shot. I’ve noticed that one of the best place to see and photograph the golden gate bridge (day or night) is at the golden gate overlook.

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