Battery Spencer in San Francisco is famous for its spectacular views but it also had an important previous life! Here’s a guide for visiting.
How To Get To Battery Spencer
Battery Spencer is located on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge in the Marin Headlands.
There are plenty of options for getting around San Francisco:
Cycling is a great way to get around the city at your own pace.
The San Francisco Self-Guided Bike Tour is perfect, as it allows you to rent bikes for up to 24 hours at a time.
Plus, if you tell them how many miles you wish to ride, the staff will even plan you out a great route that includes all the best sightseeing and stops on offer.
The city centre itself is linked by Muni.
Muni is San Francisco’s bus and metro system that runs throughout the city, operating buses, trains, cable cars and the F-line heritage streetcar.
Muni route 76 crosses the Golden Gate Bridge and stops at the entrance to the Conzelman Road Car Park.
From here a path runs along the edge of Conzelman Road up to the passing points. The path to Battery Spencer is at the first passing point after the car park.
Hop On Hop Off Bus
The San Francisco Sightseeing Hop-on-Hop-off Bus lets you explore all the legendary sites such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf.
In fact the Sausalito loop of the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour stops at the Vista Point on the north end of the bridge.
From there, you can cross under the bridge to the other parking lot and walk up the path to the first Conzelman Road passing point and the path to Battery Spencer.
For those short on time, or that prefer everything to be organised for them, there are some awesome tours on Get Your Guide available to book in advance.
If you want a fun and unique tour that visits Battery Spencer, the Electric GoCar Tour over Golden Gate Bridge is not the cheapest option but is certainly different!
Battery Spencer Entrance Fee
It is free to visit Battery Spencer
Battery Spencer Opening Times
Battery Spencer is open all day, every day.
Best Time To Visit Battery Spencer
Spring and Autumn in San Francisco offer some of the warmest temperatures of the year, without the crowds that visit during the summer.
Battery Spencer is a popular tourist attraction, especially with people wanting the perfect shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. So weekdays and early mornings are the best time if you like it a little quieter.
It goes without saying that a clear sunny day is going to give the best views. However, this area is well known for unpredictable fog, so don’t be surprised if it makes an appearance!
Also, there’s usually a pretty chilly wind blowing at the top, so I would recommend layering up!
Sunset offers some beautiful warm lighting for photos and once it’s dark, the Golden Gate Bridge, lit up in all its glory, is definitely worth stopping for.
What To Pack
Battery Spencer History
Battery Spencer was a concrete coastal gun battery, built as part of the Endicott system put in place between 1890 and 1910.
This was a system of defence that saw fortifications built along the coasts, not visible from the water, to defend against sea invasions.
From 1897 until 1942, Battery Spencer was used as a strategic protection point for the Bay of San Francisco. It was home to multiple 12″ calibre guns and well as buildings to house shells, generators and soldiers.
However, by World War II, improvements in technology made the guns at Battery Spencer obsolete. The fort was deactivated in 1942 and the guns were removed and recycled.
Battery Spencer was named after revolutionary war hero Maj. Gen. Joseph Spencer who died in 1789.
If you walk around Marin County you’ll actually find quite a few of these historic forts and batteries.
What To Expect At Battery Spencer
The grounds of Battery Spencer are interesting to explore, but it’s not maintained, so be careful walking around.
You can actually still see the old gun mountings and bunker remnants. Although the former living and working areas have been closed off.
Unfortunately, there has been some vandalism of the old fort and expect to see plenty of graffiti which does detract a little from its historic past.
However, one of the main reasons people visit Battery Spencer is for the incredible views!
Getting the perfect shot of the Golden Gate Bridge has to be on everybody’s San Francisco bucket list and the views from Battery Spencer don’t get much better!
From here you’ll get the iconic view of the bridge that is synonymous with San Francisco. Seen the world over, it has been used in movies such as Superman, The Princess Diaries and the TV series Full House.
For those looking to do it on a budget, Battery Spencer was definitely our favourite spot. It gave all the vibes we’d expected and in fact left us a little speechless!
However if you want to avoid the crowds completely then Golden Gate Overlook is an alternative spot to view the bridge from.
Where To Stay In San Francisco
One of the most sought after hotels in San Francisco.
Located in the SOMA District of San Francisco, St Regis features a full service spa, an indoor infinity pool and an on-site restaurant.
This 5-star accommodation is just an 8 minute walk from Union Square, and is super central to everything in the city.
All guest rooms come with a luxurious bathroom with a soaking tub, and a TV.
Centrally located in Downtown San Francisco, Cova Hotel offers a free shuttle service to Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf.
Guests can enjoy a daily continental breakfast at the hotel.
Cova Hotel rooms include a 42-inch flat-screen HDTV, a French balcony and free WiFi. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer city views.
In-house guests can enjoy a complementary unlimited wine reception from Monday through Sunday from 17:00 until 19:00 at the rooftop bar.
The hotel also has a 24-hour business centre, a fitness centre, and room service is also available.
Conveniently located in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, Boston Hotel is set less than 0.6 miles from San Francisco City Hall.
A 20 minute walk from Union Square, the accommodation offers a 24-hour front desk and luggage storage for guests.
At Boston Hotel all rooms have a wardrobe and a flat-screen TV as well as free WiFi.
A shared bathroom with a shower and a hairdryer is available for all to use.
For more places to stay in San Francisco, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.