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Point Bonita is perhaps the most dramatic spot in all of Marin Headlands.
It’s a rocky spine jutting into the mouth of the Bay, tipped with a natural arch of black basalt.
Waves crash on the rocks and winds rip unfettered from the open ocean.
In the churning waters and foggy atmosphere of the San Francisco Bay, such a spot is naturally dangerous to ships.
Thus, the Point Bonita Lighthouse was built in 1855 and operates to this day. You can hike to the lighthouse on a short, but steep and often slippery walkway, then witness the same scene that generations of lighthouse keepers have watched over.
On a clear day, you’ll have a perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco’s skyline. Open hours are very limited, however.
According to the [National Park Service](https://www.nps.gov/goga/planyourvisit/point-bonita-lighthouse-trail.htm), visitors are only allowed on Sundays and Mondays from 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm, and it may close abruptly if the weather turns bad.
Parking usually fills up, so arriving early is recommended. Even when the lighthouse is closed, you can still hike about half of the walkway leading to it, and get a lot of the same views.
You will miss out on the best parts, though, which are a tunnel, suspension bridge, view of the natural arch, and of course, the lighthouse itself.
But even without those highlights, Point Bonita has a lot of things to do.
On any day of the week, striking natural scenery and other historic sites are on display.
You’ll find World War II defenses, more hiking trails and overlooks, and even a campground.
You can pack a picnic and enjoy a meal with a view of the Golden Gate from Battery Wallace, where there are tables, grills, and shaded spots beneath tall cypress trees. It’s important to bring plenty of water when visiting Point Bonita because none is provided.
You should also bring layers of clothing because it’s often windy and cold here.
The location is within Golden Gate Recreation Area, very close to other attractions like the Marin Headlands Visitor Center, Marine Mammal Center, Fort Cronkhite, and Rodeo Beach.
The diversity of sites and activities makes this area perfect for a family trip or other casual outing.
You can see a lot in short hikes from the car, with options for longer excursions as well.