The Best-Loved Bridges in California

It’s Friday. Californians share their favorite bridges. Plus, Southern California’s oldest bookstore is looking for a buyer.

I moved to San Francisco from Los Angeles just over a year ago, and one thing that still marks me as a newcomer is how much I delight in crossing bridges in the Bay Area.

During my first trip over the Carquinez Bridge on Interstate 80 recently, I was taken with the industrial steel span and what it crossed: the wide expanse of water known as the Carquinez Strait, which separates Contra Costa and Solano counties.

That a bridge allows me to depart one county and enter another in midair seems truly magical, as anyone who has recently ridden in a car with me has heard me carry on about.

Readers have been sending me emails about their favorite bridges in California, including the most iconic ones, like the Bixby Bridge on Highway 1 in Big Sur, the Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena and, of course, the Golden Gate.

Some have shared their love for lesser-known bridges, like the Cold Spring Canyon Arch Bridge in the Santa Ynez Mountains, the Rainbow Bridge on Donner Pass Road and Fernbridge over the Eel River in Humboldt County.

All sorts of bridges can hold fascination for us, and often personal connections as well. Here are some of them, lightly edited:

“My favorite is the western portion of the Bay Bridge. When I was a child, my parents would drive across the double-decker bridge, and we would be on the lower section leaving San Francisco. Then on the way back, the upper section seemed to me like the Golden Gate. It took me a while to get my head around the concept of a double-decker bridge. I don’t know why some memories remain very clear after over 60 years, but that’s one of them.” — Marty McVeigh, Brentwood

“The Tower Bridge here in Sacramento is one of the city’s most beautiful landmarks, I think. The way the sunset reflects off its golden paint, or how the bridge reflects into the river. Especially the way that when you’re driving down it, you can look right into the heart of Sacramento.” — Sydney Amestoy, Sacramento

“The Sundial Bridge in Redding does much more than connect two banks of the Sacramento River. As one of the few who are lucky enough to give tours of the bridge, I have seen how the bridge has evolved to become a new town center. Here, locals and visitors mingle with their kids and dogs to enjoy the ever-changing view of the surrounding mountains and wildlife, from salmon in the river, geese on the river, and osprey, bald eagles and vultures flying over the river.” — Kay Johnson, Redding

“I’m very fortunate that my commute to work requires that I cross my favorite bridge: the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. It feels the most scenic. You can see the city of San Francisco in all its glory or mixed in with the fog. The bridge goes right by Red Rock Island, which gives it a wild nature feeling at the same time. Crossing in either direction, you view either looming Mount Tamalpais or the expansive, lit-up East Bay hills with Oakland to the south. The bridge has a lot fewer people on it than the Golden Gate Bridge, so it feels more personal.” — Helen Couture Rodriguez, El Cerrito

“I live in San Diego and regularly cross the Coronado Bridge to go to swim practice. The bridge itself, while an engineering marvel, is no beauty. But the view going to Coronado Island always reminds me what a beautiful place I live in!” — Barton Lynch, San Diego

“My young nephew was in a bridge-obsessed phase some years ago, so for his birthday we spent a very long but memorable day driving across every single Bay Area bridge. Covering all those miles with a wide-eyed 9-year-old, I gained a new appreciation for all the spans gracing our waterways. I’ll never have a favorite again!” — Brandi Katz, Aromas

“I lived in the Bay Area for almost 10 years, and the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge is the best. It’s so long, you feel as if you’re alone on a large body of water. And at certain times of the year, the commute home often had amazing sunsets.” — Jay Torres, Laguna Beach

“I’m lucky enough to commute by bicycle across the Golden Gate Bridge to work most days. About 10 years ago, I was being recruited to a job in New York City and was discussing the pros and cons with my friend Tucker on the commute home. Tucker saw something in the water and stopped us midspan on the west deck. To our delight, two whales began breaching just west of the bridge, something I haven’t seen before or since. Tucker told me, ‘Philip, if you’re looking for a sign … .’ I’m still happily commuting over my favorite bridge.” — Philip Norris, Mill Valley

With Valentine’s Day coming up, we’re asking about love: not who you love, but what you love about your corner of California.

Email us a love letter to your California city, neighborhood or region — or to the Golden State as a whole — and we may share it in an upcoming newsletter. You can reach the team at

Robert Ashton Conner didn’t know much about water polo until he fell in love with Margaret Ann Steffens.

Steffens, who grew up in Danville in a family of notable water polo players, joined the U.S.A. Women’s Water Polo National Team at 15 and went on to win team Olympic gold medals in 2012 and 2016. Conner, who is from Marin County, was immediately drawn to her.

The two met at a birthday party in Palo Alto in 2016 while Steffens was finishing her bachelor’s degree at Stanford. The connection was instant, they said. Two weeks later, the couple shared their first date — and first kiss — and soon after, Conner was commuting regularly to Palo Alto to see Steffens on her days off from practice.

The rest of their story is told in water polo games (first in Hungary and then in Spain, where Steffens played professionally) and in Olympic medals (Steffens earned her third gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021). In 2022, Conner proposed, and the couple tied the knot last November in San Juan, P.R.

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