Bridges do more than connect two bits of land -- they span centuries of history, ignite the imagination, and inspire with their beauty. Crossing a famous bridge becomes an event, a moment of drama that can crystallize your experience of a city. Natural spots for photo ops, bridges can thrill kids with a panoramic postcard view.
Warn the kids ahead of time that the Golden Gate Bridge is not golden at all, but a flaming orange. Once past that surprise, though, they cannot fail to be bowled over by this glorious bridge spanning the Pacific Ocean where it meets San Francisco Bay. In all lights, it has a magical quality -- brightening at dawn, glowing at sunset, glittering at night, or blazing proudly through the city's trademark fog. It's one of those quintessential landmarks, familiar from dozens of movies. Cars roll over it, boats cruise under it, and airplanes buzz overhead, but this bridge is best experienced on foot. Be prepared: The traffic alongside the pedestrian walkway gets pretty noisy, and the bridge vibrates, but if you make it to Vista Point, you'll be rewarded with a breathtaking view. See Escape to Alcatraz , the Exploratorium, and the Cable Cars of San Francisco.