Some of the best drives or walks that you can have in the USA involve crossing a famous bridge.
From the iconic bridges that play an important role in the country’s landmark cities to some in other lesser-known parts of the country that go across lakes and bays.
The bridges themselves have become tourist attractions, simply because of the architectural feats that they represent. You may want to take some jaw-dropping pictures when you visit them too.
In this guide, we will detail 14 of the most famous bridges in the USA that are well worth crossing.
- Brooklyn Bridge, New York
- Niagara Falls International Rainbow Bridge, Niagara Falls, New York
- George Washington Bridge, Fort Lee, New Jersey
- Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco), California
- Bixby Creek Bridge, Carmel, California
- Seven Mile Bridge, Florida Keys, Florida
- Sunshine Skyway Bridge, St. Petersburg, Florida
- Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, New Orleans, Louisiana
- Royal Gorge Bridge, Cañon City, Colorado
- Frankford Avenue Bridge, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Ambassador Bridge, Detroit, Michigan
- Mackinac Bridge, Michigan
- Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Annapolis, Maryland
- Benson Bridge, Oregon
1. Brooklyn Bridge, New York
Let’s start with arguably the most iconic bridge across the globe; Brooklyn Bridge.
The bridge has always been one of NYC’s most iconic features and has been rewarded with National Historic Landmark status by the National Park Service in 1964 as the oldest-known suspension bridge in the country as it was completed back in 1883.
The bridge can also claim to be an official landmark of the city. Its purpose remains to connect Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn Heights as it spans the East River but to New Yorkers it means more than that.
The construction of the bridge did take some time, 14 years in fact, but remains an architecturally impressive feat having been designed by the engineer, John A. Roebling.
Part of its design includes 5,296 wires made from galvanized steel that result in four huge cables that effectively keep the bridge up and standing. Its longest span is 1595 feet and it reaches a height of 277 feet while it has a total length of 6,016 feet.
While it remains a pedestrian bridge, it has six total lanes of traffic so it remains crucial to keeping the city moving.
2. Niagara Falls International Rainbow Bridge, Niagara Falls, New York
Niagara Falls International Rainbow Bridge may look a little simple yet its beautiful arches look beautiful amidst the Horseshoe Falls themselves. Technically, the bridge can only be half American as it shares its length with Canada to cross the Niagara River gorge.
Its total length is 1,450 feet and has a height of 202 feet with stunning views from each side. Even on its own, the bridge will be a tourist attraction due to the photos you can get of the falls and the surrounding landscape.
However, there is a toll to be paid for pedestrians but it is worth it for some stunning shots. There are also paths for cyclists and, of course, vehicles, though you should visit the Niagara Falls Observation Tower for great views of the Rainbow Bridge and the Horseshoe Falls.
Do remember to take your passport with you if you want to cross the bridge in its entirety. Though it connects two cities called Niagara Falls, one is in the United States while the other is in Canada.
3. George Washington Bridge, Fort Lee, New Jersey
Any fan of arguably the best TV shows in living memory should want to cross the George Washington Bridge. Not only does it connect Manhattan with Fort Lee in New Jersey, but it can also be seen in the opening credits to The Sopranos.
The double-decked suspension bridge can claim to be the busiest for motor vehicles as over 100 million cross it annually. You should expect heavy traffic at peak times and the world’s biggest free-flying US flag on federal holidays and on September 11th.
4. Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco), California
When it comes to iconic bridges, you cannot fail to admire the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. From its styling in an Art Deco fashion, striking orange color, and gigantic cables with towers that are 745 feet tall.
Due to its features, you should expect the bridge to be busy as more than 10m people will visit it annually. Thankfully, the bridge was made for tourists as there is the Bridge Plaza to enjoy at the south-east end.
The bridge remains popular with filmmakers as it has been destroyed in numerous films including Godzilla, X-Men: The Last Stand, and Terminator Genisys. The bridge remains popular but it does come with a toll if you do decide to cross it.
That could be by simply walking across or riding a bike though check first as there are set times for both activities during the day.
Remember that the bridge has a primary function to connect the city of San Francisco to the Marin Headlands as it goes over San Francisco Bay so it isn’t there just to look good.
There are great views to be had and you have the architect Joseph B. Strauss to thank for that after it was completed in 1937 as the tallest suspension bridge on the planet at the time with a height of 746 feet.
5. Bixby Creek Bridge, Carmel, California
Bixby Creek Bridge may not be the most stylish bridges in the US but it certainly is beautiful. It remains hugely photogenic and has a total span of 714 feet and a height of 218 feet.
The bridge’s design includes graceful architecture and follows a style of the California entertainment industry as it stretches over Bixby Creek to connect Big Sur to San Francisco.
If you are already heading to the Golden Gate Bridge, you may as well sneak in a visit to this gorgeous bridge too.
6. Seven Mile Bridge, Florida Keys, Florida
If it is length you are after then there is one famous bridge to visit for that alone. the Seven Mile Bridge which connects the middle to the lower keys of Florida. Specifically, the bridge connects the town of Knight’s Key to Little Duck Key in Monroe County.
There are only two lanes but that is typically enough for cars and cyclists. This is also one of few bridges to have its own race, the Seven Mile Bridge Run which is held annually.
7. Sunshine Skyway Bridge, St. Petersburg, Florida
Perhaps it should be called the New Sunshine Skyway Bridge instead, though it definitely connects Terra Ceia to St. Petersburg with a total length spanning 21,860 feet.
Arguably, there is an infamy to Sunshine Skyway Bridge too when a horrible accident occurred that involved the Summit Venturer, a freighter, colliding with the original bridge on 9th May 1980.
The freighter was blown along by 58 mph winds and effectively rammed the bridge’s southbound span and collapsed 1,200 feet of concrete roadway. A total of 35 people died as several cars and even a Greyhound bus ended up in Tampa Bay.
The bridge remained a crucial thoroughfare so it was eventually repaired in 1987. As it currently stands, the cable-stayed bridge comes with a pedestrian and bike lane.
There are also two huge concrete goalposts that come with yellow cables which appear like sails that are flying in the wind.
8. Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, New Orleans, Louisiana
Then again, Lake Pontchartrain Causeways is a staggering 24 miles long, though it is classed as two bridges. As you may expect, the causeway traverses over Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans and connects Mandeville in the north to Metairie in the south.
No surprise then that it became classed as the longest bridge across water on the planet back in 1969.
9. Royal Gorge Bridge, Cañon City, Colorado
For the highest suspension bridge globally, head to Colorado and seek out The Royal Gorge Bridge. The bridge has a height of around 360 meters above the Arkansas River that flows underneath.
Due to the height, you should expect to see many people jumping from the bridge to unfurl a parachute as they hurl towards the water. The bridge only took six months to be built, which is impressive when you consider that it opened in 1929 simply as a tourist attraction.
Royal Gorge Bridge was actually part of what is The Royal Bridge and Park Amusement Park which was situated near Cañon City. Until 2001, the bridge could claim to be the tallest on a global scale at 965 feet but looks to remain the highest bridge in the US.
It can be quite scary to cross the bridge so you may not want to look down though there are some fantastic views of the natural beauty that surrounds it, including the canyon.
Though the bridge cannot be said to have been built for transportation, with the longest span of 880 feet and a total length of 1,260 feet at that height, it is still worth visiting.
10. Frankford Avenue Bridge, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Frankford Avenue Bridge may be harder to find than a lot of the bridges on this list. Originally built all the way back in 1967, it is the oldest bridge in the USA and even pre-dates the founding of the country.
You can still cross it if you find yourself in Philadelphia and its 154-foot length can take both vehicles and pedestrians across.
11. Ambassador Bridge, Detroit, Michigan
With the title of the largest international suspension bridge on the planet, you should make an effort to cross Ambassador Bridge. This is another bridge that connects the United States with Canada so do not forget your passport.
Specifically, the bridge connects Windsor, Ontario with Detroit, Michigan as it goes across the Detroit River. It also remains the sole privately-owned border crossing to connect the United States with Canada.
12. Mackinac Bridge, Michigan
A lot of planning went into the Mackinac Bridge that connects those Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. Not only is it considered the longest suspension bridges in the US but in the Western Hemisphere, it is also said that wind cannot result in the bridge collapsing.
That’s not a challenge but a declaration due to the steel grating that has gone into most of the road. Instead of pushing against the bridge, the wind simply passes through. Mackinac Bridge runs for a total of 26,370 feet and is something of an architectural marvel.
If you can visit it, you may appreciate the years it took to finally construct it, even though it was opened way back in 1957. The bridge can take four total lanes of vehicle traffic so there should be plenty of room to drive across and the main span alone is 3,799 feet long.
The bridge also connects Mackinaw City to St Ignace and covers two Great Lakes in the process; Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.
13. Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Annapolis, Maryland
At the time of its public opening in 1952, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was the longest steel structure to go over continuous water. Little wonder with a total length of 22,704 feet as the two-lane bridge connects the western to the eastern Maryland shores.
Alas, it is only open for pedestrians to cross on a single day of the year, the of 1st May.
14. Benson Bridge, Oregon
On a list of the most spectacular bridges in the US should be Benson Bridge which goes between two cascades of Multnomah Falls. It actually goes across Multnomah Creek and includes a reinforced concrete deck arch that stretches a mere 52 feet.
That short length allows the Multnomah Creek Trail to go across the creek at a maximum height of 135 feet, though the arches rise 105 feet over the falls’ lower portion.
You may want to be careful with some of these famous bridges as some of them are so long that visibility does get tricky when the weather turns nasty.
Bad weather and poor visibility even caused the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in St. Petersburg, Florida to be rebuilt after a tragic accident involving a freighter caused part of it to collapse.
Thankfully, these bridges can be considered safe, as well as being a great way of getting from A to B. Some are designed for foot traffic but all of them should be great for photo opportunities.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are many more bridges that you can seek out if you are going across the United States. Michigan Avenue Bridge in Illinois is a double-decker bridge which is also known as DuSable Bridge.
There is also the Cincinnati-Covington Bridge, also known as Roebling Suspension Bridge which is 1,642 feet long. The Glen Canyon Dam Bridge is only 1,271 feet long but that arch bridge does allow US Route 89 to cross the Colorado River.
Currently, there are just over 617,000 bridges in the United States. Around 42% of those bridges are over 50 years old which is impressive in itself. Then there are around 7.5% of that total are structurally deficient bridges and considered to be in poor condition.
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