With the famous span of the Golden Gate Bridge as the backdrop, The Presidio is San Francisco’s great escape. This huge National Park is nestled along the Bay and Crissy Field extending through 262 acres of historic forests to the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean. The location is absolutely perfect for southern Golden Gate Bridge activities: walking the Coastal Bluffs Trail, biking the California Coastal Trail; jogging on Crissy Field, and exploring the forests, historic sites and museums throughout The Presidio.
Walk through History
The Presidio offers so much more than a walk along Crissy Field. To investigate all there is to do, the best place to begin your visit is the Visitor’s Center. Drop in for a map, suggestions from the friendly staff, learn about Ranger walks, daily events, interactive exhibits and watch a short video about the history and people of The Presidio. Pick up the “Main Post Walk” free guide to lead you on a short walk through more than 200 years of history, architecture and natural beauty. Linger at the Officer’s Club, one of San Francisco’s historic buildings, established in 1776, to see the original adobe walls, bearing testimony to California’s deep Spanish roots, and enjoy displays about seafaring scientists, the Buffalo Soldiers, Army nurses and Civil War veterans.
Art in the Park
The map at the Visitor’s Center will guide you to the four unique art installations by the renowned artist Andy Goldsworthy. The four pieces – Spire, Wood Line, Tree Fall, and Earth Wall – represent the largest collection of his works on public view in North America. Visit one or enjoy them all via a three-mile hiking loop along the Presidio’s trail network. Don’t miss the Walt Disney Family Museum for a journey through the animator’s fascinating life. Mr. Disney’s risks, failures, triumphs and creativity are revealed through the displays, movies and artifacts, including the first known drawing of Mickey Mouse and a large model of Disneyland.
Picnic in the Park
Shed your shoes, stroll on the grass, and cast your gaze across San Francisco Bay to watch kite surfers that look close enough to touch from Main Parade Grounds. Every Sunday afternoon from April through October, families, friends and dogs head to the seven-acre lawn for a free community picnic. Indulge in a moveable feast from the 30 international food trucks representing the best of San Francisco’s multi-cultural food scene. The picnic features free music, free yoga, free “learn-to-ride” bike lessons for kids, free Valet Parking for your bicycle and a cultural dance performance every 3rd Sunday at noon.
Sixteen eateries offer a variety of dining options. They range from the casual Warming Hut Café along the pier, to Sessions at The Presidio, a hip craft-beer bar and gastropub, to the upscale Commissary, a California high cuisine experience offered by award-winning chef Traci Des Jardins, and The Arguello Restaurant, that features Spanish-influenced dishes and cocktails.
To celebrate my birthday, my husband and I booked a room at the Lodge at The Presidio, a historic boutique hotel in the heart of the park. One of the best San Francisco experiences is drinking evening wine or morning coffee or tea on the rocking chairs on the front porch with a view of Alcatraz Island or at the cozy gas fire pit in the back overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. The lobby and common areas are elegant and refined and offer a glimpse of military life on the base with fascinating photographs and memorabilia collections. Our room offered a view of the Bridge and the Bay. The Lodge has a homey feel, while still providing sophisticated service, a robust breakfast, wine and cheese happy hour, and elegant accommodations. Free shuttle service to downtown San Francisco and great walking paths make getting around easy. On one memorable morning we walked from the Lodge across the Golden Gate Bridge and back. Another day we walked along the beach. A sister property is the Inn at The Presidio offers two-room suites ideal for families.
The updated Officers’ Club complex has a new free museum offering public programs four days a week, such as; jazz concerts, swing dance, classical music, author readings, artist events, films and family programs. Check out: www.presidio.gov/poc
Meander through the free museum, walk the green and wooded trails surrounding the building or settle into the outdoor courtyard with a fire pit, heaters and blankets for guests who want to cuddle up by the fire. Cocktails and bar bites are available in Moraga Hall.
Arguello, the new restaurant is overseen by the culinary prowess of Traci Des Jardins highlights authentic cuisine that celebrates the Presidio’s early cultures. Check out: www.presidio.gov/poc
Find the oldest building in San Francisco – with adobe walls – three outstanding Andy Goldsworthy sculptures, a new restaurant with Chef Traci Des Jardins and a new free museum in the Presidio.
The Presidio Officers’ Club was first established in 1776 by Spanish explorers as a gathering place for the military throughout the 20th century. Celebrities of stage and screen were in regular attendance, including Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Veronica Lake, Joan Crawford, and many others.
Watch the sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands from the Golden Gate
Overlook. Take a romantic stroll under the redwood trees down Presidio’s oldest foot trail, Lover’s Lane at dusk. As the lights lining the path become illuminated, listen to the podcast, A Lovers’ Line, offering a series
of perspectives on the trail, created by local artist Jeannene Przyblyski.
Have a Ball: Play 18 holes at the Presidio Golf Course, located within the spectacular forests of the Presidio. Built in 1895 and once restricted to military officers and private club members, it includes a full service restaurant and bar known as the Presidio Cafe, as well as a pro shop, just inside the Arguello Gate. The Presidio Bowling Center offers 12 lanes of unadulterated fun, including Glow in the Park Bowling with a music and light show Friday – Sunday nights.
For other San Francisco highlights click here.