San Francisco's Presidio: A park to love

The Presidio in San Francisco is a gorgeous natural park with breathtaking ocean views, sprawling beaches, great hiking trails, fragrant eucalyptus trees, and beautiful wild flowers. Photo: Sherrie Perkovich

SAN FRANCISCO, JULY 5, 2011 — While Golden Gate Park seems to get all the love and attention, don’t forget to visit The Presidio while you are in San Francisco. 

The Presidio is a gorgeous natural park with breathtaking ocean views, sprawling beaches, great hiking trails, fragrant eucalyptus trees, beautiful wild flowers and even camping at the Rob Hill newly renovated campground. 

San Francisco - Presidio hiking trails

From 1776 to 1994, The Presidio was in continuous use as a military post and closed off to non-military traffic.  Since 1994 it has been the site of a 1,491-acre national state park and is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area

It’s true that San Francisco is not much of a beach town. The weather usually isn’t warm enough to hit the beach and the water is very cold year round, plus there is dangerous surf 

But you can visit Baker Beach and enjoy the views of Golden Gate Bridge, the Pacific Ocean, and rocky shorelines. 

Beware though, if you head too far north on the beach, it becomes a clothing optional beach.  The locals won’t mind that you’re there, but you might.  

Golden Gate Bridge view from Baker Beach

If you’re up for a physical challenge, head for the Baker Beach stairs.  They are an all sand staircase that takes you to and from the beach to the coastal road and other hiking trails. Word of warning though, it is much easier going down than heading up!

Just behind Baker Beach you will see a few old military buildings called Battery Chamberlincomplete with an old defense cannon!  The army built the battery in 1904 to protect the harbor’s minefields.  And in 1977, Golden Gate National Parks acquired a 97,000-pound replica cannon that is still there today. 

 Baker Beach Sand Staircase

Baker Beach Sand Staircase

Be sure to stop by Crissy Field on your tour through The Presidio. Crissy Field, a sprawling Bay Side park that was restored 10 years ago. With over 100,000 native plants and 135 bird species, Chrissy Field is considered a historic site. 

The Golden Gate Promenade is a perfectly flat asphalt surface for bicycles, wheelchairs, strollers, and rollerblading. There are picnic areas and great views of windsurfers and sailboats.

Crissy Field is anchored by Marina Green on the east side, and Fort Point on the West.

Fort Point was built to protect the San Francisco Bay and pre-dates the Golden Gate Bridge.  Today, Fort Point is a National Historic Site that is open to the public.  Much of the Fort looks raw and unkempt.  This provides for an almost natural feel, like you went back in time.  

Baker Beach Battery Cannon

Downstairs they have rooms decorated as if they were being used back when the Fort was active.

If you head upstairs there are many open areas where no restoration has been done. 

You can look around and imagineyourself there as a soldier during the Civil War. Take the spiral granite staircase to the top tier for a below-the-bridge view of the Golden Gate.

To walk from Fort Point to the east end of Crissy Field (Marina Green) is roughly 2 miles and will take you between 20-30 minutes, depending on how fast you walk and how often you stop to enjoy the views!  You can also rent bikes and cruise at your leisure.  

Want a sneak peak? Click to view Crissy Field’s webcam

The Presidio does offer an audio walking tour, highlighted with 18 stops.  The downloadable PDF map and audio file are free. Click here for more info and to download the tour.  The tour focuses only on the area around the parade ground and is not inclusive of the entire Presidio.

San Francisco - Crissy Field in The Presidio

Insider tip: the fog in San Francisco is legendary.  Be prepared, with a sweater or jacket, for cold weather to roll in at a moment’s notice. And a tip for the ladies, bring a light fashion scarf. You’ll be fashion forward and warm at the same time.   

You can pick cute scarves up at Ambiance on Union Street.  The worst months for fog are June, July and August.

Getting Around: The Presidio offers transportation once you are inside the park called PresidiGo.   For getting to the Presidio, it is easiest and quickest to drive.  If you are an avid cyclist, the Presidio will offer some challenging routes. 

If you are taking public transportation, you can take MUNI buses into and through some parts of the park.  MUNI lines: 28, 43, 29 and 76. As well Golden Gate Transit.

For a map of the Presidio with bus routes, click here.

For more about The Presidio’s rich history, click here.


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Sherrie Perkovich

Sherrie is a perky, music and wine-loving, Northern California local that seeks out and spreads the word about San Francisco experiences as well as unforgettable wine-related travel experiences.  She is CMO of The Grape Hunter USA, where they focus on helping artisan wineries and developing unique wine travel for consumers. Follow her on Twitter @BigNoseWino

Sherrie is a San Francisco local that fancies herself an extroverted fine dining, wine drinking, know-it-all.  If it’s happening near SF, Sherrie is in on it.  Follow her columns,  for the widest range of Out and About San Francisco ~ San Jose treats and Wine Country Weekly.  

 

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