Surrounded by a park-like setting right next to the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay, the Presidio is arguably one of the most picturesque former military bases to have ever been constructed.
Once a military installation from 1776 until 1994, the Presidio saw duty for Spain, Mexico, and the U.S. and is now a historic landmark and national park with almost 1,500 acres.
Hiking and biking trails offer great sweeping views of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge. The relative peace and quiet of the Presidio provide the perfect spot within the city to make visitors feel like they are a million miles away.
With so, much to do, it will take a full day just to try and see it all of the Presidio’s points of interest.
Upon arriving, visitors will want to pay a visit to the old Officers’ Club, which houses the Presidio Visitor Center. Inside are exhibits and a reception area where visitors can obtain maps and get directions.
The center also hosts a variety of community and special events, as well as public programs related to the Presidio’s archeology and history. The visitor center is open Thursday to Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm.
With map in hand, guests can embark on a number of historic and interactive journeys, with two of the favorites being a guided tour of the Presidio’s historic architecture and a visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum.
A pure delight for any Disney fan, this place is devoted to the life of Walt Disney, not Disney the company, but the stories are somewhat intertwined.
The 40,000-square-foot museum displays the life story of a great man with state-of-the-art technology, telling the history and explaining the workings of Walt’s dreams and the birth of Imagineering.
From the museum, visitors can walk the Presidio Promenade passed the old military cemetery to the hill down to Fort Point, where they can enjoy a majestic view from right under the Golden Gate Bridge, with the Pacific on one side, and the Bay on the other.
From this vantage point on a clear day, visitors can see the coastline to the south and the “City by The Bay” to the east.
After a quick stop at Fort Point, visitors will be well-rested to make the trek to Rob Hill, which sits atop the Presidio’s highest point in a grove of eucalyptus trees overlooking Baker Beach and the Pacific Ocean.
On Rob Hill, there is a rustic family campground, featuring individual and four group campsites that can accommodate 30 people each, restrooms, a large stone campfire circle, and an indoor “Great Room” for educational programs.
A campground is a fantastic place for families to experience a little piece of the wilderness within just a stone’s throw away from big city life.
Along the trail, there are three Andy Goldsworthy public art pieces, two of which are outdoors and accessible anytime.
“The Spire” is the most well-known because it is in a prominent place in the park, just above inspiration point, while the second is “Tree Line”, which is just east of the Lover’s Lane hiking trail. The final piece is located in the old powder magazine on the parade grounds.
All three pieces are worth seeing and alone are worth the trip to the Presidio.
Finally, the park also provides a myriad of amenities that includes numerous sports facilities, including a golf course, bowling alley, tennis courts and athletic fields.
There is free PresidiGo Around the Park Shuttle that runs around the Park in 30-minute loops. We suggest you take advantage of the shuttle the Presidio covers a huge area.
The Presidio is perhaps the cheapest place to spend a day in San Francisco. Admission is free and parking is only $1.20 per hour and capped at $7.00 per day. All pay stations accept credit and debit cards, and many accept coins.
There are hundreds of historical buildings, beaches, hiking trails, picnic areas and the Walt Disney Family Museum. If you are looking for a fun and affordable place to spend a day in San Francisco then the Presidio should be at the top of your list.
The Presidio can be reached from the north by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge from the east by way of Lombard Street and from the south via Highway 1.