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Presidio San Francisco

Tips to Visit this National Historic Landmark District

 

The Presidio San Francisco is the perfect place to visit for those that love the outdoors. It's also perfect for those that love military history. If you love both, then you must stop by for a visit.

It is an old military base on the northern side of the city. Three nations used it as their army base between 1776 and 1994.

After the military left, the government designated it as a National Historic Landmark District. At that time, the National Parks department took over the maintenance of it. They created both residential housing and a welcoming place for people to visit.

presidio sf chapel

I head over here quite a bit for hiking, biking or just to walk around. It's a peaceful retreat in the middle of the city.

It's not overly crowded - but you will find a lot of things to do here.

This is where you will find one of the largest military cemeteries on the west coast. You will also find a high end golf course, miles and miles of hiking and biking trails and the Walt Disney Museum.

If you prefer to relax a little, you will also find one of the only bowling alleys here and access to both Baker Beach and Crissy Field.

Top Things To Do & See

Here you will find a little more detail to help you with your visit here. This map shows you were all the top activities are located. You will find a brief description of each one below.

presidio attractions map

1. Hang Out At Baker Beach

Baker Beach is one of two main beaches in the Presidio San Francisco. People that live here love this beach because it's large and has amazing views in every direction.

On the map above, you will see that Baker Beach is on the north western side. Since it is rarely 'beach weather' in San Francisco, most residents use this beach as a place to hang out with friends or walk their dogs.

Learn More: Baker Beach


2. Hit Some Pins: Bowling

Real estate is at a premium in SF, so there are only three places to bowl in the city. One is here. This is the main bowling alley for adults, as the other one in downtown San Francisco is smaller and kid friendly. The third one, which is new, is right across the street from AT&T Park.

The bowling alley in the Presidio San Francisco is at the corner of Moraga and Montgomery Streets. They do not use formal number addresses, so use these cross streets to guide you to the building.


3. Run, Jog or Enjoy the Views of the Bay at Crissy Field

Crissy Field is another popular destination for both locals and those visiting San Francisco. Located on the northeastern side of the Presidio San Francisco, Crissy Field has a large beach, running/walking trail and plenty of green space for picnics, games or other outdoor gatherings.

This is another place where you can get full views of the Golden Gate Bridge. From Crissy Field, you can also see Alcatraz Island, Angel Island, the dome of the Palace of Fine Arts and Sausalito.

On a warm, sunny day, this is one of the best places in San Francisco to hang out. You can also bring along a picnic lunch and enjoy the views from the beach.


4. Brush Up On Your History at the Fort Point National Historic Site

Fort Point is another highlight in the Presidio San Francisco. It still houses one of the main military buildings from the late 1800s.

In the 1930s, the engineers of the Golden Gate Bridge thought this building needed to be demolished to build the bridge. However, after careful consideration -- and some outrage from local citizens -- the engineers revised their plans and found a way to build the bridge around it.

Learn More: Fort Point National Historic Site


5. Hike the Coastal Trail San Francisco CA

If you love to hike, then you need to check out the Coastal Trail San Francisco CA during your visit. This trail runs along the northern part of the Presidio San Francisco and has some of the most beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

You can pick up the trail in several locations in the Presidio San Francisco. My favorite place to start is on the eastern side of Baker Beach. From here, you can take the trail all the way to Ocean Beach.

On this trail, you will get some of the most spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge. You walk near the water's edge most of the time and are also able to get some great views of the waters where the San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific Ocean.


6. Go Biking

The Presidio San Francisco is one of the best places to go biking in the city. The streets are wide and there is very little traffic. If you don't have your own bike, you can easily rent one here. Many shops have similar pricing and options available.

If you love biking riding - a few hours on a bike in San Francisco will be an unforgettable experience.

Learn More: Day Bike Rentals


7. Visit the Presidio Chapel

One of my favorite stops in the Presidio San Francisco is the chapel near the cemetery. This small chapel is full of history and is a must see for those visiting the Presidio.

The chapel is only open on Sundays from 10 to 4. Appointments are necessary if you want to stop by for a visit at any other time.


8. Go Golfing at the Presidio Golf Course

The Presidio Golf Course is on the southern side of the Presidio San Francisco. It is one of only a few golf courses in the city.

This was a private golf course for more than 100 years before it was finally opened up to the public. Click thru to discover more details on its golf course including information about the course, how to reserve a tee time, rates and more.

Learn More: Presidio Golf Course


9. Grab Some Lunch at the Presidio Social Club

The Presidio Social Club is a hidden gem inside of the Presidio San Francisco. It is one of the few restaurants inside its gates.

The Social Club serves fresh California food including a hearty brunch on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Some of my favorites include their salmon pizza, Dungeness crab louis sandwich and the gourmet mac and cheese. Most of the seating is inside, but make sure you ask for a seat outside if its sunny. The patio is small, but it's a fun place for lunch or dinner.

Learn More: Presidio Social Club


10. See the Famous National Cemetery

The National Cemetery is a military cemetery. It is one of the only cemeteries still within the boundaries of the city.

The army first used the cemetery in 1854. The government officially designated it as a national cemetery in 1884. It's a beautiful site running along the hills above the San Francisco bay. It is also the resting place for more than 30,000 military people.

Learn More: National Cemetery


11. Uncover the History of Walt Disney at the Walt Disney Family Museum

A new addition to the Presidio San Francisco is the Walt Disney Family Museum. This museum is a fascinating look at Walt Disney -- the man. You will learn more about his life, how he created such a successful company and view never before seen photos of his family.

It's a great stop for those interested in finding out the truth about Walt Disney. The museum also has speakers and shows a classic Disney movie each month.

Learn More: Walt Disney Museum

Staying Here

In the spring on 2012, a hotel opened on the grounds of the Presidio. It's the first and only hotel within the gates. It's managed by the Presidio Trust - the agency in charge of the Presidio San Francisco.

Inn at the Presidio
42 Moraga Avenue

The Inn at the Presidio is not your normal hotel. It's located at Pershing Hall - which was an elegant home for bachelor officers when the Presidio was a military post. It was remodeled to include 22 rooms - 17 are suites - and all have a gas fireplace.

Staying at the Inn at the Presidio is a unique experience. It's a peaceful and quite experience that is just steps from a major, thriving city.

Here are just a few of the features of this bed and breakfast:

  • inn at the presidioComplimentary shuttle to and from downtown San Francisco
  • Complimentary shuttle around the Presidio
  • Complimentary continental breakfast and evening wine and cheese reception
  • Front porch with rocking chairs
  • Flat screen TVs, movies on demand and MP3 docking stations
  • Free wireless internet
  • Overnight self parking (for only $6 a night - this is a steal in San Francisco!)
  • Guest computer and printer in the reception area

Rooms here start at around $195 a night. If you are looking for a quiet, serene environment within this city - there is no better option than the Inn at the Presidio.

Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

How to Get To the Presidio San Francisco

map of the transit to san francisco presidio

Hop On/Hop Off: The Hop On/Hop Off bus tour's stop (H on the map) is near the Walt Disney Museum in the heart of the Presidio. From here, you can walk to many of the sites listed above or take the PresidiGo (see below for more information on getting around the Presidio San Francisco). Find out more about all of the stops for the Hop On/Hop Off Bus Tour of San Francisco.

presidio san francisco main post

Bus: The bus is another option, although only a few buses have stops inside the Presidio San Francisco. From Union Square, you can take the 1 California to the Arguello & California stop and then transfer to the 43 Masonic. The 43 Masonic has three stops right in the Presidio, so you can easily get to the heart of the action (shown as B43 on the map).

You can also take the Union 45, which drops off outside the Lombard Gate (stop is at Lyon and Greenwich - shown as B45 on the map). Again, you can then either walk around or take the PresidiGo to get to your destination.

Car: This is one of the few places in San Francisco where it is easy to park. However, make sure you read the signs carefully before you leave your car. There is a large parking lot on Montgomery Street near the Main Post, which is close to the Walt Disney Museum and the bowling alley. Other spots are dedicated to those with permits during the week, but are usually open for others on the weekend. You can also sometimes grab a spot on the street outside the Lombard Gate. The three marked on the map above (P) are full time visitor parking lots.

How to Get Around the Presidio San Francisco

PresidiGo: The best way to get around the Presidio San Francisco once you arrive is by taking the PresidiGo. This is a free shuttle service with designated stops throughout the park. There are two routes, the Crissy Field route (the best one for most attractions) and the Presidio Hills route (takes you out to Baker Beach and past the golf course).

Each stop is well marked with a map of all of the shuttle stops. You will need to be a little careful with this option though, as the shuttle does not run frequently and is sometimes running behind schedule.

Each route has more than 20 stops and takes about 45 minutes or more for the full route. Below you will find some of the major stops on each route - this simplifies it a little, but gives you an idea of some of its main stops. The Crissy Field route is in blue and the Presidio Hills route is in light red.

presidigo transit main stops map

Walking: My favorite way to explore the Presidio is on foot. You can walk up the hills to get some great views of the bay, Alcatraz and the city of San Francisco. The streets here are also confusing, so its one of the easiest ways to get around.

Day Tour: Another option for getting a look at the Presidio San Francisco is by taking a day tour. One of the most popular tours is the combined Alcatraz and San Francisco City Tour. This all day tour includes tickets to Alcatraz as well as tour of San Francisco's most popular attractions including the Presidio San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Painted Ladies of Alamo Square and more. Find the availability of the Alcatraz and San Francisco City Tour during your visit.

Other Great Hotel Recommendations for Your Visit

Are you still looking for the perfect hotel? Make sure to check out the hotel deals on Booking.com before you book. They offer dozens of discounts, which will allow you to save as much as possible on your stay. Click here to check out their top deals today!

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