The Perfect Day in the Marina

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

The Marina District sits along the northern side of the San Francisco on the water. The popular attractions in this part of SF including the Palace of Fine Arts, the Golden Gate Bridge and Fort Mason.

This all day self-guided walking tour provides you with the best route to see as many attractions as possible in one day. It includes visits to the attractions mentioned above as well as Fort Point, Crissy Field and Chestnut Street.

It's what I consider 'The Perfect Day' in this neighborhood.

This day requires quite a bit of walking. If you tire easily, then I recommend finding cabs to take you from point-to-point as bus service is not great between some of these attractions. You can also rent a car, as many of these attractions offer some parking.

The best days to do this tour are Friday, Saturday and Sunday (in the winter and spring months) and Wednesday - Tuesday when all the attractions on this list are open. 

Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.

8:30 am: Admire the Golden Gate Bridge

A view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the inside of the cables the hold it up.

Start your morning off with a visit to the gorgeous Golden Gate Bridge. You can visit the outdoor museum, which discusses the bridge's history and shows pictures of it being built. You can also learn more about its cables support more than 100,000 cars that drive over it every day.

The best part of your visit here is the walk (or partial walk) across the bridge.

It's usually a little chilly, so make sure you bring along a few layers to stay warm.

>> Find out more about visiting the Golden Gate Bridge

10:30 am: Discover the History of Fort Point

A view of Fort Point from the SF Bay

After you finish your walk along the bridge, head down below to the Fort Point National Historic Site. It's located along the water, under the southern side of the Golden Gate Bridge.

This old military fort opened in 1861. At the fort, you can walk around the barracks that now serve as a small museum, see videos on the history of the fort and get some of the most amazing pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Fort Point is open Friday - Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. It's free to visit. 

Click here for additional pictures and details on what you will see during your visit.

To get there, walk down the stairs (about a quarter of a mile) or walk down Marina Drive and then through Crissy Field (about a mile).

You will see signs along the way, however, ask for directions at the Golden Gate Bridge Visitors Center before setting off to ensure you head in the right direction. 

11:30 am: Stroll through Crissy Field

It's now time to enjoy a walk through Crissy Field. This large green area offers a walking and jogging path so you can easily get from Fort Point to the Marina district. 

As you walk, you will get amazing views of Alcatraz Island, the Palace of Fine Arts (your next stop) and downtown San Francisco. Also, don't forget to turn around every once in a while for more fun photos of the Golden Gate Bridge.

>> More about visiting Crissy Field

12 pm: Photograph the Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine Art in SF

The Palace of Fine Arts is another San Francisco beauty. Originally built for the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915, this work of art is the only building still standing from this important SF event.

On your visit here, stroll under the walkways and take a close look at the detailed work on the building. Once you finish, make sure you walk around the pond for some of the best views of this enchanting structure. 

The visit is free and the entire walk is outdoors. Click here for addition pictures and information on visiting.

1 pm: Enjoy Lunch on Chestnut Street

From here, walk over to Chestnut Street to rest your feet and grab some lunch. Along this street, you will find a variety of options from sushi to burgers.

One of my favorites is Pacific Catch near Fillmore at 2027 Chestnut Street. They serve up simple, yet delicious seafood dishes. 

Another favorite is Tacolicious. They have amazing tacos and tasty margaritas. They are at 2250 Chestnut Street.

2 pm: Visit the Fort Mason Attractions

One of the outdoor Exploratorium exhibits at the Fort Mason Center

Your next stop is Fort Mason Center. This attraction sits on the eastern side of the Marina district along the SF Bay.

Inside this old army fort, you will find the Italian American Museum and the SF Camerawork (revolving exhibits from photographers). 

The best way to get to Fort Mason from Chestnut Street is to walk. Take Chestnut Street to Laguna and turn left. Walk three blocks to the Fort Mason Center. 

Click here for additional details on visiting the Fort Mason Center.

An alternative to visiting the Fort Mason Center is shopping in the Marina. You will find dozens of boutique and national brand stores along both Chestnut Street and Union Street. If you love shopping, you will enjoy your afternoon walking around these two streets.

6 pm: Dinner or Drinks on or near Chestnut Street

After your time in Fort Mason, walk back to Chestnut Street for dinner and/or drinks. This fun neighborhood comes to life at night and offers several great options for a night out on the town.

For dinner, A 16 (Italian), the Tipsy Pig (Gastro Pub) and Blackwood (Thai) are three of my favorites.

You can also grab a nice glass of wine and their cheese plate at the California Wine Merchant. I also enjoy the cocktails at Delarosa.

How to Get to the Golden Gate Bridge

From Union Square, pick up the 45 bus on Stockton and Sutter. Take it to the stop at Union and Fillmore Streets. Walk three blocks north (toward the water) to Lombard and Fillmore Streets.

This is where you will pick up the 28. This bus takes you to the southern side of the Golden Gate Bridge.

From Fisherman's Wharf, pick up the 30 bus at Columbus Avenue and North Point Street.

Take it to the stop at Laguna and Chestnut. At this same stop, you will transfer to the 28, which takes you to the Golden Gate Bridge. 

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?

I would love for you to join me in my private Facebook group

It's a great place to interact with me and others who know the area well.

You can ask questions, get advice for your upcoming stay, and then share your photos and advice with others when you return home. It's a great community and the fastest way to get answers to those nagging questions about your visit!

Come join the fun here!

Suggested Itinerary for the Marina

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