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The Perfect Day in the Presidio: A Fun Adventure on this Old Army Base

Jill on a windy day at the Golden Gate Bridge

by Jill Loeffler  •

Updated: July 9, 2021

The San Francisco Presidio is an old army base converted into a national park. Inside its gates, you will find The Walt Disney Museum, a few attractions and several outdoor activities.

The self-guided tour below is what I consider the "perfect day" in the Presidio. It includes a detailed walking route, which tells you how to get from one attraction to the next.

This one-day tour includes quite a bit of walking (although you will find some alternatives for getting around if you are unable to walk this far). Wear comfortable shoes and clothing for a more enjoyable journey.

Also, make sure you eat a hearty breakfast and grab some snacks for the day. There are not many places to grab lunch inside, so you will be starving if you don't bring your own food.

10 am: Discover the Real Life of Mr. Walt Disney

The Disney Museum's wall showcases all the images used to animate Steamboat Willie.

Your first stop on today's journey is the Walt Disney Museum. This new SF museum talks about the life of Walt Disney, the man. It takes you through his journey from a simple young man to one of the most powerful in the world.

They did an amazing job with this museum. It's filled with old memorabilia including some early Mickey Mouse stuffed toys, drawings and other personal effects.

The museum also offers you the chance to learn more about how he constructed his first cartoon in color.

If you enjoy the movies and cartoons from the Disney franchise, you will love your visit to this museum. It is very in-depth so it could take a good 2 or 3 hours.

>> Click here for additional information on this museum and what you will see during your visit.

1:00 pm: Look Around the National Cemetery

The National Cemetery in SF's Presidio

After you visit the Walt Disney Museum, you will walk two blocks north to the Presidio National Cemetery. It's one of only two cemeteries still within the SF City limits.

You can wander around the cemetery on your own. If you are looking for a specific gravestone, then you can also use the electronic plot finder at the white information building on your right shortly after you enter.

>> Click here for additional information on visiting the National Cemetery.

2:00 pm: Walk the Coastal Trail to Baker Beach

The next part of your journey is a hike. From the National Cemetery, exit out the back gate and make your way over to the Coastal Trail.

The first part of your hike is through the wooded areas of the Presidio. Use the map below to help guide you along the way.

A walking guide through the Presidio.

Although you need to turn several times, this is the best option to get to the waterfront. It includes several hills and is a fantastic way to get your heart pumping.

During this part of the journey, you will only run into a handful of people. If you feel lost at all, please ask for directions. People are friendly, but you won't have many chances. No need to worry, this area is safe, it just isn't heavily populated.

Once you reach the final clearing, you will find Lincoln Boulevard. This is where you will start your official hike on the Coastal Trail.

The trail is on the waterfront side of Lincoln Boulevard. This isn't an "official" entrance so you will need to jump a small fence about two feet tall to get onto the trail from this point.

Once you hit the trail, take a left and head down the hill. Don't forget to turn around at times for amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the water.

Walk along this trail until you find signs for either the Sand Stairs or Baker Beach. Take either of those signs to get down to the beach.

If you don't like exploring this much or it's too far to walk, then I recommend using the PresidiGo to get to Baker Beach. You can pick it up at Main Post (make sure you get on the Presidio Hills bus route) near the Disney Museum and take it to the stop across the street from the beach. Ask the driver which direction to walk after you get off. This will ensure you take the most direct path to the beach for some beautiful shots of the Golden Gate Bridge.

3:30 pm: Find Amazing Views of the Golden Gate Bridge at Baker Beach

Once you arrive at Baker Beach, you will see why I brought you this way. The views on this side of the Golden Gate Bridge are amazing.

In the late afternoon, the sun shines on this orange beauty and it's the perfect time to take photos. In addition, you get some great views of the surrounding cliffs, water and sandy beach in front of you.

This is the area where the Pacific Ocean meets the SF Bay.

Across the water, you will see the Marin Headlands. It's another place to take amazing pictures of the bridge with downtown San Francisco in the background (but that's for another day).

The Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach.

Click here for additional information on Baker Beach and see more pictures from my last visit.

4:00 pm: Ride the PresidiGo Back to the Lombard Street Gate

Once your photo shoot finishes, walk to the PresidiGo stop. You will find it across the street from the main parking lot. This free shuttle service takes you back to the Letterman District near the Lombard Gate.

Ask the driver to alert you to the correct stop, so you don't go too far.

5:00 pm: Grab an Early Dinner at Sessions at the Presidio

Just inside the Lombard Gate, you will find a gorgeous gastropub called Sessions at the Presidio.

They have both indoor and outdoor seating with some great views around the park.

They have a good selection of craft beers on tap. Their happy hour ends at 5pm, so head over a little earlier for their happy hour deals.

You can grab a drink and hang out or grab something to eat. Their menu is a bit pricey, but you will find some yummy appetizers on their menu including the tuna tartare, panela cheese dumplings, and the house thick cut kennebec fries. Their full menu items run around $18 to $40 a plate.

You can also continue down Lombard Street and head into the Marina and Cow Hollow Districts. Both offer a great selection of bars and restaurants.

How to Get to the Starting Point

From Union Square, your best option is the 45 bus. Pick it up on the corner of Sutter and Stockton Streets. Take it all the way to the end at Lyon and Greenwich Streets.

  • From here, walk into the Presidio, walk two blocks to Lincoln Avenue, take a right and follow the signs that lead you to the "Main Post". The Disney Museum is right next door.

From Fisherman's Wharf, you will take the 30. Pick it up on the corner of Columbus Avenue and Chestnut Street. Take it to the stop at Chestnut Street and Broderick.

  • From this stop, walk two blocks west on Chestnut Street. Take a left at Lyon Street and enter the gate.

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