The Presidio of San Francisco
San Francisco CA 94129
Once an important military base that guarded the entrance to the San Francisco Bay, the Presidio is the city's most important green-space after Golden Gate Park. Almost all San Francisco visitors come to the Presidio to visit the Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion, but only the most savvy stay and visit the beaches, forests, museums and other wonders that the nearly 1,500 acre waterfront park holds. For nature lovers, the Presidio is wilderness in the city at its best, and history buffs will find a treasure trove of sites and information. The Presidio is also home to some of the most jaw-dropping but secret view points in the entire city.
Parking and public transportation at the Presidio
There are parking lots located throughout the Presidio, but most require a paid permit for use during daytime hours. A much better option is the PresiGo Shuttle, which winds its way through the park visiting all the major areas free of charge in two continuous 30 minute loops. The PresiGo Shuttle also operates a free service between the park and downtown San Francisco. The MUNI metro lines 28, 29 and 43 also all go to the Presidio, making it extremely easy to visit via public transportation.
Best and worst time to go to the Presidio
San Francisco's year-round mild weather make any time a good time to enjoy hiking around the Presidio, but sun bathers flock to the golden stretches of sand here primarily in the late summer/early fall. It is this time of year, often called the "Indian Summer", that the city gets its hottest days and best beach weather and residents can actual sport something resembling a tan.
Admission to the Presidio
There is no entrance fee at the Presidio.
Must see/do at the Presidio
Baker Beach, with its gorgeous backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands is by far San Francisco's favorite urban beach. Sunny days here can be quite packed and social. Fort Point is a civil war era army base located directly under the Golden Gate Bridge that once guarded the bay from maritime attack. Over in Crissy Field, which runs along the bay, waterfront paths lead to the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association Visitor Center, where hands-on exhibits pertaining to the abundant marine life of the area are housed in a historic Coast Guard base. The Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion Visitor's Center is also located in the Presidio, and is usually visited by those just before they cross the bridge itself. The Walt Disney Family Museum, dedicated to the life of the famous animator is also located within the Presidio
Other places to visit near the Presidio
Just across the street from the eastern entrance to the Presidio, the Palace of Fine Arts is a replica of a ancient Greek temple that is widely considered one of the most scenic places in the city. On the other side of the Presidio, the rocky coastline of San Francisco hosts hidden coves like China Beach that are well worth the visit.
Insider tip for visitors to the Presidio
The trail from Mountain Lake Park, located on the south side of the Presidio in the Richmond District, into the heart of the park offers great views and abundant nature without the crowds that can be present in other areas of the Presidio.
Author's bio: Ocean Malandra was born and raised in San Francisco. He is a widely published travel writer and journalist that can be followed at @Ocean Malandra.