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The Presidio

Presidio is Spanish for “Fort”

golden gate bridge
After you take the Cable Car from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf with a throng of tourists, you may be disappointed with the view. Here is the beautiful San Francisco Bay with Alcatraz in middle and the Golden Gate Bridge to the left, and all you can see is an In and Out Burger and stores hawking catchphrases on t-shirts. This prompts you to think-is this it? Fisherman’s Wharf has its highlights, but if it is views of the bay you crave, head west young man.

West of the Wharf and west of the Palace of Fine Arts lies the Presidio of San Francisco. This former fort is now a park that is a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The Presidio has only been a park for a short while; for most of its life it was a military establishment. It began as a base for New Spain’s colonial operations in 1776. Mexico got it in 1821 after the Mexican War of Independence, and it was seized by the US Army in 1846 during the Mexican-American War. The US army used it as a base until it was decommissioned in 1994. Today, it is a National Historic Monument with forests, hills, trails, beaches and plenty of history.


The best views of the Golden Gate Bridge can be found by taking the Golden Gate Promenade. This trail is closest to the water and passes through sandy wetlands and a former airstrip, Crissy Field. It takes you along the beach from the marina all the way to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge two miles away. It is windy here, but unlike the rest of San Francisco, it is flat, making it popular for walkers (especially those with dogs), joggers and cyclists. And it is quiet here, so it is a pleasant escape from the urban density only a few blocks away.

Know Before You Go

Bridges are further away than they appear, but the Warming Hut along the path offers refreshments, restrooms and a nice little gift shop selling Golden Gate National Recreation Area-associated merchandise.

Bottom Line

This is the perfect place to take a stroll, bring a four-legged friend and enjoy the breeze and view.

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