Daycation to the Presidio of San Francisco
If March’s deluge left you a little more than stir crazy, make plans for a trip to the Presidio to explore the great outdoors. Founded in 1776 as Spain’s northernmost outpost in the Americas, the Presidio served as a Mexican fort from 1822 until 1846, when it became a U.S. Army post. The Army departed in 1994, and two years later Congress formed the Presidio Trust to preserve the area’s natural, cultural, scenic, and recreational resources. Today, the Presidio Trust manages the park in partnership with the National Park Service.
Divided into four sections, it’s almost impossible to explore the entirety of the Presidio in one day. You can spend hours hiking through the Southern Wilds region. Bird watch or picnic at Mountain Lake, then check out the century-old eucalyptus and cypress forest. With the recent rain, creeks should be beautiful and, mother nature permitting, the fields filled with wildflowers. If you play, the Southern Wilds section of the Presidio is home to one of the best public golf courses in the country.
My day at the Presidio was stunning and clear, so I opted to hike in the other direction, and headed out from the Main Post area to the Golden Gate Bridge, stopping to enjoy a quiet moment at the National Cemetery along the way. It’s about a 40 minute walk out to the bridge along scenic paved trails with several beautiful vistas. Living in the Bay Area, I know that the bridge is a big tourist attraction, but having never walked out to it, had no idea that there would be a gift shop and café at my destination. The Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center is open daily—and no surprise here—is filled with all sorts of souvenirs. If you find yourself hungry or thirsty, the Round House Café has you covered. Stop in for a hot dog, bowl of chowder, cookie or slice of pie to give you sustenance if you decide to continue your journey across the 1.7 mile bridge span.
With more to investigate, I headed back to the Main Post, where I stopped in at the visitor center, checked out an exhibit at the Society of California Pioneers Museum and Library and headed over to the Walt Disney Family Museum to learn about the visionary’s life, his creative endeavors, failures and triumphs in the museum galleries. Museum guests can take in a Disney classic and explore the current exhibition, which rotates seasonally.
If time permits, stop in at the Commissary down the block for a light bite and glass of wine or stop at the Transit Center Café for more casual choices.
If you go: The Presidio is located at the Northwest corner of San Francisco. Metered street parking is available in the Main Post area. A shuttle bus can take you to various sites within the Presidio. Bring layers. Bikes are welcome on most trails and allowed on the Golden Gate Bridge. Check hours and advisories at goldengatebridge.org. Admission to the Society of California Pioneers Museum is free. Their hours are 10am-5pm, Wednesday – Saturday. Admission to the Walt Disney Museum is $12-20. Children under 6 are free with a paying adult. For more information, including a calendar of events, links to dining and overnight stays, visit www.presidio.gov.
Janet Fazio writes ‘Your Town Daycation’, a monthly feature in the print edition of Your Town Monthly. This article was originally published in the April 2016 issues.