Here are some great ideas for exploring the Presidio

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Presidio of San Francisco
September 9, 2020

8 Great Ways to Experience the Presidio

Before there was San Francisco, there was the Presidio. First occupied by the Ohlone people for thousands of years, the Presidio was later a military post for two centuries under the flags of Spain, Mexico and finally the United States. Today, the Presidio is a national park and a National Historic Landmark District that welcomes more than five million visitors each year. On its grounds, you can hike 24 miles of trails, enjoy art and culture, have a picnic, and much more.

While some indoor business are closed due to COVID-19, here are 8 ways (of many) to experience the Presidio today:

Find the Perfect Instagram Shot

You can't beat the Presidio's views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Best bets for a great snapshot are from the entrance to the bridge at the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center, underneath it at Fort Point National Historic Site, at Crissy Field's Torpedo Wharf, or along Baker Beach. The Presidio has 8 scenic overlooks. Share your favorite shots with #PresidioSF.

Play a Round of Golf

The public Presidio Golf Course is open for play, an historic 145-acre, 18-hole course located in the scenic, urban national park. The Presidio Café at the course clubhouse is open daily for outdoor breakfast and lunch service or take-out, also offering a full bar. Diners, both golfers and non-golfers alike, enjoy the sweeping views of the course. For golf course hours and information, click here.

Look for Birds

Whether you're a first-time birdwatcher or an expert, the Presidio offers excellent opportunities to catch a variety of birds in flight. Located along the Pacific Flyway, hundreds of migrating species use the Presidio for nesting, including Allen hummingbirds and belted kingfishers. El Polín Spring, Crissy Marsh, and Mountain Lake are great locations to spot birds, both with picnic tables and public restrooms. Download the Birds of Mountain Lake Guide here.

Explore the City's Best Beaches

Some of San Francisco's best beaches are located right within the Presidio. Baker Beach is known for its view of the Golden Gate Bridge, while Marshall Beach, accessible via the California and Batteries to Bluff Trails, offers a more secluded experience. East Beach at Crissy Field is great for biking or jogging along the Golden Gate Promenade and is one of the city's most popular picnic spots.

Take a Hike or a Bike Ride

With its 24 miles of trails, the Presidio offers a variety of hiking and biking experiences for everyone. Whether you walk briskly or leisurely, alone or with friends, you'll find a trail perfect for you. Bike riders enjoy the flat Crissy Field Trail with its Golden Gate Bridge views. Serious riders can continue over the bridge to points north. Check out the trail map here. You can rent a bike from Sports Basement.

Enjoy the Outdoors with a Picnic

With multiple designated picnic areas at the Presidio, the park is a perfect destination for a picnic. Crissy Field's East Beach and West Bluff have picnic tables, grills, and restrooms, as does Baker Beach. El Polín Spring is a great interior option, nestled in the heart of the park and surrounded by nature. Immigrant Point has a scenic vista overlooking the Pacific Ocean and great stone walls to sit on. Pershing Square is adjacent to the Presidio Officers' Club, and the historic dig site of "El Presidio".

Escape to Nature within the City

The Presidio's 15,00-acre footprint is a natural oasis, with 330 native plant species, 323 bird species, 30 butterfly species, three watersheds, a tidal marsh, and a freshwater lake. One great idea for escaping the city while staying close is a trip to Mountain Lake at the southern edge of the park, where you'll likely hear native Pacific chorus frogs as the sun sets, or catch a western pond turtle perched on a rock.

Get a Free Ride

The PresidGo Shuttle offers free rides between downtown San Francisco's Embarcadero and the Presidio. Check out the schedule and map here. Extend that ride by hopping on the Around the Park shuttle, which can take you to more than 40 destinations within the park, including Baker Beach and the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center. Did we mention it's all free?

For more on these suggestions and even more things to do, visit the Presidio online here.

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