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Ocean Beach - Presidio - Golden Gate Bridge - Fort Mason

Start this tour at the by walking to the west end of Golden Gate Park or taking Muni’s #5 Fulton bus, or Muni’s N-Judah streetcar to Ocean Beach.

Ocean Beach

Summer in San Francisco, Ocean Beach, July 2010
Summer in San Francisco, Ocean Beach, July 2010

Ocean Beach is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The GGNRA was created by the federal government in the 1972 through the efforts of Congressman Phil Burton and runs from Point Reyes in the north along the coast, into the Bay, and on to San Mateo County.

Walk north along Ocean Beach and watch the surfers (in wetsuits) but don’t get too close to the water, it has dangerous rip tides that have taken the lives of several people over the years. The Cliff House overlooking the north end of Ocean Beach has been renovated to be more consistent with one of the earlier buildings on the site.

Just north of the Cliff House are ruins of the Sutro Baths (check out the historic photos in the Cliff House) and Seal Rock. From here you can take Muni’s #18 bus directly to the California Palace of the Legion of Honor located in Lincoln Park.

The California Palace of the Legion of Honor is an art museum well worth a visit especially if you are interested in European art. Nearby is Land’s End. There’s a great view of downtown from the plaza in front of the Legion of Honor and views of Golden Gate Bridge to the north.

From here you can walk though San Francisco’s tony Sea Cliff District via El Camino Del Mar to the Presidio.

Presidio and Crissy Field

Golden Gate Bridge in the fog from Baker Beach (2004).
Golden Gate Bridge in the fog from Baker Beach (2004).

The Presidio is the site of the original Spanish presidio built in 1776 to guard the newly founded city of Yerba Buena (the first name for San Francisco). The US Army used the Presidio until 1987 when Congress created the Presidio National Park. The Presidio National Park is unique among American national parks in being required to be self-supporting. The Presidio Trust is the organisation charged with making this work.

Baker Beach is a pleasant stretch of sand in the southwest corner of the Presidio. The two photos of Golden Gate Bridge on this page were taken from Baker Beach so you can see the weather changes (often quickly). Part of Baker Beach is clothing optional.

Crissy Field is located on San Francisco Bay in the Presidio. Crissy Field was originally an airport for the US Army. The site has been restored to a wetland and sand dunes with native plants. The walking path along San Francisco Bay is one of the most popular places to walk, run, or bike in San Francisco, stretching from the Marina Green Park to the Golden Gate Bridge. Crissy Field is one of the most beautiful places in the city.

The Presidio operates free shuttle bus service to major destinations within the park and to/from downtown San Francisco.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach (2004).
Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach (2004).

The Golden Gate Bridge is a highlight of almost everyone’s visit to San Francisco. There are visitor areas with overlooks on both sides of the bridge. The visitor area on the San Francisco side includes history and a souvenir stand. Muni’s #28 bus stops at the visitor center or you can walk up a trail through the Presidio.

Taking a walk or bike across the bridge is a wonderful experience – even on a foggy day. Dress warm, it’s always cool and windy here.

Fort Mason

View of Maritime Park in San Francisco from Hyde Street on Russian Hill.
View of Maritime Park in San Francisco from Hyde Street on Russian Hill.

If you walk east from Crissy Field along the yacht harbour and Marina Green you will arrive at Fort Mason. Fort Mason, also part of the GGNRA, is embarkation point from which US soldiers sailed to fight the Japanese in World War II. After the US Army left Fort Mason during the 1970s, the buildings were converted into cultural facilities with performance spaces, museums, non-profit organisations, and restaurants.

From upper Fort Mason you can walk along the Bay to Maritime Park and Fisherman’s Wharf.

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