San Francisco Presidio, Ideal Weekend Basecamp

By Mary Charlebois

Lodge at the Presidio, San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Presidio Trust.
Lodge at the Presidio, San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Presidio Trust.

San Francisco Bay, fog, cable cars, Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, and those famous hills. Tourist from all over the globe leave their hearts in San Francisco. The ‘city by the bay’ has something for everyone. History, culture, and diverse lifestyles are the order of the day.

The City is compact and easy to explore on foot, bike, or public transit. For a long weekend, finding the perfect basecamp is job-one. I have a suggestion.

San Francisco Presidio

San Francisco Presidio cycle trail. Photo courtesy of Presidio Trust.
San Francisco Presidio cycle trail. Photo courtesy of Presidio Trust.

The Presidio* has a spectacular San Francisco setting. Located fewer than three miles from the middle of the city, it’s San Francisco’s largest green-space. The park is bordered on the north by San Francisco Bay, on the west by the Pacific Ocean, and on the south and east by San Francisco.

The Presidio has been home to many cultures. For 10,000 years the Ohlone Peoples occupied the region. Then Spain and Mexico. By 1776 it was a US Army Post. In 1994, the National Parks Service took possession of the Presidio after 219-years of military use. It became the Golden Gate Recreation Area.

San Francisco’s largest green-space

The 1500-acres of the park offer the most diverse experience of any location in the Bay Area. You can immerse in history, nature, architecture, music, art, food, and community.

Inspiration Point view of San Francisco Bay. Photo: Mary Charlebois.
Inspiration Point view of San Francisco Bay. Photo: Mary Charlebois.

There are 24-miles of hiking trails. Walk from deep redwood forest to beaches under the Golden Gate Bridge. Hike to Inspiration Point for a spectacular vista of San Francisco Bay.

Volunteer with an archeology dig. Join the long-term project to unearth buildings and artifacts left by pre-Europeans. Stargazing parties and wildlife talks are offered. Beachcombing, an organic community garden, visitor center, and wetlands are popular with locals and visitors alike. Go biking, golfing, or bowling. Join a guided tour or explore from a rocking chair on the front porch of the old barracks or officers’ quarters.

Seeing the rest of the city

Lion Dance, San Francisco Chinatown. Photo: Mary Charlebois.
Lion Dance, San Francisco Chinatown. Photo: Mary Charlebois.

From the Presidio, you’re under 2.5-miles from Fisherman’s Wharf, Chinatown, Japantown, Union Square, Golden Gate Park, and Oracle Park. Under a mile are the San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate Bridge, Letterman Digital Arts Center, Disney Family Museum, Presidio Golf Course, Palace of Fine Arts, Wave Organ, the Marina, and much more.

The east side of the Presidio is bordered by the Cow Hollow/Marina District. These residential neighborhoods are walkable and friendly with a central street for shopping, eating, and drinking. Cow Hollow is famous for bottomless Mimosas for Sunday Brunch. Happy hours are ubiquitous.

Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco CA. Photo: Mary Charlebois
Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco CA. Photo: Mary Charlebois.

Marina Boulevard skirts a large marina on the San Francisco Bay. The greens are often the site for team sports. Cyclists, walkers, and joggers use the sidewalk year-round. Sailboats move in and out of the marina, joining the ships, ferries, tugs, and kayakers in the bay.

Sleep

Guest lounge at Lodge at Presidio, San Francisco CA. Photo: Mary Charlebois.
Guest lounge at Lodge at Presidio, San Francisco CA. Photo: Mary Charlebois.

Book a room in a boutique hotel in the park or reserve the group campground on four wooded acres sitting above a beach.

The Lodge and The Inn at the Presidio were once barracks. They have been gorgeously redesigned as accommodations. At the Lodge, you’ll find 42 huge hotel rooms. It is the closest hotel to the Golden Gate Bridge. The Inn’s twenty-two, 2-room suites are family-friendly and next to a trailhead.

Inn at Presidio, San Francisco CA. Photo: Mary Charlebois.
Inn at Presidio, San Francisco CA. Photo: Mary Charlebois.

Both hotels serve complimentary breakfast and evening wine and cheese tasting for guests. Patio fire pits are perfect for sundown. The Lodge patio has a Golden Gate Bridge view. At the Inn, you’ll enjoy a forest view with bird song as your soundtrack. Rates are the best in the city for hotels of this quality, book early.

The group campground accommodates 30-people. Fire ring, grill, food storage, picnic tables, and restrooms are available for campers in the only San Francisco group camp.

Getting there

Fly into San Francisco International (SFO) or Oakland International (OAK).

Amtrak’s train station is across the bay. Amtrak provides bus service to San Francisco.

San Francisco’s bus terminal is served by Greyhound.

Drive to the Presidio via Hwy 101, take the Presidio exit. If you drive, Presidio parking is $9 a day. Notice – Parking in San Francisco is limited and costly, as much as $70 a day. If you bring a car, leave it at the Presidio, and take public transit or Uber.

Ground transit

San Francisco Cable Car
San Francisco Cable Car

From your Presidio basecamp, you have easy access to the most visited attractions in the city. Take PresidiGo, a free shuttle. It gets you to the Presidio and around the park 7-days a week. Shuttles provide wheelchair ramps and bike racks. PresidiGo routes have 40+ stops within the park.

Catch PresidiGo outside the park at Transbay Terminal, Embarcadero BART, and Union Street/Van Ness Avenue.

San Francisco has some of the best ground transportation on the planet. There are three major transportation systems. Get Apps, schedules and ticketing info at these links: MUNI, providing bus, streetcar, and cable car service. BART connecting the San Francisco Peninsula with Oakland, Berkeley, Fremont, Walnut Creek, Dublin/Pleasanton, and other cities in the East Bay. Golden Gate Ferry and San Francisco Bay Ferry providing cross-bay service to all major San Francisco Bay communities.

Enjoy your San Francisco weekend

San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. Photo: Mary Charlebois.
San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. Photo: Mary Charlebois.

San Francisco’s Presidio isn’t just a special place in the city, it’s one of America’s National Park jewels. New museum exhibits, seasonal events, hikes, talks, and new menus are frequently added. The resort-like setting is appealing to people of all ages, interest, and abilities. Best of all, you have easy access to the city from your ideal basecamp.

*For more details, special events, restaurant menus, and hotel reservations visit The Presidio.

Thanks for stopping by, MaryGo

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Dave lee says:

    Great article Mary.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kevin Scanlon says:

    Great story and pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. fswolfe says:

    Great post — the Presidio sounds like the perfect place to stay in the city.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks, Faye. When you get to the city, it is the best place to call home. I’d love to tour it with you. –MaryGo

    Like

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