Presidio Fort Mason, San Francisco

4.5 out of 5 stars 17 Reviews

Golden Gate National Recreational Area

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  • Presidio Fort Mason
    by machomikemd
  • Presidio Fort Mason
    by machomikemd
  • Presidio Fort Mason
    by machomikemd
  • machomikemd's Profile Photo

    Historical Fort and Military Camp

    by machomikemd Updated Oct 5, 2013
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    The Presidio has quite a long and rich history and there was even a movie done here in the 1980's. The Presidio is one of the major recreational areas around San Francisco at present and you cn do a variety of activitites at this former military base and now a major recreational area fronting San Francisco Bay. As a U.S. Army post, the Presidio protected commerce and trade, and played a logistical role in every major U.S. military conflict from 1848 until closure. Within its boundaries are more than 500 historic buildings, a collection of coastal defense fortifications, a national cemetery, an historic airfield, a saltwater marsh, forests, beaches, native plant habitats, coastal bluffs, miles of hiking and biking, and some of the most spectacular vistas in the world.

    The park is open year-round. Information on points of interest and Presidio history is available at the Visitor Center located in Building 102, Montgomery Street. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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  • machomikemd's Profile Photo

    Good Area to Bike, Hike and jog!

    by machomikemd Updated Oct 5, 2013

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    Also Nice to Bike and Jog Here!
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    The Presidio is one of the major recreational areas around San Francisco at present and you cn do a variety of activitites at this former military base and now a major recreational area fronting San Francisco Bay. The Presidio served as a military post under the flags of Spain (1776-1822), Mexico (1822-48), and the United States (1848-1994). As a U.S. Army post, the Presidio protected commerce and trade, and played a logistical role in every major U.S. military conflict from 1848 until closure. Within its boundaries are more than 500 historic buildings, a collection of coastal defense fortifications, a national cemetery, an historic airfield, a saltwater marsh, forests, beaches, native plant habitats, coastal bluffs, miles of hiking and biking, and some of the most spectacular vistas in the world.

    The park is open year-round. Information on points of interest and Presidio history is available at the Visitor Center located in Building 102, Montgomery Street. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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    Best Free Thing #17: Presidio Pet Cemetery

    by goodfish Updated May 9, 2012

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    RIP, great hamsters
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    This tiniest corner of the Presidio is also the most loved. It's rumored that the 450-ft plot was once the burial ground for the post's calvary horses and canines but more recent lore has it that families living on the base in 1950's chose this spot as the final resting place for their faithful friends. It's a cheerful, ragged, topsy-turvey garden of mostly handmade, wooden markers with epitaphs sweet, sad and funny. The park notes say that it's been closed to new interments but a few dearly departed fish, hamsters, bunnies and turtles are still finding their eternal rest here when nobody's looking.

    At the time I visited, the plot was smack in the middle of major construction for the new Doyle Drive overpass. That it was lovingly protected versus bulldozed into oblivion gives you an idea of how the locals feel about the thing. It is now sitting directly under that overpass so I'd check with the park office on best way to access it. Use this map to find it (northwest of the National Cemetery, near the stables):

    http://64.241.25.182/prsf/planyourvisit/upload/Pad%20Map%204-10_color.pdf

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  • machomikemd's Profile Photo

    Fort Winfield Scott

    by machomikemd Written May 14, 2011
    the fort
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    the Fort Winfield Scott is ACTUALLY a separate entity fort in the Presidio Complex and is different from Fort Mason and Fort Winfield Scott was physically a part of what is generally understood as the Presidio of San Francisco; and since 1910 it has comprised in part a geographically separate and architecturally distinct set of buildings around a separate parade ground most of them built in 1910. 1921 and 1912 and more tips, the Fort Winfield Scott Area occupies the higher elevation of the Presidio rather than the lower levels of Fort Point and Mason. The fort is near Baker Beach and Land's End rather than the fort mason and fort point which are nearer to crissy field.

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    The Presidio

    by Tom_Fields Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The museum and visitor center
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    The Presidio began as a Spanish fort during the 18th century. After the US acquired California, it became a US Army post, and remained so until the end of the Cold War. Today, it has private housing, a local historical museum, and a huge military cemetery.

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    Best Free thing #16: Presidio N.P. Shuttle

    by goodfish Updated Jun 3, 2010

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    Presidio Transit Station

    My plan was to do as much of the park on foot as possible. Silly me. Here's the easy way:

    PresidiGo Around the Park is a shuttle service that you can catch at the park's Transit Center every 30 minutes (6:30 AM - 7:30 PM) during the week, or every hour (11:00 AM - 6:00 PM) on weekends. It makes scheduled stops at 40 different points and you can use it as a hop-on/hop-off option or just stay on for the entire route.

    You also don't have to board at the Transit Center - if you're already at the park and get tuckered, just climb on at one of the stops and ride to whatever point you'd like to get off.

    Bonus? This is a GREAT way to get those shots of the Golden Gate Bridge: Stops 11 and 12 on weekdays or Fort Point on weekends (see the brochure).

    Here's a URL for the downloadable brochure with route map, schedule and other good stuff:

    http://www.presidio.gov/NR/rdonlyres/DE6B478D-3AEF-4DA6-BEC1-2DA5FDB8B56E/0/PresidiGoAroundtheParkShuttle011910.pdf

    Note: This is NOT a tour - no narration on the shuttle.

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    Best Free Thing #15: Presidio Main Post Walk

    by goodfish Written Jun 2, 2010

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    Post hospital, 1878
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    If you only have a little time, this is one-mile, self-guided walk is a great way to see the oldest part of the park. Pick up a free guide at the Officer's Club/Visitor Center, where your walk will begin. It takes you around to 11 numbered sites that include an 1867 chapel, civil war-era officer's housing, 1863 hospital, and barracks dating back as far as 1862, among other interesting structures. The way is paved and fairly flat so it's a nice activity with strollers and wheelchairs.

    Some of the historic homes are now rentals so please don't wander onto the properties, OK?

    Although the guide is free, drop something in the donation box in the visitor center if you have a spare dollar or two? Our parks need all the help they can get!

    Note: the main Presidio visitor center location in the Officer's Club (Building 50, Moraga Avenue near Arguello Boulevard) is temporary so see the park website for future updates. Here's a current park map:

    http://www.nps.gov/prsf/planyourvisit/upload/Pad%20Map%204-10_color.pdf

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    Best Free Thing #14: the Presidio

    by goodfish Written Jun 2, 2010

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    Senior non-commissioned officer housing, 1909
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    I ended up here on a rainy, windy, cold day and it eventually got the best of me. Pick a dry and sunny one, OK?

    This land was home to the native Ohlone for 5,000 years until a band of Spanish colonists and soldiers arrived in 1776 and established a fort (presidio) that included an adobe building whose walls still support parts of the Visitor Center/Officer's Club today. The outpost was successively occupied by Mexican (1821) and US (1846) military forces and subsequently expanded to nearly 1500 acres of parade grounds, barracks, hospitals, officers quarters, airfield, coastal bunkers, administration buildings, stables, cemetery and a few smaller forts. Its last significant military function was as the Western Defense Command Headquarters during WWII, and medical center for wounded Vietnam troops and other military personnel until base closure in the 1990's. In 1994, the property was transferred to the NPS and now comprises part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

    The Presido grounds include 470 historic structures, Crissy airfield, hiking trails, picnic areas, visitor centers and restaurants/ cafes. The park is also on track to become financially self-suffient by 2012 so some of the buildings have been rented out to businesses or as private homes, and there's a public golf course, bowling alley and new Walt Disney Family Museum (fees for these), among other enterprises.

    Way too much to do/see to cover here but exploring at least a piece of this very old and very important piece of San Francisco history is a must!

    See the park website for directions, downloadable guides, hours and other good stuff to know.

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    The World of Fort Mason

    by wilocrek Written Sep 5, 2008
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    Besides being a great festive district with incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Mason also has the distinction of hosting the 1915 World Fair. The Panama Pacific International Exposition proclaimed to the world that San Francisco was fully recovered from the 1906 earthquake. The exhibition filled palaces were built on filled marshlands between Fort Mason and the Presidio. This is a great place to enjoy the seaside views of the Golden Gate without all the hordes of tourists.

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    The Presidio--Near Golden Gate Park

    by VeronicaG Updated Aug 22, 2007

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    The Presidio

    We had a quick glimpse of the Presidio as we blazed past it before crossing The Golden Gate Bridge. Although we didn't visit this historic military installation, I did want to include some information on it.

    This was one of the original Spanish settlements in San Francisco (1776). It commands a glorious and strategic view of the Bay.

    Once the Americans assumed the ownership of this area after 1847, it was used for the Indian wars; later, as headquarters for the Sixth Army Command in WW2.

    The Presidio became part of the National Park Service in 1994. Seventy miles of paths and 1600 buildings in the Victorian, Spanish-revival and Electic style welcome you to the Presidio. There are plans to renovate these buildings and roll out the red carpet for tenants!

    The Letterman Digital Arts Center, is home to George Lucas's movie production company and its employees. It will occupy a 23 acre site and include a restaurant and coffee bar open to the public.

    Anyone can drive through this former base to enjoy the historic buildings, old cemetery, hiking trails, its six mile historic walk or its two ecology trails comprising over 1,400 acres.

    The visitor's center, located on the parade grounds, is open daily from 9am-5pm, but closed on major holidays.

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    Great place to relax and enjoy the views...

    by rafgys Written Nov 17, 2006
    from the bridge...

    If you're heading towards the Golden Gate Bridge on the bay side of San Francisco... it's a mile or two before.

    The area is a big open space where you can have a seat and chill out! When you are facing the water, you'll have the bridge on your left... the bay and Alcatraz in front of you... and the piers and downtown on your right. It's pretty quiet and just lovely!

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  • USCgirlie's Profile Photo

    Home to LucasFilm and excellent views

    by USCgirlie Written Mar 22, 2006

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    The Presidio was once a US Army post, and home to soldiers. Now, it's an excellent place to go jogging, walking, and to take in views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay. Furthermore, it is home to Lucas Film (George Lucas's) as well as the Palace of Fine Arts, a San Francisco landmark with its beautiful dome-shaped building. The Presidio is also right next to the Marina District (please read my VT tip on the Marina for more info).

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    Fort Point National Historic Site

    by geeyook Updated Jul 31, 2005

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    Fort Point National Historic Site

    Nestled under the Golden Gate Bridge, this Civil War era brick fortress was built by the Army Corp of Engineers between 1853 and 1861 to guard against hostiles from entering San Francisco Bay. Orginally sporting 126 massive cannons, it was never attacked. The fort also saw duty during World War II when 100 soldiers were garirsoned here to protect against enemy submarines from entering the bay. During the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, it served as a construction office. Today it is part of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area and opened to the public. It offers a magnificient view of San Francisco, the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands. Due to construction on the Golden Gate Bridge, it is currently only opened Friday through Sunday from 10AM to 5PM. Check the website to confirm hours of operation. Be sure to bring warm clothing. It can be very windy and cold. Admission if free.

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    Crissy Field

    by geeyook Written Jul 30, 2005

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    Crissy Field Beach

    This 100 acre shoreline park is located in the Presidio. Orginally a military airfield, it has now been restored to its natural state. It is a favorite with local cyclist, runners, walkers and wind surfers. The views of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge are stunning. The perfect place to relax.

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    Fort Mason

    by Easty Written Jun 11, 2003

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    View of Fort Mason

    Fort Mason is an old World War II embarkation point turned into a regional cultural center. Being that my time was so limited, I did not go into the museum. But the views of the bay are great here. It is also a great vantage point for Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.

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