The Presidio is a gorgeous, expansive park near the heart of San Francisco that is one of the city’s most popular and beloved features. Comprising part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Presidio is situated at the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula and is the site of a diverse array of historic structures, outdoor recreation areas, stunning coastal vistas, and much more. It has become a must-see destination for tourists to the Bay Area, who come to learn about American history, experience the beauty of San Francisco’s natural surroundings, and enjoy a great selection of entertainment and family-friendly activities hosted on the park's grounds.
But the park isn’t just popular with tourists—it also offers endless opportunities and amenities for residents to enjoy year-round. Whether you’re seeking a great place to work out, find some breathtaking scenery for a relaxed evening stroll, get involved in the community, or learn about San Francisco’s storied past, there’s truly something for everyone to enjoy at the Presidio— especially for those who live nearby.
We’ve compiled a list of just a few of the reasons why the Presidio is such a special place and why residents and visitors alike find so much to love at the park.
Designated as both a California Historical Landmark and a National Historic Landmark, the Presidio is a hub of historic buildings that feature exhibits and information on the early American West. In its early days, the site of the park acted as a base for the Spanish military, where the primary fort was constructed under the leadership of Jose Joaquin Moraga in 1776. Control of the fort and surrounding area was briefly shifted to the Mexican military until it ultimately ended up under American control in 1846, paving the way for the version of it we know today.
The area’s function as a military base expanded throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, where it was a critical site for organizing and carrying out the U.S. operations in the Pacific. The Presidio, which was the longest continuously operating U.S. military base at the time, was eventually closed in 1995. The city and its residents worked tirelessly to prevent the sale of the land to private developers, and it was subsequently designated as parkland under the control of the Presidio Trust and the National Parks Service. Today, the park continues to preserve the historic sites that call to mind its origins, offering an intimate view of American military history in addition to curated exhibits, educational opportunities, school visits, and more.
A popular way to start your day at Presidio is at the Main Post, the refurbished and repurposed site of the original Army base. There, you’ll find a plethora of sites of historic relevance to the park’s military past, such as the Visitor’s Center, the Korean War Memorial, the Interfaith Center, and the Inn at the Presidio.
The Presidio mirrors the forward-thinking culture of San Francisco, with a particular emphasis on natural preservation, sustainability, health, and education. The park offers a variety of events that allow the community to learn all about the park’s important work, and residents can even volunteer to help keep the park’s mission alive and thriving.
One of the cultural points of interest you’ll find at the Presidio is the Walt Disney Family Museum and Cafe. The museum features permanent exhibits that detail the life and accomplishments of Walt Disney that illustrate his prominent role in American culture. Another cultural fixture of the park is Arion Press. One of the last presses creating handmade, museum-quality books with traditional printing techniques, this facility is committed to preserving an important form of artmaking and craftsmanship at risk of being lost to time. If you want to learn more about the facility and its bookmaking process, the park holds occasional tours that are open to the public.
The Presidio is also home to incredible works of art, including a collection of works from Andy Goldsworthy, most notably his 100-foot sculpture on the Bay Area Ridge Trail called the Spire. Standing high among the trees, this piece was inspired by the natural beauty of the park’s forests and was created from fallen cypress trees. Visitors with an eye for art can also explore the park’s collaborative gallery space Tides Converge, which features rotating exhibitions that explore ideas on sustainability, education, and equality through a variety of mediums.
One of the best things about the Presidio is how much preserved natural land and protected wildlife can be found within the park’s grounds. The park, its staff, and its community of volunteers work hard every day to ensure that the natural beauty and endangered ecosystems of the park are preserved for future generations to enjoy. It goes without saying that San Francisco is known across the globe for its gorgeous landscape, and visitors have the pleasure of getting to see some of the city’s most iconic views all in one trip to the park.
The two northern sections of the park, Golden Gate and Crissy Field, provide access to beautiful beaches with cool breezes, rocky alcoves, and stunning views of the bay and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. They’re the perfect place to spend a warm day with family and friends enjoying the lapping waves and watching the boat traffic going in and out of the Bay, then watching the colorful display of the sunset on the horizon.
In the Southern Wilds, you’ll find the park’s most untamed and peaceful areas, including the lush, magical experience of wandering through the green canopy of the Presidio Forest’s hundred-year-old eucalyptus and cypress trees. One of the best ways to experience the park’s natural features is to take a hike along the Ecology Trail, where you’ll get to see endangered wildflowers, restored grasslands, towering redwood trees, and so much more.
You can also do some reflecting at the still, peaceful waters of Mountain Lake, which is notable both as one of the few surviving natural lakes in the region and for the vast array of local wildlife that inhabit it. What is undoubtedly at the top of the list of must-see destinations in the Southern Wilds is Inspiration Point Overlook. Providing an unmatched view of the park, the city, Alcatraz Island, and more, it’s a truly one-of-a-kind experience that visitors shouldn’t miss.
The Presidio features endless recreation opportunities throughout its sprawling grounds and facilities. One of the most popular ways to get moving is hiking or jogging along the park’s extensive and beautiful 24-mile trail network. Biking is also a great way to spend a day at the park, especially considering its excellent 15 miles of bike-friendly trails that take you through some of the best attractions and overlooks in the Presidio.
The Presidio Golf Course is always a popular spot for lovers of the outdoors. As one of the oldest golf courses on the West Coast, even the likes of Arnold Palmer have played here—and its challenging 18-hole course is now open to the public. Whether you want to play the course, head to the driving range for some practice, or pick up gear at the park’s own pro golf shop, there are plenty of ways for golf lovers to enjoy the picturesque setting.
If you’re bringing your family to the park, the Presidio provides a number of great ways for kids to get active while having fun. One of the most popular places for kids of all ages is the Julius Kahn Playground and Field. Aside from the playground and its slides, swings, and climbing structures, you’ll also find sporting and recreation areas such as tennis courts, a baseball diamond, basketball courts, and an open field that’s a great place for casual games, picnics, and more.
The Presidio also offers some indoor recreation opportunities that are perfect for kids. The House of Air, set in a refurbished plane hangar, has been transformed into an indoor trampoline experience. Younger kids have designated spaces with full supervision, while older kids can jump to their heart’s content on the professional-grade conjoined trampolines that fill the hangar. Another great place for kids at the park is La Petite Baleen, an indoor pool that offers group and private swimming lessons to help children gain confidence in the water.
If you want to experience the park like a local, Team Fit Agents can help you find the perfect property. We are a team of experienced San Francisco real estate agents ready to help you buy your own piece of the city. Whether you’re interested in homes for sale in Presidio Heights or Hayes Valley real estate, we have the skills to land you the right property at the right price. Learn more about the homes we sell and contact us today.
Can't find what you're looking for? Don't worry - we do the heavy lifting for you! We have access to off-market properties and homes that are coming soon (both fixer uppers and turn-key, and everything in between!), so please get in touch with us today to learn about these exclusive opportunities!