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Wanderin’ the Presidio: A Fun Guide to San Fran’s Military Past and Present

Are you ready for some San Fran-tastic fun? Look no further than the Presidio, a hidden gem nestled in the north-western corner of the city. This historic military post turned national park has a rich history, stunning natural beauty, and a variety of attractions to explore. In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey through the Presidio, covering everything from its fascinating history to the flora and fauna you might encounter, along with details on how to get there and what to see and do.


The Presidio of San Francisco has a storied past that dates back to 1776 when it was originally established as a Spanish fort. Over the years, it changed hands from Spanish to Mexican control before becoming a crucial military outpost for the United States in 1846. The U.S. Army played a significant role in transforming the Presidio from barren dunes to a lush, picturesque military post. In 1962, it received recognition as a National Historic Landmark, solidifying its historical significance. In 1989, the Presidio ceased its role as an active military installation and was transferred to the National Park Service in 1994.


Today, the Presidio welcomes visitors with open arms, offering a wide range of activities and attractions to enjoy. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history buff, or just seeking a relaxing day out, there’s something for everyone.

What to See and Do

  • Hiking and Scenic Overlooks: The Presidio boasts numerous hiking trails and scenic overlooks that provide breathtaking views of the bay, Pacific Ocean, city, and more. Don’t miss Immigrant Point Overlook for panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and Inspiration Point for a unique perspective of the Presidio, Palace of Fine Arts, Alcatraz, and the bay.
  • House of Air: For a dose of adventure and fun, check out the House of Air, where you can jump on trampolines to your heart’s content.
  • Walt Disney Family Museum: Dive into nostalgia at the Walt Disney Family Museum, where you can explore the life and early works of Walt Disney.
  • San Francisco National Cemetery: Pay your respects at the San Francisco National Cemetery, a serene final resting place for over 30,000 military veterans with picturesque bay views.
  • Presidio Golf Course: If golf is your game, the Presidio Golf Course offers 18 scenic holes with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, the San Francisco Bay, and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Transit Cafe: When hunger strikes, head to the Transit Cafe for casual dining options and enjoy outdoor seating with unbeatable views of the San Francisco Bay.
  • Presidio Visitor Center: Explore the heart of the park on the Main Post at the Presidio Visitor Center. Discover interactive exhibits about the Presidio’s history and a calendar of upcoming park events.
  • Letterman Digital Arts Studio: Owned by George Lucas, this studio is a hub for movie industry professionals. You might even catch a glimpse of Lucasfilm employees discussing their latest projects (with names carefully omitted, of course). Be sure to check out the iconic Yoda Fountain, a must-see for Star Wars fans.

Flora and Fauna

The Presidio isn’t just about its history and attractions; it’s also home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. Keep your eyes peeled for:

  • Birds: The park is a haven for birds like red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks, wild parrots, pelicans, and more.
  • Mammals: Encounter raccoons, foxes, and even coyotes. Remember to admire them from a distance and let them enjoy their natural habitat.
  • Marine Life: If you’re lucky, you might spot dolphins and porpoises swimming near Baker Beach.
  • Native Plants: The Presidio’s National Park Service actively works to maintain native plants, removing invasive species to protect endangered native flora like the San Francisco Lessingia and Raven’s Manzanita.

Getting Here and Getting Around

Getting to the Presidio is a breeze. You can hop on the 28 MUNI bus or take advantage of the free PresidiGo Shuttle, which provides easy access to different areas within the park. Once you’re there, feel free to hop on and off the shuttle to explore all the Presidio has to offer.


The Presidio is known for its fog, especially in the summer months. While downtown San Francisco might be sunny, the Presidio can be enveloped in mist. Weather conditions can change rapidly, so it’s advisable to dress in layers, allowing you to adjust to the changing climate. Whether the sun is shining or fog is rolling through the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, it’s an experience you won’t want to miss.

So, pack your picnic, lace up those hiking boots, and get ready for a day of adventure at the Presidio. Happy adventuring, and enjoy your journey through this San Francisco treasure!

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