The Presidio Trails
If you want to experience the Bay Area's pristine natural spaces but may not have enough time to explore neighboring Marin County, the Presidio is the perfect alternative. This park is famous for its placement at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge, affording incredible views throughout. In addition to stunning vantage points, the Presidio features 12 scenic hiking trails that vary from easy to challenging, taking hikers through beautiful Bay Area scenery (think: coastal forest and the Marin Headlands).
The most popular trail is both its shortest and most challenging – the Batteries to Bluffs Trail. This trail features elevation changes along the shoreline of the Presidio's undeveloped western shoreline. From here, hikers can get an eyeful of not only the bridge and the bay but the Marin Headlands as well. There's also the longer 2 ½-mile Bay Area Ridge Trail, which also ends at the Golden Gate but unlike the Batteries to Bluffs Trail, features more coastal woodland scenery in between. For more Pacific Ocean views, stick to the nearly 3-mile-long California Coastal Trail, which starts at Baker Beach.
Travelers had little complaints with the Presidio's offerings. Many said it's a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, whether for a hike or a trip to one of the park's many museums and exhibits. Families strongly recommended coming here if not for a hike then a picnic. Some suggested bringing a jacket with you regardless of the season; the closer you are to the bay, the windier and cooler the temperature will be.
You can find the Presidio on the northernmost tip of San Francisco, about 3 miles west of Fisherman's Wharf near the Golden Gate Bridge. You can reach the Presidio via several Muni bus lines, including Nos. 28, 29 and 43. There is also the PresidiGo shuttle, a free shuttle that takes visitors to and around the park from downtown San Francisco. The downtown pickup points include the Transbay Terminal, the Embarcadero BART and Union Street/Van Ness Avenue. Access to the Presidio is free and available 24/7, though several facilities within the park operate set hours, including the visitor center. For more information, visit the National Park Service website.
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#1 Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge's vaulting, orange arches amidst the rocky seascape of the San Francisco Bay have made it one of the West Coast's most enduring symbols and the city's most popular tourist attraction. The bridge's name, "Golden Gate," actually refers to the body of water it spans (the Golden Gate Strait that connects the Pacific Ocean with the San Francisco Bay), and was built to make travel between San Francisco and Marin County an easier feat.
There are plenty of great spots to capture a snap of the majestic bridge. But if you want a truly postcard-worthy shot, head to the Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point, situated high on a hill overlooking San Francisco. If you have extra time, make sure to explore the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The actual span of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area encompasses multiple places in San Mateo (south of San Francisco), San Francisco and Marin Counties (Alcatraz and Muir Woods included), but notable parts of this recreation area can be found just a stroll away from the Golden Gate. From the bridge, travelers will find some scenic, bayside trails, some of which lead to secluded beaches, including Kirby Cove and Black Sands Beach. If you really want a trek, journey to the Point Bonita Lighthouse for sweeping views of the bay, found at the very tip of the Golden Gate Strait.
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