The Presidio Trails

The Presidio Trails picture
EddieHernandezPhotography/Getty Images

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Hiking, Natural Wonders, Free Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend

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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California Academy of Sciences1 of 26
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Time to Spend
#1 California Academy of Sciences

Attention all traveling families: recent visitors said this is the perfect place to bring kids in San Francisco. The California Academy of Sciences brims with plenty of things to see, including an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum and even a rainforest. 

The Steinhart Aquarium is home to about 40,000 animals representing more than 900 different species, including a penguin colony from Africa, a swamp with an albino alligator, a shark lagoon and a separate 100,000-gallon tank that mirrors the ecosystem of the California coast. Meanwhile, the Osher Rainforest houses 1,600 animals, including 250 free-flying birds and about 100 reptiles and amphibians in its four-story complex. The Morrison Planetarium is known for its 75-foot-diameter screen, which screens "Tour of the Universe" shows daily. And the Kimball Natural History Museum boasts dinosaur fossils, an interactive science exhibit and a unique earthquake simulator. 

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