With some of the most beautiful scenery and intact natural environments in the city, the Golden Gate area is the spectacular northern tip of the San Francisco peninsula. The city's most famous landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge, connects this district with Marin County across the Bay. The area is made up of two National Historic Landmarks — The Presidio and Fort Mason — as well as several upscale neighborhoods famed for their Victorian architecture and views of the city, including Pacific Heights, Cow Hollow, and the Marina District. The district is roughly bounded by the San Francisco Bay to the north and west, Lake St and California St to the south, and Van Ness Ave to the east.
Pacific Heights, located 370 feet above sea-level and overlooking the Bay, was little more than a sandy hill until 1870, when the Cable Car line was extended and connected the area to downtown. Today, it's favored by visitors for its impressive panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay and the Presidio, its abundance of opulent Victorian mansions, historic chateaus, foreign consulates, and finally its many upscale restaurants. The three blocks on Broadway St between Lyon St and Divisadero St have particularly good vistas and are known as the "Gold Coast." Some of the buildings date back as far as 1853, with the majority being constructed after the 1906 earthquake. Considered today to be the home of "old money" families and young urban professionals, it was first settled by the "nouveau riche" of the late 1800s. The neighborhood is predominantly peaceful and residential with most of its activities centered around Fillmore St. It was also the backdrop for the 1990 movie "Pacific Heights" starring Melanie Griffith.
Cow Hollow derived its name from the many dairy farms that were established there in the mid-1800s. However, with the advent of the Gold Rush, the neighborhood flourished. Prominent San Franciscans began to settle the area and erected grandiose well-appointed Victorian, and then later Edwardian mansions. By 1891, the area had become so popular that all the dairy farms were closed down. Today, this once luscious grazing land is more renowned for its impressive mansions and its eclectic mix of antique stores, art galleries, bars, and restaurants. Union St is the main drag, where the Union St. Festival is held annually.
The Marina District
The Marina district was built on landfill — some of it wreckage of the 1906 earthquake — in the early 20th century to provide a fairgrounds for the 1915 World's Fair (also called the Panama-Pacific Exhibition). Its poor foundation made it the focus of most of the damage (and media attention) in the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989. Today it is an affluent, residential neighborhood with well trimmed hedges and colorful flower window boxes. Bounded by the Bay, the neighborhood actually has an impressive marina, which is home to a couple of prestigious yacht clubs. Marina Green, an 8 block stretch of grass running along the edge of the bay, is a favorite place for jogging, strolling, picnicking, and kite flying. Only a few blocks away, Chestnut St. is where shoppers can peruse boutiques or people watch while sipping on a latte. "Culture vultures" circle round Fort Mason, with its array of museums, art galleries and quirky theaters.
Fort Mason and the Presidio
Fort Mason and the Presidio are two former military posts on the northern tip of the San Francisco peninsula. Today, both are national historic landmarks and come under the remit of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Fort Mason is smaller and has a world class youth hostel as well as several museums and theaters. The Presidio is huge, with 1,480 acres of rolling hills, forests, hiking trails, historic buildings, architecture, beaches, and marsh lands. It has one of the most intact natural environments you will find on the peninsula and is a must for every itinerary.
The main entryways are Van Ness Ave from the south and Bay St from the east. From the north and west, take Highway 101 through the Presidio to Lombard St. Chestnut St, one of the main shopping and restaurant streets, is one block north of Lombard St — parking is scarce and can sometimes take up to an hour to find. The best choice for parking may be the free area in Fort Mason, at Beach and Buchanan Sts, another 4 short blocks north of Chestnut. Union St, being Cow Hollow's main street, is three blocks south of Lombard St.
Public transportation, provided by MUNI, is plentiful and frequent.
- Cross town routes: The 28-19th Avenue bus travels along Lombard St to Fort Mason from the Daly City BART station, traveling first a long way up 19th Ave and stopping at the Golden Gate Bridge. Buses 29-Sunset and 43-Masonic traverse much of the western part of San Francisco before terminating in the area, with the 29 stopping at Baker Beach and the 43 running through the Presidio before stopping in the Marina district. The 22-Fillmore bus (24-hour service) from the 16th St BART Station goes north on Fillmore St all the way to the Marina Green.
- From Downtown: From the Caltrain station, traveling through Downtown past the Montgomery St BART station (outbound) or the Powell St BART station (inbound), the 30-Stockton bus (which runs about every 6 minutes during the day, until 1AM) gets you to Chestnut St and near the Palace of Fine Arts. You can also take the 41-Union, 45-Union/Stockton (both serve Union St), and 76X-Marin Headlands Express. Routes 1-California, 2-Clement, and 3-Jackson serve Pacific Heights and Lower Pacific Heights.
In addition to the many MUNI routes, there is also the free PresidiGo shuttle service with three primary routes: a Downtown route that runs directly between the Transbay Terminal in Downtown to the Presidio, a Presidio Hills route which runs from the main Presidio complex through the hills to Baker Beach, and a Crissy Field line which loops between the main Presidio complex, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Crissy Field.
If you enjoy walking, you can take the Historic F-line streetcar from downtown along the Embarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf, and walk along San Francisco Bay past Fort Mason — it's a bit of hill — to the Marina Green. If you're downtown, simply follow Van Ness Ave all the way north and take a left anywhere from California St to Lombard St.
With six lanes, going east-west, Lombard St is the main road and considered (along with north-south Van Ness) to be part of Highway 101. The winding section of Lombard St is due east, on Russian Hill.
This is a fantastic area to either walk or cycle through as it is predominantly flat (with the obvious exception of Pacific Heights), and also because it's a very safe area. Given the area's popularity with joggers, walkers, power-walkers, and cyclists, you will definitely not be alone. Chestnut St is the business section of the Marina and considered among the poshest of San Francisco's streets. Union St and Fillmore St are the other two main shopping areas in this district. To the north, along San Francisco Bay, runs the 74 acre stretch of Marina Green. Your walk can continue along the bay to the west, through the Presidio, along the restored Crissy Field marshes, all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge; or to the east, a short climb through Fort Mason and down into Fisherman's Wharf.
If you are interested in biking around the area — "biking the bridge" is very popular activity — there are several companies that rent bikes out to tourists by the hour or for the day, including Bay City Bike, Bike and Roll, and Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals.
There are lots of things to see in this district ranging from the pristine natural landscapes of the Presidio, to man-made marinas, Victorian architecture, and the Golden Gate Bridge. In places like the Presidio and Fort Mason you'll find an interesting blend of both, with modern offices, historical buildings, and museums making their home alongside sandpipers, coyotes, and fox squirrel. "City slickers" should be more at home further inland where they'll find galleries and museums, architecture, and urban parks. Naturalists will be more at home along the coast line, from Fort Mason all the way along into the Presidio.
- 1 The Six Gallery, 3119 Fillmore St (between Pixley St and Filbert St). On Friday, October 7, 1955, the "Six Gallery reading" took place here. It was a seminal moment in the Beat Generation movement and attracted such poets and writers as Alan Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Philip Lamantia, Michael McClure, Philip Whalen, and Jack Kerouac. The gallery has since closed but you can still visit the site where this watershed event took place. Free.
- 2 Wave Organ, at the end of Yacht Rd (after the Golden Gate Yacht Club). It's best at high-tide — 5:30AM. Designed by George Gonzales and Peter Richards in 1986, the Wave Organ is a system of PVC pipes that harness the power of the ocean to create music... or at least what can be interpreted as music! There is a unique space at the end of a spit of land where you can sit and enjoy the sounds, and even if it's not your kind of music, there are some excellent views and it's also a great place to relax and have a picnic. Free.
- Yacht Clubs. You can't come to the Marina district without actually seeing, well... the marina! Here where you will find an impressive flotilla of vessels — both sail and power. There are various "small craft" harbors located at either end of Marina Green, but the two main yacht clubs are:
- 3 Golden Gate Yacht Club, 1 Yacht Rd (at the end of Yacht Rd), ☏ , [email protected]. Founded in 1939, this club is both a popular destination for pleasure cruises and for competitive regatta racing. It's plainer than its neighbor the SFYC, however it got a major boost of late when Larry Ellison and the Oracle guys signed up and the club became the challenge club of record for the America's Cup.
- 4 St Francis Yacht Club, 700 Marina Blvd (at the end of Baker St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Founded in 1927, this club has over 2,400 members and is also popular as both a cruise and regatta venue. It is reputedly the most exclusive yacht club in San Francisco and there are some serious vessels docked here.
The two largest parks in this area are listed separately under the Fort Mason section and The Presidio section below. The Marina Green Park is listed under the Do section below as it's primarily used as a recreational area. Other parks include:
- 5 Alta Plaza Park (between Jackson St and Steiner St, Clay St and Scott St), ☏ . A charming and immaculately manicured Pacific Heights park with great vistas over the Bay. It has tennis courts and a playground, and is a pretty good place for a picnic, or even just a rest if you've just scaled the hill.
- 6 Lafayette Park (between Sacramento St and Washington St, Laguna St and Gough St), ☏ . Another little oasis park in the heart of Pacific Heights — like its neighbor Alta Plaza Park, it is pristinely kept by local residents and it also has excellent views over the Bay.
Galleries and museums
- 7 Images of the North, 2036 Union St (between Buchanan St and Webster St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Tu-Sa 11AM-5:30PM and by appt. Features a eclectic collection of prints, sculpture, and jewelry from Alaskan and Canadian Inuit artists. The artwork sold here is an interpretation of Arctic life and culture. Free.
- 8 Wonders of Tibet, 1771 Union St (between Gough St and Octavia St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-4PM. A Tibetan inspired gallery where you will find all kind of original Buddhist treasures like; jewelry and beads, rugs, Dharma, antiques, artifacts, and gifts. Free.
Architecture buffs will definitely enjoy taking a stroll through the Pacific Heights and Cow Hollow neighborhoods, where ornate (and huge!) Edwardian and Victorian mansions are on display. Many are privately owned so be respectful, but some are open to the public. If you are a fan of the Spanish Colonial Revival-style, continue your tour through The Presidio section below where you will find many fine examples.
- 9 Atherton House, 1990 California St (at Octavia St). An 1881 Victorian mansion that was built for Mrs. Doming de Goni Atherton by an unknown architect. It was one of the first Queen Anne residences in San Francisco. It is reported to be haunted, and is a stop on the haunted tour of San Francisco. Free.
- 10 Haas Lilienthal House, 2007 Franklin St (at Washington St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Tours: Su 11AM-4PM, W and Sa noon-3PM. Tours leave every 20 to 30 minutes and last about 1 hour. This is an 11,500 ft² (1,070 m2) Queen Anne Victorian, built solely out of redwood in 1886 for William Haas. It has been fully preserved to its original design. It houses the San Francisco Architectural Heritage which offer tours inside the house and around the grounds. General admission $8, seniors and children 12 and under $5.
- 11 The Leale House, 2475 Pacific Ave (between Steiner St and Fillmore St). This house was built in 1853 and as such it is one of the city's oldest residences. A ferry-boat captain known as Captain Leale bought the house three decades later and remodeled it in the popular "Italianate" style.
- 12 The Octagon House, 2645 Gough St (at Union St), ☏ . Open to the public on the second Sunday of every month, and the second and fourth Thursday of every month, from noon-3PM. Dating from 1861, this eight-sided house with its cupola top, dormer windows, and roof lanterns was built in the belief that such octagonally shaped houses promote healthier living. Today, the building is an American Colonial museum. It has many artifacts on display including antique furniture and historical documents. It is run by the National Society of the Colonial Dames. Free.
- 13 San Francisco Public Library — Golden Gate Valley Branch, 1801 Green St (at Octavia St), ☏ , [email protected]. M-F 10AM-5:30PM. Built in 1917 by architect Ernest Coxhead, this unique "Beaux-Arts" library was modeled on a Roman basilica. It has free internet facilities.
- 14 Spreckles Mansion, 2080 Washington St (at Octavia St). This white "Beaux-Arts" limestone mansion was built in 1913 by sugar baron Adolph Spreckles. It has 55 rooms including a Louis XVI Ballroom. The mansion is a private residence which is owned by the famous romance-novelist, Danielle Steele.
- 15 Vedanta Temple, 2963 Webster St (at Filbert St), ☏ , [email protected]. This temple was built in 1905 by architect Joseph Leonard. Architecturally the building reflects the Vedantic philosophy that all roads lead to one God; hence the building has a mix of architectural styles like Edwardian, Moorish, Queen Anne, Colonial, and Oriental among others. It has five different towers on the top including a Russian-style onion dome and a European-style castle turret. The extraordinary temple was the first Hindu temple built in the West. Free.
Fort Mason was a U.S. Military coastal defense post and port for over 100 years. In 1985, it was ordained as a National Historic Landmark, primarily for its vital logistical role during World War II and then later the Korean War. Today, it is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and is under the remit of the National Park Service. Situated on a headland, Upper Fort Mason has great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and of Alcatraz. Lower Fort Mason, which comprises approximately 13 acres, is the site of the former military port and today houses the Fort Mason Center, which is committed to nonprofit and cultural activities with an emphasis on entertainment, recreation, and education in the fields of; the visual/performing arts, humanities, and ecology/environment. It has three museums and six theaters and hosts nearly 20,000 events each year. Most of the activities are provided at nominal or sometimes no cost to the public. The small, specialized museums in Fort Mason include:
- 16 Museo ItaloAmericano, Fort Mason Center, Building C, ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Tu-Su noon-4PM, M by appointment. Hosts photo exhibits and the work of modern Italian artists. Free.
- 17 San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art — Artists Gallery, Fort Mason Center, Landmark Building A, ☏ , [email protected]. Tu-Sa 10:30AM-5PM. Housed over two floors, the SFMOMA displays the art — in a variety of styles and media — of over 1,000 emerging and established Northern Californian artists. Free.
- 18 The Long Now Foundation Museum, Landmark Building A, ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. M-F 10:30AM-5PM, Sa Su 11AM-6PM. The Long Now foundation was established to foster a better understanding of a "slower/better" mind set — as opposed to "faster/cheaper" one. As well as holding many seminars and talks, they also have a museum and store at their premises. Free.
The Presidio was founded in 1776 and was the longest-running military post in the U.S. before closing as a base in 1994. It is now a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Congress has designated it a National Historic Landmark District, which is the highest historic designation that can be given in the U.S. The park is a beautiful 3 square miles of mostly hilly and wooded areas.
The Presidio has around 800 buildings within its perimeter, many of which are of historical significance. Some of the buildings have residential tenants, others commercial ones. At the end of 2005, about 2,500 people lived in the Presidio and it is home to the headquarters of Lucasfilm (owned by George Lucas, the creator of "Star Wars"), a unique situation for a national park. Part of their drinking water comes from Lobos Creek (Rio de los Lobos), the last free-flowing creek in San Francisco. The Presidio Trust, that manages the majority of the park, is renovating the remainder of the buildings, with a view to increasing its list of residents to 5,000.
The Presidio contains 11 miles of hiking trails, including the Golden Gate Promenade, the Coastal Trail, an ecology trail, and portions of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, the Bay Trail, and the Anza National Historic Trail. Cyclists can explore the area on 14 miles of paved roads and along some unpaved parts of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. A world-class board-sailing area borders Crissy Field, while fishing and crabbing opportunities abound from the nearby rocks and pier. Along the way there are also many historical and architectural points of interest as well as some fantastic vistas and natural scenery.
Visitor centers and museums
- 19 Arion Press, 1802 Hays St (at Belles St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Gallery: M-F 10AM-5PM. Tours: Th 3:30PM. Arion Press is considered the best publisher of fine press books in the nation. A gallery on-site has a large collection of limited edition books and prints, and they offer tours of their production facility, including the pressroom and the typefoundary that contains the oldest hot metal type foundry in the country. Gallery: free. Tours: $10.
- 20 Battery Chamberlin, Battery Chamberlin Rd, ☏ . On the first full weekend of each month, between 11AM-3PM, you can take part in demonstrations of the gun and visit a small seacoast defense museum at the battery. Battery Chamberlin, built near Baker Beach in 1904, was constructed as part of a modernization effort to accommodate the lighter, stronger, more powerful coastal defense weapons developed in the 1880s. Today Battery Chamberlin holds the last 6-inch "disappearing gun" of its type on the West Coast. Free.
- 21 Crissy Field Center, 1199 East Beach, ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. 9AM-5PM daily. The Crissy Field Center includes an activity area, learning and computer labs, a teaching kitchen, library, and an information area and bookstore. The center offers a rich array of education programs that serve the entire San Francisco community. Focusing on the convergence of Urban and Natural Environments, educational programs and activities promote multicultural perspectives, environmental stewardship, and community service. They also have a small cafe inside the premises serving up organic, locally sourced food. Free.
- 22 Fort Point National Historic Site, Marine Dr (Long Ave and Marine Dr), ☏ . Video orientations, guided tours, self-guiding materials, exhibits, and publication sales are offered F-Su 10AM-5PM. From its vantage point overlooking the spectacular Golden Gate, Fort Point protected San Francisco harbor from Confederate and foreign attack during and after the U.S. Civil War. Its beautifully arched casemates display the art of the master brick masons of the Civil War period. It is best approached from the Marina District along the water through the kites and bay-views of the connected Crissy Field Park. Free.
- 23 Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, 991 Marine Dr, ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. W-Su 10AM-4PM. The Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center provides information on the sanctuary and features hands-on educational exhibits on local marine life. The visitor center is housed in the historic Coast Guard Station at the west end of Crissy Field. The Life Saving Service and Coast Guard were housed here from 1890 to 1990, providing a variety of services ranging from search and rescue operations to navigational assistance. Free.
- 24 Walt Disney Family Museum, 104 Montgomery St (brief walk from the Transit Center), ☏ . W-M 10AM-6PM; closed Jan 1, Thanksgiving, Dec 25. Opened in 2009, this museum focuses on the life of Walt Disney and his accomplishments. The museum is not run by the Walt Disney Company, meaning that while it views Walt Disney in a favorable light, it doesn't come off as corporate propaganda. The collections have some fascinating Disneyana, including the Oscar awarded to Disney for Snow White, a multiplane camera used prominently in Disney animated films, and a number of posters promoting early Disneyland rides. This is an absolute must-see for Disney enthusiasts, but even casual Disney fans will be impressed by the material here, which does a very good job of showing how a man with a gift for cartooning built what would become a modern media empire. $25 for adults, $20 for students and seniors, $15 for ages 6-17, free for under 6.
- 25 William Penn Mott, Jr. Visitor Center, Building 50, Moraga Ave (at Graham St), ☏ . 9AM-5PM daily. Information on points of interest and Presidio history is available at the Visitor Center, temporarily located in the Presidio Officers' Club. Several videos can be viewed in the theater and a bookstore offers topical books and other media. Free.
Historical points of interest
- 26 Battery East (off Marina Dr). This fortification was built in the 1870s, to withstand newer and heavier ordinance. You can view the earthen works and brick-lined magazines built to protect large Rodman guns and their ammunition. Free.
- 27 Cavalry Stables and Pet Cemetery, Cowles St (between Lincoln Blvd and McDowell Ave), ☏ . Five brick cavalry stables were built in 1914. Each stable could house 102 horses, enough for a cavalry company. A paddock stood between the stables and the cavalry barracks on the hill behind, and a blacksmith shop was in front. After the cavalry left the stables, they were adapted to other uses — the Pet Cemetery was started and also a veterinary hospital. Free.
- 28 Crissy Airfield, Crissy Field, 603 Mason St, ☏ , [email protected]. From 1921 to 1936 Crissy Army Airfield was the center of West Coast military aviation. During these years of explosive advances in air power, pilots from Crissy performed maneuvers and mock battles, flew endurance flights, surveyed the west by air, and scouted for forest fires. Free.
- 29 Fort Winfield Scott, Ruckman Ave (near Appleton St). Situated near the gun batteries of the coastal bluffs, Fort Scott was established in 1912 to serve as headquarters for the Coastal Artillery Corps of the San Francisco Bay area. Spanish Revival style buildings, the first of this style to be built on the Presidio, characterize the post, and the U-shaped parade ground breaks from traditional quadrangular design. The post was eventually converted to an Army Education Center. Free.
- 30 Infantry Row, Infantry Terrace (near Moraga Ave). Buildings 101 through 105, known as "Infantry Row," were constructed to accommodate troops consolidated at the Presidio after the Indian Wars. These were some of the first brick barracks constructed in the west, showing that the Presidio was to be a permanent post. Built in the late 1890s, these barracks display Colonial Revival style architecture with Romanesque elements. Free.
- 31 Letterman Complex, Letterman Dr (between Lombard St and Presidio Blvd), ☏ . Established in 1898 to care for sick and wounded soldiers, it is the Army's oldest named general hospital and during WWII it became the largest Army hospital in the country. Today the complex is home to Lucas Films and lots of Star Wars fans make the pilgrimage there each year. You won't get inside unless you know someone. Free.
- 32 Yoda Fountain. You can practice your "Jedi" skills outside the Letterman Complex with this statue of Yoda on a fountain. Free.
- 33 Main Post, Lincoln Blvd (at Montgomery St), [email protected]. The Main Post is at the heart of the Presidio. It marks the site of a Spanish garrison established here in 1776 and it is home to the oldest buildings in the Presidio, dating back to 1861. Free.
- 34 Pershing Square, Pershing Dr (between Bliss Ct and Craig Ct), [email protected]. The flagpole in Pershing Square (at the Main Post) marks the site of a disastrous 1915 fire that destroyed the residence and killed the wife and three daughters of General John "Black Jack" Pershing of World War I fame. Just east lies the site of the original Spanish presidio, built in 1776 on this windswept slope. A boulder by the sidewalk approximates the northwest corner of the original Presidio, which formed a square about 300 feet (100 m) on each side. Two bronze cannons at this site, forged in the 1600s, used to be mounted at Castillo de San Joaquin, a fort built at the point overlooking the Golden Gate. They are among the oldest cannon in North America. Free.
- 35 Public Health Service Hospital, Wedemeyer St and 15th Ave, ☏ , [email protected]. Built in 1875, the Public Health Service Hospital tended the needs of merchant seamen. Eventually the hospital also cared for members of the U.S. Coast Guard and other governmental agencies, Native Americans and Vietnam refugees. In addition, important research on plague diseases was conducted here. A new hospital replaced the old in 1932, and two wings were added in the 1950s. The hospital closed in 1981.
- 36 San Francisco National Cemetery, 1 Lincoln Blvd (near Fisher Loop), ☏ . Many military personal have been buried here over the years, including a General from the American Civil War and 35 Medal of Honor recipients.
- 37 West Coast Memorial to the Missing of World War II, at Kobbe Ave and Lincoln Blvd (near Baker Beach), ☏ . One of three memorials on U.S. soil dedicated to missing service members of World War II, the West Coast Memorial is a curved wall of California granite set in a grove of Monterey pine and cypress. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it bears the names of 413 members of the Armed Forces who lost their lives or were buried at sea in the offshore Pacific coastal waters.
- 38 The Golden Gate Club, 135 Fisher Loop (at Infantry Terrace), ☏ , [email protected]. With its beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival-style exterior, it was dedicated in 1949 as a first-class service club for enlisted men and women and was the site of several historic treaty signings during the early days of the Korean War. Stylishly remodeled, the club is now a full-service conference and events center. Free.
- 39 Officers Club, 50 Moraga Ave (at Graham St), ☏ , [email protected]. Tu-Su 10AM-6PM. It was built by the Spanish with adobe walls, and was remodeled in the 1930s in the Spanish Colonial Revival-style adorned with rustic Spanish-tile gable roofs, heavy, rough timber lintels and beams, and decorative ironwork. Free.
- 40 Old Post Hospital, Funston Ave (at Lincoln Blvd). Built in 1864, it displays Italianate and Greek Revival architectural styles. Constructed during the Civil War, it is one of the oldest standing buildings on the Presidio. The original structure was modified by adding wings and enclosing the porches. In 1897, an octagonal surgical tower with windows on all sides was added to provide a well-lit operating room. Free.
- 41 Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon St (at Bay St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]inearts.org. 6AM-9PM daily. The only structure remaining from the 1915 World's Fair, it features a classical Roman rotunda (1,100 feet wide, 162 feet high) with curved colonnades (30 Corinthian columns frame a wide walkway in the colonnade) situated in an idyllic park setting with a classical European-Style lagoon. It's a great place to unwind, have a picnic, and watch the swans float elegantly by. It also has a theater offering a variety of shows, musical and cultural events. Free.
- 42 Interfaith Center at the Presidio, Fisher Loop, Building 130 (near Infantry Terrace), ☏ . M-Th 10AM-2PM, Su 10AM-1PM. Built in the early 1930s, this cruciform-shaped sanctuary is a fine example of Spanish Colonial Revival style architecture, with features that embellished early mission churches. Stained glass windows depict virtues of military character, and a large wall mural by Victor Arnautoff (famed Coit Tower muralist) depicts the peacetime activities of the Army. Free.
Nature and recreation
Nature lovers will adore the Presidio. Its geology, climate, and geography — combined with the Army's decision not to overdevelop the Park — mean that it has some of the most intact natural habitats on the San Francisco peninsula. It is home to many rare species of flowers including Raven's manzanita and Franciscan thistle as well as mammals like the coyote, gray fox, and the Fox Squirrel. Bird lovers will be pleased to know that there are a great variety of birds milling about including Gulls, Sandpipers, Plovers, Ducks, Herons, Loons, Pelecans, and Kingfishers.
- 43 Baker Beach, Gibson Rd (along Lincoln Blvd and Bowley St), ☏ . A beautiful, immaculately kept 1-mile stretch of beach, set just behind the Golden Gate Bridge. Unfortunately, due to strong currents, the beach is not very safe for swimming, but for "land-lovers" it does have many outdoor barbeques and designated picnic areas to eat and relax at. Toward the northern end of the beach there is also an unofficial nude section that mainly seems to attract gay men. It has free parking and clean restrooms.
- 44 Coastal Bluffs. Beaches and rocky shoreline lie at the base of the coastal bluffs, while their tops provide expansive views of the Pacific coastline. The Coastal Trail extends along the wind-swept coastal bluffs, where some of the most intact natural habitat in the Presidio harbors rare plants adapted to serpentine soil and cool foggy conditions.
- 45 Crissy Field Marsh and Beach, 1199 East Beach, ☏ , [email protected]. Known by many names — "The city's front yard" and "The Golden Gate promenade" — this used to be one of the country's most active and strategic military airstrips. Today, under the care the Golden Gate National Parks Association, the 28 acre site has been transformed into recreational space for joggers, cyclists, walkers, and picnickers. There is also a significant project underway to return 18 acres back to its original tidal marshlands. With this effort, Crissy Field is fast becoming a great place to see local wildlife such as migrating long-billed curlews, semipalmated plovers and western sandpipers.
- 46 El Polin Spring, El Polin Loop (at the end of MacArthur Ave), ☏ . El Polin spring water bubbles from a rock wall at the head of this riparian valley. The spring provided a source of fresh water for the Spanish Presidio, and Spanish and Mexican families built their homes in this sheltered valley. Today, you can picnic in the bucolic meadows near the spring or explore the surrounding forest and grasslands.
- 47 Inspiration Point, Arguello Blvd and Washington Blvd (at the Arguello Boulevard Gate), ☏ , [email protected]. Perched high atop the Presidio, Inspiration Point has great views over the Presidio and the Bay and is great to visit both during the day and at night.
- 48 Lobos Creek Valley (off Lincoln Blvd, at the south-eastern section of the Presidio). Contains the last free-flowing stream in San Francisco, which provides water to the inhabitants of the Presidio.
- 49 Lovers' Lane (between Liggett Ave and Clark St). One of the oldest foot trails in the Presidio, Lovers' Lane is an easy, one-mile walk. U.S. soldiers used the trail to visit their lovers and family in San Francisco.
- 50 Mountain Lake (at the southern entrance to the park, near 10th Ave and Lake St), ☏ . The campsite of the Anza settlement party in 1776, it became a source of fresh water for San Francisco during the early years. Ducks and waterfowl make their home among the tule reeds. Mountain Lake today fronts a popular neighborhood park with playground equipment, tennis courts and a Par Course.
- 51 Presidio Forest. A mature forest of pine, cypress, eucalyptus and other non-native trees covers the higher areas of the Presidio. The army planted these trees from the 1880s through the 1940s in order to make the area appear larger with more relief, to limit visibility within the Presidio, and to beautify the post.
- 52 Presidio Golf Course, 300 Finley Rd (at Arguello Blvd), ☏ . Tee-off times 6:45AM-3:09PM. Founded in 1895 by the private San Francisco Golf and Country Club, the original 9-hole Presidio Golf Course was one of the earliest courses on the West Coast. In 1910, the course was expanded to 18-holes. Today, the course is open to the general public. $55-145.
- 53 Mountain Lake Park, located just north of the intersection of Lake and Funston at the southern end of the Presidio park. A small hiking trail winds around this scenic lake, noted for its historic importance in that it supplied water to the nearby colonial Spanish settlement of the Presidio. There is also a playground and a tennis court at the southern side of the lake.
Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge trivia
54 Golden Gate Bridge, US 101 (from Park-Presidio or Lombard St entrance), ☏ (general info), toll-free: (toll payment inquiries), [email protected]. Open 24 hours, occasionally closed Sunday morning for events. Welcome Center: daily, 9AM-6PM. $8.00 Pay-By-Plate, $7 w/ FasTrak account (toll driving south into San Francisco; free on foot or bike).
Vehicular traffic in both directions share a single deck; a movable barrier (operated on by a zipper machine) used to allot lanes to one direction or the other depending on traffic conditions. Observation areas and parking lots are provided on both the north and south sides of the bridge; the best way to enjoy the bridge is to park and walk across, not least because you don't have to pay a toll. Winds are high and it can be cold and foggy; dress appropriately. Bikes can also be difficult to navigate in the high winds and narrow pathway.
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most iconic bridges in the United States, and has been called one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. The bridge spans the Golden Gate, a strait between San Francisco and Marin County to the north, and is one of the major road routes into and out of the city.
The masterwork of architect Joseph B. Strauss, whose statue graces the southern observation deck, the bridge took four years to build, and was completed on May 27, 1937. It managed to survive a major earthquake in 1989. The bridge is painted a deep red-orange color known as "International Orange," also known as "Orange Vermillion," which was specifically chosen to make the bridge more easily visible through the thick fog that frequently shrouds the bridge. Erroneous legend has it that the bridge is continuously painted, with crews starting at one end and, on getting to the other end, turning around and starting over again. In fact, the bridge is only painted once every few years, but touch up work is done continuously by a team of 40 painters.
The San Francisco end of the bridge is accessible by the Muni 28 bus line from Fort Mason in the Marina District near Fisherman's Wharf. The fastest way to reach it from downtown is to take the 38 or 38L up Geary to "Park Presidio" (after 12th Ave) and transfer to a Fort Mason bound 28. Golden Gate Transit buses serve the bridge on request, but buses are very infrequent and unpredictable except at afternoon commute times, when they are crowded.
Toll collection on the Golden Gate Bridge is entirely electronic (no cash accepted) and done by license plate recognition. As you pass through the former tollbooth plaza, reduce your speed but do not stop. If you are driving a rental car, you have 48 hours to pay your toll by going to bayareafastrak.org and following the link for Golden Gate Bridge Toll. From there, you may make a one-time payment of your toll by providing the license plate of your rental vehicle, the date and time of your crossing, and your credit card information. Failing to do so will result in your rental car company being charged the toll, and they will usually pass the charge on to you with additional fees.
Due to the "outdoorsy" nature of the area, many of the activities here are centered around nature, exercise, and recreation. If you feel like catching a show, there are also many theaters here of all descriptions.
- 1 Marina Green, Marina Green Dr (along Marina Blvd between Buchanan St and Scott St), ☏ . Marina Green is a long, flat strip of grass at the front of the Marina that runs along the Bay, equidistant between the Presidio and Fort Mason. The "Green" teems with joggers, cyclists, dog walkers, kite flyers, volleyball players, frisbee throwers, and rollerbladers — all getting their health kick exercising in an iconic location. The activities continue all the way through Crissy Fields ("The City's Front Yard") to the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge where you will find surfers patiently waiting for that next "big one."
- 2 Farallon Islands Whale Watching, San Francisco Yacht Harbor/Marina Green (just outside the Harbormaster's office), ☏ , fax: . Cruise departs select Saturdays and Sundays May-Nov (check schedule in advance), Check-in time is 7:30AM, boat leaves 8AM. Learn about the importance of preserving our natural environment on a 8 hour cruise to this National Wildlife Refuge, 27 miles off the coast of San Francisco in the Gulf of the Farallons. The islands' 211 acres of rocks and surrounding waters are home to Sea Lions, Tufted Puffins, Pigeon Guillemots, and Rhinoceros Auklets among other species. In total, twenty three species of marine mammals, including 18 species of whales and dolphins reside in these waters. $128/person.
- 3 Steps at Broadway and Lyon, Pacific Heights (at Broadway St and Lyon St). If you climb these steps you can get a breathtaking view of the Palace of Fine Arts, the Marina, and the Bay. The Steps are known locally as the "San Francisco Stair Master"... and with good reason!
- Walking Tours. There are a number of themed walking tours available in the area including:
- Heritage Walks, Haas Lilienthal House, 2007 Franklin St (at Washington St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Hours vary — see website. These architectural tours of Pacific Heights and Cow Hollow are given by the San Francisco Architectural Heritage Foundation and focus mainly on its abundance of "Painted Ladies" (no... not grandma! — it refers to Edwardian and Victorian mansions) as well as the historical underpinnings of the area. They offer several different tours of varying lengths so check their website for specific details. $8 general, $5 seniors/children.
- San Francisco Ghost Hunt Walking Tour, Depart from the lobby of the Queen Anne Hotel, 1590 Sutter St (corner of Sutter St and Octavia St), ☏ , [email protected]. W-M 7PM. Who's afraid of ghosts? Well, if you have the backbone for it, you can visit places long suspected of being haunted by ghostly visitations and spirits on this one hour guided tour. Reservations not required; adults $20, under 16's $10.
Theater and performing arts
- 4 BATS Improv at Bayfront Theater, Fort Mason Center, Bldg B, 3rd floor (Lower Fort Mason), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Shows usually start at 7PM/8PM. BATS is a performing arts theater company that focuses on all forms of improvisational format, including theatersports. They also provide classes for anyone interested. $8-20.
- 5 Blue Bear Performance Hall, Fort Mason Center, Bldg D, 2nd floor (Lower Fort Mason), ☏ , [email protected]. The Blue Bear Performance Hall is used mostly for school musical performances. They have a music school that teaches all kind of music from Jazz to rock-n-roll to musicians of all ages. The hall also hosts some independent stage productions.
- 6 Clay Theater, 2261 Fillmore St (between Clay St and Sacramento St), ☏ . The Art Deco/Neo-Classical Clay Theater was built in 1910 and is one of the oldest movie theaters in the city. It specializes in indie and international films. It's a small little theater, with smallish seats and an even smaller screen; but its got a cozy atmosphere, its popcorn comes laden with butter, and overall it's a great place to catch an art house film. General: $10.50, Bargain Matinee: $8 (M-Th before 6PM, F-Su 1st showing).
- 7 Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, Middle Pier (behind Herbst Pavilion), ☏ . See website for schedule and times. Hosts theater, dance, talks, and film festival productions among other things. $0-60.
- 8 Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Bldg D, 3rd floor (Lower Fort Mason), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. W–Sa 8PM, Su 2:30PM and 7PM. The Magic Theater is where you can go if you are interested in seeing productions from new and established American playwrights such as the Pulitzer Prize-winner, Sam Shepard. $25-75.
- 9 Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon St, ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. See website for schedule and times. This 1,000 seat theater hosts concerts, comedy shoes, film events, and lectures. $20-150.
- 10 Young Performers Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Bldg C, 3rd floor (Lower Fort Mason), ☏ , [email protected]. Sa 1PM, Su 1PM and 3:30PM. Shows do not run every week, see website for exact dates. The Young Performers Theatre is a professional children's theater. It hosts a dozen or so shows each year and also offers classes in the dramatic arts, creative drama, comedy and musical theater. Adults: $10, Children under 13: $7.
Events and festivals
- Ethnic Dance Festival, Palace of Fine Arts, ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. June — Sa 2PM and 8PM, Su 2PM. The festival is held over four weekends in June and celebrates traditional ethnic dances like Flamenco, Balinese, Fuego Nuevo, Irish, and YaoYong. It's colorful, energetic, and exciting... and you might actually learn a thing or two for the dance floor! Opening Night Gala: $175, Single ticket: $22-44, All four weekends ticket: $80-158.
- Easter Parade and Spring Celebration, Union St (Gough St to Fillmore St), toll-free: . Easter Su 10AM-5PM. The kid-friendly but diverse festivities include; a petting zoo, pony rides, live music, train rides, alfresco dining, and a parade. It attracts about 35,000 attendees annually. Good family fun for all!. Free.
- Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, ☏ , [email protected]. Second Su in June. Ok, hands up who can swim 1.5 miles through chilly waters, jump on a bike and cycle 18 miles, and then polish it all off with a mere 8 mile run... any takers? Well every year this event attracts 2,000 people who can, including world champions and Olympic medalists. The course winds its way through Fort Mason, along Marina Green and through the demanding trails of the Presidio and beyond. Anywhere along the route is good from a spectators point of view, but the transition area and the finish is at Marina Green. Free.
- Fantasy of Lights, Union St and Fillmore St (Union St — between Van Ness Ave and Steiner, Fillmore St — between Union St and Lombard St), toll-free: . First Sa in December, 6PM-9PM. This is a month long celebration that sees local shop owners adorning their windows with the prettiest of lights, in an attempt to capture the coveted prize of "Best Lighting Effect." It all starts with an opening night parade when the lights are officially turned on and is followed by a month of programs and events. Although it's certainly pretty, it's probably not going to help with the global warming problem!. Free.
- San Francisco Blues Festival, Great Meadow, Fort Mason (Marina Blvd and Laguna St), ☏ , [email protected]. Last weekend in Sept: F-Su. This is the oldest continually running blues fest in the world and it attracts some great Blues performers every year. Previous performers included B.B. King, Carlos Santana, and Little Richard among others. For the famished, they also have some flavorful New Orleans style barbeques to compliment the music. Advance: $35 per day, At the gate: $40 per day, Two-day ticket: $55, Single-day reserved lawn seating: $50, Two-day reserved lawn seating: $80, Children under 10 free.
- San Francisco International Film Festival, 39 Mesa St, Suite 110 (on the Presidio, near the Officers Club), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Two weeks in Apr/May. This festival has been going on now for over 50 years. It is organized by the San Francisco Film Society who are based in the Presidio, but the arthouse movies, documentaries, and short films are shown throughout the city. General admission $12.50, seniors/students/disabled $11.
- Tribal, Folk, and Textile Art Show, Fort Mason Center (Lower Fort Mason), ☏ , [email protected]. Second weekend in February: F-Sa 11AM-7PM, Su 11AM-5PM. More than 100 international dealers and galleries showcase their tribal, folk, and textile art at this show. Thousands of pieces will be on display from places such as Africa, the Himalayas, the Middle East, and the Americas. $15 daily.
- Union St Art Festival (between Union St and Gough St), toll-free: , fax: . First weekend in June: Sa-Su 10AM-6PM. This festival attracts many local artists who line the streets displaying their arts and crafts, along with live jazz and classical music performances. The festival is one of San Francisco's largest annual free events, and attracts around 100,000 attendees each year. The festival has over a hundred arts and crafts booths, as well as two live entertainment stages, and an organic farmer's market. Free.
The three main shopping thoroughfares are Union St (Cow Hollow), Fillmore St (Pacific Heights) and Chestnut St (The Marina). Most stores here are of the small specialist boutique variety — a mix of unique and trendy chain shops reflecting the upscale nature of the neighborhoods. Union St is unquestionably one of the best streets in the city to window shop on (and hey, that costs nothing!), so take a slow stroll down Union St and enjoy the vibrancy and atmosphere of the shops, galleries, eateries, cafes and passers-by. With a friendly neighborhood feel, Fillmore St displays its charm through eclectic Victorian buildings that the stores are housed in. The street has a relaxed vibe, shopping here is a leisurely activity — many stores don't open until 11AM, some are closed on Mondays and most are closed on holidays. Chestnut St in the Marina is the one-stop street for anything you could need. Word to the wise — watch out for all the double-wide and double-decker baby strollers... they'll run you down.
- 1 Ambiance, 1858 Union St (between Octavia St and Laguna St), ☏ . M-F 11AM-7PM, Sa 10AM-7PM, Su 11AM-7PM. The store has a great selection of women's clothes and jewelry.
- 2 Blu, 2259 Fillmore St (between Clay St and Sacramento St), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-7PM, Su noon-6PM. Women's modern European clothes and accessories store.
- 3 Books Inc, 2251 Chestnut St (at Avila St), ☏ , [email protected]. M-Sa 9AM-10PM, Su 9AM-9PM. Unusual and quirky book store that holds a storytelling hour for kids every Sunday afternoon.
- 4 Gallery of Jewels, 2115 Fillmore St (at California St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. M-Sa 10:30AM-6:30PM, Su 11AM-6PM. This gallery sells distinctive, limited edition jewelry handcrafted by local and international designers. They have a good variety of silver, gold and platinum accessories and sell jewelry for both men and women.
- 5 Golden Gate Bridge Gift Center, Golden Gate Bridge Plaza (Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza — southeast side), ☏ . 9AM-6PM daily. You can purchase souvenirs of the Golden Gate Bridge here.
- 6 Margaret O'Leary, 2400 Fillmore St (at Washington St), ☏ , [email protected]. M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 11PM-5PM. Ladies store specializing in high-end knits and accessories.
- 7 Nest, 2300 Fillmore St (at Clay St), ☏ , fax: . M-F 10:30AM-6:30PM, Sa 10:30AM-6PM, Su 11AM-6PM. French-inspired furniture, gifts, and accessories.
- 8 Past Perfect, 2246 Lombard St (between Pierce St and Steiner St), ☏ . 11AM-7PM daily. Antique store with a large and eclectic selection of vintage goods and artwork to choose from.
- 9 Safeway, 15 Marina Blvd (between Beach St and Buchanan St — near Fort Mason), ☏ . Open 24 hours. Large Safeway grocery store on the Marina.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
|Budget||$10 or less|
|Splurge||$20 or more|
There is an excellent selection of restaurants in this area; everything from regional Chinese restaurants to Tapas bars, and from Japanese sushi houses to American steakhouses, romantic French bistros, and Italian restaurants. A lot of the food plated here is of the healthier variety — a reflection of the heightened overall health consciousness of residents in this area. Therefore, many of the restaurants serve up food that's organic, vegetarian, or produced from locally sourced ingredients... is there any other way!? Like most other businesses in the area, most restaurants are on Chestnut St, Union St, and Fillmore St; or indeed, one of the side streets leading off them.
- 1 Ace Wasabi's Rock-N-Roll Sushi, 3339 Steiner St (just north of Lombard St), ☏ , fax: . M-Th 5:30PM-10:30PM, F-Sa 5:30PM-11PM, Su 5PM-10PM. This sushi place is popular with the locals, offering good sushi with a rock and roll theme. Quirky and a bit of fun. $5-14.50.
- 2 Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers, 3344 Steiner St (between Chestnut St and Lombard St), ☏ . M-Th 11AM-10:30PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 11AM-9:30PM. Great gourmet burgers here at a very affordable price. They have a great selection of burgers including some interesting vegetarian options like "tofu burgers," and fyi, all their burgers can be wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun... give it a try! They also serve salads and sandwiches. $8-12.
- 3 Home Plate, 2274 Lombard St (between Pierce St and Steiner St), ☏ . M-Su 7AM-4PM. Wonderful breakfast/brunch place on Lombard St. Its always busy on weekends and it can feel a tad cramped but the food is worth it — delicious homemade scones with homemade jam and preserves, omelettes, pancakes/waffles, and eggs benedict. This is certainly one of the best breakfast places in the city! $5-10.
- 4 Pluto's Fresh Food for a Hungry Universe, 3258 Scott St (at Chesnut St), ☏ . M–F 11AM–10PM, Sa–Su 10:30AM–10PM. Fun American restaurant that's part of a chain. It's mostly green salads and sandwiches here — custom made to your discerning specifications! $7-12.
- 5 Alegrias, 2018 Lombard St (between Webster St and Fillmore St), ☏ , fax: . W-M 5:30PM-10PM. Alegrias is a colorful, friendly, and romantic little Tapas bar in the Marina. Like many other Tapas bars, it's a great place to go if you want to sample many flavors and tastes from small plates. If you're still hungry after that, they have a more substantial main menu with plates like grilled lamb, paellas, and stewed rabbit. $8-23.
- 6 Bistro Aix, 3340 Steiner St (between Lombard St and Chestnut St), ☏ , fax: . W-Th 6PM-10PM, F-Sa 6PM-11PM, Su 5:30PM-9:30PM. A great dating restaurant with intimate, comfortable seating, and a romantic decor. They use fresh seasonal, local ingredients in their dishes. $14-22.
- 7 Dragon Well Restaurant, 2142 Chestnut St (between Steiner and Pierce St), ☏ , fax: . 11:30AM-10PM daily. Light but satisfying modern Chinese food — not your typical oily dishes here! $11-14.
- 8 Greens Restaurant, Building A, Fort Mason Center (Lower Fort Mason), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. M 5:30PM-9PM, Tu-Sa noon-2:30PM, 5:30PM-9PM, Su 10:30AM-2PM, 5:30PM-9PM. Located in Fort Mason, Greens organic vegetarian restaurant is a firm favorite among veggies and the health conscious. They have fresh, tasty international food that appeases all appetites (except for carnivorous ones of course!). Over the years it has become a bit of a local institution as its views over the water are hard to beat. $16-23.
- 9 La Mediterranee, 2210 Fillmore St (at Sacramento St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Su-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM. Serving up affordable Middle Eastern classics like quiche, hummos, pita bread, and kebabs. $10-15.
- 10 Pacific Catch, 2027 Chestnut St (at Fillmore St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. 11AM-10PM daily. There isn't much seating in this place, but that doesn't seem to matter for the patrons that come here to taste Asian/Pacific cuisine. The tuna bowl comes highly recommended. $11-15.
- 11 A16, 2355 Chestnut St (between Scott St and Divisadero St), ☏ . Dinner: Su-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-11PM Lunch: W-F 11:30AM-2:30PM. This is part wine bar part restaurant; they serve simple Italian favorites (pizza, pastas, salumi) from the Campania region of Italy. They also have traditional wood-burning ovens to perfect your pizza. $15-30.
- 12 Boboquivari's, 1450 Lombard St (between Franklin St and Van Ness Ave), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Su-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-11PM. Popular steakhouse in the Marina, Bobo's is a "surf-n-turfers" dream. The menu boasts excellent steaks (porterhouse, fillet mignon, New York bone-in) combined with mussels, shrimp, lobster, and Dungeness crab... yummy! Bobo's is a colorful, if upscale restaurant, that is very popular and almost always busy. $30-65.
- 13 Brazen Head, 3166 Buchanan St (at Greenwich St), ☏ , fax: . Bar Hours: 4PM-2AM Dinner: 5PM-1AM. Serving wholesome American cuisine including their signature dish "Certified Angus Beef NY Pepper Steak" — this restaurant is a very well kept local secret. $18-30.
- 14 Capannina, 1809 Union St (at Octavia St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Su-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-10:30PM. An Italian restaurant that focuses on the familiar and tempting classics of Italian cuisine. They have a "prix-fixe" as well as an "à la carte" menu. $25-75.
- 15 Eastside West Restaurant and Raw Bar, 3154 Fillmore St (at Greenwich St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Dinner: Tu-Sa 4PM-10PM, Su 5PM-8PM, Brunch: Sa 11AM-3PM, Su 11AM-5PM. They have excellent seafood here — shrimp, mussels, crabs, lobsters, and oysters. It's perfect for appetizers and drinks on a weekend afternoon; or how about their happy hour M-F 4PM-7PM, with $1 oysters and $2 draft beers... the perfect combination! $14-40.
- 16 Isa, 3324 Steiner St (just off of Chestnut St), ☏ , fax: . M-Th 5:30PM-10PM, F-Sa 5:30-10:30PM. Comfortable environment with an innovative fusion menu made up of small plates that blend French style with Asian flavors. Owner Luke Sung is one of San Francisco's most celebrated young chefs. $10-30.
- 17 Izzy's Steaks & Chops, 3345 Steiner St (between Lombard St and Chestnut St), ☏ . Su-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5:30-10:30PM. Classic steak restaurant with wood floors, saw dust, comfortable booths, steak sauces, and the requisite cowboy hat to boot! Their pricing is affordable and their steaks big and tasty. $17-37.
- 18 Jackson Fillmore Trattoria, 2506 Fillmore St (at Jackson St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Tu-Sa 5:30PM-10PM, Su 5PM-9:30PM. This 3 star trattoria serves up old-style southern Italian food and wine from the region. The food is excellent and affordable (given the quality) and the place is usually crowded as a result. $25-45.
- 19 Perry's, 1944 Union St (between Charlton Ct and Laguna St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Lunch & Dinner: F-Sa 11AM-midnight, Su-Th 11AM-11PM, Brunch: Sa 9AM-3PM, Su 8AM-3PM. Over 40 years old, this restaurant is another Cow Hollow tradition. It is known for its classic American cuisine. $17-30.
- 20 Presidio Social Club, 563 Ruger St, Bldg 563 (at Lyon St), ☏ , fax: . M-Sa 5:30PM-11PM, Su 5:30PM-9:30PM, Brunch Sa-Su 10AM-2PM. Serving traditional American and international cuisine like fish and chips, Kobe beef, and liver and onions. They have a large outdoor veranda that is an excellent place to dine... weather permitting! There is also a lively bar on the premises if you fancy a few stiff drinks. $18-27.
- 21 Rose's Café, 2298 Union St (at Steiner St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. M-Th 7AM-10PM, F 7AM-11PM, Sa 8AM-11PM, Su 8AM-10PM. Features Italian and Californian fare created using fresh organic and local produce; this is certainly a restaurant for the more environmentally conscious. It's a very romantic spot and a favorite among locals. $16-30.
The area is not particularly well known for its cutting edge nightlife; it's more residential vis-à-vis downtown, and it does not have the cool cachet of trendy hotspot SoMa, nor the hipster popularity of North Beach and The Mission. So, if you're looking for a progressive clubbing scene, you probably won't find it here. What the area does offer though is many upscale bars, wine bars, sleek lounges, and clubs. The scene here can be pricey and many people deliberately avoid the bars and clubs here feeling that they are too pretentious, and consequently sterile. However, this can be a mistake as there are also plenty of cheaper options where you can get equally raucous and debaucherous on your nights out... thank God for that!
- 1 Black Horse London Pub, 1514 Union St (at Van Ness Ave), ☏ . 5PM-midnight. They advertise this place as the smallest bar in San Francisco... "Small Pub, Big Heart." It is exactly 7 wide and 19 foot long... not for the claustrophobic! It may be small but this is a fun little bar with a list of "Tenets" on the wall; including "Thou Shall give priority seating to all Women in the Bar. (If you need further explication, please see "Exit.")" and "Thou Shall have one pub and one pub only. (Ours...)."
- 2 Blue Light, 1979 Union St (between Buchanan St and Charlton Ct), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Bar: M-F 4PM-2AM, Sa-Su 11AM-2AM Kitchen: Kitchen M-F 5PM-10PM, Sa noon-10PM, Sunday 11AM-10PM. Their "Taco Tuesday" is a long standing favorite among locals and features $3 margaritas for the ladies. Guys are equally well served with $2 Coronas, and with $1.50 tacos, who could go hungry?
- 3 Bus Stop, 1901 Union St (between Charlton Ct and Laguna St), ☏ . M-F 10AM-2AM, Sa-Su 9AM-2AM. The Bus Stop has a comfortable "homey" atmosphere with 17 TVs and sports memorabilia on the walls. It attracts a twenty-something/thirty-something crowd. Happy Hour (M-F 4PM-6PM has $1.50 domestic beers and half price cocktails).
- 4 Mauna Loa Club, 3009 Fillmore St (between Filbert St and Union St), ☏ . M-F 2PM-2AM, Sa-Su noon-2AM. Pretty cool little Hawaiian bar decked out in island regalia. They have a nice circular bar, open windows that peer out over Fillmore St, and lots of games inside to keep you occupied. They have a pretty decent happy hour M-F 4PM-7PM, to get your night started.
- 5 Monaghan's, 3259 Pierce St (at Chestnut St), ☏ , [email protected]. M 4:30PM-2AM, Tu-F 2PM-2AM, Sa-Su noon-2AM. Another Irish bar turned sports bar in the Marina district which draws an eclectic crowd. They have a long happy hour that runs M-F 4PM-7PM; and nightly specials including "Ladies Night" on Thursdays where cocktails are half price.
- 6 California Wine Merchant, 2113 Chestnut St (at Steiner St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. M-W 10AM-midnight, Th-Sa 10AM-1:30AM, Su 11AM-11PM. Formerly just a wine retail shop, the California Wine Merchant is now a hip little spot where you can enjoy a few glasses of wine, watch people walk by on Chestnut St, or pick up a few bottles to bring home.
- 7 Ottimista Enoteca Cafe, 1838 Union St (between Octavia St and Laguna St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Tu-Th 2PM-11PM, F noon-2AM, Sa 11AM-2AM, Su 11AM-10PM. Nice little upscale Italian wine bar that has mostly Italian and Californian wines in their exposed cellar. They have a decent selection of circa 40 wines by the glass; 250 by the bottle. They also serve small plates of food to compliment your wine.
- 8 The Comet Club, 3111 Fillmore St (at Filbert St), ☏ . Su, Tu-W 7PM-2AM, Th-Sa 5:30PM-2AM. Good place to go if you like to boogie-on-down to the sounds of the 70s and 80s! It's a bit of a cramped space though and can get crowded as a result.
- 9 The HiFi Lounge, 2125 Lombard St (between Fillmore St and Steiner St), ☏ , [email protected]. W-Th 8PM-2AM, F 5PM-2AM, Sa 8PM-2AM. The HiFi Lounge is where people come to dance the night away. It also features live DJs, games, and big screen TVs. Happy hour begins at 5PM and they offer $2 Budweisers and $3 well Drinks. Their "Girls of Taste" (wine tasting for women) is not to be missed and is held once a month.
This area has a great "cafe culture," with lots of good Americana-style cafes. It's a great place to sit down and unwind at a curbside table, sipping away on latte, after a hard day trekking around. Not listed here are the more ubiquitous coffee chains like Starbucks, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and Peet's Coffee; although these are very well represented here too, particularly along Union St, Chestnut St, and Fillmore St.
- 10 Judy's Cafe, 2268 Chestnut St (between Scott St and Pierce St), ☏ , fax: . M-F 7:45AM-2:15PM, Sa-Su 7:45AM-3PM. Quaint European style Marina cafe serving healthy portions of food.
- 11 La Boulangerie de San Francisco, 1909 Union St (at Laguna St), ☏ , fax: . 7AM-6PM daily. Traditional French bakery and cafe. The owner was born in Bordeaux France and has a lifetime of baking experience. The cafe sells bread made of organic flour from their very own wheat mill.
- 12 Tully's Coffee House, 2455 Fillmore St (between Jackson St and Washington St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. M-F 5:30AM-9PM, Sa 6AM-9PM, Su 6AM-8PM. Cozy cafe with decent coffee and wi-fi available. They also have a flat screen in store to keep you up to date with the news. The outdoor seating is also a nice touch.
- 13 Union Street Coffee Roastery, 2191 Union St (at Fillmore St), ☏ . 6:30AM-10PM daily. Decent coffee, an excellent location, plenty of seating, and very friendly staff are what attract patrons here.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Splurge||$200 and over|
The neighborhoods in this district are really just that — neighborhoods; as such, you won't find many of the larger luxury chain-hotels here. Many of the areas accommodations are located on Lombard St, which runs east from Russian Hill to the Presidio in the West, and actually forms an informal boundary between the Marina and Cow Hollow. Most of the accommodations along Lombard range from run down motor lodges to slightly more respectable bed and breakfasts. Thankfully, as the area is not as congested as downtown, many of the hotels/motels offer free parking.
- 1 Greenwich Inn, 3201 Steiner St (at Greenwich St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Budget hotel with free parking one block from Union St. It has 32 renovated guest rooms and offers an in-room coffee service and a complimentary newspaper daily. $54-104.
- 2 Hostelling International-Fisherman's Wharf Hostel, Fort Mason, Building 240 (Upper Fort Mason), ☏ , [email protected]. Check-in: 2:30PM, check-out: 11PM. Even if you're unsure about hostels, you should still consider this place; the location alone makes it worth your while, as it is in a park-like setting with great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz and is within easy walking distance of Fisherman's Wharf. It has a total of 150 Beds in dormitory style rooms. Quite clean and safe, with wi-fi, laundry facilities, lockers, and free breakfast. Dorms: $26-30, private family rooms: $65-100.
- 3 Buena Vista Motor Inn, 1599 Lombard St (between Franklin St and gough St), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: , [email protected]. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Another standard motor inn, this one offers free parking and a complimentary continental breakfast to get you going in the morning. $80-140.
- 4 Chelsea Motor Inn, 2095 Lombard St (at Fillmore St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Features an English Tudor style building with an antique roof. Clean, good quality rooms at a reasonable price. Nothing too special, but it is centrally located. $77-145.
- 5 Cow Hollow Motor Inn & Suites, 2190 Lombard St (at Steiner), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Centrally located in the Cow Hollow neighborhood, this motel offers 112 standard and reasonably priced rooms. The decor is definitely dated and will not suit everyone — they have floral wallpaper that might just keep you up at night! However, the rooms are comfortable and they do offer free parking. $79-145.
- 6 Hotel del Sol, 3100 Webster St (at Greenwich St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Voted CitySearch San Francisco's "Best Budget Hotel", "Best Family-Friendly Hotel," and "Best Hotel Pool" in 2006. Part of the fancy Joie de Vivre hotel group, this formerly nondescript motor lodge was rejuvenated with some cool colors, interior design, and upgraded management. $119-199.
- 7 La Luna Inn, 2599 Lombard St (between Broderick St and Divisadero St), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: , [email protected]. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. A rejuvenated 1960s Motor Inn. The bespoke furniture and colorful decor creates a bright, fun, and fanciful atmosphere here. $79-129.
- 8 Laurel Inn, 444 Presidio Ave (between California St and Sacramento St), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: , [email protected]. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Built in 1963, this renovated hotel has a comfortable yet fashionable interior. Each room is spacious and similar in size to a studio apartment with some even having kitchenettes. $159-209.
- 9 Marina Inn, 3110 Octavia St (at Lombard St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. Comfortable and traditional style inn with a quiet B&B atmosphere. They have 40 guest rooms and offer complimentary continental breakfast and free newspapers. $69-159.
- 10 Marina Motel, 2576 Lombard St (between Broderick St and Divisadero St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Check-in: 3PM-11:30PM, check-out: 11AM. Classic motor inn with a Mediterranean flavor — flower boxes fragrance the quaint European style rooms. They offer free wi-fi, free parking, and complimentary in room coffee. $85-135.
- 11 Motel Capri, 2015 Greenwich St (at Buchanan St), ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. This is a small family run motel with just 46 guest rooms. Thankfully, this one is set back one block from the noisy Lombard St in a quieter residential area. This is definitely an older, slightly jaded motel, but the rooms are clean and the staff are extremely friendly. It's close to the shopping on Union St as well. $100-135.
- 12 Travelodge at the Presidio, 2755 Lombard St (between Baker St and Lyon St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Standard Travelodge, but set in an excellent location right on the cusp of the Presidio. If you like having the natural world close to your doorstep, then this is the place for you. With its proximity to the Palace of Fine Arts and the historic buildings of the Presidio, it's also a good place to come if you are a fan of architecture. $60-140.
- 13 The Clift Royal Sonesta Hotel, 495 Geary Street, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Four-star, 372-room hotel with fitness centre, restaurant, bar, and free Wi-Fi. $240-738.
- 14 Francisco Bay Inn, 1501 Lombard St (at Franklin St), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: , [email protected]. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. All of the rooms and hallways are 100% non-smoking. Free parking. $149-214.
- 15 Hotel Drisco, 2901 Pacific Ave (at Broderick St), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: , [email protected]. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: noon. Built in 1903, this is a higher-end, boutique hotel right in the heart of Pacific Heights. $189-259.
- 16 Jackson Court Hotel, 2198 Jackson St (at Buchanan St), ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. Check-in: 2PM-7PM, check-out: 11AM. This is an opulent three-story brownstone Victorian mansion set in upscale Pacific Heights. With only 10 rooms, it's more of a B&B than a hotel. The price includes a continental breakfast and afternoon tea. $160-230.
- 17 Union Street Inn, 2299 Union St (at Steiner St), ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 2PM-7PM or by special arrangement, check-out: noon. Edwardian home with spacious airy rooms and a quaint cottage garden in the back. $190-330.
Most of the cafes listed under the Coffee section above have free wi-fi facilities available upon purchase of a beverage. You can get on the internet for free at the Golden Gate Valley Branch of the San Francisco Public Library — listed under the Architecture section above. Other branches include:
- 1 San Francisco Public Library — Marina Branch, 1890 Chestnut St (at Webster St), ☏ . Su 1PM-5PM, M-Tu 10AM-6PM, W 1PM-8PM, Th 10AM-8PM, F 1PM-6PM, Sa 10AM-6PM. Free internet facilities.
- 2 San Francisco Public Library — Presidio Branch, 3150 Sacramento St (between Lyon St and Baker St), ☏ . Su 1PM-5PM, M closed, Tu 10AM-9PM, W noon-9PM, Th 10AM-6PM, F 1PM-6PM, Sa 10AM-6PM. Free internet facilities.
Golden Gate Park — If you're a fan of either Fort Mason or the Presidio, why not continue your tour into the enormous Golden Gate Park, where you'll find many more museums set in a natural park environment.
Fisherman's Wharf — If you like everything nautical and would like some more, you should check out the flotilla of fishing vessels at the Wharf.
Marin Headlands — Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, you can find beaches, hiking, history, and spectacular views of the California coast.