Welcome to the Neighborhood, A Series About San Francisco Neighborhoods
About the author. Dianne Admire is the co-owner of San Francisco company Carried Away.
The Presidio Neighborhood
This unique San Francisco neighborhood was founded in 1776 as a military post and remained a military post until 1994, when the military moved out and the Presidio became a national park/San Francisco neighborhood. That is a long story made way short. Instead of focusing on the detailed military history of the Presidio, we’ll get right to the question you may be asking yourself: “how does a national park also serve as a neighborhood in San Francisco?”
The Presidio is managed by The Presidio Trust (well 80% of it; everything except the coastline). The Presidio Trust is charged with making the area financially self-sustaining, which the trust has accomplished ahead of schedule. One of the sources of income is rental housing in former military homes. These homes range from the charming stucco and red tile roof homes to the the grand military doctors homes built in the 1930’s to more basic accommodations constructed in the ’60’s. The trust has rehabbed the homes to their former glory, with thoughtful modern upgrades in the kitchens and baths. These homes are truly desirable (if pricy) accommodations in the city.
In addition to rental housing, businesses have moved in. Naturally, when you have businesses and homes, a neighborhood of sorts sprouts up. In addition to the natural bounty of the area (breathe in the eucalyptus!), you will find restaurants, outdoor art, museums, and Yoda. Yes, the Yoda from Star Wars.
Explore San Francisco’s Presidio Neighborhood
On the Presidio’s almost 1500 acres you’ll find plenty of places to get your nature on. We have three faves:
Chrissy Field. The uber-popular walking path along Chrissy Field is a must-do. One of the few places in the city to enjoy a beautiful flat walk, Chrissy Field offers people (and dog) watching, activity on the bay and views of the bridge, bridge and more bridge. Park at the East Beach parking lot and walk 1.5 miles to the path, which ends at Fort Point. If you go Friday – Sunday 10am -5pm, you can explore Fort Point once you reach the bridge. Walk all the way to the top of this Civil War-era building, and your climb will be rewarded with stunning views (the bridge so close you can almost touch it!). The scenery on the way back isn’t too shabby either.
Presidio Habitats. Dotted around the Fort Scott area of Presidio, the Presidio Habitats is a series of 11 outdoor art installations. Each one of them is dedicated to an animal in the Presidio, and as a group they celebrate the “wild Presidio”. Our favorites are The Winged Wisdom and Patience. You will no doubt find your own favorite by exploring each of the exhibits on foot. Start at the exhibition Pavillion (which is worth a visit on its own), to get a map and instructions for the self-guided cell phone tour.
The ultimate urban beach – there is usually parking, you’ll feel like you’re a million miles away from the city (but it’s just right there), views to the Pacific Ocean horizon on one side and the GGB on the other, and a perfect picnic spot. Please note, the east end of the beach is clothing optional and even on the chilliest of summer days, it’s populated.
Eat & Drink in San Francisco’s Presido
After a day in nature, you’re going to need to eat! Here are a two options in the Presidio:
Presidio Social Club. California comfort food is what it’s all about at the PSC. Housed in former enlisted men’s barracks, the Presidio Social Club is beautifully renovated with a communal table constructed from a tree trunk and a marble bar with comfortable stools. We love the dungeness crabcake sliders, chicken liver pate, and the gruyere cheese toasts with tomato dip.
La Terrasse. A French accent in the all-American Presidio, La Terrasse’s French bistro menu should warm you up on a foggy day, and replenish your reserves (hello pommes frites!)
Both the Presidio Social Club and La Terrase offer extensive cocktail menus and wine lists (would we recommend a resto that didn’t?).
The Warming Hut Bookstore & Cafe. It’s know for their coffee and and sandwiches, soups and snacks, but this is also a great place to pick up a memento of your day in the Presidio.
P.S. about that Yoda… For Star Wars fans, the Yoda fountain outside of George Lucas’ Letterman Digital Arts Center is a mecca of sorts.
What is your favorite neighborhood in San Francisco? What are your favorite things to do in San Francisco?
Yoda statue photo courtesy of Niall Kennedy’s Flickr Photostream