Convenient to the Marina’s shopping and restaurants on Chestnut and Union Street is the massive Presidio Park connected to the base of Golden Gate Bridge. We can’t think of any better place to visit in San Francisco than the Crissy Field area of the Presidio. Bicyclists, runners, and strollers love this incredible and flat shoreline access to San Francisco Bay. The views of the Golden Gate Bridge are truly breathtaking. The tidal marsh is a gathering place for many beautiful birds including herons, egrets, grebes, willets, gulls, and killdeer. Near the marsh, the sand dunes include many natural plants and are a favorite place for sunbathers.
As you follow the Marina Green west, you’ll reach Crissy Field which runs along the Bay. Crissy Field was originally a military airstrip, but is now part of the Golden Gate National Parks Association and an ongoing restoration to house native wildlife of San Francisco Bay. There are popular running trails and bike lanes that all lead to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. There is a beautiful beach where you can watch the windsurfers and sailboarders glide across the bay. Attractions at the Presidio include:
- LucasFilm Studios including the world-famous Yoda Statue fountain.
- The Disney Museum, which is hugely popular for kids, families and just outright Disney fans.
- Gulf of Farallones Visitor Center for marine wildlife.
- Presidio Social Club, a unique restaurant to celebrate the park’s history and style.
One of the best ways to truly experience San Francisco is on the water and there are a variety of inexpensive boat options to choose from. You will have sweeping views of the City skyline, piers, Alcatraz Island, and the Golden Gate Bridge from any sailboat, cruise, or ferry. There are many boat tours that leave from Fisherman’s Wharf, including the popular Adventure Cat catamaran sailboat. Ferry transportation to Marin County’s charming towns of Sausalito and Tiburon can be purchased easily for under $10 each way, with no reservations needed, on a smooth and frequent ride that is easy to board from the Ferry Building near Embarcadero Center. Boat cruises also will circle Alcatraz Island for a fare of under $30 which allows you some great photography and views of the Bay. Finally, the most difficult to book option is the ferry directly to Alcatraz Island from Fisherman’s Wharf.
While Alcatraz Island is an excellent attraction to visit – the hassle involved in this trip adds some tradeoffs that you may want to consider. If you plan ahead and devote the day – Alcatraz is a moving and beautiful site featuring the tour of the historic prison. For quicker visits or more spontaneous fun, the ferries and bay cruises offer much of the same excitement with far less hassle. Alcatraz trips often book up weeks in advance, and are remarketed by bus tour companies with more expensive and touristy packages to Marin County. Whichever way you see San Francisco Bay, get on the water for a real view of San Francisco.