The Presidio in San Francisco is often visited as one of the best places in the city to view the Golden Gate Bridge. But tourists and locals alike would be missing out on some of SF’s most interesting history, best eateries and outstanding hikes if that’s all you came for. To help you make the most of one of our favorite places, we put together a full day’s guide to The Presidio, complete with breakfast, lunch, dinner, hikes, cocktails and a sunset view.
Get ready for a completely packed day full of sightseeing, learning, touring, eating and sipping. Here we go!
8 a.m. | Grab coffee and breakfast
Photo courtesy of Krista Nelson via Dynamo Donut + Coffee
We’re starting our day on the Marina border of The Presidio at Dynamo Donut + Coffee. This San Francisco original is brought to us by Sara Spearin who earned her chops in kitchens like Foreign Cinema, Liberty Cafe, Stars and Postrio. Using seasonal, local and organic ingredients wherever possible, she and her team craft delicious, unique and Instagrammable donuts you’ll want to come back for every morning. The full Dynamo shop can be found in the Mission, but our Presidio travels are taking us to their Marina kiosk located on the SF Bay Trail—and that’s where we’re headed next!
Other popular spots for coffee and snacks include the Warming Hut and Round House Café which are easily accessible from our morning route into The Presidio.
8:30 a.m. | Hike the Bay Trail
The Golden Gate Promenade/Bay Trail passes and overlooks some of The Presidio’s most historic and famous attractions, including Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, Crissy Field Marsh and Crissy Field. From our breakfast stop at Dynamo, you can follow the trail along the water all the way to Fort Point National Historic Site at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. Then, keep following the trail as it circles back and brings you to our next stop: a visit both kids and adults will love!
10 a.m. | Visit The Walt Disney Family Museum
The Walt Disney Family Museum is a nonprofit organization and museum that celebrates the life of Walt Disney and his transformational entertainment, animations and stories. It’s the perfect destination for families and anyone who loves Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and the gang. A visit here can take around two hours and you’ll enjoy interactive galleries narrated in Walt’s own voice, early drawings, cartoons, films, music, an early model of Disneyland, and so much more. Located adjacent to the Main Post Lawn, it’s also a great opportunity to see the bustling heart of the park.
1 p.m. | Stop for lunch
Photo courtesy of Presidio Social Club
If you’re visiting The Presidio on a Sunday, your lunch stop has to be Presidio Picnic. Free and open to the public, this event with Off the Grid brings more than 25 international mobile food vendors, live music, lawn games, yoga, bike safety classes and nature-based crafts for kids to the Presidio’s beautiful Main Parade Ground.
Any other day of the week, we’re heading to Presidio Social Club back on the east side of The Presidio for Northern California eats. This iconic restaurant is located in a building originally built in 1903 as a military barracks. Today, they offer a seasonal menu of modern comfort foods alongside artfully crafted cocktails.
2 p.m. | Hike Lover’s Lane
To get the most out of this trip and to get back where we need to be for our afternoon activities, we’re actually going to turn this into an Ecology Trail and Lover’s Lane loop. From Presidio Social Club, head west on Letterman Drive then follow Presidio Boulevard to the point where it meets Lover’s Lane. Taking this route, you can swing by Lucasfilm and see their life-size Yoda fountain. Then, head down one of the city’s most charming walkways, Lover’s Lane. At the end, turn right to catch Ecology Trail and circle back up toward Inspiration Point. You’ll end this hike near Arguello where we’ll have dinner later.
For more information on the Ecology Trail, click here. To get more information on Lover’s Lane, click here. And to view this specific route courtesy of AllTrails, click here.
3:30 p.m. | Climb at Planet Granite
Our action-packed day continues with a trip to Planet Granite. This destination climbing gym offers 25,000 square feet of climbing, a full fitness and cardio area, two yoga studios and top out bouldering—all alongside views reaching across Crissy Field. Built in 2008 in an old airplane hanger, the building also offers views of Alcatraz.
Getting to Planet Granite from the end of our afternoon hike, you’ll pass Fort Point Beer Company, a San Francisco brewery that brews right here in The Presidio, pours at their tap room in The Embarcadero, and is available at several Presidio restaurants, including Arguello, Presidio Social Club and Sessions at The Presidio—all on our itinerary!
For another fun indoor option that’s especially great for kids, head to House of Air Trampoline Park located next door to Planet Granite! Or (literally) swing by Batters Box also nearby.
5 p.m. | Have dinner at Arguello
Photo courtesy of Kimberley Hasselbrink via Arguello
Arguello is a lunch, brunch and dinner destination brought to the city by award-winning chef Traci Des Jardins and the Presidio Trust. Located in the historic Presidio Officers’ Club, their kitchen offers Mexican cuisine that captures the cultural heritage of the park, their bar offers some of the city’s best craft cocktails, and their heated patio offers a great spot to enjoy outdoor dining. They even have an outdoor comal, or griddle, for fresh tortilla making!
6:30 p.m. | See the sunset at Baker Beach
The Presidio is one of the best places to view the Golden Gate Bridge, so you’ve probably been catching glimpses throughout the day. But now we’re heading to Baker Beach to snap a sunset photo of the country’s most iconic bridge with the Marin Headlands as the backdrop.
With a belly full of Mexican food, you probably don’t want to walk the whole way, so we’re going to hop on the PresidiGo Shuttle at Pershing Square. Along the way, the shuttle will pass Inspiration Point which we saw on our afternoon hike as well as Rob Hill Campground and Immigrant Point Overlook before landing you at Baker Beach approximately 15 minutes later. Grab a quiet spot in the sand, bundle up in your sweaters and your blankets, and take as many photos as your Instagram can handle.
On a weekday, the last shuttle will leave Baker Beach at about 7:40 p.m., giving you plenty of time to see the sunset then get to our last stop of the day! For complete details on the schedule and the route, check out the PresidiGo Shuttle website.
8 p.m. | Enjoy cocktails, craft beer and dessert
Photo courtesy of Sessions at The Presidio
Now let’s reward your Presidio expeditions with craft cocktails and craft beer at Sessions at The Presidio. Their impressive bar offers 100 different craft beers, including 24 on draft as well as the occasional homebrew. Offered alongside an innovative cocktail list and an equally impressive seasonal food menu, we definitely recommend ordering something from the dessert menu, too.
Located very near our starting point at Dynamo Donut, you can finish the day where we started and see the Palace of Fine Arts by night.
Did you enjoy your day in the Presidio?
If you stumbled upon something else you think people should see, tell us about it in the comments below.