San Francisco with Kids: The Presidio

Have you explored the Presidio? Once the most important military post on the West Coast, its 1,491 acres (5% of the city) sit beside the Bay of San Francisco, looking out to the Golden Gate Bridge and feeling completely apart from the urban rush. There are miles of hiking trails and bike routes through eucalyptus and cypress groves, picnic sites with incredible views of the Marin Headlands, and a beautiful beach—Baker Beach—that stretches along the western shore. A visitor’s center rents bikes and hosts family events.

Rangers with the National Park Service also lead free tours at Fort Point, the brick fortress built in the mid-19th century, tucked under the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge. And the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary visitor center, which guides groups through more than 1,200 miles of open ocean surrounding the Farallon Islands off the Golden Gate (whale-watching tours, for example!), can suggest a whole lot more to do on the water.

One easy to access stop was a huge hit with our kids when we shared it with them this winter: Andrew Goldsworthy’s “Wood Line” is a winding trail of fallen Eucalyptus trees that curves through the forest, calling to be traced like a giant balance beam.

Moe Beitiks wrote for Inhabitat “Like many of Goldsworthy’s artworks, Wood Line is designed to decay over time. As visitor after visitor succumbs to the urge to walk atop the series of sculpted logs, they will rot and shift, and the glorious curves the artist spent days and hundreds of man-hours building will come apart. But then, that’s part of the glory of the lines in the first place. They are a response to, a comment on, the landscape – but not an indelible mark that is meant to outlast man himself.”

There are actually several Goldsworthy sculptures within close range of one another. You can also look for “Spire,” a towering triangle of tree trunks from dead Cypress trees.

The line is just over 1200 feet in length and the eucalyptus grove in which it’s set is a beautiful place to do a little exploring, if you’re looking to start off a visit to the Presidio.

Fair warning: If you happen to stop by around the “golden hour,” you’re also sure to see a few photo shoots!

P.S. More tips for visiting San Francisco (like where to stay, how to ride a cable car, and spending a day in the Outer Sunset)


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