Nature in the City: Presidio and Golden Gate Park

Nature in the City: Presidio and Golden Gate Park

Typically a major city is not where you get outside with the kids. But right in San Francisco, there are great outdoor adventures for your family.
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When most families visit San Francisco, the must-do stops typically include Fisherman's Wharf, a ride on a cable car, and driving down crooked Lombard Street. Those are all great, of course, but if you're an outdoor family looking to get into nature, typically a major city is not where you think you can do that. But right in San Francisco, there are a number of great adventures to get away from the concrete and the cars and get outdoors with the kids. 

In future Family Adventures, we'll highlight other hidden gems of San Francisco but the top of the list is to spend time exploring Golden Gate Park and The Presidio. Both are part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which in addition to historical sites and amazing landscapes, features more than 2400 plant and animal species. 

Boy on bike in Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park has so many things to do, it could alone fill multiple Family Adventures trip reports. But this post focuses on getting into nature so after visiting the Academy of Sciences, the De Young Museum, and other sites, we recommend renting bikes and exploring the myriad trails that snake their way through the park.

Trees and trails hidden in golden gate parkVenture just 50 yards from a paved road through the park and you can find yourself surrounded by magical trees, trails, and clearings to explore. 

Boy playing in pond at golden gate parkIf feeding ducks or racing little stick boats in a stream down to a pond is more your kids' style, Golden Gate Park also delivers.

Kid exploring the Presidio
In the northwestern-most corner of San Francisco lies the Presidio. Most famous as a military installation from 1776 to 1994 (first Spanish, then Mexican, then American), the Presidio offers great fun for outdoor families looking to get into nature. 

Hiking in the Presidio near Baker BeachFrom beach to sand dunes to dense forests, kids will have a blast exploring.

Boy in Presidio wearing SHRED DOG insulator jacket
It's typical for San Francisco temperatures to vary by 10 degrees or so in different parts of the city so always bring layers! A hoody is often perfect but on this chilly afternoon in the Presidio, an insulated jacket worked well (featured photo is an early prototype of the SHRED DOG Malamute boy's jacket). 

Biking Crissy Field near Golden Gate Bridge
The idea behind this Family Adventure trip report was to only showcase nature photos without buildings or other urban features... but, hey, it's San Francisco, so here's one shot combining outdoor fun with one prominent city feature! The northern tip of the Presidio includes Crissy Field (a former landing strip for military planes) and the whole area has been dramatically renovated to highlight wildlife, create a tidal marsh, create wide open spaces for picnics, and include the Golden Gate Promenade, a beautiful walking/biking path with grand views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

This Family Adventure really just scratches the surface of these two amazing recreation areas right in the city of San Francisco but hopefully gives you a few ideas and surprises of what the city has to offer for more outdoor-minded families looking for things to do with the kids. Got a favorite place in SF of your own?  Questions about where to go?  Let us know in the comments!  

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