Many people travel to California so that they can experience the grandeur of the Bay Area’s scenic geography, man-made wonders, or to immerse in the unique San Francisco social scene. As there are so many options to consider, we’re going to present them in a series. So, grab a backpack, some water bottles (and an extra layer) and head out to a few unique locations, rich in culture, beauty, and history. Please note that we are not compensated in any way to advocate these locations.
PART I: FAVORITE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE VIEWING VENUES
There is a good reason for the popularity of this 7+ mile hike. In addition to one of the best views of the city, bridge, and the Bay, you get wildflowers, wildlife, beaches, and a swing. You can plan your trip by going to https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/golden-gate-gems-hawk-hill-kirby-cove-and-battery-spencer
Fort Miley/Lands’ End
Yes, there are the beaches, views of the GGB, fantastic hiking trails, whale watching, and the labyrinth, but there are also empty gun batteries. Most of what was once Fort Miley and related military buildings were removed in the 1930s to make way for the Veterans Administration Hospital. However, due to the outbreak of WWII, the guns of Fort Miley were not removed until the mid-1940s. The empty gun batteries are still there but hidden behind a forest of trees, the result of a massive planting effort kicked off in 1933. Read more about the batteries here: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/fort-miley-batteries-lands-end
Though never actually used in battle, this Fort at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge was built intending to protect the Bay from naval attacks. The design would have allowed cannons to hit enemy ships at water level, a unique concept, and the only one of its kind in the west. We love the vantage point of the bridge from Fort Point; it’s the perfect backdrop for a family photo or selfie. After you’ve soaked in the view, you can hike or bike across the bridge or tuck inside the Warming Hut, initially built in 1909 as a US Engineer Storehouse, serves sandwiches, coffee, and treats. Tip: There are two free movies inside the arch, one gives detailed info on the Fort and the second provides a historical account of the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. They play a few times each day so check the schedule and plan your visit around the showings. https://www.nps.gov/fopo/planyourvisit/hours.htm
Fort Point might also look familiar to movie buffs as the location in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” where Madeleine famously jumps into the Bay.
The Interval at Fort Mason
This location checks all of the boxes: Fantastic views of the GGB, refine décor, well-appointed bar, a socially-responsible mission statement of taking the “long view,” plus they have an orrery! The Interval also hosts events and lectures on art, design, history, nature, technology, and time. Check out their blog on their beautiful orrery:
McLaughlin East Shore State Park
McLaughlin East Shore State Park is an example of dedicated individuals working to achieve open space protection. The park extends 8.5 miles along the East Bay shoreline from the Bay Bridge to Richmond. It includes 1,854 acres of uplands and tidelands along the waterfronts of Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, Albany, and Richmond, and is direct across from the GGB. If you want an epic sunset picture with the GGB as a silhouette, this is your spot. . https://www.ebparks.org/parks/eastshore/default.htm
This is another beautiful location in the Bay Area to hike and bike. Not into that? OK, tram rides and electric bicycles it is! Angel Island was the Ellis Island of the West, and it also was used to hold Germans and Japanese prisoners, named “enemy aliens,” during World War II. You can visit the retired immigration building or stay outside and enjoy a picnic while watching sailboats and marine life. This is one location where bringing layers cannot be overstated. http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=468
This list of landmarks barely scratches the surface of unique and remarkable spots to visit in and around San Francisco. As a city we’ve called home in the past and continue to love to visit, we still feel like we’ll never see and experience it all.