Try the Presidio for a Staycation

It’s a 1,500-acre luxury resort with 16 food and dining options, music, art, history, and nature.


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Photo by Guillaume Palmier CC

What is your fantasy staycation? Are you thinking of a vacation you’ll spend as a tourist practically in your own backyard? What does your no-go-away getaway look like?

Would it be a 1,500-acre luxury resort? Would it have 16 food and dining options? How about music, art, history, nature? Experiences appealing to multiple generations? And all of this within walking distance of your lodgings? Oh, also: Would most activities be free?

Sixteen miles from the heart of Oakland, the Presidio of San Francisco sits at the peninsula’s northern tip. This magnificent property is part of the Golden Gate Recreation Area, a national park. Welcomingly open, green, and uncrowded, the park features new museum exhibits, special events, walks, talks, recreational activities, and new menus in its restaurants frequently.

This part of the bay has had many residents and many uses. For 10,000 years, it was occupied by the Ohlone people. Both Spain and Mexico set claim to the land. It first became a U.S. military post in 1776. After 219 years of military use, the Presidio was transferred in 1994 to the National Park Service. Today, it’s a green, serene, scenic custodian of natural and human history and a place for all to enjoy.

Photo by Mary Charlebois - Presidio Trust

The Lodge and The Inn at the Presidio are boutique hotels housed in historic brick-fronted military buildings and well-priced for San Francisco lodgings of this quality. With 42 guest rooms, the Lodge is the closest hotel to the Golden Gate Bridge. The Inn’s 22 spacious two-room suites are family-friendly and near trailheads.

Both serve complimentary breakfasts and offer evening wine tasting for guests.

Also at the Presidio, a group campground accommodating 30 people is outfitted with a fire ring, grill, food storage, picnic tables, and restrooms.

It would take several staycations to experience all of the Presidio’s potential history, hiking, architecture, music, art, food, and children’s activities. Letterman’s Digital Arts Center, the Walt Disney Family Museum, House of Air, and sporty Batter’s Box SF are just a sampling.

Photo by KK Danko CC

Try a dig with archeologists unearthing adobe dwellings and artifacts. Join a stargazing party, art walk, or wildlife talk. Go beachcombing, visit the organic community garden, explore the visitor center, and wander the wetlands. As for bicycling: Bring your own, rent one, or borrow one from the Inn at the Presidio. Still have energy? Consider the golf course and pro-shop, bowling alley, game room, and yoga studios.

More than a dozen eateries dot the post. Close to the inn and located in the Spanish-tiled former Presidio Officers’ Club, family-friendly Arguello — a project of the Presidio Trust, with celebrity chef Traci Des Jardins — boasts an outdoor comal griddle for house-made tortillas. Occupying an ex-mess hall near the Lodge at the Presidio, The Commissary — another Trust/Des Jardins project — offers Spanish-influenced California cuisine and cocktails.

On Sundays from March to October, the Presidio Picnic invites visitors to bring their own eats or try the many food trucks taking part in this weekly music-and-food community party.

Want to do a lot in one day? Tired after that last churro and glass of cava? Hop on and off the free-and-frequent PresidiGo shuttle bus, serving over 40 destinations park-wide.

When You Go

Presidio Visitor Center

210 Lincoln Blvd., 415-561-4323, Presidio.gov/places/Presidio-Visitor-Center

The Walt Disney Family Museum

104 Montgomery St., 415-345-6800, WaltDisney.org

Inn at the Presidio

42 Moraga Ave., 415-800-7356, PresidioLodging.com/Inn-at-the-Presidio

The Commissary

101 Montgomery St., 415-561-3600, TheCommissarySF.com

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