Planning a San Francisco getaway? Sidestep the Union Square crush, avoid the Fisherman’s Wharf frenzy, skip the mobs atop Nob Hill and head to The Presidio, the city’s pastoral playground. Home to miles of hiking and biking trails, playgrounds, a golf course, museums, gourmet restaurants, and stunning views, The Presidio stretches across 1,500 acres of some of the most beautiful real estate in the Nation and at every turn reminds visitors that there is no rational reason to stay anywhere else in San Francisco. Surrounded by groves of fragrant eucalyptus and panoramic Golden Gate Bridge views, the two luxury hotels within this former U.S. Army Post are San Francisco’s best kept hospitality secrets.
Transformed by The Presidio Trust, a federal agency created to preserve the area as a natural, cultural, scenic, and recreational resource, the region’s former military barracks and officer’s quarters still stand, but each is repurposed. The Inn at The Presidio for instance was originally a bachelor officer’s quarters built by the army in 1903. Today, the building features 22 spacious guest rooms and welcoming communal areas that meld history with posh, modern amenities. History buffs appreciate the location’s colorful past and the artifact-filled Georgian Revival-style building. Luxury seekers enjoy the beautiful furnishings and linens. Gourmands relish the complimentary wine, appetizers, and European style breakfast buffet. And environmentalists value the Inn’s LEED gold certification.
17 of the rooms are ultra spacious, high-ceilinged suites featuring casually chic living rooms with gas fireplaces. Large, double-hung windows allow guests to enjoy the area’s refreshing Eucalyptus scented Bay breezes. Two long verandas – on the first and second levels – run the length of the building and feature shaker style rockers. A large fire pit is the focal point of the back patio. Plush throw blankets for warding-off nighttime chill are tucked into baskets in the welcoming lobby. Four additional rooms are located just down the street at The Funston House, a separate Victorian-style home with modern furnishings where guests can reserve either individual quarters or the entire abode.
Just across the Main Parade Ground is the newer Lodge at the Presidio, offering the city’s closest hotel proximity to the Golden Gate Bridge. The Lodge takes full advantage of its accessibility to the orange icon; several of its 42 rooms directly overlook the span, and a fire-pit heated courtyard sits in its shadow. Like the Inn, the Lodge features authentic architecture paired with modern amenities. Furnishings and fabrics include canvas ottomans and headboards, and cashmere-like throw blankets. Well-stocked mini bars include wine, beer, and deluxe-sized spirits. Outside, a veranda runs the length of the building and features shaker style rockers overlooking a grass expanse. A vast collection of museum quality watercolors, mixed-media pieces, and photographs line the walls. And like at the Inn, guests enjoy complimentary evening wine and appetizers and a European style breakfast buffet served near a roaring fire in the dining room.
Stay on a Thursday or Sunday during warmer months and enjoy Off the Grid’s Presidio Picnic at the Main Parade ground; its party-like atmosphere and menagerie of food trucks attract all ages. Nearby destination-level eateries include Arguello, serving Mexican cuisine in an indoor/outdoor setting, and The Commissary, featuring Spanish-influenced dishes and located in the former mess hall of the 1895-built Montgomery Street Barracks – both under the direction of award-winning chef Traci des Jardins. Beer lovers will want to check-out the more than 100 selections at Sessions at The Presidio, where the large outdoor, heated patio overlooks Letterman Digital Arts Center’s park-like setting.
Disneyophiles won’t want to miss the Walt Disney Family Museum, where Disney’s life is illuminated through innovative and interactive galleries. History buffs will enjoy the Heritage Gallery, located in the stately Presidio Officers’ Club and featuring interpretive exhibits about the Presidio’s role in shaping California and serving the nation. The Park Archives and Records Center, housed in a former cavalry stable, provides public access to more than five million documents, historic images, artifacts, and objects associated with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Throw down a few strikes at the 12-lane Presidio Bowling Center, practice your putting at The Presidio Golf Course, or simply explore by foot or on bike and pause for a scenic break at one of the eight Bay-facing overlooks. The newly opened William Penn Mott, Jr. Presidio Visitor Center provides a great starting point with maps, videos, historical context, and friendly staff that can help you plan your day.
Museums, recreation, shopping (the Visitor Center has one of the best collections of San Francisco-themed gifts found anywhere), gourmet restaurants, and first-class overnight accommodations – The Presidio delivers everything for which San Francisco is known, and then some. Bonus: Parking is always plentiful.