On those rare sunny days when the fog and wind have called it quits, locals know it's time to hit Baker Beach, a mile-long sandy shoreline in the southwest corner of the Presidio.
In striking contrast to Ocean Beach, Baker Beach is the best game in town for a natural beach experience. Here we find amazing views of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge – it never gets old! – along with stunning vistas of the Pacific Ocean, the Marin Headlands, and Lands End. Sure, the water's too cold and rough for swimming, but the beach is perfect for a barefoot stroll along the surf.
It's easy to get to Baker Beach. MUNI 29 and the PresidiGo Shuttle offer direct rides, and biking to the shore is an awesome way to begin the experience. The parking lot and restrooms make spending a whole day here easy. Be sure to pack your snacks as there is no food service on site.
A Day to Play
There's plenty to do aside from sunbathing. Arrive early and snag a BBQ grill and picnic table for al fresco dining. Look up and spot a V-shaped formation of Brown Pelicans or even a Red-tailed Hawk hunting an afternoon nibble. Nature lovers can glimpse sea stars at low tide, grey-green serpentine rock formations, and native wildflowers that bloom year-round on the dunes. Occasionally dolphins and harbor seals surface in the ocean waters. Once a month, history buffs can explore nearby Battery Chamberlin to see a 50-ton "disappearing gun" – a vestige of the Presidio's military past.
If you're up for an adventure, take the Sand Ladder up to the California Coastal Trail, which connects to the rugged Batteries to Bluffs Trail and ultimately a more secluded Marshall's Beach where, rumor has it, some dare to go bare. Other trail connections are a short hike away.
Whatever aspects entice you, we can all agree that the sunsets here are an unforgettable, quintessentially Presidio experience. Just don't forget to bring a blanket and – of course – extra layers!