San Francisco’s Urban National Park Offers Family-Friendly Fun
Presidio of San Francisco (April 26, 2019) – Summer is a great season for discovery and play in
the Presidio, San Francisco’s urban national park. A green oasis located within city boundaries and adjacent to the Golden Gate Bridge, the park encompasses close to 1,500 acres—the largest urban park in the U.S. The Presidio provides an escape into nature, with sand dunes and forests, beaches and hiking trails, communal lawns and picnic tables for outdoor gatherings,
Rob Hill Campground, a fresh water lake, and sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge. In addition to its stunning natural surroundings, the Presidio offers free, family-friendly programming and opportunities to connect with the park’s art, history, science, and culture. Docents are on hand to provide a deeper experience of the park’s history, including tours of the Main Post, the Archaeology Lab, art walks, and the Presidio Officers’ Club, and nature walks explore the Presidio’s wilds.
Kids can start at the
Presidio Visitor Center to begin their park exploration with a map of the
StoryWalk® trails which encouraging kids to get outdoors and read a book at the same time. Pages from children’s books are sprinkled along the trail creating a literary treasure hunt. Stories in the Presidio include
Bikes For Sale written by Carter Higgins and illustrated by Zachariah OHora,
I Wrote You a Note written and illustrated by Lizi Boyd, and
Where’s Rodney? by Carmen Bogan.
Young scientists can also check out an
Explorer Backpack containing an adventure map and cards that guide fun discoveries of unique places, creatures, and plant life all around the park. It’s packed with tools like a magnifying glass, binoculars, activity cards, and a compass to help along the way. Drop in to the Presidio Visitor Center daily from 10am–2pm to check out a free backpack. Supplies are limited, but backpacks may be reserved in advance by calling (415) 561-4323. Adventures typically take two hours and backpacks must be returned by 4:30pm.
Family bike riding is always an option at the Presidio, with its 25 miles of trails and rental opportunities at the
Sports Basement and
Roaring Mouse. For a guided tour, the YMCA offers
Y Bike Learn to Ride programs one Sunday per month, and guided monthly
Family-Friendly Bike Rides. The annual
Presidio Kite Festival returns on Saturday August 10 from 11 pm to 5 pm, with partner
Highline Kites. The free all-day event features a free build your own kite booth, hands-on learning from kite experts, a kite art exhibition, giant kites, mega team flying, Taiko drummers, and food trucks.
Stargazing returns on July 11 when the
SF Amateur Astronomers bring their giant telescopes and help people of all ages see the night sky’s most interesting astronomical beauties up close.
Pasados del Presidio, June 28-29, honor the heritage of early American cultures at the Presidio—Ohlone, Spanish, and Mexican—and the founding of
El Presidio de San Francisco in 1776.
Afternoon Fun For Kids on Friday June 28, from noon to 3 pm offers hands-on activities like tortilla-making, adobe brick-making, music and dance by Ballet Folklórico Mexicano and more, with our partners at the National Park Service.
On Saturday June 29 at 10:30 am, Los Californianos, descendants of the original founding families of the Juan Bautista de Anza Expedition (1775-76), return to the Presidio to recognize the journey of their ancestors. The public program includes formal remarks, a procession by the Amigos de Anza horse mounted riders, and a roll call of the people who made the original 1200+ mile trek from Sonora, Mexico. Two 60-minute
Guided History Tours (June 29 from 1 pm and 3 pm) focus on the park’s rich Spanish and Mexican heritage. Learn about the early expeditions of people and animals to this area of California and the indigenous world they encountered; the adobe walls of the Spanish fort; Spanish cannons; and the foundations of the original Presidio. Meet at the Welcome Desk at the
Presidio Officers’ Club.
Cultural Dance Performances at Presidio Picnic
San Francisco’s favorite family picnic,
Presidio Picnic, offers the ultimate Sunday spread: blending the national park setting with the international cuisine reflective of our diverse Bay Area cultures. Presidio Picnic celebrates a different cultural heritage each month, with ethnic dance performances on the 3rd Sunday of the month. Presidio Picnic runs each Sunday from 11 am – 4 pm through October 21.
On Thursday evenings, starting May 16 through September 19,
Presidio Twilight will light up the main post with fire-pits, cabanas, delicious selections from mobile food vendors, live music, lawn games, and sweeping views of the sun setting over the
Golden Gate Bridge. Presidio Picnic and Presidio Twilight are offered by the
Presidio Trust in a partnership with
Off the Grid.
Due to its overwhelming popularity, the Presidio Trust’s award-winning exhibition
Exclusion: The Presidio’s Role in World War II Japanese American Incarceration, has been extended through spring of 2020. The exhibition explores the complicated history of Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt signing the 108 Civilian Exclusion Orders from the Presidio’s Building 35 in spring 1942—orders that unjustly incarcerated 120,000 Japanese Americans, purportedly in the name of national security. Exclusion is found in the historic
Presidio Officers’ Club Museum along with permanent exhibitions on the Presidio’s cultural history, a cozy communal fireplace and event space, Arguello Restaurant, and Earth Wall a sculpture by noted artist
Andy Goldsworthy. Three additional sculptures by Goldsworthy can be viewed on a
self-guided tour, or on one of the Presidio’s docent-led walks. The Presidio houses the largest collection of Goldsworthy’s works in North America. These exhibitions are free.
The Walt Disney Family Museum presents
Mickey Mouse: From Walt to the World, a celebration of animation’s most beloved and recognizable character. Guest curated by legendary animator Andreas Deja, Mickey Mouse: From Walt to the World features more than 400 objects, including rare and never-before-seen original sketches, character model sheets, and concept artwork, together with nostalgic merchandise, vintage photographs, and a variety of Mickey’s earliest and most recent animated short films. The exhibition is a testament to Mickey’s transcendent influence, from cartoons and comic books to real-life appearances at Disney Parks worldwide. May 16, 2019 through January 6, 2020.
Transportation in the Park
The free PresidiGo Shuttle takes visitors from two locations in downtown San Francisco to the Presidio, and PresidiGo’s
Around the Park service offers visitors two routes within the park. San Francisco MUNI buses access the Presidio as well. Options for bike rental include Sports Basement and Electric JUMP Bikes. See:
Attention Calendar Editors: Although our events are free, due to space limitations, we advise patrons to register via the web links. See all of our summer 2019 events here:
www.presidio.gov/events. Photos are available upon request.
Download a PDF of event listings June - August >>