Wandering through the old barracks of the Presidio or among the dunes of Crissy Field, it’s easy to forget that you’re in one of America’s most densely packed cities.
History: Watching over the mouth of San Francisco Bay, the Presidio was recognized early on as strategically important: In 1776, the Mexico-born explorer Juan Bautista de Anza constructed a Spanish fort there, the second building in what would become San Francisco.
Don’t Miss: Shuttered as a military base in 1994, the Presidio is now a well-preserved national park. Military history buffs will enjoy a walk down to see the 50-ton artillery gun mounted at Battery Chamberlin over Baker Beach, while nature lovers should seek out one of the many trails and promenades throughout the park: Strolling along Crissy Field will eventually take you beneath the bridge itself. For a taste of civilization, grab a sit-down meal at the Presidio Social Club and hit the Walt Disney Family Museum or the lobby of the Letterman Digital Arts Center, which houses George Lucas’s production and effects studios and is open to the public.