In another 25-mile you come to Fort Point Wharf, built in 1908, used by fishermen and walkers who want to get out on the water. Near hear is the Wanning Hut,the place to browse for gifts and blogs while sipping a latte munching a baked goodie. Just past the Warming Hut, the Promenade blends with Long Avenue, the car route to Fort Point. Construction of the brick fort took nine years, beginning in 1853. The only west coast example among 30 similar fortifications on the Atlantic coast, Fort Point was designed to house 500 soldiers. Once a massive sentinel at the south head of the gate, the fort now is dwarfed by the Golden Gate Bridge, directly overhead.
BEACH AT CRISSY FIELD MAP SAN FRANCISCO Photo Gallery
The walk the other way from Crissy Field, toward Fort Mason, is a look at city life along the Marina, and features a scenic yacht club jetty. Go right along the beach as you face the water, curling around to the St. Francis Yacht Club. Walk past the club, with the sailboats moored on your right, and continue out the breakwater, toward the statue of a lighthouse. You’ll be immersed in a spectacular view of Angel Island, Alcatraz, and the city. Pass the small Golden Gate Yacht Club and continue to the end of the jetty. There you can quizzically observe the “ocean organ,” a system of pipes and rock work that emits sounds caused by tidal action below. Double back on the breakwater, all the way to the St. Francis, turn left, and continue along the Marina Green, where city dwellers play various field games on weekends. At the end of the green is another yacht harbor, Gashouse Cove, and just beyond that is Fort Mason. The Great Meadow above Fort Mason is a great picnic area and the site of the annual San Francisco Blues Festival. Above the meadow are the youth hostel and community garden.
The Palace of Fine Arts is a landmark most will recognize a tall Romanesque rotunda designed in 1915 by Bernard Maybeck for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. To get there, walk diagonally from Crissy Field across a field of young cypress to the corner of Marina Boulevard and Baker Street; you’ll see the palace dome across the street. The Palace of Fine Arts, whose huge columns are decorated with Greek statuary, is surrounded by a lagoon replete with swans and ducks a favorite photo backdrop among brides and grooms. Formerly on the grounds of the palace was the Explor-atorium, an educational playpen for kids of all ages. It features all sorts of whizzing, beeping interactive gizmos and displays designed first for fun, but all with learning as a by-product. In April of 2013, the Exploritorium move to Pier 15.h
If you’re up for a beverage or meal, and want a glimpse at neighborhood life in the Marina, head for Chestnut Street. Walk away from the Palace of Fine Arts on the lagoon side, on Beach Street. Go two blocks, turn right on Divisidero Street, go four blocks, and then walk left on Chestnut. The entire Marina District, which sustained significant damage during the ’ 89 quake, is built on marshland that was filled during the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition. The vibrant part of Chestnut, with florists, bars, boutiques and cafes, runs a half-dozen blocks, from Divisidero to Fillmore.
Bike: A ride from Fort Point to the Ferry Building, about 12 miles round-trip, gives you a cross section of San Francisco the bridge, beaches, historic sites, Fishermans Wharf and the skyscrapers of downtown Park at the end of Crissy Field closest to the Golden Gate Bridge, and do an out-and-back to Fort Point. Then continue away from the bridge there’s a path close to the water and also a paved bike route along Mason Street. Continue along the Marina Green to Fort Mason. Go up the Great Meadow at Fort Mason, over to Aquatic Park and on to Fishermans Wharf on Jefferson Street. You come to The Embarcadero, where you turn right and follow Bike Route 5, a bike lane that runs along the piers to the Ferry Building.
What’s Best: An up-close-and-personal view of the world’s beloved bridge from its pedestrian walkway or the historic gun emplacements that rim the southern bluffs of the Golden Gate.