At Crissy Field in San Francisco, outdoor playtime never stops. Joggers and bicyclists cruise along the water’s edge of San Francisco Bay. Dog owners fling tennis balls into the bay, and retrievers fetch. Kids play tag and turn cartwheels on grassy lawns or tug on colorful kites flying in the Golden Gate winds. Kiteboarders and windsurfers take off from the beach to catch that same relentless breeze. Expert surfers ride the waves underneath the Golden Gate Bridge at adjacent Fort Point.
It’s hard to believe this sprawling waterfront playground was a 1920s Army airfield. Today Crissy Field is one of the most popular attractions of the Presidio of San Francisco, a section of Golden Gate National Recreation Area that spreads across San Francisco’s northwest edge. The vistas alone are priceless—the Golden Gate Bridge’s orange towers frame San Francisco Bay in glorious Art Deco splendor, and visitors have a front-row seat for watching sailboats and freighters chug under its span and into the bay.
Rent bikes and ride trails between Marina Green and Fort Point, or along the level Golden Gate Promenade, enjoying front-row views of waves and water. Watch egrets and herons dip their beaks into the reclaimed tidal wetland at Crissy Marsh. Defy gravity at the House of Air trampoline park, set inside a former biplane hangar. On Sundays in summer and fall, food trucks set up shop along the waterfront, making impromptu picnics easy. Year-round, you can recharge with a sandwich, coffee, or hot cocoa (and stock up on park souvenirs) at the Warming Hut, tucked inside a 1909 building that was once an Army supply shed. (Insider’s tip: Stop at nearby Torpedo Wharf to snap an epic selfie.)
Nearby, take a stroll on Baker Beach’s mile-long sand for a different angle on that beautiful orange bridge. Or reserve in advance to pitch your tent at Rob Hill Campground, set atop a hill overlooking Baker Beach and the breathtaking Pacific. Bring the whole clan—two group campsites can hold up to 30 people each. Campers have access to fire pits, restrooms, picnic tables, and plenty of ambience—from the dependably salty air to foghorns, hooting owls, and city lights. (Need gear? Rent some at the Crissy Field’s Sports Basement.)