Top 20 San Francisco attractions

Crissy Field

Crissy Field

Crissy Field is a recreation park near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. 

Crissy Field is located at a former army airfield, with a spectacular waterfront path with views of the Golden Gate Bridge, beautiful beaches, a cafe and bookstore, and historic fortress to tour.

10 best things to do at Crissy Field

The best attractions are along the stunning 1.5 mile Crissy Field Promenade. This path travels from East Beach to Fort Point, ending near the Golden Gate Bridge.  This is a flat, easy path, with lots to see along the way. This is easily one of San Francisco's most scenic walks (or bike rides).

Crissy Field BeachCrissy Field Beach

1. Walk along East Beach towards the Golden Gate Bridge.

Start at the Crissy Field East Beach Parking Lot, then follow the path west along East Beach towards the Golden Gate Bridge.  East Beach is popular for sunbathing and strolling, but dangerous currents make it unsuitable for swimming.

10 BEST things at Crissy Field10 BEST things at Crissy Field

Crissy Field was originally a coastal wetlands, and a seasonal village for the Ohlone people. The wetlands were filled in to build exhibit halls for the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. During WWI these exhibit halls were replaced with barracks for 6,000 soldiers.

STUNNING Crissy Field Beach.STUNNING Crissy Field BeachCrissy Field view of Alcatraz IslandCrissy Field view of Alcatraz IslandTourists at Crissy Field beachTourists at Crissy Field beach

2. Learn about the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco.

The waterfront path continues past the free Greater Farallones Visitor Center (991 Marine Drive), located beside the palm trees in the old Coast Guard Buildings (pictured).  See educational exhibits on the Farallon Islands Marine Sanctuary, located off the coast of San Francisco.

What to do at Crissy FieldWhat to do at Crissy Field

The grassed area you see today, was once an airfield.

The Crissy Army Airfield was built in 1919 after WWI, as a bastion of air defense for the West Coast.  A complex of buildings was constructed that still exists today.  These include hangars, a workshop, guardhouse, gas pump house and officers' quarters on the bluff. The 91st Observation Squadron arrived in 1921 and undertook duties, including aerial photography, aerial forest fire patrol, and search and rescue.

Crissy Army Airfield soon became the cradle of aviation innovation.  Many world firsts were achieved here. In 1924 a team of three Douglas world cruiser planes were the first to circumnavigate the world in 5.5 months.  The first dawn to dusk transcontinental flight also happened here in 1924.  This paved the way for the long distance flights we enjoy today.

The Crissy Army Airfield closed in 1936 after the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.  It became a staging area for troops in WWII, and then fell into disrepair.  There were overgrown parking lots, chain-link fences, and junk and tires discarded on the beach.

The airfield was finally decommissioned in 1994, and rehabilitated by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area to become one of San Francisco's most beautiful places.

Greater Farallones Visitor Center Greater Farallones Visitor Center

3. Enjoy a coffee at the cosy Warming Hut Bookstore and Cafe

Continue walking to the Warming Hut Bookstore and Cafe (983 Marine Drive).  Grab a coffee or pastry and explore the great selection of gifts and books.  There's also a kid's gift section with coloring books and other items to keep them amused. 

The building was constructed in 1909, and originally used as an Engineering Storehouse.

Warming Hut Cafe at Crissy FieldWarming Hut Cafe at Crissy Field

4. Stroll along the historic Torpedo Wharf.

Step outside the Warming Hut Bookstore and Cafe and enjoy the brisk marine air on the popular fishing pier.  Torpedo Wharf has a colorful history, and was used by the U.S. Army in the early 19th century, to lay minefields to protect the Bay.

Crissy Field with views of Golden Gate BridgeCrissy Field with views of Golden Gate Bridge

Torpedo Wharf at Crissy FieldTorpedo Wharf at Crissy Field

5. Take a tour of fascinating Fort Point.

Walk another 0.5 miles along the waterfront path to reach Fort Point.  Fort Point once had tremendous strategic importance in fortifying San Francisco from attack by foreign powers.  The Fort is free to visit, and the views from the Barbette Tier on the roof are incredible.

Fort Point near Crissy FieldFor Point near Crissy Field

STUNNING views of Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field.STUNNING views of Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field.

6. Walk up the Battery East Trail for incredible views.

Just behind the Warming Hut Bookstore and Cafe, follow the sign marked Battery East up the hill towards the Golden Gate Bridge.  The path ascends 850 feet up stairs, with soaring views across the Bay from Battery East. 

Battery East Trail at the Presidio, San Francisco.Battery East Trail at the Presidio, San Francisco.Tourists at the Battery East Trail at the Presidio.Tourists at the Battery East Trail at the Presidio.

Fog at Golden Gate Bridge San FranciscoFog at Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco

7. Visit the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center.

Continue a short distance from Battery East, to the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center.  The Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center has maps, bridge themed gifts, and all types of fascinating facts and figures about the Golden Gate Bridge.  By the end of your visit, you should be able to accurately describe how a suspension bridge is made!

Golden Gate Bridge Visitor Center.Golden Gate Bridge Visitor Center.Interior of Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center.Interior of Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center.Golden Gate Bridge exhibits.Golden Gate Bridge exhibits.

8. Browse exhibits outside the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center

See fascinating exhibits outside the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center, explaining the major engineering feat involved in the bridge construction.  This includes the original 12-foot span test model that was used to stress test the bridge.

12 foot Span Model of Golden Gate Bridge12 foot Span Model of Golden Gate BridgeCable from Golden Gate BridgeCable from Golden Gate Bridge

A cross-section of one of the main cables is on display, with an incredible 3-foot diameter.  Two main cables were used to hold up the Golden Gate Bridge, weighing in at an astounding 24,500 tons each.  Each of the cables was 1.4 miles long.  A spinning technique with a reeling machine was used to install the 27,542 wires in each cable.

9.  Pick up a snack at the Round House Cafe.

The Round House Cafe is located near the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center in a circular, art deco building.  It sells a basic selection of snacks.  

Round House Cafe at Golden Gate BridgeRound House Cafe at Golden Gate Bridge

10. Get incredible, close-up views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Walk a short distance from the Round House Cafe, to a superb vantage point of the Golden Gate Bridge. Wow!  This has to be one of the best viewpoints of the Golden Gate Bridge. You're so close to all the action. The viewpoint connects to a thrilling walkway across the bridge.

Close up views of Golden Gate BridgeClose up views of Golden Gate BridgeViewing area at Golden Gate Bridge.Viewing area at Golden Gate Bridge.

Know before you go

  • Shuttles: free shuttles from downtown to Crissy Field.
  • Parking lots: yes.
  • Cafe: Warming Hut Cafe.
  • Museums: Fort Point, Greater Farallones Visitor Center.
  • Beach: East Beach.

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