Top 20 San Francisco attractions

Fort Baker

free admission

Fort Baker is an old army post on the Marin Headlands, with a breathtaking view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, to the picturesque grounds of Fort Baker.  Fort Baker has an idyllic setting on the waterfront, with arguably the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge. 

10 best things to do at Fort Baker 

Fort Baker's historic parade ground is encircled by Officer’s Quarters, with glorious views of San Francisco's cityscape.  The pretty white and red military buildings make this a picture-perfect location.  

There's a cool military defense battery to explore, some fun trails, and a pier to walk out on that's super close to the Golden Gate Bridge. Families with kids under ten can check out the Bay Area Discovery Museum (admission required).  Finish your visit with a meal at the upscale Cavallo Point Lodge restaurant.  

1. Walk around the stunning Parade Ground.

Fort Baker San Francisco

Take the pathway around Murray Circle on the Parade Ground at Fort Baker, to see the old Officers' Quarters. 

Fort Baker Officers Quarters

The Commanding Officers' Quarters were constructed in the Colonial Revival Style in the early 20th century, with wrap-around porches, palladian windows, pediments, and decorative columns. They were an upgrade on the dingy military buildings of the past, and were intended to lift the morale of the troops and inspire civic pride.

Officers Quarters at Fort Baker

Stay overnight in a restored historic building at the Cavallo Point Lodge at Fort Baker on the Parade Ground.  The interiors are full of character, with the original fireplaces, floors, box beam ceilings and crown moulding.

Fort Baker BEST things to see.

The enclosed sun porches are a must-have feature for the chillier San Francisco climate.

Colonial Revival Building at Fort Baker

#1 Guide to Fort BakerFort Baker army barracks

This is the parade ground where daily drills were performed by the troops, and the Army Barracks are in the background. This grassy area is now popular for picnics and recreation. 

Fort Baker parade ground

Enjoy a coffee in the patio area, with sweeping views towards the Golden Gate Bridge.

Fort Baker gymnasium

This is the gymnasium, constructed in the Colonial Revival Style in 1906.  Other historic buildings at Fort Baker include the chapel, hospital, and post exchange.

2. Eat at the stylish Farley Restaurant, or Sula Lounge.

Cavallo Point Restaurant

Enjoy a meal at the upscale Farley Restaurant or Sula and Sula Lounge inside the old Army Barracks.  Sit on the porch and gaze out over the incredible views, just as the soldiers did a hundred years ago at Fort Baker.

3. Take the Chapel Steps Trail up the hill for awesome views.

Fort Baker Chapel

Take the 0.8 mile trail up the hill that starts behind the Chapel, ending near the Bay Area Discovery Museum.  There’s a panoramic view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Parade Ground at this higher elevation along the trail.

4. Visit the fun Bay Area Discovery Museum for kids.

Bay Area Discovery Museum

Take your kids to the awesome Bay Area Discovery Museum.  The Lookout Cove outdoor play area is amazing with tide-pools, a shipwreck, crow’s nest tower, and spiderweb to climb! There’s also a cafe inside.

Bay Area Discovery Museum entranceBay Area Discovery Museum lookout cove

5. Explore historic Battery Yates.

Battery Yates

Explore the fascinating ruins of Battery Yates near Horseshoe Bay.  This concrete defense system was constructed in the 1890s to protect the Bay Area from naval attack.  These buildings were the inspiration for the Starfleet Command Buildings from the TV series, Star Trek: Enterprise.

6. Stop for a drink at the Travis Marina Bar.

Fort Baker Travis Marina Bar.

Have a drink at the old school Marina Bar located in the Travis Marina Building at Horseshoe Bay. The Marina Building is in the foreground, near the kayaks.

7. Explore the Mine Depot Buildings.

Explore the historic Mine Depot Buildings and Marine Repair Shop at Horseshoe Bay. 

The Mine Depot Buildings are numbered; Building 412 (mine loading room), Building 410 (detonator storage with “no smoking” and “explosives” signs), Building 411 (dynamite storage), Building 670 (cable storage room), Building 409 (generator that provided electricity).

8. Walk out on the breathtaking Pier.

Fort Baker Pier.

Walk to the popular fishing pier on Horseshoe Bay at Fort Baker, with views of the undercarriage of the Golden Gate Bridge.

9. Visit charming Sausalito.

Drive to nearby Sausalito for a great selection of waterfront restaurants.

10. Walk out to the Point Bonita Lighthouse.

Drive 6-miles west of Fort Baker, to the magnificent Point Bonita Lighthouse.

Fort Baker once defended San Francisco from attack

Fort Baker was purchased by the US Army in 1866 to defend San Francisco from attack.

By the 1890’s the army constructed a network of Endicott-era concrete defenses in the Bay Area to protect San Francisco from naval attack.  An example of this is Battery Yates on a bluff near Fort Baker’s waterfront.

By 1907, the Coast Artillery Corp was formed to strengthen America’s harbor defenses. They constructed buildings around the large parade ground at Fort Baker including the Officers' Quarters, a hospital, gymnasium, barracks, guardhouse and post exchange.  The Officers' Quarters were built in the Colonial Revival style with decorative windows and wrap around porches, and was a departure from the dark, dingy military housing of the past.

In WWII, the Coast Artillery Corp operated the headquarters for the Mine Depot at Fort Baker, planting mines outside the Golden Gate Straits to protect the shipping line. These mines were rigged up on a cable system, and could be remotely detonated if an enemy submarine approached.  The Mine Depot buildings are still there today.  There’s also the original Marine Repair Shop that worked on civilian boats conscripted to assist with the war effort.

Post WWII, the focus changed from water to air defense.  With the dawn of the Cold War there was a new threat from Soviet missiles and aircraft.  Therefore, the U.S. Army Defense Command took control of Fort Baker and established a headquarters for anti-aircraft missile units.  There were 12 Nike Missile bases in the Bay Area equipped with ground to air nuclear missiles.

In 1972 Fort Baker became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and by the 1980’s the Cold War was over and the Nike Missiles became obsolete. 

Know before you go

  • Location: 2.3 miles south of Sausalito.
  • Parking: On-street parking along Murray Circle, and some parking lots.
  • Discovery Museum (kids):  Tickets and hours
  • Restaurants:  Hours.  
  • Travis Marina bar:  Hours.  

Explore other attractions near Fort Baker

Other attractions in the area include the Point Bonita Lighthouse and Marin Headlands.

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