Top 20 San Francisco attractions

Fort Point San Francisco

free admission

Fort Point is a civil-war era brick fortress, designed to protect San Francisco Bay.

It's located at Crissy Field, and is FREE to visit with a self-guided or docent led tour. Fort Point once had tremendous strategic importance in fortifying San Francisco from attack by foreign powers. 

10 best things to do at Fort Point

  1. Grab a coffee at the Warming Hut Cafe near Fort Point.
  2. Join a free docent led tour at the entrance to Fort Point.
  3. Explore the internal courtyard where daily military drills were once performed.
  4. Wander through four floors of empty passages, chambers and winding staircases.
  5. Checkout the gunpowder magazine room and cannons on the ground floor.
  6. Walk up to the Officer's Quarters on the second floor.
  7. Continue on to the Enlisted Men's Quarters on the third floor of Fort Point.
  8. Climb to the Barbette Tier on the roof, and savor incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
  9. Count the gun mounts encircling the perimeter of the roof.
  10. Look up at the 1864 lighthouse rising above Fort Point's roofline.

The fascinating history of Fort Point San Francisco

In 1794 the Spanish built a defense structure at Fort Point San Francisco with 10 cannons, known as Punta del Castillo.  However it was abandoned after the Mexican-Spanish war in 1821 and fell into ruins. 

After San Francisco’s growing prosperity during the Gold Rush, there was growing concern about invasion from foreign powers like the French and Spanish.  Thus a new fortress was constructed at Fort Point from 1853 to 1861.  The cliffs were blasted away so the cannons could be launched at water level from the fort. 

During the Civil War between 1861 to 1865, there were 69 cannons and 500 men stationed at Fort Point.  However, no attack ever came.  Daily life was monotonous with constant drills and parades.  The Civil War revealed that the Fort’s masonry walls were ineffective against rifled artillery, as seen in the destruction of similar structures out East.  Thus the cannons became obsolete and were eventually removed.

Fort Point underwent many uses in the following years.  In the 1920’s, unmarried officers were housed there by the US Army.  In the 1930’s Fort Point was used for offices during the Golden Gate Bridge construction.  In WWII, soldiers were stationed at Fort Point to guard against underwater land-mines in the Bay. 

In 1970, Fort Point finally became a US National Historic site.

Fort Point

To get to Fort Point, take the stunning 1.5 mile waterfront path at Crissy Field from the parking lot at East Beach.

Fort Point National Historic Site

This is East Beach, just steps from the parking lot.

Stop at the Greater Farallones Visitor Center along Crissy Field's waterfront trail, and learn about the 3,295 square mile Greater Farallone National Marine Sanctuary off the North-Central California coast.

The path continues past the Warming Hut Cafe and Bookstore, towards Fort Point.

The waterfront pathway at Crissy Field is popular with cyclists, and you can ride all the way out to Fort Point.

Know before you go

  • Address: Fort Point National Historic Site, Marine Drive, CA 94129.
  • Admission:  Free.
  • Hours:  Check hours.  
  • Parking lot:  Adjacent to Fort Point.
  • Presidio Shuttle:  free shuttles from downtown to the Presidio (and around the Presidio).

Things to do near Fort Point San Francisco

  1. Crissy Field has a coastal pathway that runs along beaches, a cafe, and a pier.  (Fort Point is at the end of Crissy Field).
  2. Palace of Fine Arts is a magnificent building, and site of the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition.

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