Feather & Flint

Exploring San Francisco: The Presidio, Sunset District & Sea Cliff

May 22, 2017 57 Comments 31 Photos

Hey there! As you may have read in Exploring California: San Francisco Neighborhoods – Part 1, I spent the last week of April exploring Northern California: San Francisco, Napa Valley, and everywhere in between. This week, you’ll get to explore the San Francisco Sunset District, Presidio, and Sea Cliff neighborhoods–in addition to discovering gorgeous views from Lands End, Baker Beach, and Golden Gate Park!

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Lands End Trail

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

San Francisco Neighborhoods:

The Sunset District

The San Francisco Sunset District is the city’s biggest neighborhood, both in size and in population. Prior to its settlement, city dwellers knew the Sunset District as the “Outside Lands,” and it largely consisted of sand dunes. The San Francisco Sunset District has three segments, running from east to west: Inner Sunset, Central Sunset, and Outer Sunset.

Outer Sunset’s westernmost border is Ocean Beach, which is popular among surfers; however, strong rip currents and cold water straight from Alaska often make it dangerous for swimmers. At night, residents flock to the beach to take advantage of its built-in fire pits. Apparently, a three-masted ship sank on the beach in 1878, and the wreckage emerges for a short time every few years. I recommend walking to Seal Rocks, the stunning rock formations that appear in many of my photos of the beach.

Visit: Ocean Beach (including the firepits at night!) and Seal Rocks

Eat: Beachside (amazing for brunch!), Holy Gelato!, Yumma’s Mediterranean Grill

Explore San Francisco's Sunset District, from brunch to the beach, with #featherandflint! Click To Tweet

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Beachside

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Ocean Beach

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Seal Rocks

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Ocean Beach

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Outer Sunset

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Ocean Beach

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Seal Rocks

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Ocean Beach

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

San Francisco Neighborhoods:

Lands End & the Sutro Baths

Lincoln Park is the coastal area on San Francisco’s northwestern tip that’s perfect for exploring on a beautiful day. The Lands End Trail winds through the park and is definitely worth hiking. The wooded path along the cliffs offers stunning views of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Branches of the trail can take you down to Mile Rock Beach and the Lands End Labyrinth, which I regret not visiting!

At one end of Lincoln Park are the ruins of the Sutro Baths, once a lavish public bathhouse that was open to visitors for 80 years. Somewhat sadly, the ruins of the Sutro Baths are more popular among tourists than the baths ever were! To hear the full story, I highly recommend listening to the Sutro Baths episode of 99% Invisible, one of my favorite podcasts.

Visit: Lands End Trail, Sutro Baths, Seal Rocks

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San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Sutro Baths

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Sutro Baths

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Lands End

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Seal Rocks

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Lands End

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Sutro Baths

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Seal Rocks

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

San Francisco Neighborhoods:

The Presidio

The Presidio was a fortified military installation from 1776 to 1994, when it was transferred to the National Park Service after 219 years. If you visit the Presidio, you’ll notice hundreds of former military buildings scattered across the landscape; many are of historical significance and have been renovated for public consumption over the last two decades.

My favorite part of the Presidio is Baker Beach, which offers breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge with waves crashing onto the shore in the foreground. We walked the entire length of Baker Beach and noticed that it gradually devolved into a nude beach as we approached the bridge, resulting in my favorite shot from the trip: I casually pose in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, failing to notice the completely naked man running into the waves behind me. Does it get any more quintessentially Californian than that?

Visit: The Golden Gate Bridge, Baker Beach

Where should you go for the best photos of San Francisco? Find out on #featherandflint! Click To Tweet

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Baker Beach

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Baker Beach

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Baker Beach (which happens to be a nude beach, as I found out the hard way!)

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

The Presidio

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Baker Beach

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

San Francisco Neighborhoods:

Sea Cliff

Sea Cliff is San Francisco’s most lavish neighborhood, characterized by massive houses overlooking the bay. We walked through Sea Cliff on our way to Baker Beach from the Lands End Trail, and I fell in love with the many gorgeous examples of Mission Revival architecture. Many well-known celebrities have called Sea Cliff home; my favorite examples are Robin Williams and Ansel Adams.

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

San Francisco Neighborhoods:

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park is the Central Park of San Francisco—and it’s actually 20% bigger than New York’s famous park. It was constructed from the Sunset District’s sand dunes in the mid-eighteenth century, a process that included the planting of over 155,000 trees in a single decade.

The park contains the Japanese Tea Garden, the country’s oldest public Japanese garden, originally constructed for the 1894 World’s Fair. Sadly, its Japanese proprietors were sent to an internment camp during World War II; and in their absence, many of the original Japanese artifacts were destroyed. Today, the tranquil garden is characterized by streams and pathways that wind around Japanese architecture, intended to slow down the pace of modern living for a few moments.

In addition to the Japanese Tea Garden, I recommend visiting the de Young Museum for a beautiful, free(!) view of the entire city.

VisitJapanese Tea Garden, the view from the de Young Museum‘s observation tower

Did you know that Golden Gate Park is 20% bigger than Central Park? More on #featherandflint! Click To Tweet

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

Japanese Tea Garden

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

The view from the de Young Museum

San Francisco Sunset District, The Presidio & Sea Cliff | Feather & Flint

The San Francisco Sunset District, the Presidio & Sea Cliff

Which San Francisco neighborhoods should you visit on your trip? Find out on #featherandflint! Click To Tweet

I have so many more San Francisco neighborhoods (plus day trips near San Francisco) to show all of you! Check out the next 5 posts to explore northern California with me:

I’d love to hear which parts of the city you love the most or can’t wait to explore, from the San Francisco Sunset District to the Presidio and beyond–leave me a comment and let me know!

P.S. Are you following Feather & Flint on FacebookInstagramTwitterBloglovin’, and Google+? Subscribe to each channel to make sure you don’t miss a single post, whether it’s on exploring San Francisco or finding your Myers-Briggs personality type.

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57 Comments

  1. Reply

    Brittany L. Bergman

    May 23, 2017

    I only got to visit San Francisco for 36 hours when I was there — but it was long enough for me to declare it my favorite city in the US! You got some gorgeous shots, and I hope to be able to visit lots of these places the next time I visit!

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 23, 2017

      Thank you so much! I really loved it, too–it almost rivals my city, Boston 😉 I still feel like I could spend years exploring San Francisco and only see a small part of it!

  2. Reply

    Anonymous

    May 23, 2017

    Sea Cliff looks so cool! I love San Francisco but have never been to that neighborhood!

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 23, 2017

      Sea Cliff was so gorgeous! I loved that it wasn’t just another neighborhood bursting with McMansions–the architecture was genuinely cool, and the view was stunning!

  3. Reply

    Jasmine

    May 23, 2017

    San Francisco is on my bucket list. It looks so beautiful.

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 24, 2017

      It should absolutely be at the top of your list, hahah! I loved it and can’t imagine that anyone else wouldn’t!

  4. Reply

    Rachel R Ritlop

    May 24, 2017

    We walked from the Golden Gate Bridge to Sutro Bathes and it was like my favorite part of our trip!! So beautiful!

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 24, 2017

      That’s the same walk that we did, just in the opposite direction!! Wasn’t it the greatest?! So glad that we did that – it was the best part of our trip, too!

      • Reply

        Rachel R Ritlop

        May 26, 2017

        the best! it was our favorite part too!

  5. Reply

    Andrea

    May 24, 2017

    A beautiful town – one of these years i’ll have to get out there

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      It’s as breathtaking as it is fun! Absolutely take a trip there if you get the chance!

  6. Reply

    Jenn

    May 24, 2017

    San Francisco looks like an amazing city!! I need to try going there soon.

    PS your pictures are beautiful!!

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 24, 2017

      Thank you so much, Jenn!! You should absolutely as soon as you get the chance, I know you’ll love it!

  7. Reply

    D at Be you and thrive

    May 24, 2017

    I left my heart in San Fransisco 🙂 Such a gorgeous area up and down that coast! Thanks for sharing these lovely sites!!!
    xo~D

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 24, 2017

      Now I understand that song!! It’s such a cool city – both because of the city itself, and because of the natural beauty that surrounds it. So awesome to finally experience in person!

  8. Reply

    Lyndsay // Lyndsay's Travel Kitchen

    May 24, 2017

    Your pics are absolutely stunning! And I love the photo bomb in the one of you in front of the bridge!

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 24, 2017

      Bahaha, thank you, Lyndsay! I loved that one too – such a great depiction of San Francisco. Gorgeous beach, scenic view of the bridge… and a naked guy running into the surf when you least expect it 😉

  9. Reply

    Anonymous

    May 24, 2017

    you take really incredible photos! i love all the color

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 24, 2017

      Thank you so much!! I LOVE color – and there’s so much of it in San Fran!

  10. Reply

    Jessica

    May 24, 2017

    you take beautiful photos! i love all the color

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      Thanks, Jessica! San Francisco was bursting with color – I loved taking photos there!

  11. Reply

    Rose

    May 24, 2017

    Your low light beach scenes are stunning!

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      Thank you so much, Rose! I know you know what you’re talking about in that department, so that means a lot 😉 The photos are only half as beautiful as it was in real life, but I’m happy to have captured any part of that beauty!

  12. Reply

    Harmony, Momma To Go

    May 24, 2017

    I’m going out that way in August can’t wait to get to these parks and beaches!

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      Yay, have a beautiful trip! (It’s impossible not to – it’s such a gorgeous place!!)

  13. Reply

    Silvia

    May 24, 2017

    So gorgeous! I’m going to visiting San Fran and the area soon! You gave me so many ideas!

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      Thank you!! I’m so glad to hear that – have an amazing time!

  14. Reply

    Divya

    May 24, 2017

    Oh, Golden Gate PARK! It holds so many special memories for me. One of them being the first time I’ve EVER run 10 miles. I was so freaking proud of myself. It will always and forever be a memorable place for me. <3

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      I love how everyone has a different favorite part of Golden Gate Park!! My friend was so excited to show the Tea Garden to me because she knew I’d fall in love with it, too. Such a cool park with so much to see!

  15. Reply

    Nancy at Miles For Family

    May 24, 2017

    Following since I’m going to San Francisco in July. I love the beach with the view of the bridge, but I’ll need to figure out how to avoid the nude beach with my kids, LOL!

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      Hahaha! It’s actually surprisingly easy – the closer you walk to the bridge, the fewer clothes you’ll see 😉 So if you’re okay with seeing the bridge from a little bit farther away, you guys will be good to go! Have an amazing time!

  16. Reply

    Theresa Bailey

    May 25, 2017

    Wow, so I’ve been to San Fransico and didn’t see the majority of this stuff. It’s such a big city and is truly a world of it’s own. I’ll have to go back and check out some of these stops. I really only got in downtown, Alcatraz, the Disney museum (a must for me, lol), and GGB of course.

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      Thanks for reading, Theresa! You’re so right – it really is a world of its own. I was shocked to find out that it’s the smallest U.S. city area-wise–there was so much packed in to SF that it seemed MASSIVE!

  17. Reply

    Catherine Short

    May 25, 2017

    We went to California last year and while we did spend some time in San Francisco I wished we could have visited Lands End!

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      I could seriously have taken two separate trips to San Francisco to fully experience the city itself, then all of the natural beauty that surrounds it–let alone the amazing places within a day’s drive of the city. That would be like, five separate trips!

  18. Reply

    Julie Hoag

    May 25, 2017

    Gorgeous pictures! I love San Franscicso! My husband and I went there before kids, we need to go back now and take our kids to see this gorgeous city!! Thanks!

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      Ahh, I would love to come back here someday when I have kids! There’s so much to see that I’ll take any opportunity to go back, honestly 😉

  19. Reply

    Leslie Soto

    May 25, 2017

    These all look and sound like wonderful places to visit. Beachside looks like such a charming town and it sounds like it’s filled with amazing places to eat. I would also love to visit the Golden Gate Bridge sometime.

    Sea Cliff looks like the kind of town that is rich with history. I’m in love with the architecture on all the buildings, too!

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      SO much good food to eat and beautiful places to see in a single city – it’s crazy! I hope you get to visit someday!!

  20. Reply

    Annie

    May 26, 2017

    I love San Fran! I haven’t been in a few years unfortunately but there are so many fun areas to explore! Your pictures are beautiful

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      Thank you!! I hadn’t been since I was 4, so this trip was a long time coming 🙂

  21. Reply

    Kristen

    May 26, 2017

    Amazing photos! It’s hard to pick a favourite. I’d love to visit the Golden Gate Park sometime.

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      Thank you so much, Kristen! Good choice – it’s absolutely beautiful there 🙂

  22. Reply

    Neely Moldovan

    May 26, 2017

    These are stunning photos. No matter how much I go I feel I have so much to see

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      Thank you, Neely!! It’s so true – I feel like I saw like 10% of the city, even with all of the exploring that we did!

  23. Reply

    Bria | Tendril Wild Blog

    May 26, 2017

    Robin,

    I’ve been loving following along with your travels on Instagram…the photos you post are so gorgeous.
    You seem like the type of traveler who gets the most out of your journey – I love that! 🙂

    I would love to visit San Fran, and your pictures make me want to go even more.

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      Thank you SO much, Bria – that really means a lot to me!! It’s true – my philosophy when I travel is to experience a place as fully as I possibly can so that I don’t leave feeling like I just barely brushed the surface. I have a ton of fun traveling with my husband (even though he totally gets tired of me taking thousands of pictures!) because he’s great at befriending complete strangers, who tell us the best under-the-radar places to eat and take photos. Guess every introvert needs an extrovert to travel with – we balance each other out and end up having the best trips (and making friends in cities all around the world)!

  24. Reply

    Jessica Bradshaw

    May 26, 2017

    San Fran is my husband’s favorite city. Love your photos!! It looks like you had an incredible time.

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      It’s definitely one of my favorite cities now, too! I see what all of the hype is about! Thanks for reading, Jessica 🙂

  25. Reply

    Dealman

    May 28, 2017

    SUCH A BOLD LOOK! You’re looking perfect in that dress. 🙂

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      Thank you so much, you’re too kind! 🙂

  26. Reply

    Brittany

    May 28, 2017

    Looks like you had an amazing trip! I haven’t been to SF in a long time but I really want to go back and visit some of these areas!

    • Reply

      Robin

      May 30, 2017

      Thank you, Brittany!! We really did have an amazing trip – and I feel like SF is one of those cities where it keeps evolving after you leave, so you’d always come back to a different city every time. Definitely worth going back to!

  27. Reply

    Alexis

    May 31, 2017

    I definitely need to add San Fransisco to my bucket list. Your photos are absolutely beautiful!

    • Reply

      Robin

      July 8, 2017

      Thank you so much, Alexis – you’re so sweet! You should absolutely visit if you get the chance!!

  28. Reply

    Jenna Urben

    June 9, 2017

    Wow, these views and photos are amazing! I visit SF at least once a year, I”ll be sure to refer back to these posts before I go.

    • Reply

      Robin

      July 8, 2017

      Oh man, I’m so jealous that you get to visit so often!! I hope my posts help you discover new parts of the city to love 🙂

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