Our thanks to the Lodge at the Presidio and Walt Disney Family Museum for inviting us to visit as guests. My family of five was treated to an overnight stay at the lodge and a visit to the museum the next morning.
My spouse and our three sons had a wonderful mini-cation in the Presidio, about thirty minutes from our home in Berkeley. A weekend trip to the City was well outside of our everyday routine and we touristed it up!
On our way to the Presidio on Saturday morning, we stopped in Chinatown for fortune cookies, boba tea, bubble waffles, and souvenir tee shirts. We also made a quick stop at Umbrella Alley and In-N-Out Burger, located next to Ghiradelli Square.
Then, we checked in to the Lodge at the Presidio into the very spacious two-queen suite (sleeps 6) and kicked our shoes off. From our room, we could spot the City skyline and Alcatraz out one window and the Golden Gate Bridge from the stairwell.
Hikes and other family fun in the Presidio
I could have wandered around staring at the various views of massive trees, the Bay, and Golden Gate Bridge all day. But my children and I are into different sorts of things, and on a family vacation, the kids’ interests generally take center stage. Am I right? Here are six family-fun activities in the Presidio. If your children are into:
- nature: try the self-guided watershed walk.
- art: follow the Goldsworthy art installation and be sure to hit up the Walt Disney Family Museum.
- discovery: pick a route on the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure map (pictured above) available at Little Free Library-styled cubbies throughout the Presidio.
- secret messages: look for Presidio Field Notes on small, wooden-hinged blocks affixed to fence posts, benches, and stumps along park trails. They contain QR codes that reveal secret messages and the content will change with the seasons.
- beach: head over to the iconic Crissy Field and stick your toes right in the water.
- stories: find the route peppered with picture-book signs for The Hike.
- history or views: send them my way and we can come back together next time! Literally, everything is beautiful in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge.
- chasing each other: pick a spot on the Parade Ground lawns with a ball, play tag, or drag those giant Share Chairs around until you’re exhausted.
There are lots of things to do right around the Lodge
During non-pandemic times, the Lodge at the Presidio is busy with weddings, events, cool Star Wars people, and other business travel. We found it an excellent resting place for our family. While I wanted to go-go-go and explore the surroundings of the National Park, my children were super excited to have a giant television they could watch from a comfy bed, a deep bathtub, and breakfast room service. That said, if you manage to leave the comfortable rooms, there are lots of places to see and things to do without getting back in the car.
- Bowling or eating dinner at Presidio Bowl (an easy walk)
- Playing on giant red Share Chairs on the lawn formerly known as the Parade Grounds – FREE!
- Hiking to and walking across the Golden Gate Bridge – FREE!
- Shoving your brothers, wrestling, running, and generally exhausting selves on the lawn – FREE!
- Visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum (literally right next door)
- Playing games in our room or lounge area (included with hotel stay)
- Walking or running around Crissy Field (an easy walk)
Walt Disney Family Museum
Museum can be a triggering word for children. I wasn’t quite sure how they respond to my announcement that we’d be visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum. Since DISNEY is also in the name of the destination, I crossed my fingers it would offer a little something for everyone. My husband was so engrossed in the exhibits, he didn’t notice that the nine-year-old was absolutely done being indoors. My art-oriented son really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes content that revealed how animations are made. He spent a lot of time studying the illustrations and watching videos. My game and history/trivia-oriented son was taken with the World War II artifacts that provided the social context for Mr. Disney’s heyday era of innovation. I was so grateful that no one used a whining voice that I agreed we would absolutely go to Disneyland this summer. So, take that as a warning. Book timed tickets to the Walt Disney Family Museum >>
Family-friendly places to eat:
Within the Presidio, options are sort of limited for food. We grabbed dinner at the bowling alley across the lawn. A 15-minute walk would have rewarded us with either Sessions SF (for fancier fare with a very nice patio experience) or Presidio Social Club.
We could have also ordered anything with DoorDash or gone someplace in the nearby Marina for takeaway.
As guests of the Lodge, we were treated to a wonderful, ample wine and cheese evening snack that filled our bellies at least two-thirds of the way.
Other fun stuff we squeezed into our San Francisco Weekend
There are hundreds of ways to choose your own adventure in the City. Though my husband and I have both lived and worked in San Francisco for years, our kids are very much East Bay kids who rarely have reason to cross the bridge. So, much to their embarrassment, we touristed it up!