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Feb 16, 2018

Presidio's Greatest Lists: Calling all First Time Visitors! Five Great Discoveries at the Presidio Visitor Center

There's a lot for first-time visitors to see and do at Presidio Visitor Center.


This month marks one year since the brand new Presidio Visitor Center opened in February 2017 with a special Community Day celebration. Since that time, nearly 120,000 people have walked through the door. But if you weren’t among those first guests, the visitor center has plenty to entice a new visitor. Check out these five surprising discoveries that make the Presidio Visitor Center a “must see” destination.

1. Learn about the Presidio as a Cultural Crossroads

The Presidio has always been a cultural crossroads. The land at edge of the Golden Gate has been home to native people for thousands of years, and generations of soldiers from all backgrounds have passed through its gates when the Presidio was a military post successively under the flags of Spain, Mexico, and the United States. The Presidio Visitor Center’s exhibits and videos explore this rich cultural heritage. Come learn about the Ohlone, the land’s first inhabitants; the Buffalo Soldiers, regiments of African American troops; the Japanese American soldiers who were secretly trained as military linguists before World War II; and so much more.

Photo credit: Historic photos courtesy of Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

2. Meet Staff and Volunteers who Offer an Insider’s Perspective

It’s one thing to have a map or a list of events, but it’s quite another to talk with someone who really knows the Presidio. That’s why we’re letting you in on the visitor center’s most powerful secret weapons – the amazing people who work there! From the National Park Service rangers who interpret the history of the Presidio, to the Parks Conservancy staff who’ll set you up with the best gear – or gifts – for your adventure, to the Presidio Trust staff who’ll help you build the perfect itinerary, this friendly team will make sure you have the inside scoop on all there is to do and see in the Presidio.

3. Take a Guided Bike-Ride, Walk, or Shuttle Tour

Group of people sitting outside of the Visitor Center with their bikes.

Let us guide you on your Presidio adventure! Many tours originate at the Presidio Visitor Center, including the Family-Friendly Bike Ride and the Buffalo Soldiers Walk with Ranger Alejandra, which describes the “first park rangers” and their connection to the Presidio. We’re also offering the Presidio Experience Tour, a shuttle tour around the entire national park that concludes with an exploration of the Presidio Officers’ Club. Check the events calendar to find your perfect adventure!

4. Enjoy Kid-Friendly Fun

Group of kids participating in child-friendly activities in the Visitor Center

If you’re wondering if the visitor center is a good place for kids, the short answer is, “yes!” The space itself is fun, with interactive touchscreen displays and a program area where kids can do crafting. You can also pick up a park treasure hunt map geared toward wee adventurers and check out an Explorer Backpack, a board game come to life that includes tools like a compass and binoculars to help young ones discover the park. Coming soon: the Presidio Visitor Center will soon be a geo-cache site. Whichever way you slice it, the visitor center is a fun place to introduce kids to the national park.

5. Pick Up Amazing Presidio Gifts and Gear

Did you forget something you need for your hike or picnic, or do you want to buy a park lover that perfect Presidio-centric gift? The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy has carefully curated wonderful gear to suit every taste, from soccer balls to history books to fun options for the kiddos. You’ll also find totes, sweatshirts, and t-shirts emblazoned with park imagery. (Note: all proceeds support the parks.)