Rave: The Presidio & Presidio Habitats

I always bought into the idea that the Presidio was great — after all, it’s the largest urban National Park in the country — but in practice, I’ve often avoided it. It’s the one area of San Francisco where I’ve routinely gotten lost. I’d start out running on a forested trail and end up practically on the highway, or at an apartment complex. Or I’d drive into the Presidio thinking I was heading for the Marina and end up in Sea Cliff instead.

Even when I was lost in the Presidio, I’d often stumble across interesting¬† or something that I didn’t know existed before, like the World War II Memorial with its gorgeous view of the Pacific, but I’d rarely be able to find any of these places again on repeat visits.

As it turns out, I needed a walking tour of the Presidio — and that’s just what Presidio Habitats provides, assuming, of course, that you can find it. (It took us two tries).

Presidio Habitats is an art exhibit in the Presidio consisting of 11 outdoor installations, each focused on an animal native to the Presidio, such as robins, hares, Great Blue herons, owls, hummingbirds, Gray foxes, and even bees. (The Easter-egg like screech owl habitat is shown below.)

We started out at the Exhibition Pavilion where we checked out the 25 proposed exhibits. (You could opt to just pick up a map here and get started, but I thought it was worthwhile — and entertaining — to see some of what wasn’t chosen to be part of the exhibit). If you go through the submissions, though, take note of those that were selected (they’re marked with a red dot), otherwise, you may find yourself looking for something, like the excellent proposed golf course/Great Horned owl habitat, that isn’t there.

I loved many of the installations, especially the phrases made of nesting material for robins (shown below), but most of all, I loved that I finally got a true sense of how much there is to see in the Presidio. The exhibit took us to the new Rob Hill campground (can’t WAIT to camp here!), into a community garden, alongside tennis courts, down residential streets, under the Doyle Drive approach to the Bridge, within view of the San Francisco National Cemetery, and even past Presidio Wine Bunkers (I’d never heard of this before but this is a genius reuse idea: turn old military bunkers into wine storage. Only in SF).

We were lucky enough to be there on a (rare) sunny day so we also got views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the downtown skyline, Alcatraz, the East Bay hills, and the Pacific Ocean along the way.

By wandering through the Presidio, I also realized that I’m not the only one who gets lost there. We were stopped repeatedly by visitors looking for directions. (Note to SF, directions to popular destinations like say, the Golden Gate, would be very useful for locals and tourists alike).

Presidio Habitats is up until May 2011 (it’s designed to be up for a year so you can see it in different seasons.)


One Response to “Rave: The Presidio & Presidio Habitats”

  1. Paul Osmundson Says:

    I’m glad you like the Presidio Wine Bunkers – I was the Director of Real Estate for the Presidio Trust and found the man (Christos Kasaris) whose idea it was.

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