Fort Mason’s use as a military site dates to 1864, but it’s now part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The 13-acre (5-hectare) site houses art spaces, a bar, restaurant, and coffee shop and is also known as the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture. Its Great Meadow is a favorite for a warm-weather picnic.
Similar to the Presidio, Fort Mason morphed from a military base into an urban national park, with events, festivals, a farmers market, art spaces, and concessions all on the grounds. Its prime location on the San Francisco Bay waterfront, between Fisherman’s Wharf and the Marina District, makes it easy to visit on foot. You can bike through on a tour to the Golden Gate Bridge, or admire it from the water on a bay cruise.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Fort Mason is divided into an upper section and lower section, with the Great Meadow sloping between.
- There is a paid parking lot on site.
- A visitor center is open on weekdays only.
- Fort Mason is mostly wheelchair accessible, including paved pathways surrounding the Great Meadow.
How to Get There
From Fisherman’s Wharf, it’s easy to bike or walk to Fort Mason. MUNI buses 28, 30, 47, and 49 stop outside the fort. If you drive, there’s an on-site parking lot. The main entrance is located at Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street, but you can also enter from Bay Street.
When to Get There
Big events such as beer and wine festivals and craft fairs take place in the festival pavilions and draw big crowds—the Renegade Craft Fair every November is popular. The weekly farmers market and the Off the Grid food truck gathering are local favorites.
Walk a block down North Point Street from Fort Mason’s eastern edge to reach Ghirardelli Square, a red-bricked multilevel retail center that is recognizable by the large “Ghirardelli” sign. Listed on the US National Register of Historic Places, the square is home to shops, restaurants, and a wine-tasting room, but its staple is the Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop.