The Golden Gate area is in the northern section of San Francisco. It is made up of two National Historic Landmarks — The Presidio and Fort Mason — as well as several upscale neighborhoods including Pacific Heights, Cow Hollow, and the Marina District. It has some of the most beautiful scenery and intact natural environments in the city. It is roughly bounded by the San Francisco Bay to the north and west, Lake St and California St to the south, and Van Ness Ave to the east. The Golden Gate Bridge connects this district with Marin County across the Bay to the north.
Getting there by car: The main entryways are Van Ness Ave from the south and Bay St from the east. From the north and west, take Highway 101 through the Presidio to Lombard St. Chestnut St, one of the main shopping and restaurant streets, is one block north of Lombard St — parking is scarce and can sometimes take up to an hour to find. The best choice for parking may be the free area in Fort Mason, at Beach and Buchanan Sts, another 4 short blocks north of Chestnut. Union St, being Cow Hollow's main street, is three blocks south of Lombard St.
Getting there by bus: From downtown. From the Caltrain station, traveling through downtown past the Montgomery St BART station (outbound) or the Powell St BART station (inbound), the 30 Stockton bus (which runs about every 6 minutes during the day, until 1AM) gets you to Chestnut St and near the Palace of Fine Arts. You can also take the 41, 45 (both serve Union St), 76, and 12. Routes 1, 2, 3, and 4 serve Pacific Heights and Lower Pacific Heights.
Getting there on foot: If you enjoy walking, you can take the Historic F-line streetcar from downtown along the Embarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf, and walk along San Francisco Bay past Fort Mason — it's a bit of hill — to the Marina Green. If you're downtown, simply follow Van Ness Ave all the way north and take a left anywhere from California St to Lombard St.
Stuff to see: There are lots of things to see in this district ranging from the pristine natural landscapes of the Presidio, to man-made marinas, Victorian architecture, and the Golden Gate Bridge. In places like the Presidio and Fort Mason you'll find an interesting blend of both, with modern offices, historical buildings, and museums making their home alongside sandpipers, coyotes, and fox squirrel. "City slickers" should be more at home futher inland where they'll find galleries and museums, architecture, and urban parks. Naturalists will be more at home along the coast line, from Fort Mason all the way along into the Presidio.
Special View: If you are lucky with the weather and it's shiny, you should consider to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Headlands on the other side of downtown San Francisco.
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