Travel Guide: GGNRA, Our Country’s Top National Park
“Golden Gate National Recreation Area doesn’t look like most national parks. It is comprised of tracts of land across many counties.
Stretched across 80,000 acres north and south of the Golden Gate Bridge, these parks also constitute one of the world’s largest national parks in an urban setting.
They feature 37 distinct park sites, from Muir Woods National Monument to Fort Point National Historic Site to Alcatraz Island, more than 130 miles of trails, and 1,200 historic structures.”
That is straight from the source — The GGNRA. Spend only a few minutes on the website and you’ll see why it’s the most popular National Park in the country with around 15.2 million visitors annually. Don’t panic at that number! The GGNRA is so vast, it’s entirely possible you’ll experience alone time during your explorations. Also that vastness means you need some curation. Happy to help!
In this post, we’re going to cover 13 of the areas of the GGNRA that are closest to our three Marin Hotels. Each of these destinations is located no more than about 30 minutes from our hotels.
We’ve purposely selected a few destinations you might overlook in favor of the famous destinations like Muir Woods and Alcatraz. Definitely do those, and make reservations at both well ahead of your trip. But also: add in a few from the list below for a well-rounded view of this jewel of a National Park.
We’ve included alot of links, this is information rich so that you can plan well. Let’s go!
GGNRA Baker’s Dozen: A Curated Selection For Our Guests
Gerbode Valley offers a 5-mile loop that is classic Marin County rolling hills.
Tennessee Valley. Count us — and many locals — in for this flat hike ending in a pocket beach with the Pacific Ocean rolling in. After you clear your head on the beach, head up the stairs — a steepish 5 minute climb — for exceptional views.
Muir Beach Overlook. You can stop here on your way to Stinson Beach…
The Presidio. OKAY, SO MUCH here! Buildings from the founding of San Francisco exist side-by-side with sculptures created by Andy Goldsworthy and contemporary restaurants serving San Francisco on a plate (we like Presidio Social Club and Sessions). Add in a hiking trail that runs along the Pacific Coast from the Golden Gate Bridge down to Baker Beach and you have a magical National Park moment just a few minutes from our hotels. Check out the events page to learn about events that will be happening during your visit.
Crissy Field and Beach. This is not the spot for alone time, but it is a must-do, in our opinion. Walking from the East Beach parking lot on the flat paved path with the Golden Gate Bridge in full view is a classic experience.
Fort Point. Combine this with your Crissy Field walk, since Fort Point is at the end of the path. When you reach Fort Point, head to the top of the building. The climb is worth it, you will be WOWED!
Land’s End. Walk the path along Land’s End for one of the most beautiful hikes in the world.
Sutro Baths. You can easily combine Sutro Baths with your Land’s End hike and/or Ocean Beach, since they’re all strung together across several miles of Coastline along the edge of San Francisco.
See you out there!