We’ve been to San Francisco several times but had never heard of Fort Point. On this trip to the Bay Area, we discovered this free, fun activity right under the Golden Gate Bridge. Set aside an hour or two on your next trip to San Francisco to visit Fort Point National Historic Site.
Long before the famous bridge was built, Golden Gate Strait was a strategic military post. For this reason, Fort Point was built right on the edge of the Bay. This sprawling brick fort is now a historic site that you can tour. Of course, the Golden Gate was built right over the top of the fort, so you get a unique view of the bridge as you visit.
Fort Point was built through the 1850s and was the first fort on the Pacific Coast. Docents are available for tours, which we recommend, or you can stroll through the grounds at your own pace. On the south side, there are barracks for the officers and enlisted, many of which can be toured. The exterior walls of the fort are three stories high, but are still dwarfed to the massive bridge overhead.
Our boys enjoyed doing the Junior Ranger program at this national site, because there was a nice scavenger hunt. They had to visit different places and find cannons, canteens, and other military items. This kept them moving and interested. They were also required to ask questions and explore a small touch table. They were stunned at how heavy a cannonball was in those days!
There are a lot of steps at Fort Point National Historic Site, and you can climb up to each level. In fact, the winding staircases in the corners were one of the highlights of our visit to the fort. Since the fort was heavily armed, you can still visit the gun turrets on top, though it will be gusty. There is also a lighthouse that was used for many years inside Fort Point.
While on top of the fort, you can walk right under the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge. This view of the bridge is unique and gives you an idea how high the massive structure towers above the water level. You also have views of Alcatraz, the San Francisco Bay, and the Pacific Ocean.
Fort Point National Historic Site is an easy, free stop on your San Francisco itinerary. We learned so much about the history of this area. There is free parking right next to the fort. To read more about our trip to the Golden Gate Bridge, read here. For current info about hours for Fort Point, visit their website.