National Parks/Monuments

Fort Point National Historic Site

(Last Updated On: May 23, 2022)

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 sits right under the Golden Gate Bridge.

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. 

The fort is quite large and there is a lot to see.
There are lots of displays to teach about life at Fort Point.
We enjoyed exploring Fort Point.

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!

The rangers were so nice and helpful.
Learning about history is one of our favorite things.
The cannons were huge.

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.

Fort Point has a lot of rooms and levels to explore.
All of the corners have circular staircases.
On top of Fort Point, you can see the bridge, the ocean, and lots more.

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.

We loved this unique view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
The view is great from on top of Fort Point.
The old lighthouse is still standing atop Fort Point.

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.

Make sure to add Fort Point to your itinerary.

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3 Comments

  • Hi! New fan! I’m from the East Bay Area, 20 minutes from The City. Please adventure off to Sutro Baths, located in Golden Gate National Park on Merrie Way at Ocean Beach. 🙂
    May not be the safest for little ones. Please check out the history; it’ll be worth it! I hope you do an article about it. Safe travels!

    • Thank you for the information on the Sutro Baths. We will definitely have to check them out the next time we visit!