Marina District: San Francisco’s Neighborhood Guide For Local Attractions

Marina District: San Francisco’s Neighborhood Guide For Local Attractions
| 3 min read

Wandering along Marina Boulevard in Marina District, the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Island, Angel Island, Sausalito and Fort Mason are the backdrop. Home of the America’s Cup trophy, Saint Francis Yacht Club provides a soundtrack with lines pinging and clanking musically against the masts of sailing vessels from dinghy to yacht. Seagulls and songbirds add their songs to this peaceful area. It’s a bit off the beaten path for most sightseers, but the photo and video opportunities alone are worth the visit.

Marina District

Sailboats in the marina
Source: Mary Charlebois

San Francisco has many marinas, but only one Marina District. It is one of the newest neighborhoods in San Francisco. Until the early 1900s it consisted of sand dunes, tidal pools and wetlands. Marina is bordered to the north by the San Francisco Bay, to the west by the Presidio (a former military base), to the East by Russian Hill/Fisherman’s Wharf and to the south by Pacific Heights/Japantown.

Marina is located in an area of San Francisco that is filled with well-kept streets, pristine vintage homes, boutique shopping, restaurants and drinking establishments. Bucolic Palace of Fine Arts, Fort Mason and the yacht clubs provide peaceful surroundings with world-class photo opportunities of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island and historic military post, Fort Mason. Chestnut Street is the lively commercial hub of the community.

Palace of Fine Arts offers great photo opportunities

Palace of Fine Arts
Source: Mary Charlebois

The Palace of Fine Arts was built in 1915 for the Panama Pacific International Exposition, a world’s fair held from February to December, 1915. Years of change, devastation and restoration have brought the grounds and buildings to their beautifully restored and maintained state. The park’s classic Greek/Roman architecture is reflected in a picturesque lagoon. Specimen trees and plants of every description landscape the park. Water fowl, seabirds, songbirds and many other feathered creatures inhabit the area.

Benches facing the lagoon offer a quiet respite or bird- and people-watching breaks. Across the water, the classic palace is a photo opportunity not to be missed. Stroll the peaceful grounds, then linger here with a picnic.

Getting there - Take MUNI bus #30. Get off at Beach and Broderick, and walk one block west to the park.

Marina Green, San Francisco Bay Trail, Wave Organ

Golden Gate Bridge from the San Francisco Bay shore in Marina
Source: Mary Charlebois

The level, paved San Francisco Bay Trail runs along the San Francisco Bay and passes through the Marina area. The trail is one of the best vantage points for unobstructed views of Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island and boat watching. It is used by walkers, joggers and cyclists but is rarely crowded.

The Marina Green is a wide, long swath of lawn used by sports teams of all ages. On most days, locals use this lovely area for recreation and exercise.

The Wave Organ is an eclectic San Francisco attraction well worth the walk. An acoustic sculpture, it is a series of cement tubes having one end in the water and the other at listening height. At high tide you can hear the sound made by water rushing in and out of the tubes. It works much the same way as a pump organ.

Getting there - Take MUNI bus #22 all the way to the bay.

Fort Mason, a culture and history center

Off the grid: Circle the Food Trucks
Source: Photo by user David McSpadden used under CC BY 2.0

A US Army post for over 100 years, these 1,200 acres (486 hectares) and more than 49 buildings are part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Filled with history, art, food, music and outdoor pursuits, you can easily spend a day and evening exploring all there is to offer.

Walk the paths surrounding the old army housing and barracks for some of the most unique photo opportunities in the city.

Wander the grounds and visit museums, galleries, theatres, restaurants and maritime parks. See changing art exhibits and hear musical performances. On Friday evenings from March through October, a gathering of food trucks muster, creating a pop-up food court of gastronomic delights.

Getting there - Take MUNI bus # 49 or 28

Lively Chestnut Street

Custom made suits on Chestnut Street
Source: Mary Charlebois

Busy, bright and eclectic, Chestnut Street is the commercial hub of Marina District. Chestnut Street is filled with deep-rooted restaurants, shops and markets. There are new establishments thriving here as well. Mix in residential old and new and it’s a lively area.

The locals shop, meet and dine on Chestnut, making it an ideal area to get to know the residents of Marina. You can find anything you might be looking for in the dozens of specialty shops, boutiques and markets.

Dining possibilities range from grab-and-go delicatessens to 4-star fine dining. Wine bars, pubs and cocktail lounges offer up libations to quench your thirst.

Getting there - Take MUNI bus #22 or 30

Marina District, a true taste of San Francisco

Iconic views, historic sights, nature’s beauty. Set in a quiet and charming residential setting, San Francisco’s Marina District has it all. Visit and stay in the area for a true taste of San Francisco and its people.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Mary Charlebois is a Northern California Freelance writer, photographer and videographer. Her career in publishing technology fulfilled a lifelong dream, traveling the globe. Now retired,...Read more

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