Monday, November 29, 2010

Spotlight: Crissy Field

Need a Kodak moment by the Golden Gate? With its rugged Northern California landscape, sweeping bay views, and easy beach access Crissy Field may be the best place in San Francisco to get a look at its most famous landmark. While most other viewpoint areas are nothing more than strategically placed parking lots, Crissy Field is a beautiful park, natural area and historic site that also happens to offer a great vantage point for bridge viewing.

Crissy Field was originally a salt marsh frequented by the local Ohlone people and later used as an airfield for the Presidio Army Base. After the base shut down this site was taken over by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), which has restored much of it to its original condition. Today Crissy Field consists of a walkway surrounded by one of the city's best beaches on one side, and protected marshland and the namesake field on the other.

I like to enter Crissy Field via the parking lot by Marina Blvd. and walk the roughly 1.5 mile promenade to the West Bluff picnic area, where I relax and refuel. There are two options for food and drink here if you did not bring your own: The Warming Hut cafe and the Let's Be Frank hotdog cart. My money's been on Let's Be Frank after several anemic and overpriced sandwiches at the cafe. While I'm not a huge fan of hotdogs, Let's Be Frank's dogs are not your average Oscar Meyer weenies. Grass fed, organic, three choices of meat. You can't go wrong with one of these delicious calorie rolls after a nice 1.5 mile walk.

After being fortified with a Lets Be Frank frank the next logical step is to continue on the path, past the sign that reads "Not A Pedestrian Walkway" (ignore it), and down the short stretch of road that leads to Fort Point. Fort Point is directly underneath the Golden Gate and offers a unique perspective from which to take it its reddish-orange glory. A map of Crissy Field and Fort Point can be found here.

If walking is not your thing, bikes can be rented at the nearby Sports Basement. Bikes are allowed on the promenade but beware of pedestrians and especially their dogs! Dogs abound at Crissy Field and they are not required to be on leash so it is important to keep your eyes on the road, lest you run into someone's little precious.

Crissy Field offers an idyllic escape from the gritty urban environment without having to leave the city. This urban gem is easily accessible by car or Muni and should be visited by everyone*.

*Except those afraid of or allergic to dogs, people, hotdogs and/or bridges.

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