Don't let the hills scare you: San Francisco is best seen on foot. From the hills of North Beach to the sands of Ocean Beach, San Francisco offers magical moments that are too easily missed when zooming through by car. And walking across the Golden Gate Bridge is always a must-do on any San Francisco visit.
But if a fear of heights is keeping you off the Golden Gate Bridge, and if those North Beach hills seem a bit too much after you've stuffed your belly full of pasta, then start off with the equivalent of the "kid's run" with a leisurely jaunt down Lover's Lane Trail in the Presidio.
Lover's Lane Trail in the Presidio — Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy
Legend has it that this trail was first cut by soldiers in the Presidio who wanted a quick route to their wives and loved ones who lived in the sunnier climes of the Mission. Whoever had the sense to cut this path left a simple but fulfilling walk through the heavy scent of eucalyptus trees and past some fine views of the city.
At just over a half mile, the trail is an easy traverse, even though it steadily gains in elevation.
For those who feel like the walk was just a bit too easy, the entire Presidio is ready and waiting to be explored, including Andy Goldsworthy’s sculpture Wood Line, an odd but remarkable ode to wood.
Besides the views and some interesting art, walkers should keep their eyes out for all kinds of wildlife, from native plants to red-tailed hawks to local (and sometimes endangered) butterflies.
Wildlife in the Presidio — Photo courtesy of Presidio of San Francisco
For those true history buffs out there, check out the "Lover's Line" audio tour that can be downloaded to accompany the walk. The audio, the brainchild of local artist Jeannene Przyblyski, will truly expand your walking experience by illuminating the Presidio through historical stories told by characters such as "The Missionary," "The Explorer" and "The Buffalo Soldier."
If your walk on Lover's Lane (and perhaps further exploration of the Presidio) gets your stomach grumbling, don't fear. San Francisco's tight 49 square miles make it unbelievably pricey (Don't get residents started on that . . .), but they also ensure that you're never too far away from a coffee shop or restaurant.
For those who want a slow, thoughtful stroll to consider some of the interesting and often overlooked history of San Francisco, be sure to make some time for a walk on Lover's Lane Trail in the Presidio.
Lover's Lane in San Francisco — Photo courtesy of Presidio of San Francisco