San Francisco

Walk the San Francisco version of the High Line at Presidio Tunnel Tops

See a new side of SF.

Photo by Paul Myers
Photo by Paul Myers
Photo by Paul Myers

Seeking a unique vantage point of San Francisco, we laced up our shoes and headed for the Presidio Tunnel Tops: 14 acres of park land built on top of a set of highway tunnels that lead to the Golden Gate Bridge, known as the Presidio Parkway tunnels. (The other part of the highway tunnels has the six-acre Battery Bluff, which opened in April 2022.)

Located in a forest-like wilderness with coastal beaches and 25 miles of hiking and biking trails, Presidio Tunnel Tops connects the center of the Presidio to Crissy Field waterfront, a former military airfield.

The $118 million project features pathways flanked by lush landscape and manicured lawns opened in July 2022. It was designed with input from 10,000 community members and funded entirely by a philanthropic campaign through the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

Photo by Paul Myers
Photo by Paul Myers
Photo by Paul Myers

Before you go
The Presidio Tunnel Tops has 1.8 miles of pathway set within a massive garden with 200,000 plants that is part of the 1,491-acre Presidio. Admission is free.

“The Presidio is a national park site [and] part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, with the iconic attributes of a national park, but within an urban city,” said Lisa Petrie, Senior Public Relations Manager at the Presidio Trust. “No other location in San Francisco has the views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay, historic buildings and open space.”

The Presidio Tunnel Tops are open 24/7, but the Outpost playscape and indoor spaces, like the Field Station and the Presidio Visitor Center, open at specific times.

Biking is prohibited on the Presidio Tunnel Tops, but there are bike paths that surround the site. Dogs are allowed everywhere except in playgrounds, including the Outpost play space. Only service animals are allowed inside indoor facilities.

You can come by public transportation via Muni Metro 43 Masonic or the free Presidio Go downtown shuttle.What you can see
In addition to the stunning city skyline and Golden Gate Bridge, you can see San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz and the Marin Headlands.

Photo by Rachel Styer
Photo by Rachel Styer
Photo by Rachel Styer

What to do
You can walk in from any point, including Mason Street at Crissy Field, but we suggest starting at the Presidio Visitor Center. Staffed by National Park Service Park Rangers, they can provide you with maps and a digital guide. The center also has exhibits on the park’s history and merch. It’s best to come on the weekdays as it’s less crowded. Stay until it gets dark or come at night to see the art benches lighted from below‚Ķthey look like they are floating.

Presidio Tunnel Tops is a versatile destination. You can barbecue or picnic, take a stroll, chill on an artsy bench and play sports on massive lawns (here’s a map).

Highlights include:
 

  • Outpost: a two-acre nature play area for kids. Children can create art and play on huge structures like a wooden hydrotunnel, a 250-year-old reclaimed white oak tree and oversized bird’s nests-all made of natural materials like wood, water, stone and sand. Each play feature is inspired by the area’s history: the bowline-a large swing made of masts, ropes and nets-honors the maritime heritage of the San Francisco Bay. The woodland wall is a wall of tree trunks with nooks and knots for climbing and the water flumes are a series of wooden troughs with water pumps, both of which inspired by construction work carried out by the US Army long ago.
  • Field Station: Adjacent to the Outpost, the Field Station is a drop-in eco discovery museum offering multi-sensory experiences for everyone, including art and mapping labs, a field library, plus an investigating lab where you can use archaeology tools to sort and classify materials recently brought to the Field Station from the Presidio. Activities change seasonally and may include doing scavenger hunts, sketching wildlife, tasting water with Presidio herbs, or creating maps.
  • Campfire Circle: Visitors can gather around a gas fire pit and listen to tales told by Park Rangers on four days each week.

  • Picnic Place: Near the East Meadow, Picnic Place has tables and charcoal grills shaded by torrey pines and lit in the evenings by bistro lighting (reserve here).
Photo by Rachel Styer
Photo by Rachel Styer
Photo by Rachel Styer

Where to eat and drink
Thankfully, you can avoid getting hangry courtesy of a Presidio Pop Up: a rotating who’s who of San Francisco’s mobile food scene. Food trucks and carts sell everything from coffee to cocktails, matcha to shaved ice, plus Indonesian street food like bakso (a traditional beef meatball soup), El Salvadoran pupusas, and halal Algerian ras el hanout marinated lamb baguette sandwiches. Presidio Pop Up is on a limited winter schedule, so until April, come Thursday through Sunday for the most food choices. A new caf√© at the Presidio Transit Center will open in late spring.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on¬†Instagram,¬†Twitter,¬†Pinterest,¬†YouTube,¬†TikTok, and¬†Snapchat!

Lauren Mack is a Contributor for Thrillist.

San Francisco

How to Celebrate Black History Month in San Francisco

Support and celebrate SF's Black community.

Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade

Though it’s something we need to be doing every day of every month of every year, Black History Month encourages us to pay tribute to the struggles and oppression generations of Black Americans have faced, as well as their often-neglected triumphs and achievements that have helped shape this county and make it better. It’s a time to reflect on how we can do better to confront racism and oppression, which this year’s theme, “Black Resistance,” echoes. This is especially important in a town like San Francisco, where the Fillmore District was known as “the Harlem of the West” before the city displaced a vast portion of the neighbourhood’s Black community in the ’60s and ’70s. This displacement continues today, as the Black population is the only racial group that has declined in every census since 1970.

If you’re looking for ways to celebrate Black History Month, there are lots to do. Whether you want to educate yourself by attending films, performances, or conversations, share the joy at a parade or dance party, or do a little bit of it all at a drag show, here are just a few ways you can get involved and have a lot of fun while doing so:

Visit San Francisco Public Library branches for workshops, films, performances, and more

February (and throughout the year)
Library branches and online
SFPL’s “More Than a Month” celebration focuses on the theme of resistance this year. Family-friendly and adult events include film screenings, musical performances, book clubs, workshops, and more.
Cost: Free

Museum of African Diaspora
Museum of African Diaspora
Museum of African Diaspora

See art, poetry, films, talks, and more at MoAD

February (and throughout the year)
SoMa
Right now, at the Museum of African Diaspora, you can see the first and only West Coast exhibition of “The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion,” which highlights the work of 15 contemporary fashion designers “whose images present radically new perspectives on the medium of photography and art, race and beauty, and gender and power.” The museum, which has a robust year-round program and event calendar, has a slew of events to attend, including youth poetry readings, film screenings, open mic nights, book clubs, artist talks, and more.
Cost: Event prices vary; GA to visit the museum is $12 but free every second Saturday of the month

Check out films, art, reading, talks, and more at BAMPFA

February (and throughout the year)
Berkeley
There is always something interesting to discover at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). During Black History Month, you can see films by Pratibha Parmar, “Felwine Sarr: Music, Freedom, Africa,” a conversation through music with the Senegalese writer, scholar, composer, musician, and more.
Cost: Varies

Old Skool Cafe
Old Skool Cafe
Old Skool Cafe

Enjoy menu specials honoring Black community members at Old Skool Cafe

February (and throughout the year)
Bayview
For Black History Month, Old Skool Cafe is adding the favourite meals of notable Black community members to the menu each weekend. The nonprofit, youth-run supper club helps at-risk, formerly incarcerated, and foster care youth ages 16-22 gain the skills and experience they need to succeed in various front and back-of-house restaurant roles. Bayview hero/community advocate Mrs. Dorris Vincent is first up, followed by Judge Trina Thompson, Delroy Lindo, and Mayor London Breed.

Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens

Walk beneath the Marting Luther King, Jr. Memorial waterfall

February (and ongoing)
Yerba Buena Gardens
Did you know that Yerba Buena Gardens is home to the country’s second-largest memorial to Dr. King? Visit the sculptural waterfall featuring glass panels inscribed with his inspiring words at 750 Howard Street.
Cost: Free

Attend the Commonwealth’s “Dreaming Forward: A Celebration of Black Joy, Power, and Excellence” conference

Thursday, February 9
Embarcadero
On behalf of Dr. Sheryl Evans Davis and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, the Commonwealth Club is hosting its second annual Dream Keeper Initiative, a day-long conference/celebration/call-to-action featuring special guests, including April Ryan of TheGrio and CNN.
Cost: Free

Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays
Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays
Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays

Celebrate Black Love at Oakland First Fridays

Friday, February 10
Telegraph Avenue from West Grand to 27th Street
Telegraph Avenue transforms into a dining, shopping, and art-appreciating party on Friday, February 10, from 5 pm to 9 pm. There will be food, artist, and retail vendors and a host of Black artists, authors, and entertainment. Please note: This event was rescheduled from February 3 because of potential rain.
Cost: Free

Have a ball at an all-Black drag show at Oasis

Friday, February 10
SoMa
“Reparations with Latrice Royale” is an all-Black drag show hosted by Latrice Royale, the beloved Drag Race star who also happens to be celebrating her birthday.
Cost: $15 to $60

Dance all night and shop all day at the Afro Soca Love carnival and marketplace

Friday, February 10 ‚Äď Saturday, February 11
341 13th Street, Oakland
Afro Soca Love creates experiences that act as a “gateway to building bonds and strengthen relationships-between communities, individuals, and Africa and its diaspora.” See for yourself at the all-ages marketplace (Saturday), where you’ll find food and drink, fashion, beauty and wellness, home decor, and more. But before the shopping comes the dancing at the 21+ Friday Night Carnival, a culturally immersive music experience with music from all over the world.
Cost: The marketplace is free; tickets to the Friday Night Carnival start at $20

See a live performance of “Words That Made the Difference: Brown vs. the Board of Education”

Saturday, February 11
Unity Palo Alto
See a live theatrical performance based on the true events that occurred in the fight to end school segregation. The script draws from trial transcripts of the five cases brought together in front of the Supreme Court and Chief Justice Earl Warren’s memoirs, and the play is set in the courtrooms where it all happened. There will be a Q&A with the playwright before the performance and the cast afterward.
Cost: Free

Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company
Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company
Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company

Go to the I, Too, Sing America album release party

Saturday, February 11
Mission
Head to the Brava Theater Center to celebrate the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company’s album release of the music created for I, Too, Sing America, a soulful and uplifting performance that moved audiences when it debuted last year. The night includes an album-listening and sing-along party, DJs, dancing, an open bar, and more.
Cost: $40

Go on the Black Liberation Walking Tour of West Oakland

Saturday, February 18
West Oakland
Take a walk with David Peters, founder of the West Oakland Cultural Action Network, and Gene Anderson, the author of Legendary Locals of Oakland, to learn about resident voices and document sites of cultural and historical significance in the neighbourhood. Peters is a local native, and Anderson is an Oakland historian whose family has historical roots in West Oakland.
Cost: $50 ($30 for West Oakland residents)

See a screening of The Black Kung Fu Experience followed by in-person demonstrations

Sunday, February 19
Great Star Theater, Chinatown
The Chinese Historical Society of America is celebrating Black History Month and social unity with a screening of this film about how a group of African American pioneers became respected in a subculture dominated by Chinese and white men. Afterward, there will be demonstrations and talks with Sifu Donald Hamby and Sifu Troy Dunwood, who “will speak about their success as internationally recognized martial arts masters, their Chinese Kung Fu teachers, and what this practice means in relation to diversity, race and inclusion issues.”
Cost: $15

Sip wine made by Black winemakers at a free tasting event at STEM Kitchen + Garden

Thursday, February 23
Dogpatch
STEM Kitchen + Garden is hosting an afternoon wine tasting celebrating Black-owned wineries in its gorgeous indoor/outdoor space, and best of all, and it’s free to the public!
Cost: Free

Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House

Attend the San Francisco African American Arts & Cultural District Gala Fundraiser

Saturday, February 25
Bayview Opera House
Enjoy an evening of talent, fashion, and community inspiration at SFAAACD’s 1st Annual Gala Fundraiser. Carla Duke, Television News Director at CBS-KPIX Chanel 5, will host the event, which includes inspiring words from keynote speaker Aniyia Williams, an artist, tech creator, and system-preneur.
Cost: $100

Attend a Black History Month & Chinese New Year Poetry Reading on Angel Island

Saturday, February 25
Angel Island
There is so much history in poetry at the Angel Island Detention Barracks Museum, which makes it a fitting location for poets Chun Yu and Michael Warr. The co-founders of Two Languages/One Community will share their poems and stories in English and Chinese, accompanied by projected images of text and photographs.
Cost: $10 to $21

Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade

Feel the joy at the Black Joy Parade

Sunday, February 26
Downtown Oakland
This parade and festival celebrate the “Black experience past, present, and future.” Be prepared to experience “more Black joy than you ever imagined,” starting with the parade (beginning at 14th and Franklin) at 12:30 pm. The family-friendly festival follows (main entrance is at 19th and Franklin) will include 200-plus Black-owned small businesses selling food, drinks, clothing, art, and more. There will also be two stages with Black performers, including The Black Joy Choir.
Cost: Free

Take a sound bath at Grace Cathedral in honor of Black History Month

Monday, February 27
Nob Hill
Take an immersive sound bath featuring Fractals of Sound, a collective of top Bay Area musicians Egemen Sanli, Phoenix Song, and Sam Jackson, with special guest Destiny Muhammad. Together, they will create a “soundscape deeply rooted in world music,” allowing you to take a meditative journey in one of the most beautiful places in San Francisco.
Cost: $25 to $75

See Tsitsi Dangarembga and Angela Davis at City Arts & Lectures

Tuesday, February 28
Civic Center
Co-presented with MoAd, City Arts & Lectures is hosting novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga and scholar and activist Angela Davis for what’s sure to be a riveting conversation.
Cost: $36

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Daisy Barringer¬†is an SF-based freelance writer who spent many childhood days wandering around the Exploratorium. Follow her on¬†Instagram¬†to see what she’s up to now.

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