Fort Point Insider’s Guide
If you are planning a trip to San Francisco, you will want to see Fort Point, to learn more about the city’s history – and see some great views. Keep on reading and we’ll tell you all you need to know about this fascinating Military building – including tips, tours and more!
Fort Point has been called “the pride of the Pacific,” “the Gibraltar of the West Coast,” and “one of the most perfect models of masonry in America.” The fort’s construction began during the California Gold Rush in 1853 and was planned to be the most formidable deterrence that would protect California from naval attacks. Fort Point has stood guard at the narrows of the Golden Gate for over 150 years!
After the Civil War, Fort Point became underutilized. During World War I, Fort Point was remodeled by the army for use as a detention barrack. However, the building was never used for this purpose. The pre-Civil War cannons, which were so valuable when they were first installed, were eventually removed.
During the 1920s, unmarried officers and different military trade schools were housed at the property. Fort Point was once again used for military purposes during World War II. Soldiers stationed at the fort dutifully guarded the entrance of the Golden Gate from submarine attack.
In the late 1930s, plans for the demolition of the fort were made, due to the plans for the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. However, Chief Engineer Joseph Strauss recognized the architectural value and created a special arch which created a safe construction of the bridge over Fort Point.
The movement to preserve the history and architectural value of Fort Point began to grow over the 20 years after World War II. Fort Point became a National Historic Site on October 16, 1970.
The fort survived the Civil War, earthquakes, the Golden Gate Bridge construction, reuse for World War II, and is now a National Historic Site. Even though the fort was the supposed protector of the San Francisco Bay Area, shots were never fired.
How to explore Fort Point
Soak in the sea breeze and the sounds of the water hitting the rocks while enjoying the amazing and breathtaking view of the Fort, the Bay, and the Golden Gate Bridge!
If you choose to go inside the fort, be sure to check out the exhibits and guided tour options. The first floor of the fort is accessible for wheelchairs. Assistive listening devices are also provided for the Ranger Led Tours.
You can enter the Fort every Friday till Sunday from 10.00 am till 5.00 pm (except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day). Dogs are allowed on leash on Fort Point’s lands but are not allowed inside the historic building.
For all the special programs, be sure to check out the NPS’ official website.
If you are not planning on going inside the fort, but just want to enjoy one of the best viewpoints of the Golden Gate Bridge, this is the place to go. Parking is free and available for all guests who want to visit the area.
Need a restroom break? No worries, there are restrooms available outside the fort, down the main road on the right side.
If you have some free time, be sure to check out Fort Point during sunset on a clear day, and a magical sunset is guaranteed.
Another fun way to explore the fort is by joining Dylan’s Tours on one of the guided minibus tours! Keep on reading to find out more information about these tours.
What to expect when visiting Fort Point
If you don’t really like crowds and mass tourism, this is the place for you. Because of Fort Points’ location, it is mostly pretty calm and quiet at the site, creating the perfect opportunity for you to enjoy the view in peace.
Because Fort Point is located right at the Golden Gate Strait it can get quite cold and foggy throughout the year, but especially in the summer months. Come prepared with layers and don’t forget to bring a windbreaker for some extra comfort!
How to get to Fort Point
Before you can explore Fort Point you first have to get there. The fort is not very conveniently located, but we know a few options about how to get to Fort Point:
- Muni buses – there are two busses that stop 5 minutes away from Fort Point; bus 28 (North Point + Van Ness) and bus 92 (Northbound – Manzanita Park & Ride). When you get out at the
- Golden Gate Transit buses – You can also take GGT buses 70 (Northbound – Novato), 30 (Northbound – San Rafael), and 101 (Northbound – Santa Rosa) to get to Fort Point. But be aware! The GGT is not part of Muni, so you will have to buy a different bus ticket from the normal Muni tickets.
- Rent a bike – A really fun way to get to Fort Point is by renting a (preferably electric) bike! Dylan’s Tours’ bike shop offers 7-speed bikes, as well as electric bikes that will help you peddle up those steep hills effortlessly. The bike shop is conveniently located in North Beach, only a 15-minute bike ride away from Fort Point!
- Drive to Fort Point – We always encourage people to take public transportation or to bike through the city, but driving to the Fort is also an option. Take the Highway 101 North and exit right at the Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza before getting on the Bridge. There is a wide range of parking spots, so parking won’t be a problem. You can also park at the Golden Gate Bridge visitor center and then walk to Fort Point.
- Dylan’s Famous San Francisco Tour with Muir Woods – If you really want to know more about the history and get all the best local insights about Fort Point, we’d suggest you hop on a guided tour! Dylan’s Tours offers guided minibus tours that will take you to Fort Point for a photo stop, as well as customized private guided minibus tours. After exploring some other cool neighborhoods in the city Dylan’s Tours will take you across the Golden Gate Bridge to a cute waterfront town called Sausalito and, depending on the tour you choose, Muir Woods National Monument. You can also choose to do an Alcatraz add on if you really want the full San Francisco experience!