KQED Guides

Outward Bound

You want to see the Pacific Ocean, the Golden Gate Bridge up close and personal, or thrilling views of the San Francisco skyline from the middle of the Bay? We have you covered:

The Beach

The fact that San Francisco sits on the edge of the ocean makes beach-going a natural, although sometimes chilly idea. The journey itself is simple, fun and adventurous. Depending on which beach you want to end up at, you can choose either the L or the N line of the Metro (Muni’s light rail) Both stop at the Embarcadero station (298 Market St., between Spear & Beale) and all the downtown stops. If you take the L, you end up on the south end of Ocean Beach, by the San Francisco Zoo, where the water is fairly wild and it’s mostly frequented by surfers. If you time it right, you can watch some amazing surfing. Get a hot chocolate at Java Beach at the Zoo, take off your shoes and walk down to the water. If the weather’s pleasant, it’s a 2-mile walk North to Judah St where you’ll hop on the N line for your return trip.

To make the journey to the northernmost slice of beach, where you’ll find landmarks like the Cliff House, the ruins of Sutro Baths, and a lovely hike along to Coastal Trail to rare East-facing views of the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll need to catch the bus —- the 38-Geary leaves from the corner of Union Square (Geary & Powell) and takes a 45-minute journey to get to Lands End. The Lands End Lookout Visitor Center is just down from the corner of 48th Ave. on Point Lobos Avenue. Look for the parking lot on the right and the stunning view of the Pacific.

The Bridge

Crissy Field is a little bit like San Francisco’s front lawn — a great place to look out at the world, walk the dog, and play a little frisbee. Of course, that’s if your front lawn just happens to have a million-dollar panorama of the San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Marin Headlands. Not bad. You’ll also find beaches, cafes with warm drinks, and a flat promenade through tidal wetlands. Bring a sweatshirt and a camera! One of the dozens of amazing local sites overseen by Golden Gate National Parks, Crissy Field (1199 East Beach) is definitely accessible by taxi or public transportation — check their website for a trip planner to help you get there from wherever your find yourself.

The Rock

Also under the auspices of the GGNP, Alcatraz is a traditional tourist spot, but well worth a visit for the views alone. You’ll reach the abandoned maximum-security Federal prison by ferry, since it sits on a rocky outcropping in the middle of the Bay (hence the nickname). The boats leave from Pier 33 (on the Embarcadero), from 8:45am to 3:50pm most days. Pro tips: You’ll need to reserve your tickets to avoid running into sold-out tours. Pier 33 is about a 25-minute walk from the Ferry Building, but here’s a spot you might want to catch a cab or rideshare, since you’ll need to save your legs for the actual island. Lastly, don’t pass up the cellhouse audio tour. It’s included in your ticket price and it’s excellent!

 


PBS Annual Meeting Guides:

In Downtown
Locations within a single mile of the Marriott Marquis.

Getting Around
Venture further afield within the city limits.

Outward Bound
A quick overview of some great vistas.

Union Square Checklist from Check, Please! Bay Area
Our producers selected 10 of the best restaurants near the iconic landmark.