Rob D. Brodman
Spread before us is a flight of crisp whites, a plate of prosciutto-wrapped figs ― and, beyond a meticulously landscaped lawn, a peekaboo view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
The patio at Pres a Vi is packed with pretty people, and though the restaurant is surrounded by eucalyptus-lined trails, there's nary a hiking boot in sight.
It's not a typical national park scene. But plopped in the middle of San Francisco, the Presidio is not your typical national park, especially these days.
For such a vast and gorgeous swath of prime real estate ― 1,491 acres in all - the Presidio has long been overlooked and underutilized. Its white-clapboard, red-roofed, Civil War-era cottages stood alone and lonely, lovely but stark reminders of the park's origin as a military post.
Now revived by tenants from filmmaker George Lucas to nonprofits, fancy-pants restaurants, and families lucky enough to lease a renovated officer's home, the Presidio has become a living, dynamic place. It's all part of the Presidio Trust's plan to make it the country's first financially self-sufficient national park by 2013. That goal was bolstered in April by a $15 million private donation, which will blaze 24 miles of hiking trails, 6 overlooks, and much-needed enhancements to San Francisco's only campground. Plans even call for an upscale eco-lodge and a contemporary art museum on par with Golden Gate Park's de Young.
Like the rest of the city, I can't wait. Still, with so many sweeping changes in the last year alone, the Presidio, as I recently discovered, is worth exploring right now.