Recreation Areas around Palo Alto
Farallon National Wildlife Refuge
The Farallon National Wildlife Refuge is a group of islands located 28 miles west of San Francisco. It sustains the largest sea bird breeding colony south of Alaska and contains 30 percent of California's nesting sea birds. Thirteen species, adding up to one-quarter of a million individuals, breed here, including the largest colonies of Brandt's cormorant and western gull found anywhere. The refuge contains more than 50 percent of the world's entire ashy-storm petrel population, a declining "species of management concern," whose breeding range is restricted to California. Thousands of endangered California brown pelican disperse from breeding sites further south to roost and feed on the refuge. Six seal or sea lion species breed or haul out to rest on the Farallon Islands. The refuge and surrounding waters are critical habitat for the threatened Stellar's sea lion at the southernmost tip of their breeding range. Refuge management focuses on restoring the historical abundance of wildlife that existed prior to a century of human exploitation and disturbance. Species are gradually recovering. Northern fur seals have recently returned to breed after an absence of over 100 years. Most of the refuge is a designated Wilderness Area.
The refuge consists of islands approximately 30 miles offshore of San Francisco in the Pacific Ocean. It is closed to public access. However, there is an exhibit on Farallon Refuge wildlife at the San Francisco Bay Refuge Complex visitor center in Fremont, California.
Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary
Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary protects the wildlife and habitats of one of the most diverse and bountiful marine environments in the world, an area of 3,295 square miles off the northern and central California coast. The waters within Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary are part of a nationally significant marine ecosystem. Encompassing a diversity of highly productive marine habitats, the sanctuary supports an abundance of life, including many threatened or endangered species. The Farallon Islands, 30 miles (26 nautical miles) west of the Golden Gate Bridge in the south central part of the sanctuary, are a national wildlife refuge, offering resting and breeding sites for marine mammals and seabirds, lured by nutrient-rich waters. The sanctuary has thousands of seals and sea lions, and is home to the largest concentration of breeding seabirds in the continental U.S Visitors to Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary can enjoy activities such as camping, tidepooling and surfing.
Along the coast of California north and west of San Francisco
S F Bay Model Regional Visitor Center
The Bay Model was built in 1957 as a research tool to test the impact of proposed changes to San Francisco Bay and its related waterways. The model has been used to study the effects of chemical/oil spills, altering of shipping channels, levee failures, and bay in-filling. The hydraulic model was used to simulate currents, tidal action, sediment movement and the mixing of fresh and salt water. In 1980 the visitor center portion was added, and the Model adopted the function of an Educational Center for learning about the geography, ecology and natural history of the bay and delta areas. Although today no active research takes place using the actual model, the facility still remains open to the public and the visitor center still serves as a public education center.
From Golden Gate Bridge, north 3 miles on US 101 to Sausalito/Marin City exit, then Bridgeway to Harbor Drive, turn left, then right onto Marinship Way and follow signs to the Visitor Center.
Alcatraz Island offers a close-up look at the site of the first lighthouse and US built fort on the West Coast, the infamous federal penitentiary long off-limits to the public, and the history making 18 month occupation by Indians of All Tribes. Rich in history, there is also a natural side to the Rock�gardens, tide pools, bird colonies, and bay views beyond compare.
The Alcatraz Ferry Terminal is located on The Embarcadero near the intersection of Bay Street at Pier 33.
Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site
America's only Nobel Prize winning playwright, Eugene O'Neill, chose to live in Northern California at the height of his writing career. Isolated from the world and within the walls of his home, O'Neill wrote his final and most memorable plays; The Iceman Cometh, Long Day's Journey Into Night, and A Moon for the Misbegotten.
Due to the nature of the The Eugene O'Neill NHS, visitors are not able to drive directly to the park site. Instead, reservations are required and we offer a free shuttle that will pick up the visitor in downtown Danville, CA. The shuttle meets at 205 Railroad Avenue in downtown Danville, just outside the Museum of the San Ramon Valley. Parking is available next to the museum. More information will be given once you call and make a reservation with the park staff. Danville, CA, is approximately 31 miles east
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Experience a park so rich it supports 19 distinct ecosystems with over 2,000 plant and animal species. Go for a hike, enjoy a vista, have a picnic or learn about the centuries of overlapping history from California�s indigenous cultures, Spanish colonialism, the Mexican Republic, US military expansion and the growth of San Francisco. All of this and more awaits you, so get out and find your park.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area has many sites that span over 60 miles of mostly coastal areas north and south of San Francisco. Park areas can be reached by Highways 1, 101 and 280 from the north and south San Francisco Bay Area, and by Highway 80 from the East Bay. To access park headquarters at Fort Mason, please use the entrance at Franklin and Bay Streets in San Francisco.
Presidio of San Francisco
For 218 years, the Presidio served as an army post for three nations. World and local events, from military campaigns to World Fairs and earthquakes, left their mark. Come enjoy the history and the natural beauty of the Presidio. Explore centuries of architecture. Reflect in a national cemetery. Walk along an historic airfield, through forests or to beaches, and admire spectacular vistas.
The Presidio lies at the north end of San Francisco at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge. It can be reached from the north by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and taking the first exit from Highways 1 and 101; from the east by way of Lombard Street (Highway 101); and from the south via Highway 1 and exiting just before the bridge.
Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park
Explore and honor the efforts and sacrifices of American civilians on the World War II home front. Find out how they lived, worked and got along. Many faces, many stories, many truths weave a complex tapestry of myths and realities from this time of opportunity and loss.
Please visit the "Directions and Transportation" link on the main website at http://www.nps.gov/rori/planyourvisit/directions.htm
Fort Point National Historic Site
From its vantage point overlooking the spectacular Golden Gate, Fort Point defended the San Francisco Bay following California's Gold Rush through World War II. Its beautifully arched casemates display the art of 3rd system brick masonry and interacts gracefully with the Golden Gate Bridge.
Fort Point is located at the south anchorage of the Golden Gate Bridge at the end of Marine Drive on the Presidio of San Francisco. By car take Highway 101 N or S, exit at the Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza at south end of bridge. From S turn right at end of exit ramp, or from N go straight on Merchant Drive. Turn left onto Lincoln Boulevard. Take a left onto Long Avenue and follow onto Marine Drive.
Muir Woods National Monument
Walk among old growth coast redwoods, cooling their roots in the fresh water of Redwood Creek and lifting their crowns to reach the sun and fog. Federally protected as a National Monument since 1908, this primeval forest is both refuge and laboratory, revealing our relationship with the living landscape. What will you discover in Muir Woods?
From San Francisco Muir Woods is located 11 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge Take Hwy 101 North Then the Mill Valley/Highway 1/ Stinson Beach Exit Follow the signs to Hwy 1 Follow the signs to Muir Woods From the East Bay Take Hwy 580/Richmond/San Rafael Bridge West Then Hwy 101 South Take the Stinson Beach/Mill Valley Exit Follow the signs to Highway 1 Follow the signs to Muir Woods Vehicles over 35 feet long are prohibited. There are no RV parking facilities.
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
Located in the Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park offers visitors the sights, sounds, smells and stories of Pacific Coast maritime history. The Park includes a magnificent fleet of historic ships, a Visitor Center, Maritime Museum, Maritime Research Center, and Aquatic Park Historic District.
The park is located within the city limits of San Francisco, in the Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood, on the shoreline of San Francisco Bay.