New picnic areas, an outdoor playground and scenic views of the Golden Gate Bridge are just a few treats awaiting visitors at the 14-acre Presidio Tunnel Tops park, which welcomed the public for the first time Sunday.
But before officially opening The City’s newest national park to the public, city leaders and project contributors held a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday with guest speakers and attendees that included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Mayor London Breed, several city supervisors, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne, who co-chaired the Presidio Tunnel Tops Campaign.
In her remarks, Lynne Benioff said people will be able to stroll around the park while looking out at “one of the best views in the world for free,” adding:
“Families will reconnect with a picnic on the lawn or sitting around the campfire for free. Children will put down their devices, the dream of every parent, and run to the playground and climb and explore and learn for free.”
Lynne Benioff said she was not just there as the campaign co-chair, but also as a parent:
“My husband is a fourth generation San Franciscan, our children have grown up listening to their grandmother tell stories about her own childhood here in the city, including her memories of the amusement park, Playland at the Beach, once down at Ocean Beach. It brought so much happiness and joy to generations of San Franciscans. Standing here I believe that the Presidio Tunnel Tops will find its place in the heart of our city as well.”
The campaign raised $98 million of the $118 million project, said Chris Lehnertz, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy president and CEO.
Lehnertz said the fundraising did not “happen in a snap,” adding that significant park funding came from the S.D. Bethel Foundation, which donated $25 million to get the project started. The Presidio Trust also contributed $20 million.
Tunnel Tops is uniquely situated over the Presidio Gateway tunnels, a perfect setting for the Cliff Walk pathway that sits 30 feet above Chrissy Field and the Bay. Installed along the Cliff Walk are driftwood-inspired benches carved with rolling backs that mimic both waves and the Marin Headlands — the artistic seating was constructed of fallen Presidio cypress trees.
At the new free-admission Field Station near Crissy Marsh, kids are invited to smell, touch and taste plants, examine rocks and learn about animals that roam the Presidio grounds. The Field Station is open Tuesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Outpost gives kids an opportunity to swing, climb, balance and crawl through a 2-acre playground.
Spread throughout are plenty of open grassy spaces to picnic and lounge, but Picnic Place is an idyllic spot to sit and have lunch with 16- to 23-foot tables and grills. Beginning Aug. 1, picnic areas can be reserved in advance by visiting recreation.gov.
For those prefer not to pack in their food, rotating food trucks and carts will pop up seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m, according to the Presidio Trust. Down at the Transit Center, visitors can indulge in wine, beer and cocktails; wood-fired pizzas; and grab-and-go items like sandwiches and salads.
Temporary outdoor murals created by Favianna Rodriguez depict elk, mountain lions, pond turtles, hummingbirds and salmon along walkways near the Presidio Visitor Center and the Outpost. Visitors will see drawings of elk, mountain lion, drawn on the ground.
Rodriguez, artist and Presidio Activator, said:
“My art is called Ancestral Futurism because it’s an acknowledgment of all of the creatures who were wiped out at one point on these lands, of this suffering and the pain that happened on these lands.”
While the park is accessible by car, public transit options are also available. The recently restored 43-Masonic route and a free shuttle provided by the Presidio both stop at the Transit Center, just steps away from Tunnel Tops.
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. He covers transportation and City Hall. He has spent over a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Jerold is a native in the city and frequently takes public transit everywhere he goes. Email tips to [email protected]