Hope all of you enjoyed the 4th, taking time to be thankful for our freedoms, even in this uncertain economy. We decided to enjoy it on bikes, marking our spot for viewing the fireworks over the San Francisco Bay later in the evening, as we were told that reserving a spot early is a must. Where we positioned our truck, biking San Francisco meant riding across the Golden Gate Bridge and it was a blustery, very cool day. This ought to be interesting!
Riding across the bridge was a little nerve-wracking, with the wind and hordes of bike riders doing the same. Mission accomplished so we headed to Fort Point National Historic Site, a Civil War era brick fort sitting directly below the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge, with some stunning up-close views of the bridge.
Completed in 1861, this fort was designed to protect San Francisco from hostile warships but surprisingly, no military action was ever seen here. “Throughout the Civil War, artillerymen at Fort Point stood guard for an enemy that never came.” It was soon realized that its construction, that of brick, was not going to stand the test of time so future forts were built of concrete reinforced with steel. This was the only fort of its kind built on the West Coast.
From here we rode our bikes through the Presidio, which served as an Army post since September 17, 1776, when New Spain made it their center of military operations. It got passed around a bit from its beginnings, to Mexico, then on to the U.S. in 1848, and finally transferred to the National Park Service in 1994. It is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and is best known for its wooded areas, scenic vistas and loads of biking paths (many of them uphill!).
We passed by the San Francisco National Cemetery, which overlooks the San Francisco Bay from a sunny hillside. Roughly 30,000 Americans were laid to rest here, including Civil War Generals and Buffalo Soldiers. Terry scaled a steep slope to capture a few photos while I took a breather.
Perhaps one of the more captivating sights of the day for me was the Holy Virgin Cathedral Russian Orthodox Spiritual Center of the West Coast. As we meandered our way over to our lunch spot we saw golden turrets rising above surrounding buildings and, our interest piqued, we pointed our bikes in their direction. This magnificent cathedral, I have read, has a very vibrant congregation for the Russian population and was consecrated in 1977.
We were craving pho so Pho Garden became our neighborhood lunch spot. Arriving later than the normal lunch hour, the restaurant was still full, which we thought was a good sign. We were not disappointed, as this was some of the best pho we had ever had!
Tummies full (very full), we hopped on our bikes and headed towards Golden Gate Park, the third most visited park in the U.S., behind Central Park (NYC) and Lincoln Park (Chicago). It appeared that half of San Francisco was out in force in these 1017 acres, ready to celebrate this holiday with picnics. Given the crowds, and because we had been here before, we elected to ride through instead of stopping. The crowds were too much for both of us. As we passed by the Golden Gate Bandshell/Spreckels Temple of Music, the Golden Gate Park Band was celebrating its 130th season of honoring this holiday, with patriotic music floating through the air. It was a lovely way to celebrate this day.
If you have never been to Golden Gate Park, some of the attractions you might want to consider are the Japanese Tea Gardens, Conservatory of Flowers, Botanical Gardens, De Young Museum, California Academy of Sciences and the Dutch Windmills and Tulips Gardens (best seen in February or March).
Our biking loop of the city took us past Ocean Beach and the Cliff House restaurant, where we quickly snapped a few photos before we were blown off the bluff (winds were picking up)!
Finally, the last leg of our journey (and possibly my last legs), was an uphill slog, some of it riding and some of it pushing our bikes. The Golden Gate Bridge is now in view and I am starting to wonder what this part of the adventure will be like, given the winds have picked up considerably. Luckily, very few bikers are on the bridge at this late hour of the afternoon and with eyes watering (from the wind, not from crying) we made it across and back to our truck in one piece. Our 7-hour bike ride ended with the promise of a nice picnic dinner of poached wild salmon with a lemon-dill sauce and spinach quinoa salad with goat cheese (made by me) and fireworks over the San Francisco Bay.
I don’t have the camera to capture fireworks from a distance but suffice to say they were special, exploding over San Francisco Bay. The lights on the Golden Gate Bridge were pretty stunning as well. After a long day biking San Francisco we wandered on back to our rig, ending another wonderful day. We hope for milder temperatures for those enduring sweltering heat and the absence of wildfires. You are all in our thoughts.
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24 thoughts on “Biking San Francisco”
That sounds like you had quite a wonderful day. Hope you are feeling OK after all that bike riding. Great to read your posts because you are always so upbeat and a good writer.
Thanks Joan. I woke this morning with no aftereffects of the bike ride, which, quite frankly, surprised me. Some of those hills were torture!
I didn’t think crossing by bike can be that nerve-wracking, and adventurous. I visited with my family so we only stayed in Cissy Field. You seem to have better experience of the Golden Gate Park. Kudos, and great read!
That first picture is to die for.
Thanks! Wish I had the photography skills you seem to have!
Your photos are gorgeous. And thank you for the wonderful description of the Golden Gate Park area.
What a wonderful 4th of July bike ride and adventure. Thanks for sharing all the great photos.
You’re welcome Carol!
What a great day – thanks for sharing 🙂
You’re welcome Tammy! Hope you are feeling better.
Much better – thanks LuAnn!
Glad to hear it!
Al lived in San Francisco before meeting me, and I have yet to visit 😦 The cool temps you write about sound so refreshing as I sit here in 100 degree heat. We haven’t hiked or biked in weeks and are sorely missing the activity. Great photos!
Thanks Ingrid! San Francisco is a fascinating city. Wish we could send some cooler weather your way.
Quite a feat riding your bikes that far in SF. Your photos were great and they captured the essence of the area very well. Glad you are doing so well on your trip. R&G
Thanks you two. I will say it again, we need to figure out how we can meet up with you both again.
What a great bike-ride, and what a beautiful day! Love your shots!
Thanks Nina! Hope your first days “working” went well.
What a great bike ride and amazing place for the 4th. You two are certainly having fun! We are leaving Iowa August 6th and eventually will be in the NW. Plan on spending September in Washington and then heading south along the coast. You are certainly giving us lots of ideas of places to see and things to do!
It was a great bike ride but arduous at times. Lots of uphill streets in SF! We are having a great time and know the two of you would love it out this way. Hope the wedding plans are coming along.
you two just amaze us , keep on having those great adventures. this one sounds great. the pictures gave us a great idea of what you were talking about. we’ve been in that area a lot when we lived in california so many years ago. have a great time, we watched the fireworks from our sons front porch. what fun, love the 4th and all the hoopla that goes with it, still a kid at heart i guess. — hugs kay and charlie
After going out to see some sights this morning, we headed back to the rig for a rest! We realized we have been on the go since our arrival to San Francisco but are seeing some amazing things. And yes Kay, you are still a kid at heart, which is something I truly love about you!