So, the federal government shut down. Even if you eschew all things politics, the current situation will most likely affect your San Francisco plans whether you’re a visitor or a local. Planning a hike in Point Reyes? Think again. Bringing your dog down to Baker Beach? Parking won’t be an option. Here’s what you can and can’t do in SF and the greater Bay Area:
Alcatraz – closed. All cruises to The Rock are cancelled and will be refunded and your chance to walk in the steps of Al Capone is going to have to wait. Do this instead: Take the ferry to Angel Island (it’s a California State Park), accessible by ferry from Fisherman’s Wharf and Tiburon. Take a cruise around the Bay regardless, Alcatraz Cruises departs six times daily from Pier 33, and Blue & Gold and Red & White also have options, or amp it up with food and drink on a Hornblower Cruise.
Muir Woods – closed. But redwoods carpet all kinds of acreage in the city and the outskirts. Do this instead: Visit the redwood grove at the base of the Transamerica Pyramid for solitude in the concrete jungle. Redwoods also thrive in the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park, the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley, and Redwood Regional Park in Oakland. In seldom-visited McLaren Park, there is a small, secluded redwood grove between the Upper Reservoir and a picnic area on Shelley Drive to the north.
Presidio of San Francisco – parking lots, facilities, and restrooms will be closed at Crissy Field, Battery East, Baker Beach, the Visitor’s Center, Fort Point, and the Warming Hut and Beach Hut cafes. Do this instead: Grab a tee time at the Presidio Golf Course or get lost in the wilderness. There are plenty of hiking trails, roads primed for cycling, and public art pieces to admire. The Walt Disney Family Museum will also be open.
Point Reyes National Seashore – closed. Yes, the entire park is closed (I’m especially saddened by this), which means visitors will have no access to trails, beaches, campgrounds, or roads within the area that are not thruways. You can still drive to shuck oysters at Hog Island, but you can’t get out to enjoy sublime Limantour Beach. Do this instead: Explore nearby Nicasio, hike Mt. Tam (again, California State Parks aren’t affected). I highly recommend the Steep Ravine trail down to Stinson Beach.
Yosemite – closed. All roads, campgrounds, and facilities within the park will be closed. Do this instead: There is really nothing comparable to Yosemite, but you can still enjoy hiking in the Sierras outside of the park gates. I suggest staying at the Yosemite Bug (25 miles from the southern entrance). It has plenty of private and shared rooms, incredible organic cuisine, and the best spa deal around ($10 access to a massive steel hot tub, cold rain shower, and dry sauna among the trees). Other accommodation options include the Groveland Hotel and Evergreen Lodge.
I truly hope the shutdown doesn’t last very long. For many, a visit to Alcatraz, Yosemite, or Muir Woods is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Fortunately, we’re blessed with an abundance of amazing outdoor things to do in the Bay Area. Be extra nice to tourists right now, there’s bound to be quite a few disappointed their itineraries didn’t play out as expected.
Need more ideas? Check out our 100 Things to Do Before You Die in San Francisco.