Although it has been nearly six decades since Fort Funston—a former harbor defense installation to the southwest of San Francisco—was closed and made a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the coastal outpost still provides a great way to spend the day outside.
Just off of Skyline Boulevard, Fort Funston offers a series of trails and paths that lead up to the 200-foot high sandy bluffs that border the beach. The trails provide a view of both the ocean and the vegetation and trees that inhabit the surrounding hills.
A few steep paths lead down to the beach at the base of the bluffs, where eroded concrete from the old coastal outpost has gathered. Other remains of the installment can be found along the beach, half-buried in the sand, and along the tops of the cliffs, that can be reached by hiking up the trails.
Generally, strong winds and currents, as well as icy cold water, mean swimming is heavily advised against, although fishermen are typically a common sight along the water. However, tightly packed—and metallic—sand makes it easy to spend a few hours walking up and down the beach. Though be sure to check the weather before leaving, because the strong winds can also make the beach quite chilly, so you might need a coat.
Dogs are also allowed off-leash at Fort Funston, making the beach a perfect place to spend the day with the whole family, including the dog. If you go during low tide, the water is far enough out to provide ample space to walk along the shoreline, either by yourself or in a group, while maintaining plenty of distance from other people, although you may have to go through a few puddles.
To find out more about Fort Funston, visit the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy webpage here.