Visit Historic Fort Mason

July 15, 2018
Category: Things To Do In San Francisco

Looking for things to do outside of the norm in San Francisco? Try visiting Fort Mason. Originally serving as an Army base, this sea level structure is now host to Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture. Currently this site houses two dozen non-profit organizations as permanent residents. Originally purchased and owned privately in the mid-1850’s, the United States Government Seized it by order of President Lincoln on the grounds it was needed for the war effort. Initially, it began as a harbor defense post during the Civil War. By 1915, new facilities transformed this post into a logistical and transport hub. Used for 100 years for the military, it was used as an Army base, in which its most notable service was during World War II. During this time, it was the most used hub for the Pacific war effort. During the years of World War II, over 1.6 million passengers and over 23.5 million tons of cargo were moved through this port. These totals account for over two-thirds of the passengers and over one half of the Army cargo used during this time.

During the 1950’s Fort Mason was a strategic point for the Korean war and even saw continued use through the 1960’s. During the 1970’s, administration of the lower section of Fort Mason was turned over to the National Park Service and became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. In 1976, this portion became known as Fort Mason Center, a non-profit organization that sponsors events and organizations that reflect the ever-changing cultural fabric of San Francisco and the Bay Area. The upper portion is still maintained and used by the Army to this day.

As a whole, the Fort Mason facility is a mixture of military and public, parks and gardens, late 19th and early 20th century buildings. A path follows down to the harbor’s edge, allowing visitors to view Alcatraz to the north and the Golden Gate Bridge, to the west.

The Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture has many exciting things to do, no matter what time of year you visit. As you explore the 13.5-acres of facilities, you will find theatrical performances, movies, sculptures, paintings, cultural song and dance, and yes, food and beverages. Available throughout the day, their culinary program offers a variety of diverse foods to sample. If you’re lucky enough to be around on Friday nights, Off The Grid is a hosting of local food trucks that are sure to make your mouth water and satiate your appetite.

Stay at Van Ness Inn

Enjoy your stay at Van Ness Inn during your visit to Fort Mason. Located just over a quarter of a mile away, it is within walking distance. Van Ness in offers the lowest rates available by booking directly at