San Francisco just got an impressive new cultural center and social hub with The Presidio Officers’ Club. After an intensive three-year rehab, SF’s most historic building (don’t tell our friends at Mission Dolores we said that) is ready for its close-up. The massive, nearly 37,000-square-foot building holds lots of treats for families too. Here are some of the things you and your kiddo can look forward to.
Get to Know the Presidio
Make the Heritage Room your first stop. The dramatically-lit gallery space serves as a virtual Presidio for Dummies by detailing the former fortress’ role in American history with engaging displays that won’t leave your little one tugging at your sleeve. Start your visit with an orientation of the property that’s screened in the comfy micro-theatre.
If These Walls Could Talk
You can step back in time in the Mesa Room thanks to a literal display of history via the exposed layers of the Officers’ Club’s walls. Trace the historic structure’s progression from the actual adobe walls of the 1810s to the colorful Victorian clapboard of the 1880s to the popular Spanish stucco of the 1930s and end with the fabulously drab white walls of the 1970s.
Say adios to audio wands: visitors can also check-out a free, preloaded iPad and swipe their way through the Presidio’s history with interactive photos, videos, and StoryCorps conversations.
Al Fresco Dining and Craft Cocktails
The Officers’ Club is home to chef Traci des Jardin’s new restaurant Arguello. Named for the first Mexican Governor of Alta California—and former Presidio commander—the new spot will feature Mexican dishes served in a handsome dining room or on a blessedly heated outdoor patio.
You can also grab a craft cocktail and take it the adjacent Moraga Room, an atmospheric space that serves as the building’s de facto lobby with a fireplace and dramatic wrought iron chandeliers (hint: this is when that iPad may come in handy for certain, smaller members of the family that don’t get a cocktail so that those who do can relax). Arguello officially opens on October 8th for lunch and dinner.
Go See an New Goldsworthy
Does Andy Goldsworthy have a pied-à-terre in SF yet? The nature-based artist is a frequent visitor with numerous works in town including four in The Presidio. The Officers’ Club houses his latest, Earth Wall, which consists of a bundle of branches that he collected over the past year, then buried in an earthen wall and “excavated” a la Indiana Jones.
Digging the Past
Speaking of Indiana Jones, did you know that The Presidio is an active archaeological site? The Officers’ Club is also home to a snazzy archaeology lab that allows guests to witness how the Presidio’s artifacts are analyzed and processed. Just outside, there’s an ongoing excavation of the El Presidio de San Francisco ruins. From May through October, visitors can observe—and possibly participate in—excavations and chat with staff about their discoveries.
The Officers’ Club is set to become a new field trip fave thanks to hands-on and immersive activities for kids. Multidisciplinary programs allow students to explore local and national history as well as the park’s natural and cultural resources in an authentic historic setting. Programs are tied to curriculum standards and free for participating schools.
Special Events for Families
Starting October 11th, you can drop by on Saturday and Sunday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. for crafts based on the Presidio’s natural and cultural heritage and geared for kids 5 through 12.
Also, every Saturday at 2 pm, the Officers’ Club will feature free theatre, music, and dance performances. On Saturday, November 1st, kids can gather around The Tree & The Donkey Who Wanted to Sing, a participatory music and dance program that tells the story of the diverse roots of Mexican people and the making of musical instruments from nature.
Take advantage of the free PresidiGo which picks up at the Transbay Terminal, Embarcadero BART, and the corner of Van Ness & Union.
50 Moraga Ave., Presidio Main Post
San Francisco, Ca
Hours: Tues.-Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Have you been to the Presidio Officers’ Club yet? What was your family’s favorite part?
All photos by Henrik Kam and courtesy of the Presidio Officers’ Club