The Park To The West – Get To Know Lincoln Park San Francisco

Famous for one of the most scenic golf courses in the world — overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge — Lincoln Park in San Francisco is a somewhat hidden treasure in the western part of the city. Dedicated to President Abraham Lincoln over a century ago, Lincoln Park is home to over one hundred picturesque acres of parkland and San Francisco history.

In 1868, the site that is now known as Lincoln Park was reserved by the City of San Francisco as a cemetery. During the 1800s the cemetery — called alternately Potter's Field or Golden Gate Cemetery — was used by various ethnic minority communities in San Francisco. The Board of Supervisors banned all burials in the City of San Francisco in 1901, and by 1909 the city ordered the Potter's Field cemetery to be moved outside of the bounds of the city. Let's find out what happened next.

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Lincoln Park Golf Course is Built

Lincoln Park Golf Course

Just when Potter's Field was relocated, local golfers Jack Neville and Vincent Whitney devised a plan to turn the area into a golf course. Their project was approved by world-renowned public parks manager, John McLaren. Their design, which featured a small, three-hole golf course, was situated on a bluff without many trees obstructing the course.

People from around San Francisco flocked to the course and its popularity caused the city's Board of Supervisors to expand the course beyond the three holes. They passed an ordinance that removed the graves from the site, and they renamed the park after President Abraham Lincoln.

The city also allotted some of the land to the US Army to expand Fort Miley. In 1917, city planners approved the latest expansion so that the golf course could become a full 18 holes. In the early 1920s the course was replotted to make it more difficult, introducing dozens of the park's signature Monterey cypress trees at the same time. During this renovation the clubhouse was built, which still operates today. Every year the course is host to the San Francisco Golf Championship.

Another fun fact about Lincoln Park is that it's the western terminus of the Lincoln Highway, which was the first thoroughfare to span the continental United States. The western terminus was officially dedicated in 1915. A mere 9 years later, the Palace of the Legion of Honor was built, still one of the shining gems of the park.

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What to See & Do at Lincoln Park San Francisco

California Palace of the Legion of Honor

Legion of Honor

The California Palace of the Legion of Honor is an art museum with a collection that spans four millennia of history. Arguably the most beautiful museum in San Francisco, the Legion of Honor is the major attraction in Lincoln Park. Visitors flock from all over the city and the world to admire the stunning Beaux-Arts, French neoclassical building and the collections it holds. The design is a replica of the Palais de la Légion d'Honneur in Paris, with a classical U-shaped layout and circular fountain that all scream old world elegance.

Originally built to commemorate the Californian soldiers who died in World War I, the museum contains such famous works of art as Rodin's Thinker, which sits in the museum's Court of Honor. The collections include ancient art from Greece, Italy, and the Far East, to Impressionists from 19th century. There are porcelain collections centered in the European decorative arts collections. It even holds one of the largest collections of prints and drawings in the country. Many of the museums treasures were donated by the Spreckels family.

From the museum itself you have stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the rest of San Francisco, as it perches on a grassy knoll. It's simply breathtaking. The California Legion of Honor is a testament to philanthropy and civic pride at Lincoln Park in San Francisco. Definitely carve out time to come see it.

Memorial to the USS San Francisco

Memorial to the USS San Francisco

If you're interested in the military history of California, there are a number of attractions within Lincoln Park. First of all you have the USS San Francisco memorial site. One of the most decorated US ships of World War II, the USS San Francisco earned over 17 battle stars during her time in service. Most of the action she saw was in the Guadalcanal campaign in the Pacific during World War II. Although the ship was decommissioned immediately after the war and sold for scrap in 1959, you can still visit the memorial and honor this bright light of naval history.

Cliff House

The Cliff House

Perched on the outstanding cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Cliff House can be found towards the edge of Lincoln Park. Here, a large house stands proud with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and beyond. The house was originally built in 1863 by Senator John Buckley and C.C. Butler.

Lincoln Park Golf Course

Lincoln Park Golfing

As we mentioned, Lincoln Park is probably most well-known for the aptly named Lincoln Park Golf Course, found in pretty much the center of the park. After your 18 holes you can browse the pro shop where you can find golf memorabilia and other San Francisco souvenirs. Adjacent to the pro shop is a small restaurant where you can fill up before you head back to the green for another round.

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Hiking Trails

Hiking Trails

With scenic ocean views, the Land's End Trail in Lincoln Park is one of the best trails in the city. It's a series of dirt paths that wrap around the cliffs and roughly parallel El Camino Del Mar, the main road in Lincoln Park. Many hikers choose to walk down to Mile Rock Beach and the promontory that faces the Marin Headlands. If you're into finding Zen, you can walk around the labyrinth of stones created by Eduardo Aguilera in 2004. Many of these trails are also accessible to bike riders, although some of them are a little too narrow, so you'll have to dismount and walk your bike for a bit. There is also a ropes course that is owned and operated by the local university.

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