Fort Point National Historic Site was instrumental in protecting California’s coast during the Civil War. The famous fort offers popular candlelight tours every weekend from November through February, so members of the public can truly immerse themselves in this famous SF landmark!
At 6:30pm on Saturday evenings, visitors can enjoy a 90-minute tour led by a park ranger with all light provided by hand-held lanterns. Tickets are $20 each ($12 for youth 12-17 years old) and will be released 2 weeks in advance of each tour, so be sure to set your alarm and check the calendar for your next chance at reserving a spot! These tours used to be free via a lottery system before the pandemic, but the NPS instituted fee changes in 2021, according to Funcheap.
This one-of-a-kind tour in San Francisco takes visitors through all four levels of the historic fort, including the roof. The candlelight experience adds a special perspective, helping transport you back to the look and feel of 1800s-era San Francisco.
Fort Point National Historic Site was built for the Civil War between 1853 and 1861. It’s been hailed as the “the pride of the Pacific,” “the Gibraltar of the West Coast,” and “one of the most perfect models of masonry in America.” It was created as one of California’s most formidable defenses against foreign attack, and although it never saw combat, the fort was instrumental in deterring Confederate aggression during the Civil War.
The fort was built in the Third System fortification style, a now-obsolete defense design with three tiers of cannon casements and a sod covering to absorb enemy fire. At one point the fort housed 102 cannons, plus “hotshot” furnaces used to heat the cannon balls, with the idea of setting enemy ships on fire upon impact.
The fort was almost demolished in order to build the Golden Gate Bridge in 1933, but Chief Engineer Joseph Strauss ultimately lobbied to preserved it. In 1970, the structure became a National Historic Site, and it’s now available for the public to visit.
Don’t forget to reserve a spot on one of Fort Point’s candlelight tours. You’ll find Fort Point at 201 Marine Drive in San Francisco.