Although Fisherman’s Wharf (home to San Francisco’s fishing fleet AND Ghirardhelli chocolates) is insanely crowded in August, at peak tourist season, I loved our hotel, the Argonaut, at the far end of the wharf. Close enough to the madness of the Wharf if that’s what you want, but take a left out the front door and you’re at the gateway to the Presidio, 1400 acres of hills, woods, beaches and paths right on the bay. There is lodging within the park called The Inn at the Presidio; click here for accessible accommodations.
There is no denying that the Argonaut Hotel is pricey, but it is centrally located for many tourist activities, and the whole place seems easily accessible, from the front door, to the lobby spaces, to the attached restaurant and its adjoining outdoor dining area, to about 4 or 5 ADA guest rooms. Not all have roll-in showers, so make sure to specify if that’s what you need. You can bring your dog, even if he or she is not a service dog. This seems to be a West Coast/Southwest thing, and I love it.
A few small things (and its the small things that can add up to make or break a hotel stay): the room windows actually open so you can get fresh air, the beds are not too soft, there are plenty of outlets for charging (wheelchairs, electronics), and the shower shampoo, conditioner and body wash are all in refillable containers mounted to the shower wall (I dislike the waste of the small travel-sized toiletries that so many hotels dispense). We’ve had breakfast, lunch and dinner at the hotel and all are very good. (I’m a rather tough restaurant critic, so that’s saying something.)
Adjoining the hotel is a national park visitor center (San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park), with a park across the street (part of the National Park site). The visitor center is fully accessible and has multi-media displays covering San Franciso’s maritime history beginning with the early days of the native Americans, the Ohlene tribe. There is a walking tour, led by NPS guides, and if you contact them prior to your visit (even a day in advance), they will make sure the trail is wheelchair-friendly. I spoke with a park ranger who is on the accessibility board for the NPS, and she gave me a universal access guide to this particular park; you can get one here, although they are in the process of updating it.
At the Argonaut Hotel and at the San Francisco Maritime NHS, you are within walking/rolling distance of the Presidio with views of the Golden Gate Bridge (if the fog, named Carl, or so we have been told, is not present). The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is a separate park within the National Park Service, although you can get information, including a map and brochure, at the visitor center at the Argonaut Hotel. We biked along the trail and much of it was paved (so good for wheelchair travelers) – although not all of it. You’d need to check online before you headed out to see where the trail becomes unusable by wheel. I did find this link for trails just north of San Francisco and this one for accessible sections of the trail near the Golden Gate Bridge.
One note: don’t bother buying The Fodor’s guide to Northern California 2014 as it has no ADA info whatsoever, that I can see. The index has no listings for “accessibility” or “disability” or “wheelchair.” There’s not even a small nod to travelers using wheelchairs in the general information section. Seems like a glaring omission. How hard can it be to include whether a hotel has accessible accommodation?