The spectacular brick-built Fort Point was built between 1853 and 1861 to protect the city from a sea attack. The assault never came; the 126 cannons remained idle, and the fort was closed in 1900. Today the four-storey, open-roofed building houses various military exhibitions; children love to scamper among the battlements and passageways. Climb on to the roof for a fabulous view of the underbelly of the Golden Gate Bridge, which was built more than seven decades after the fort was completed.
The fort's pier is famous as the spot where Kim Novak's character attempts suicide in Hitchcock's Vertigo. While Novak was only pretending, onlookers might think the surfers plying the point break as it wraps around the fort are actually suicidal. They're certainly daredevils, but they're not dumb: many wear helmets to guard against the hazards of a wipeout on the jagged, rocky shoreline.