climate San Francisco, and the surrounding areas offer some phenomenal ways to enjoy the outdoors -
, but just the beginning. In fact, there are very few locations in SF without some view,
or other feature of natural interest. Some of the best ones are the (more) industrial waterfront stretching along the
out to the Golden Gate Bridge.
are stunning and feel like a world away from urbanity. The west coast of SF, from the
are somewhat more developed, but amazing nonetheless. The sometimes-forgotten
in the southwest corner of SF is a mecca for hang-gliders and dogs... and possibly hang-gliding dogs, but I haven't seen one myself :)
delights. On the south side,
is gorgeous and often warmer than the rest of the city.
Beyond SF, getting on the bay is a great way to go.
among others... or
is naturally stunning in addition to its penal charm.
.Tagged for Outdoors...
Relaxation, now with stunning views...
Alamo Square's elevated and central location makes for a pleasant park - great for picnicking or just relaxing after a long day. Unless the day happens to be the 3rd Sunday of May when Alamo Square's top-of-Hayes-hill becomes a madhouse of spectators, participants and those doing a bit of both in Bay to Breakers
Commune with the inner Capone
Notorious beyond it's size and penitential impact (Alcatraz was only a prison for 19 years►
), "The Rock" is an exciting afternoon - especially on a nice day. The complex is nicely restored with lots of information and many photographs. The "prison yard" has phenomenal views of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge
Alta Plaza Park
Playground with a view
Sitting on the highest peak of Pacific Heights, Alta Plaza Park (literally "high place") provides some views to the north (the bay) and amazing ones to south... and there is not a playground in SF with a better view.
Escape from Alcatraz
's bigger and less-developed sibling, Angel Island provides unbelievable views on 14 miles of trails - truly a hidden gem! Hiking and biking
are recommended, and for those with sea legs kayaking
and a Segway
tours are also available. Camping
is an unforgettable experience, but fills up quickly - the group sites are regularly booked a year in advance.
Most scenic beach in SF
Bay to Breakers
Putting the fun in run
With a 360° views and a warmer-than-average reputation, Bernal puts the urban lowlands in their place :)
Power to the pedal
Between the hills
, bicycling provides a fast, exciting, and warm (Cold?! Ride faster!) way to get around SF!
Blue & Gold Ferries
SF's most exciting public transporation..
A ferry trip provides an easy and cheap way to enjoy the exciting geography of the bay - not to mention, transportation :)
All your flora are belong to us
A tranquil 55 acres inhabited by 7500 hundred plants, the garden►
delights plant nerds, walkers and picnickers - especially on warm days!
Buena Vista Park
"Good views" :)
One of SF's larger neighborhood parks, BVP mixes a large tree canopy and numerous trails with 360° views. Connecting the Haight
neighborhoods - the park vibes seedier than nearby Corona Heights
or further away Kite Hill
, although typically less so than the Panhandle
and the east side of Golden Gate
Reality will return after these brief messages
No longer held in San Francisco, or even California (Nevada), the Burning Man festival
is a big part of San Francisco life for many residents. The event is a week long and held on a dried lake bed - attracting upwards of 50,000 people►
annually and otherwise defying brief description.
Walk Like a Victorian
Originally invented to spare horses dying (literally!) on the steep hills
of San Francisco, the city's now-iconic transportation►
is worth a ride if it's easy - waiting for an hour or more makes the decision harder.
Perfect Spot for a Post-Headlands Drink or Three
Providing stunning city views, spooky military ruins (which you're "not supposed to" explore), fishing, and one of the better frisbee/picnicking fields you'll find - Cavallo Point delights.
Between a rock and a gorgeous view
's smaller and more secluded sibling provides a cozy scene with fewer dogs (not technically allowed) and a big storm wall! The beach is supposedly named for Chinese fishermen who used to camp there during the early years of the city.
A visual stimulator
The namesake tower gets the attention - but the hike and the views►
are the main attraction!
Corona Heights Park
Iron in them thar hills!
Sometimes forgotten but rarely regretted (!) Corona Heights Park offers hiking (short but exciting!), great views, picnicking, basketball, tennis, a playground and a museum
on and around dramatic red rock formations.
The bay, up close and personal :)
Political mayhem party's greatest hit
San Francisco's urban traffic take-down brake-down inspired 300+ others around the world. Hard to describe, always lively, and mostly legal - the crew roams free the last Friday of every month at 5:30pm (at Justin Herman Plaza
). Costumes encouraged (especially for the extra special Halloween/October ride!►
) and any human-powered vehicle is good to go.
Sunny center of outdoor activitiy
Covering two city blocks on the Castro
side of the Mission
district, Dolores Park has more visitors per square foot than any park in the city. Tennis and basketball courts, pickup soccer, a children's playground (currently under re-construction), dogs aplenty, and expansive skyline views combine for a magically relaxing afternoon. It is delightful (and relatively safe) after dark as well. Bike polo
is on (at least temporary) hiatus
pending a political battle with the tennis players.
Running along the bay from AT&T Park
up to Fisherman's Wharf
, the Embarcadero provides a break from the city's steep inclinations
. As such, it's widely enjoyed by locals and visitors on foot, bicycle
, skateboard, rollerskate, etc... although traffic can be an issue both on the sidewalk and off.
San Francisco's Archetype of Itself
San Francisco's biggest tourist destination is visually stunning, entertaining, and offers a starting point for a variety of activities: bay tours/ferries (including Alcatraz
), Cable Cars
's chocolate, a variety of seafood, and one of the nation's best Maritime Museums
(including the USS Pampanito
In Fog We Trust
: "The famous fog of San Francisco, California is a specific case of sea fog. Sea fog is a specific type of advection fog, which is characterized by the lateral transfer of temperature by wind blowing over cooler water. The water is often cool enough to lower the temperature of the air to the dewpoint, causing fog generation."
The unofficial recreation wing of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (run by the National Park Service
), Fort Funston provides a world renowned hang gliding►
hot spot, the city's largest and best off-leash area for dogs and a network of beautiful trails and beaches.
Real wars to Robot "games"
Home of the Giants
As the only major sports team playing in urban San Francisco, the Giants enjoy special support among locals. AT&T park (its 3rd name since opening
in 2000 when the Giants left the now 49ers
-only Candlestick Park) is a relatively small open-air stadium providing nice views of the bay and not much protection from the wind.
Golden Gate Bridge
Icon of the Golden Gate
The Golden Gate Bridge is not to be missed! It's best up close and personal. The bridge is a bit less than 2 miles across - an excellent hike or bike
ride. Be sure to wear warm clothes, as it is often windy and/or cold►
Golden Gate Park
Soul of SF
Grand View Park
What is that game???
San Francisco became a major center of Hooverball following a surprise 2nd place finish in the national championships a couple years ago!
Centerpiece of Nob Hill
College town sans college
Japanese Tea Garden
The oldest public Japanese garden in the country, this Golden Gate park
gem is a great place to walk, check out the koi, structures, statues.. or have a cup of tea :)
Kite Hill Park
Neighborhood chill spot
San Francisco's fresh-water stepchild
In a city surrounded by ocean, the largest fresh-water body of water in San Francisco is sometimes forgotten. Lake Merced provides unique fishing (permits req'd), picnicking, bicycling, walking and running opportunities.
Best hike in San Francisco - easy!
Beautiful hikes up to 5 miles can be started at the Sutro Baths
parking lot (also accessible from the Muni
38 Geary line) and continued until it's time to turn around. The Legion of Honor
and golf course sit at the end of the trail. For those willing to walk through Seacliff
, Baker Beach
and the Presidio
are relatively accessible and offer similarly beautiful outdoor recreation.
Get your wiggle on
Iconic of San Francisco, the Lombard street hairpins are a quick hit of fun. If the weather is bad, or the location inconvenient - feel free to skip it. It's relatively close to the Maritime Museum
and Aquatic park
Do. It. Yourself.
Organized by "Make:technology on your time" magazine
and advertising itself as "The World's Largest DIY Festival", the faire is worth a visit for anyone who loves to make things or is inspired by the creative works►
A little gift from God
The Marin headlands offer a unforgettable (and convenient!) experience with the rugged California coast. On a clear day, San Francisco is on full display and the temperature is reliably higher on the north side of the bay. Many stunning Golden Gate Bridge
photos are shot from the headlands.
Lifeblood of early San Francisco
With one of the world's best natural ports, San Francisco owes much of its prominence to oceanic travel and Maritime Museum is a great visit for history
and maritime buffs. The Balclutha►
, a tall sailing ship from 1886, is the crown jewel of the bunch (7 total). The USS Pampanito
submarine/museum is run by the same organization, but a few blocks away on Pier 45.
Wild and free
The Mission Murals are an oft-overlooked artistic treasure of San Francisco. The Mission
's regularly warm weather can combine for a great afternoon of mural appreciation.
Top of the Bay Area
Sprawled between Stinson Beach
and Mill Valley, Mt Tamalpais (translating literally as "Tamale Country") offers phenomenal views and great hikes! No tamales, unfortunately. Hiking and Biking - road and mountain - are the preferred modes of transport (the "Crookedest Railroad in the World►
" ceased operation in 1930).
Old growth redwoods
"This is the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world" John Muir
Great views, rich history + exercise :)
Oakland Museum of California
Going back to Cali
The big chill...
As San Francisco's largest and most relaxed beach, Ocean Beach is a delightful break from urbanity. Even on the warmest days, there is plenty of room to throw down a towel (or t-shirt) and soak up some California rays and play in the surf►
. It's advisable to bring wind protection and a warm layer, just in case :)
Palace of Fine Arts
A little bit of Rome in SF
Not just for panhandlers...
A halfway house between urban San Francisco and the Golden Gate Park
, this long (3/4 mile) narrow (1 block) strip of park divides the Haight
and the Western Addition ("NOPA" if you're a real estate agent).
Not enough people in your life?
Long live the Reyes
With stunning views over an area 40 percent larger than Golden Gate Park
, the Presidio is sometimes overlooked for outdoor adventures. An army base from 1776 (by the Spaniards, the same year as the Mission Dolores
) to 1994, and now operated by the National Park Service
, the area is not especially developed for recreation, but provides it nonetheless.
Red's Java House
Simple building, simple pleasures
In the shadow of modernity and the Bay Bridge, Red's Java House serves cheap burgers on the bay and enjoys an avid following among Downtown
Popular for good reason
A delightful finish to the Marin Headlands
loop, Rodeo Beach is a popular and accessible beach just a short drive from the Golden Gate Bridge
(the fast and furious can hike there from the bridge).
Take a break from the clouds
Sea Trek Kayaking
Bay imitates bath
With the best natural bay in the world, San Francisco has a rich maritime history
, and getting out on the water is one of the most exciting ways to explore the area :)
Sea + cliff = Seacliff
SF City Guides
With more walking tours
covering most of the city, SF City Guides provide a phenomenal resource for anyone interested in the cultural history of SF and/or exploring by foot
Dedication to education
The largest school in San Francisco (by far!), SF State University offers a bunch of real-world undergraduate and graduate programs. Around campus, fine
and performing arts events
are common, as are political rallies.
Speedway Meadow in the middle of Golden Gate Park
is probably the most popular picnic spot in the city. The location is far enough out for the coastal Fog
to have a larger-than-Dolores
impact, but the spacious meadow and surrounding areas (eg, adjoining Stow Lake
) offer a lot of outdoor activities.
Summer camp for achievers
An ever growing collection of illustrious students and faculty, a short list of mega-successful companies
, great weather (little/no fog
!), and a beautiful sprawling campus ("the farm") combine for an inspiring educational setting.
Starr King Open Space
Putting the hill in Potrero
Expansive city and bay views delight human visitors while the four-legged critters sniff out a vibrant social life - Starr King Open Space enjoys substantial popularity among both humans and dogs and regularly provides great sunset watching.
Stern Grove Festival
Not as stern as it sounds
The longest running free concert in the United States, the festival is a great way to spend a summer Sunday afternoon. There are a lot of other folks who think so too, and arriving early is the name of the game for getting good seats.
Victorian communal bathing
Tennessee + a beautiful beach
Insulated by a 2 mile hike from the end of Tennessee Valley Road, the beach is a more secluded version of Rodeo Beach
in the eye-popping Marin
Spanish for shark :)
Easily accessible by ferry
, and a short ride from Angel Island
- picturesque Tiburon provides a warm suburban break from SF!
Beer drinkers unite
Nestled in the woods with views of Mt Tamalpais
, delicious brews, and nose-waking barbecues, the Tourist Club (also known as the "German Tourist Club") provides delightfully transporting afternoons!
Not just an old TV show...
When the weather is clear, Twin Peaks pops eyeballs - especially around dusk (or sunrise►
?). When it's cold, wet, windy, and/or foggy
, TP is more of a survival adventure challenge :)
Consistently ranked the number one public university in the country, Cal may be best known for it's historical
role in the free-speech and antiwar movements both spearheading and defining the 1960s.
One foot in front of the other
San Francisco is a walking paradise for those who don't mind a hill
here and there!
For children, outer and inner :)
San Francisco can be a great city for children and families - it's fairly small, there are lots of physical and outdoor activities... and many SF adults have playful childlike tastes in fun :)
Yerba Buena Gardens
Some pretty good yerba
Before San Francisco became "San Francisco" it was called "Yerba Buena" - Spanish for "good herb".
Gifts from God(s)