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Best Outdoor Activities in San Francisco

By: Cityseeker
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Mission Dolores Park

Dolores Park is one of the main hot spots in San Francisco and is the major meet-up place for many citizens. Though it is not very large, it attracts crowds of people and the beautiful views make it worth the visit. Recreational resources include a few tennis courts, basketball courts, two soccer fields and a children's playground, but most of all Dolores Park is often used as a venue for special events such as movies in the park. Its surrounding area is known for some of San Francisco's major culinary attractions: Delfina, Pizzeria Delfina and the Tartine Bakery. It is also a great place to chill with some ice cream from the Bi-Rite Creamery. Saturday hang-outs in the park are often events themselves and it's always packed on weekends. Given its location, it's almost always sunny; the famous fog knows better than to ruin the oasis that is Dolores Park. Whether you choose to sit in Dog Beach, Hipster Beach, Speedo Ridge or partake in actual activity at the playground or tennis courts you are sure to have an unforgettable time.

19th Street and Dolores Street, San Francisco, CA, United States, 94114
Beaver Street Wall

This out-of-the-way rock-wall on the northeast side of Corona Heights Park is a popular destination for climbers looking for an urban adventure. The wall, which is about seven stories tall and has a smooth surface of slick red, pink, and grey rock, is maintained by volunteers who come out and prepare it with climbing chains and links from the top. Recently, bolts have been removed to preserve the wall, which, in addition to being a climbing destination, is a geological curiosity, a “slickenslide,” or a polished rock face that has risen out of a fault.

185 Beaver Street, Beaver Street Wall, San Francisco, CA, United States, 94114
Alcatraz Cruises

The official tour operating service of Alcatraz Island, Alcatraz Cruises takes travelers around the entire island. Different programs and events are also arranged by them. Tours are conducted for day and night time. This tour gives one the opportunity to take in the vivid and notorious history of Alcatraz.

The Embarcadero North, Alcatraz Landing, Pier 33, San Francisco, CA, United States, 94111
Presidio of San Francisco

Overlooking the San Francisco Bay, the Presidio is one of San Francisco's best kept and oldest parks. The Presidio Trust, along with the National Park Service, seeks to preserve the heritage and architecture of the area while providing both locals and tourists with a splendid recreational spot. Visitors to the park can admire several restored military buildings and embark on explorations of the expansive area. Attractions such as the "Spire," attributed to artist Andy Goldsworthy, and other unique additions have even helped the park be featured in numerous TV shows and movies. The Presidio is an excellent destination to visit with the entire family, and the park also offers tours to help acquaint you with all it has to offer. It is open year-round, and entry is free.

103 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA, United States, 94129
Golden Gate Park

In the late 1800s, California's first state engineer, William Hammond Hall, and his assistant, a Scotsman named John McLaren, transformed more than 1000 acres (405 hectares) of sand dunes into a wondrous haven in the midst of the city, christened Golden Gate Park after the eponymous strait nearby. Stretching over 50 blocks from Stanyan Street to the Pacific Ocean, the lush landscape is etched with numerous trails for walking, jogging, biking and horseback riding, alongside a golf course, bowling greens, a lake with paddle boats, soccer fields and a baseball diamond. From the Japanese Tea Garden and the Conservatory of Flowers to the California Academy of Sciences and the de Young Museum, San Francisco's Golden Gate Park encompasses a wealth of scenic beauty and cultural intrigue within is expansive embrace. There are also several playgrounds, a quaint carousel, an aquarium, a buffalo reserve and an outdoor bandshell where open-air concerts are hosted each summer.

501 Stanyan Street, San Francisco, CA, United States, 94117
Baker Beach

Located to the south of Golden Gate Point, this half-mile-long beach is one of the most popular attractions of the Presidio of San Francisco. There is much to do here, and the beach serves as an ideal destination for families and couples alike. Frolic on the golden sands which characterize the beach's expanse, go for a stroll along the waterfront or bask in the picturesque sights which abound here. Soak in the view of the Golden Gate Bridge in all its glory, or settle down for a picnic with loved ones. Those looking to explore the area can hike along the trails originating at the beach.

Battery Chamberlin Road, Presidio of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, United States, 94129
Sigmund Stern Recreation Grove

Beautifully landscaped into a portrait of exotic charm, the Sigmund Stern Recreation Grove is one place you should not miss on a visit to this city. Take in the majestically shaped garden or take a stroll along a rugged pathway and feel at peace with yourself. Host intimate picnics for your loved ones, take your dog for a leisurely walk in the park or explore untrodden paths and delight in the mysterious aura of the grove. If you love the sweet fragrance of eucalyptus, you're going to adore the tall eucalyptus trees that caress the grove. Catch live bands, music concerts and cultural events in action from time to time. Be there for the Stern Grove Festival every summer and see the grove light up with life!

2750 19th Avenue, San Francisco, CA, United States, 94132
San Francisco Model Yacht Club

San Francisco Model Yacht Club is located in Golden Gate Park. Established in 1898, it is one of the oldest surviving clubs in the country. Check out these tiny boats as they glide across the water. The club features a clubhouse and the artificial lake Spreckels Lake, that supports motor and sail model boats. Visit this club for its boating events and regattas, as well as for a glimpse of its unrivaled model boat collection.

36th Avenue, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, United States, 94121
Lands End

Rocky terrain and rich cultural heritage are what await you at San Francisco's Lands End. The park forms a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs alike. The park boasts a number of lookout points that offer stunning views of the shoreline, city and shipwrecks, historic sites like the ruins of the Sutro Baths and the USS San Francisco memorial, trails, and even a visitor's center. Rife with man-made and natural attractions, Lands End is a great place to spend the day exploring the city's history, cultural roots and natural heritage. The visitor center at Lands End Lookout is the best place to begin if this is your first visit.

Off Point Lobos Avenue, San Francisco, CA, United States, 94121
Great Highway Bike Path

This long stretch of highway has some of the most spectacular views of the Pacific in the city. Located along the Outer Sunset, the Great Highway Path begins at the Cliff House and stretches across Ocean Beach for roughly three miles. Locals use this scenic path for walking, jogging, cycling and other such activities. Wooden benches can also be found periodically along the path, perfect for taking in a gorgeous ocean sunset.

Great Highway and John F Kennedy Drive, San Francisco, CA, United States, 94122
Angel Island State Park

What Ellis Island was to the East Coast, Angel Island was to the West Coast. Graffiti left by immigrants who were awaiting admission or deportation can be seen on the walls of the holding areas. The wooded 740-acre (300 hectare) island sits peacefully in the middle of San Francisco Bay. In addition to the immigration facility, the island is also home to two now-abandoned military installations, Fort McDowell and Camp Reynolds. Hiking and biking trails circle the island and offer spectacular views of the poppy-colored peaks of the Golden Gate Bridge and the iconic San Francisco skyline. Volunteer guides lead informative tours of the island's historical sites and one can even catch a glimpse of the indigenous deer population. Camping is allowed with proper permits. Ferry service varies according to the season.

Fire Road, Angel Island, Tiburon, CA, United States, 94920
Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods National Monument is a breathtaking natural sanctuary that is renowned for its stunning old-growth coast redwood trees, and some of the tallest and oldest living organisms on Earth. The towering trees, some reaching heights of over 250 feet (76 meters), create a serene and awe-inspiring environment. It is interesting to note that some of these towering redwoods have survived for over 1000 years. The monument is named after John Muir, a renowned naturalist, and conservationist who played a pivotal role in the preservation of wilderness areas in the United States. Trails are set out for the casual stroller and the avid hiker looking for a challenge in the cool stillness of this 554-acre (224-hectare) National Park. While visiting Muir Woods, visitors can also learn about the ecology, history, and significance of the redwood forest through interpretive displays and guided walks.

Deer Park Fire Road, Mill Valley, CA, United States, 94941
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