There’s no doubt about it — living in San Francisco has endless perks. Not only are we blessed with incredible food, stunning architecture, and a thriving culture, we are also one of the best cities in America for adventuring outside. Sure, we might live in a concrete jungle, but it never really feels that way when the city is sandwiched between oceans and mountains.
We all know that there are endless opportunities for hiking, biking and skiing outside of town, but what about the outdoor activities right in our backyard? When you’re craving some fresh air and vitamin D, but not in the mood for a long drive, check out these awesome nearby adventures. Our city has it all — hiking, biking, and even hang gliding. Have fun out there!
San Francisco, Oakland and the rest of the Bay Area are always making it onto lists of the best bike cities in the country — and it’s no wonder why! With such a bikeable city and such gorgeous weather, more and more San Francisco locals are ditching four wheels and sticking to two. Join in the fun (and learn something while you’re at it) on a San Francisco Bike Tour. Feel the wind on your face as you fly through the streets with a guide, pausing every now and then to marvel at our best views, most charming neighborhoods, and Golden Gate Park (of course). Even if you’ve lived in the city for years, there’s something to be said about viewing SF from a tourist’s perspective. The tour guides are experts in the best routes to take, the best snacks to eats, and interesting history to boot! Choose from a classic bike tour or an electronic, and hit the road, Jack!
If you’re an avid cyclist (or just starting to fall in love with the sport), consider joining a bicycling club in the bay area. These clubs are a great way to get a workout and meet new like-minded friends! Here are 29 of our favorite group rides and clubs in the Bay Area.
Looking for something a little more rugged? Take to the trails on a mountain bike ride. There are actually a few great trails to explore in (or just outside) own. Our favorite is the San Francisco Peaks trail, a 12.5-mile journey with 2750 feet of elevation gain. Find a full list of nearby rides here!
Photo courtesy of the Presidio
Those boots are made for walking, so that’s what you should do! There’s nothing like working up a bit of a sweat in the great outdoors and rewarding yourself with stunning views. Most of the treks in town are short, steep journeys to a viewpoint, but we don’t have a problem with that.
Batteries to Bluffs trail is one of these shorter hikes, but a magnificent one at that. The 2.3-mile loop will take you along the shoreline on cliffs, and past historic gun batteries, springs, and plenty of wildflowers. At journey’s end, you’ll stellar views of Golden Gate Park and the surrounding area. If you’re up for a quick side trip, you can make your way down the rocky cliffs to the gorgeous and isolated Marshall’s beach, which is clothing optional, by the way.
Looking for a bit more space? The Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve is centrally located, but the towering eucalyptus trees and Monterey Pines will make you feel like you’re worlds away. This 62-acre park features five miles of public trails, which can be enjoyed on foot or by bike — and dogs are welcome too!
Another favorite of ours is Twin Peaks. If you haven’t made the trek yet, you’ll at least recognize the name — it’s widely known as one of the best views in San Francisco. The peaks are located right in the center of town, meaning you’ll have access to a spectacular, 360-degree panorama. Take a picnic, and enjoy!
Take to the skies! Did you know San Francisco is home to one of the best places in the planet to hang glide? Well now you do. Fort Funston is just a short jaunt away, and offers consistently flyable winds year round, convenient landing spaces, and a spectacular shear known as the “Funston Shear.” The Fellow Feathers of Fort Funston provides a community for expert hang gliders as well as those willing to learn, and conveniently posts weather conditions and hosts events.
Photo courtesy of KGB Swag Kiteboarding
Still want the thrill of being carried by the wind without so much altitude? Kiteboarding might be for you! We are surrounded by water here in San Francisco, so there are plenty of chances to spread your wings. The experts at KGB Swag Kiteboarding will be happy to point your kite in the right direction. This shop is our favorite for beginners because the staff will provide everything you need to get started, including rentals and lessons. Whether you’re just trying something new or already a kiteboarding expert, you’ll love hanging with KGB.
If you’re already a seasoned kiteboarder and just looking for some new gear, Cali Kites is a smaller shop with great prices and a top-notch selection. The staff there only stocks the equipment they use themselves, so you can count on getting a true recommendation.
SUP, Canoe + Kayak
Photo courtesy of Sea Trek
The Pacific Ocean is known for it’s refreshing (read: bone-chilling) waters, which are only inviting for a swim on scorching summer days. When you’re not up for actually getting in the water, perhaps adventure on the water instead! You’ll still have the opportunity to breathe in that sea air and get a good tan, but you’ll stay a bit warmer. You might even get a workout as well, depending on what you’re looking to do!
Sea Trek is our favorite resource for waters ports, offering rentals for stand up paddle boards, canoes or kayaks seven days a week, all year round. You can take your pick and go out on your own for a few hours, or take a guided trip through the bay. Whether you’re just looking for a quick two-hour through the bay, an all-day excursion, or an overnighter on the coast, Sea Trek has you covered — there’s even an option for a week long kayaking/whale watching trip to Baja, Mexico!
We’ve listed our favorite ways to get outside in the city, but are always on the lookout for recommendations. What are some of your go-to outdoor activities, and where do you like to go? Let us know in the comments!