San Francisco Outdoor Activities

San Francisco Outdoor Activities
San Francisco, with its hilly terrain and waterfront location, is a great destination for those who like to explore a city by foot, bicycle and even kayak. The city is surrounded by natural areas, most prominent being the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which features historical buildings, walking tours, hiking trails and campgrounds.

Visit a Local Park

The San Francisco area features several state and national parks/recreation areas. Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) encompasses a variety of different locations, including Alcatraz, Muir Woods National Monument, Marin Headlands, Presidio of San Francisco, NIKE Missile Site and many others. Each of these areas offers opportunities to explore the area's natural and human history. GGNRA has four campgrounds; the Kirby Cove Campground & Picnic Area requires reservations.

The city of San Francisco also maintains a number of city parks. Consider taking a stroll through the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum or visit the animals at the San Francisco Zoo.

Take a Walking Tour

One of the best ways to see a city is by walking its streets, and San Francisco is no exception. One option is to take a tour with the San Francisco City Guides, which offers free walking tours focusing on different neighborhoods in the city. Tours typically last between one and one-and-a-half hours. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared for walking some hills.

San Francisco City Guides
(415) 557-4266

The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society also offers a self-guided or professionally guided tour along the Barbary Coast Trail. These tours take visitors to various historical sites located in the city. These nearly four-mile walking tours begin at the Old U.S. Mint in downtown San Francisco and conclude at the Aquatic Park; both locations are accessible via cable car.

Barbary Coast Trail
(415) 454-2355

Go for A Run

Though the city is famous for its brutal hills, if such a thing doesn't daunt you, consider exploring the city by going for a run. The San Francisco Road Runners Club suggests several routes starting in downtown San Francisco ranging from three to ten miles in length. These routes (see References section) take runners from Union Square around to points in the city including the waterside Embarcadero roadway and AT&T Ballpark.

Rent a Bike

Another way to explore the city is by bike. Several companies offer bike rentals in the city. Many have locations at Fisherman's Wharf, a major tourist attraction. Bikes available for rent include road bikes, mountain bikes and tandem bikes. If there are any small children in your group, you can also rent child trailers to pull them along.

Blazing Saddles
(415) 202-8888

Bay City Bike
(415) 346-2453

Bike and Roll
(415) 229-2000

Go Kayaking

San Francisco's waterfront location makes it an excellent destination for those who love water sports. One activity you can partake in at the San Francisco Bay is kayaking. City Kayak offers a sea kayaking class (Sundays at 10:30 a.m.) and sunset kayaking (Saturdays at 6 p.m.). Sea Trek Kayak, located in nearby Sausalito, offers sit-on-top kayak rentals and traditional kayak rentals (class required).

City Kayak
(415) 357-1010

Sea Trek Kayak
(415) 488-1000

Article Written By Susan Berg

Based in northern Wisconsin, Susan Berg has more than 10 years of experience as a writer and editor. Her work has been published in both print and online media, including the "Dayton Daily News" and BioZine. Berg earned a Master of Arts in journalism from Indiana University.

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