Fun, healthy, active things to do abound around San Francisco Bay. They are very accessible, in gorgeous settings, and entertaining to watch even if you not adventurous enough to participate.
Here are a few of the very best. And, just click around this web site or search for many more details, pictures, and ideas. For example, check out nearby towns and San Francisco neighborhoods . You'll be amazed at the number of pleasant, beautiful, truly exceptional activities!
The SF Bay area is a hiker's paradise. Simply walking around SF's unique neighborhoods is great fun if you know where to go. And, less than a half hour away from the city, are many more fantastic hikes to enjoy.
See some of our lists of best hikes below for good ideas:
(Fort Funston Road/Skyline Blvd just south of Ocean Beach, Lake Merced, SF. Size about 35+ acres. Plenty of parking. Dogs are allowed off-leash under voice control.)
This is regarded as the best “dog” park in San Francisco and probably the best dog park in world ! The rugged scenery consists of high bluffs, ocean views, and large sand dunes such as once covered the western half of San Francisco. You can enjoy a nice interesting historical walk yourself while watching your dog run free with playmates around the big dunes or letting him swim at the beach.
Typically steady 10-13 knot westerly winds and/or thermals combine with sheer bluffs to make Fort Funston one of the best “hang-three” intermediate level hang gliding spots in the nation. It is a thrill to watch those gliders up close & personal from the observation deck.
Historically, Fort Funston's Battery Davis was one of the earliest artillery structures designed to withstand aircraft bombing. Built in 1938 in preparation for WWII and technologically obsolete by 1948, Battery Davis contained two 16 inch 146 ton battleship guns with a range of over 26 miles. It is still hidden among the dunes, largely underground protected by concrete & earth. More recently, Fort Funston's Site SF-59L (deactivated 1963) was used as a Nike missile battery site complete with 12 missile launchers and 30 nuclear-capable multi-stage missiles.
You should definitely check out the alleyways of Chinatown. E.g.,
Because of its astonishing natural beauty, mild weather, interesting terrain, and excellent access serious bikers truly love the San Francisco Bay area. Go to any good local bike shop, there are hundreds, for riding groups and detailed maps.
Just outside the City is some of the best biking in the USA. For example, Marin County around Mount Tamalpais is where mountain biking was invented. The coastal mountain range between Palo Alto and Coastal Highway 1 provides some of the most pleasant road biking and mountain biking in the world. Hellyer Park Velodrome , San Jose, is one of only 24 velodromes in the entire U.S. And, an important stage of “ America's Greatest Race “, The AMGEN Professional Bike Tour of California, rolls down Highway 1 from San Francisco to Santa Cruz.
For several excellent but usually easy bike rides start by checking out:
Here is a unique local thing to watch or even try yourself. A velodrome is a banked oval track for bicycle racing. Very special bikes are used which have only one single fixed rear gear and no brakes. They can get up to speeds as high as 52 miles per hour .
Hellyer Park has the only velodrome in Northern California (note: there are 24 in the US with 3 down south near LA). The Hellyer Park track is about .2 miles long and is banked about 25 degrees.
During the summer there are a variety of races including Friday night racing from 7-9:30 pm and even some national championship trials. Check out www.ridethetrack.com for race & practice times, directions and other such details.
Wind surfing is a lot of fun at almost any age and the best place I've ever seen to learn is at California Windsurfing in the Foster City Lagoon. It's warm, rentals are reasonable, the people are nice, weekend classes are excellent and the wind is often just right for beginners.
Once you get better the next step up for me was windsurfing at Coyote Point. If you ever get great then check out Crissey Field, SF, or Waddell Creek north of Santa Cruz on Highway 1.
Kite surfing is readily available for the stouter of heart too. Waddell Creek is one of the top spots in California. Another less thrilling location for learning is the end of 3d Ave by the San Mateo Bridge. If you are an expert try Crissey Field, SF. Or, try the Sacramento Delta (on the way to Sacramento) for high speed kite surfing on smooth water.
Paddle boats for fun with the kids try Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park or California Windsurfing at the Foster City lagoon.
Kayaking Rentals with access to great sea areas are available in the Marinship neighborhood of Sausalito , Princeton Harbor, and Moss Landing. It's a bit of a trip but at Elkhorn Slough by Moss Landing, on the way to Carmel , you can kayak (or take a pontoon boat tour) some of the best bird and sea animal preserves in the world. Be ready to see otters and sea lions up very close and personal.
Surfing Ocean Beach , SF, is where local city and even professional surfers hang ten. Santa Cruz's Steamer Lane was made famous by surfing pioneers including three Hawaiian princes who introduced the sport to America right there. It is still one of the most popular surf spots in California. Surfers Beach in El Granada just south of Princeton-by-the-Sea is probably the best beginner/intermediate beach in between.
Of course, if you are serious surfer you've already heard of Mavericks , north of Princeton Harbor which has some of the biggest roughest waves in the world when (rare) conditions are right. Serious surfers and kite surfers also enjoy Waddell Beach , north of Santa Cruz.
Hang glide above the ocean cliffs at Fort Funston , SF. Here, at the most beautiful dog park in the world, you can get up close and personal to hang gliders enjoying one of the best “hang-three” intermediate level hang gliding spots in the nation. On weekends there are often dozens enjoying this exciting sport.
Small planes Two nice & convenient local airports for small plane pilots are the San Carlos Airport , San Carlos, and the Half Moon Bay Airport , north of Princeton Harbor. Both airports have good down-home type coffee shops where pilots and “wanna be” pilots love to gather.
From the Half Moon Bay airport you can easily walk over to Princeton Harbor for a relaxing good afternoon there as well. By the way, the Pacific Coast Dream Machines air show & exhibition, held at the airport in the spring, is something old plane and old car buffs do not want to miss. World War II pilots will especially enjoy seeing their old war planes in action. It's low key and a lot of fun to look at the old machines and chat with their owners.
San Jose Airport & San Francisco Airport are scary places to fly in and out by small plane because of heavy commercial air traffic. We've done it several times with pilot friends but can't recommend this adventure to amateurs.
Blimp tours Dirigibles are flying over the San Francisco Bay area again (back in WW II they flew out of Moffet Field as submarine trackers). Flight starting at $395 for 45 minutes and up. This is not really an active sport but looks like fun if you've got the bucks.
Well, that's just the tip of the iceberg of the best San Francisco Bay area activities you really should know about. Check around the site for more. And, enjoy!
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