2755 Lombard StreetSan Francisco, CA 94123 (415) 931-8581


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!

by land … HIKING

View from Old St. Hilary's Church Preserve, Tiburon. See more pictures .

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:

  • Half Moon Bay coast trails
  • Best SF Bay dog walks … for people too!
  • The Presidio's walks & beaches
  • San Francisco walking tours
  • Marin County — Check out the Marin Headlands area. Or, the trails within the St. Hilary's Open Space Preserve above Tiburon (see map ) which has wildflowers and views that are rare, even for the Bay area.
  • North Beach walks (hike north) & Chinatown (hike south) — start at Columbus & Broadway .
  • Filbert steps — going down to the east from the top of Telegraph Hill.
  • Lyon Street steps — perhaps the most wonderful stairs in San Francisco. The top is at Lyon Street & Broadway St from which you take the stairs down two blocks to Green St. From there it's a nice walk along Lyon St to the Palace of Fine Arts and the SF Bay.
  • Golden Gate bridge — Definitely something to put on your “bucket list” of things to do before you die. Start your hike or bike trip at one of the viewing areas (located at either side of the bridge with adjacent parking) or a little further away like at Fort Point or Fort Baker.

    Golden Gate Promenade, a spectacular walk east of the Bridge. See Presidio map .

  • Lands End trail — start at the parking lot a half block north of the Cliff House.
  • Montara Mountain Trail — The Gray Whale Cove trail (2 miles roundtrip) and the North Peak summit trail (7-10 mile roundtrip) in McNee Ranch State Park are two hikes you will never forget. These are just south of SF on the coast between Pacifica & Montara.
  • Princeton Harbor — south of the harbor along the beach, and north on the Pillar Point bluffs above the famous Maverick's surfing waves. This area is only one of many described in Half Moon Bay walking trails .
  • On the San Francisco Peninsula try the marshland nature trails at Redwood Shores or the nice 3.7 mile Stanford Dish loop trail up and around the beautiful foothills immediately behind campus.

Fort Funston

(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.)

Hang gliding at Ft Funston

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.,

  • Ross Alley , one block west of Grant Ave between Jackson St & Washington St — The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory is on Ross Alley a couple of doors south of Jackson St. It was once infamous for its brothels and gambling.
  • Old Chinatown Lane , north off Washington St just west of Stockton and east of Ross Alley — This was once used by local gangs. Now it has a beauty salon and plenty of clothes hanging out the windows to dry; we even saw fish hanging from one window apparently also to dry. Just across Washington St from Old Chinatown Lane is Spofford St another street for local residents only.
  • Waverley Place , one block west of Grant Ave between Washington St. & Sacramento St. — This popular alley is called the “Street of Painted Balconies” due to several picturesque buildings including Tin How Taoist Temple and various private family benevolent associations (originally set up to provide social & political support to new immigrants).
  • There are many other alleys to check out as well. Just walking around is the best way to locate them. Some are primarily personal areas of local residents while others contain businesses, temples, or family benevolent associations


by land … BIKING

Bike under Golden Gate Bridge & then over it (see biker on top right)

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:

  • San Francisco bike tours
  • Biking Skyline Ridge
  • Bicycle Sundays — Canada Rd
    In SF go to Golden Gate Park for car-free Sunday biking
  • Redwood Shores and Foster City levees
  • 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.

by sea … WATER SPORTS galore

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.

even by AIR

B25 Bomber at Dream Machines Air Show

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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