San Francisco is one of the most stunning cities in America. From its rolling hills to its cerulean bay, to the fog that rolls in over both, a trip to this West Coast city will result in many breathtaking views. Because San Francisco is so beautiful, you’ll want to spend most of your time there outdoors, taking it all in. As you plan your itinerary, consider the following eight activities to experience the city by the bay and all its natural wonder, too.
1. Hike Land’s End
San Francisco has a long list of incredible hikes, and it’s no surprise: the mountainous terrain perches over a sprawling bay, after all. And, while there are many breathtaking routes to choose from, you should start with Land’s End, an easy, flat four-miler on the city’s northwest side.
This is the perfect hike for tourists because it shows you everything you want to see, starting with the Golden Gate Bridge. You’ll also get incredible views of China Beach and the Marin Headlands, a jutting peninsula that’s the county’s southernmost boundary.
2. Surf Ocean Beach
If you hope to catch a few waves while you’re in San Francisco, look no further than Ocean Beach. The 3.5-mile stretch of coast is the longest along the bay, so expect lots of other surfers to be suited up and ready for perfect days, too.
Of course, you don’t have to head to the beach to take advantage of the waves only. You’ll be able to soak up the sun, fly a kit, sunbathe or even skate. No matter what you choose to do, the backdrop of stunning cliffs will make the entire day memorable.
3. Explore Muir Woods
Although not technically in San Francisco, Muir Woods is a required destination for any nature lover who ends up in the Bay Area. The redwood forest sits just 12 miles north of San Francisco. Some of the trees clock in at more than 1,200 years old and more than 250 feet tall. Try and wrap your mind — or your arms — around the trunks of these massive plants. We promise, it will provide you with all of the vacation-inspired awe you want to feel.
4. Boat Around the San Francisco Bay
Plenty of other San Francisco activities give you glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge, but nothing will get you as close to that famous architectural masterpiece than a bay cruise. On top of that, harbor cruises take you up close and personal with other San Francisco landmarks. Sail right up to Alcatraz and see the infamous prison’s exterior, boat past the Giants’ stadium and examine the underbelly of both the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges.
5. Bike Angel Island
New York City’s Ellis Island gets the spotlight as the country’s biggest immigration center from the late 1800s until the mid-1900s. Angel Island played a similar role for the West Coast, and it’s worth a visit on your trip to San Francisco for more than one reason.
Aside from its extensive history — which you can learn about on a tram tour of the island — the area has its state park with plenty of paths for biking. You can rent wheels once you arrive, too. If you’re more comfortable on foot, the island has plenty of trails for that, too.
6. Attend a Concert at Sigmund Stern Recreational Grove
Not every outdoor activity has to revolve around sport. Relax after a long day of hiking, biking or surfing with a show at Sigmund Stern Recreational Grove. Every Sunday in summer, you can listen to live music for free. The venue is known for its high-quality performers, including the city’s symphony, so you won’t be disappointed by the tunes you hear.
You won’t be disappointed by the scenery, either. The recreational grove considers its summer performances to be “in concert with nature.” Once you see the pine trees, duck pond, and pathways leading to secret meadows, you’ll agree.
7. Hang Glide at Fort Funston
Now, here’s an out-of-the-box activity you won’t be soon to forget: hang-gliding. Unless you’ve tried it before, you’ll have to start your foray into the sport with a lesson before you’re let loose. You’ll be glad you did it once you’re flying over one of the world’s best destinations for hang-gliding, taking in the breathtaking views for which the city is so well known.
8. Sea Kayak from Pier 40
We’ve already mentioned boating around the bay, but you can make that experience a bit more active by renting a kayak and hitting the water yourself. Rent your vessel at Pier 40 before heading out into the bay. Most paddlers visit McCovey Cove, the nickname for the spot outside AT&T Park, where the Giants play. You might just catch a home run that flies from the field.
For those who love the outdoors, San Francisco is the perfect place to live or to vacation. The landscape presents countless opportunities to be outside, take a walk, ride a bike, surf, swim… And, no matter what you decide to do or how long you call San Francisco home, you’ll constantly be taken aback by just how beautiful the city is.
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