Travel

San Francisco Activities

Activity neighborhood
Coastal Trail Presidio Park
Baker Beach, Presidio
The California Coastal trail is actually one giant mega-trail connecting Mexico to Oregon. For this segment in the Presidio (the park and former army base that make up a protected area around the Southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge), you'll walk a 2-3 mile stretch from Baker Beach to the Golden Gate Bridge along the rocky coastline. With views of the bay throughout, it's a gorgeous way to approach the bridge; plus, it's much less touristy than the other walking approach, which starts in Fisherman's Wharf. This route is a great little hike for wearing out the kids, and the Presidio offers a lot of other side trails, too, if you're hoping to string together a longer morning run.
Mission Dolores
3321 16th St., Mission
Cultural history of San Francisco often focuses on the '60s, but Mission Dolores, the city's oldest standing building, is a gentle but firm reminder of San Francisco's long and fascinating history. Built in 1776, the mission has a simple exterior but a more opulent space for quiet prayer inside; a visit will feel like stepping into tiny old European churches, but with a distinctly California sensibility. While this is definitely a tourist destination, it's interesting to note that Mission Dolores is still an active parish of the Catholic church, with an elementary school and plenty of opportunities for worship if you're so inclined.
Muir Beach
Highway 1, Marin
Just across Highway 101 and over the Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Beach is an easy (but still totally idyllic) day trip from the city. The beach itself is a classic Northern California cove, with tall rocks and green hills on either side and boulders jutting up from the shallows—the surrounding area is home to plenty of wildlife, too. In the colder months, take the long pedestrian trail from the parking lot to the coastal trail and hike along the cliffs, which offer gorgeous views of the beachfront; be sure to pack layers, as winds can get cold. In the warmer months, it's perfect for sunbathing, and there's even a clothing-optional sunbathing and skinny dipping area past the line of rocks on the northernmost end of the beach. Afterwards, grab lunch at the Pelican Inn, a traditional English-style pub in the tiny nearby town.
Pacifica State Beach
Linda Mar Beach, Pacifica
The great thing about Linda Mar is that it's the kind of place that's good for beginners and advanced surfers alike—the waves on the South end of the beach are mellow and beginner-friendly, and they increase in size as you move north. The town itself is a short drive south of the city (on the way to Silicon Valley), and the beach is famously home to a Taco Bell with a hilariously good location right on the sand. We like Norcal Surf Shop for rentals and lessons, but no judgment if you just want to relax on the beach with a Crunchwrap Supreme.
Point Reyes
Marin
About an hour and a half north of San Francisco proper, Point Reyes is a popular day trip for great hiking and sea kayaking (there's also good camping here, though campsites can only be reached by foot so it's best to steer clear unless you have some backpacking experience). The park is famous for its historic lighthouse, which also happens to be an excellent place to whale watch and see elephant seals in the summer months. Point Reyes is home to some of the area's best hiking—we like to send first-timers to the Bear Valley Visitor Center, where you can find an education center and plenty of rangers to fill you in on interesting facts and help you get your bearings when it comes to the many hiking trails that leave from that point. History geeks might want to take a detour near the town of Inverness on the way up, where you can explore the beached remains of the SS Point Reyes, which shipwrecked in Tamale Bay more than 100 years ago. Remember to bring some cash to cover entrance fees.
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