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Outdoor Activities in San Francisco: Adventure City Guide

Find out the best Outdoor Activities in San Francisco with our latest comprehensive Adventure City Guide to San Francisco in USA.

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San Francisco Adventure City Guide - Golden Gate Bridge

Are you looking for an insider’s adventure travel guide for the best outdoor activities in San Francisco?

As part of our Adventure City Guide series, Bobbi from Heels and Wheels, shares with you her expert insider tips on the top adventure and outdoor activities to do in San Francisco.

San Francisco Adventure City Guide - Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco Adventure City Guide – Golden Gate Bridge

Why visit San Francisco for adventure?

The Bay area offers an endless supply of thrills, from riding waves on the same beaches as Kelly Slater to sailing on an America’s Cup racing yacht. Out of the water the explorations just get better. Golden Gate National Recreation Area covers a large portion the the Bay Area, providing visitors with untouched forests, exciting walking trails and peaceful lookout points.

Whether by land or sea, San Francisco has something for all types of adventurers.

Outdoor Activities in San Francisco

Sailing the San Francisco Bay

San Francisco’s pride and joy is its stunning bay. From these waters, people can go under the Golden Gate Bridge, visit America’s most famous prison, Alcatraz, and even escape the city with a few hours on a secluded beach. On a sunny day visitors will see these waters decorated with sailboats and sea lions.

Several sailboats operate out of San Francisco offering a variety of trips, from private charters to public tours and more. Whether it’s a quiet or sporty day on the water you seek, the city can accommodate.

Getting to sailboat operators on the Bay

Boats depart from a few spots around the city and across the bay. You’ll find most board from around Fisherman’s Wharf. The Powell Mason and Powell Hyde cable cars, F streetcar line, 30 Stockton trolley bus, 47 Van Ness bus and more run to this area regularly.

Cost of sailing in San Francisco

Free to $140 per person and more.

Additional information

Find a listing of sailboats operating in the city on the San Francisco Travel website. Cal Sailing Club located at the Berkley Marina offers holds one Free Sailboat Day per month. Thrill-seekers with a bigger budget can hop on America’s Cup racing yacht USA76 at Pier 39 starting at $140 per adult.

Outdoor Activities in San Francisco

Outdoor Activities in San Francisco – Sailing the Bay

Surf Ocean Beach

California is known for its surfing and Ocean Beach is where the pros go to catch some of the state’s best waves. A historical spot in the surfing world, Kelly Slater won his record 11th ASP world championship here.

A few surf shops operate along the beach here allowing visitors to hire equipment, but this day at the beach is not for the faint of heart. The ferocious rips and icy waters make this a dangerous spot for swimmers and surfers alike. Talk to locals to learn about the dangers before paddling out.

Getting to Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach is located on the city’s western coast in the Richmond District near Golden Gate Park. Several parking lots are located here for those arriving by car. Take Muni Bus 23 to reach the beach destination by public transit.

Cost of surfing at Ocean Beach

Free if you have your own equipment. Surfboard and wetsuit rentals cost a total of about $40 per day.

Additional information

Surf shops in this area include Mollusk and Aqua. Visit these shops as well as Surfline to learn more. Those who want to try surfing for the first time or take more lessons while in the city should check out WB Surf Lessons.

Outdoor Activities in San Francisco - Surfing at Ocean Beach

Outdoor Activities in San Francisco – Surfing at Ocean Beach – Photo by Max Goldstein

Hike the Lands End Trail

One of many great walks available in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Lands End Trail is a moderate, three-mile round trip route that runs from Point Lobos to Eagles Point. On top of breathtaking views of San Francisco’s rocky coast, people will see Sutro Baths, Legion of Honor, a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Eagles Point and more.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area covers about 75,000 acres, including land on both sides of the famous bridge. Whether you want to explore urban parks in the city or rural lands across the bay, this state park has something for everyone. Highlights include Alcatraz Island, Muir Forest and the Lands End Trail.

Getting to Point Lobos

Parking is available at Point Lobos, the start of the trail. Alternatively, people can take bus #18 and #38 to Geary and 48th then walk to the start.

Cost of hiking the Lands End Trail

Free! Look at prices for entrance to other sections of Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Additional information

Learn more about the trail and park at Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

Outdoor Activities in San Francisco - Hiking past Sutro Baths

Outdoor Activities in San Francisco – Hiking past Sutro Baths – Photo by Randy Chiu

Best time of the year to visit San Francisco for adventure?

Locals prefer Autumn in San Francisco, but that could be because the Giants are reigning World Series Champs. There’s really no bad time to visit the city, though the weather can be a bit unpredictable here, the main concern being fog.

Finally, the reason I love San Francisco for adventure is because…

It has a busy city center, but peaceful parks and nature areas. The city is home to loads of festivals, events and activities. Further, the locals are extremely active and friendly.

BIO:

Bobbi Lee Hitchon writes about her travel adventures on Heels and Wheels. She loves road trips, hiking, scuba diving, wine and food markets. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Jeremy Branham

    April 11, 2013 at 11:21 PM

    San Francisco is a great outdoor city. However, there are other hiking trails in the area – one very popular as it is a national park (Muir Woods) and the other very popular with locals (Mt Tamalpais or Mt Tam). They are just across the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Mt Tamalpais – http://www.budgettraveladventures.com/traveldestinations/hikes/hiking-mt-tamalpais-wrong-turns-ewoks/

    Muir Woods – http://www.budgettraveladventures.com/traveldestinations/california/norcal/walking-among-the-giants-muir-woods-national-monument/

    • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

      April 12, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      I kept going back and forth as to whether or not to use Muir Woods or the Lands End Trail. Muir Woods is amazing, so I’m glad you gave a link, but I just thought for this guide, city adventure, I’d mention a trail that would be easiest to reach using public transportation. Thanks for commenting! I’ll have to try Mt. Tamalpais.

  2. Erohisms

    April 12, 2013 at 8:22 AM

    I agree that it’s the city for adventure! We moved to San Francisco almost 4 years ago and can say we adventure more both in and outside of the city than when we lived in New York (where we mainly stayed inside of the city). San Francisco is a great base city for day and weekend trips, whether you want wine, trekking or other adventures.

    With respect to time of year… fall is the warmest, summer the coldest, and winter the rainiest. Fall is harvest time in wine country, which makes a trip there even more beautiful.

    • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

      April 12, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      Great to hear! It is a great city. Yes Fall is the best for many reasons. Thanks for sharing and commenting.

  3. Mindy and Ligeia

    April 12, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    Fantastic post. Very thorough. We love watching the sea lions the best when going to San Fran. Walking the labrynth in front of Grace Cathedral is a must do as well.
    I loved the hiking ideas you mentioned in the post. The next time we’re there, we’ll have to check them out. 🙂

    • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

      April 18, 2013 at 12:39 PM

      Thanks so much! I love the sea lions too! They are so cute. It’s so strange that they just showed up. Labrynth at Grace Cathedral? I must try that next time. Cheers for the tip.

  4. Christina

    April 13, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    That is great info for my upcoming road trip from SEA to SFO! Thanks!

  5. Sand In My Suitcase

    April 14, 2013 at 7:11 AM

    On our recent visit, we loved biking across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito – amazing to bike through the fog then hit gorgeous sunshine in Sausalito.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 14, 2013 at 8:45 AM

      That sounds like an awesome experience!

    • Bobbi Lee Hitchon

      April 18, 2013 at 12:41 PM

      That sounds amazing! So many great biking trails in and just outside the city.

  6. Sara@Travel Escapism

    April 16, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    Thanks for the info. I will put this on my list.

  7. Jeff Stinson

    May 30, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    This is one the best post. I visited SF last year. When the season of love calls, you can’t do much but agree to what your partner say. I and my wife were looking for a vacation spot to celebrate our wedding anniversary. I was really excited when my wife chose SAN FRANCISCO. What is more special than Golden Gate Bridge to a Civil Engineer like me. It was amazing experience visiting golden gate and other places. Also we came across a guy who knew a lot about the history of Golden Gate. It was one knowledgeable and awesome experience. SF made our special day even more special.

  8. Samantha

    June 2, 2013 at 12:53 AM

    Awesome information! I’ve heard so many great things about San Francisco and now that two of my best friends have moved there, I’m definitely in need of a visit, especially for the surfing. Everybody tells me it’s like Seattle but with better weather!

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Adventure Travel

Perfect Your Car for an Offroading Adventure

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There is something awesome about offroading – the ability to just drive is so freeing it can get addictive! But if you don’t want to get stuck or find yourself in a jam, you will need to make sure that your car is properly equipped to handle the terrain in front of you.

Road trips are the best way to discover what the wild has to hold and travel beyond the safety of the city. There is so much land to explore and so many opportunities to get back to nature that you just can’t pass up a road trip when it comes along. Wherever you plan to go, here are the things you should never be without.

Car Snorkel

It sounds weird, but it does work exactly like a regular snorkel and allows you to take your car through deeper ravines without messing up the engine or exhaust. Airflow 4X4 Snorkels are great models to try and you can use their CAD templates to double check your measurements.

Even if you aren’t planning to cross deeper water, having a car snorkel ready is perfect for a spontaneous change of route or if the weather takes a turn and there is a lot of water to deal with all of a sudden. It’s also good to have when you find that you are going through a lot of mud.

The Right Tires

Depending on the terrain you plan to drive on, you will need to make sure your tires can handle it. Regular tires are just made for fairly smooth tarmac so if you want to go anywhere that doesn’t have a road like that, you will need to step up your game and have a look at an off-road tire guide to see which is best for your trip.

Getting the right tires is important because you need to have enough grip on multiple terrain types to get to your destination. You also need to make sure that the car is stable while you drive so you aren’t going to put your back out going over a bump. The better suited your tires are to different terrains, the more comfortable your trip will be and the safer it will be too.

Storing Extra Fuel

When you are far away from anywhere, fuel stations are, obviously, few and far between. This means that you need to think carefully about how much fuel you will need as running out in this environment is extremely dangerous. You could think about installing a long range fuel tank or bring jerry cans of fuel just in case.

Whichever method you choose, you need to make sure that you have enough plus spare to get to your next fuel stop. However, do remember that your vehicle will be weighted down with all your food and water as well as your clothes and whatever else you want to take. This means that you will go through fuel a bit faster than normal – especially if you are using your car battery to cook.

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Adventure Travel

The Best Destinations For Sun, Splendour, And Sightseeing

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Whilst an explorer should be seeking eye-opening experiences on his or her travels, there’s no denying that a healthy dose of sun helps to make the adventure a little more enjoyable. There are heaps of cold destinations (Greenland, Russia, and even England) that are visually stunning and a lot of fun to explore, but we’re going to talk about some of the hotter places on the planet that have a lot to offer in terms of sightseeing. You might as well have the perk of sunshine and warm weather whilst you’re exploring the world, right? After all, there’s no reason as to why you can’t relax during a big excursion. That being said, you need to find some destinations that meet all the criteria we’ve mentioned. If you’ve no idea where to go on such a travelling experience then you should check out these top destinations for sun, splendour, and sightseeing.

California, United States.

California fits the bill perfectly when it comes to a place that promises endless sunshine and a lot of things to do. There are many beautiful places to visit in the U.S. that promise sunshine and adventure, but this state is a common favourite for both domestic and international travellers. And there’s good reason for that – we’ll prove it to you. First of all, no tour of this gorgeous state is complete without a visit to Los Angeles. The city of L.A. is unlike anywhere else in the world. You should start by exploring Hollywood, as it’s something that everyone should do once. You’ll get an intriguing look into the world’s most famous films and actors behind the veil – and the Hollywood Hills are worth exploring for a look into the natural beauty surrounding this area. But once you’ve seen the intriguing truth of this surreal place, you should head into the heart of L.A. You’ll feel as if you’ve entered a different world. Whether you head to sunny Venice Beach or the busy downtown area, there’s so much to do. Find the Grand Central Market if you want a quirky L.A. dining experience; there’s often live music to go with the food. And this is only one city of many to explore in the sunny state of California. Make sure you had to San Francisco too.

Victoria, Australia.

If you want a real adventure in one of the sunniest places on earth then you need to visit Australia. It’s a huge and incredibly intriguing country with desolate uninhabited areas and dense cities that are heaving with people and things to do. The land down under finds the perfect balance when it comes to a destination that promises both natural beauty and lively culture. Whether you want to explore vast unexplored wilderness or a glitzy modern city, Australia has it all. The state of Victoria in the south-east is definitely the best place to start your journey, though. You should head to the Great Ocean Road for a journey that’s both scenic and historically relevant (the road is the world’s largest war memorial). You’ll get to see the Twelve Apostles along the way (ginormous limestone stacks that have become an iconic landmark in their own right) and the bewilderingly beautiful towns of Port Fairy and Portland. You’ll even have the opportunity to see whales and other fantastic sea life if you pay attention to the ocean at your side.

But the natural side of Victoria is only the very surface of what this state has to offer. You can expect sun and sweltering wherever you go and whatever you do in this massive state, but you probably want a little more than that out of your adventure. After all, you’ve travelled to such an exciting part of the world. This isn’t any ordinary beach holiday. You should head to the city of Melbourne if you want to see the vibrant and lively side of this state. The capital city boasts such a powerful modern-day and historical culture. You should visit The State Library of Victoria and head into the La Trobe Reading Room if you want to see both mesmerising architecture and a fascinating place. The Princess Theatre also boasts sublime architecture and a whole heap of wonderful performances to enjoy once you step inside. Once you’ve had your fill of culture and entertainment in Melbourne, you should definitely try some of the fantastic cuisine that the city has to offer. Check out www.vamos.net.au if you like the idea of eating at a tapas bar in Melbourne’s theatre district. This is just one example of a dining establishment that is influenced by cultures from around the world. The point is that Melbourne is one of the most fascinating places to visit in the state of Victoria. If you want a diverse and extensive experience of Australia with the perk of near-permanent sunshine then this is the place to go.

Barcelona, Spain.

You can’t explore the sunny cities of the world without visiting Barcelona. It’s not only a sunny and vibrant city – it’s a sunny and vibrant Spanish city. The culture that pours out of every building is part of what makes this city such a beautiful place to visit. As explained over at www.traveller.com.au, the work of Gaudi is part of what makes Barcelona so stunning. This famous Spanish architect designed so many of the unique aspects of the city. In fact, La Sagrada Familia is a gargantuan church that he designed and it’s still being built today (nearly a century has passed since his death). As suggested over at www.tripadvisor.com.au, you might want to take a private tour of the city if you want to get a full experience of the place.

The Kruger National Park, South Africa.

Whilst it’s not a continent that tourists explore as extensively as some other regions of the world, Africa boasts a lot of natural beauty along with sweltering heat. And the country of South Africa is definitely a fascinating place to visit if you’re looking for an enriching and educational experience combined with the chance to see some visually awe-inspiring sights. The Kruger National Park, in particular, is one of the most beautiful locations in the country. We’ve discussed it before, but it’s worth discussing again. If you want to see stunning animals in their natural habitat then this is the place to go. There’s something about seeing cheetahs, giraffes, monkeys, elephants, and many other stunning creatures in their natural habitat that fills you with a sense of elation. It’s an incredible experience.

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Tips That Will Help You Make More of Your Trip To Thailand

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Are you thinking of taking a big trip to Thailand this year? If so, you need to learn a bit more about what you should do and what you should expect when you eventually get there. There’s something for everyone in Thailand; it’s that kind of country. But making the most of it and knowing the key attractions and ways to spend your time is important, so read on to learn about this and more.

 

Remember, You’ll Get Further When You Smile 

Manners matter a lot in Thailand, and there are certain things you should never do. Pointing at people with your foot is seen as a sign of disrespect, as is touching another person’s head. So make sure you don’t do that. You will probably notice that Thai people smile a lot, so you should do the same. Being positive and smiling when you meet new people will help you go a lot further.

Explore the Markets and Don’t Forget to Haggle

Markets are a big deal in Thailand, and experiencing them for yourself is something you won’t forget. There are the conventional markets that are very loud and busy, and there are also floating markets that are navigated by boat, as you can see below. Whichever type of market you visit, soak in the atmosphere and don’t forget to haggle because it’s expected of you.

Sample the Street Food, But Do So Carefully

Street food is abundant in Thailand, and it can help you to get a taste of the real thailand by eating what the locals eat. As you walk through the streets, the smell of the street food will hit you first, but before you tuck in, make sure you take care and eat safely. Seek out food that has been cooked freshly in front of you and not the food that’s been left sitting around.

Find Time to Relax and Slow Down

Thailand can be a fast-paced and overwhelming place to visit, but you can’t let it get the best of you. If you want to experience the country to the max, you need to find time to relax and slow things down a little. The Shiva Samhita is a classic Thai text on yoga, so maybe you should take some inspiration from it and find time to do some yoga. You’ll find plenty of courses there to help you.

Don’t Miss the Nation’s Many Beautiful Temples

Thailand’s temples are not to be missed. Anyone who’s interested in religion, spiritualism or beautiful architecture can’t help but be astounded by the temples that are found throughout Thailand. No matter what point of the country you find yourself in, you’re sure to find incredibly buildings like the one you can see below. So make time to see as many of them as you can.

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Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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