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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

Is It Time to Find a New You at a Thailand Retreat?

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If you feel like you a lacking a little direction, or that you have become lost in the hustle and bustle of your faced paced life, do not despair. There is hope. Spend too much time buried by work and inevitably the world will grind you down, but it needn’t. You can do something about it. The answer is a lot simpler than you may think (and more affordable, too).

You have to act though. Indifference or accepting that nothing will change will result in exactly that, nothing changing. What you need to do is interrupt your life and take a step back. Now this doesn’t mean falling off the radar, or a sudden change in your career. You just need to invest a little of your own time in yourself and book yourself into a personal development course at a Thailand retreat.

 

Isn’t That Strange?

No, it isn’t. Again, you are not changing the world in which you live, rather you are looking to change how you live in the world. A getaway at a retreat can help you do this. So, lose the negativity and cynicism and think about the possibilities for a moment. If you feel strange about going alone, why not round up your best buddies and go together? (Click here for more guy adventure tips)

 

A Little Self-Therapy

 

If you work hard, and feel constantly exhausted, at some point things are going to get even worse – be that your physical or mental health. By looking after both your body and mind and learning healthy practices at a retreat, you’ll fortify both your mind and body ready for the rigours of daily life once you return to it. The techniques, practices and understandings that you will gain by attending a Thailand retreat will help you to not only cope, but to thrive. It is like learning a shortcut to happiness that many simply do not know about. Brilliant right?!

Burnout is a real problem in society, and prevention is a much better solution than trying to find a cure. It is likely that you will have to keep working in your employment and that life will throw all manner of things at you as you battle onward, but learning to cope whilst smiling, with a stronger fortitude and greater will to succeed is a more certain way of becoming a success before you become a casualty.

Through mindfulness practice, physical activity such as yoga and stretching, and incorporating meditation, you are adapting a holistic approach to your own health, happiness and self-development. This can help you become mentally stronger, physical fitter, more at ease with yourself and life, and aware of the world in which you live. You can actually learn to live rather than exist. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Life begins at the very edge of your comfort zone, on the outskirts of familiarity and away from your normal habits and routine. Rather than shun it, or even fear it, you can learn to embrace, experience and even enjoy it too. This isn’t changing what you do, but how you do it. It isn’t changing who you are, it is letting you become the true you, unleashing your full potential.

A Thailand retreat based around health and self-development puts your wellbeing at the very heart of the programme. This isn’t self-indulgent but rather self-fulfilment; letting your life exist beyond the limits of your expectations. It is time for you to look after yourself that little bit better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Adventure Travel

Preparing A Holiday With An Anxious Relative

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As much as you love going on holiday and planning a trip to a region of the world that you don’t know, it can be a little frustrating to travel with relatives or friends who are naturally nervous about discovering new things. You know the kind: They won’t try exotic food in a restaurant, in case it wouldn’t agree with their stomach. They look at your travel pictures with envy but always find an excuse not to join you on your next adventure. And more importantly, they try to avoid travelling abroad if they can at all help it. Be kind before you launch into criticism. They can’t help feeling anxious about everything. And maybe, if you want to help them relax a little, it’s your responsibility to make travelling as easy and enjoyable as possible. However, you’re in luck, because we can help you with that. All it takes is a little bit of planning and thinking ahead to get them sorted.

Get informed at first

If your friend or relative doesn’t travel often, the best thing you want to do is to convince them to come on a trip with you that is poorly planned. First things first: It’s about defining when it the best time to visit your destination of choice. You wouldn’t want to accidentally pick the monsoon season when going to a tropical country, for instance. That’s exactly what this handy website is about : It helps you to find out when is the best time to visit where with monthly weather overview based on observations from the previous years. In short, if you’re travelling with someone who hates being cold, you can direct them towards countries that are warm in winter, for example. As silly as it might sound, knowing what kind of weather to expect can be a great help for a nervous adventurer: Knowing what to pack is already a step out of the unknown zone.

Get the health check

You can’t easily decide to travel to any country without planning. For health reasons, there is a number of regions in the world that require vaccinations to keep you safe. You’d better keep yourself informed of the health requirements in advance, as some vaccinations need to be started up to 2 months before your departure. The typical countries where you’d be expecting additional health vaccines tend to be around the south and south-east Asia. Hepatitis A and B is a common risk in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, and even the Fiji. In India, you need to be aware of risks of rabies and Japanese encephalitis in addition to more common vaccinations. You also need to ensure that you and your relative are up to date with routine immunisations such as tetanus and diphtheria. The bottom line is that even though there are little risks for cautious travellers, you don’t want to take any chance.

Do you need authorisation?

If your friend or relative has only travelled to safe and known areas, such as Europe for instance, they may not be aware that certain countries require visitors from abroad to apply for a visa, aka an official authorization to entry the country. If you intend to visit Belarus, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine, you will need to apply for a visa, which can take several weeks and require an official letter of recommendation from your destination hotel. Visiting South Africa, North America also require a visa, as well as some areas of Asia. Additionally, you need to ensure that you have free pages for control stamps in your passport. It might sound stressful at first, but it’s something that you can easily clarify in advance so that you don’t need to worry about it during your trip.

Protect your holiday

The main reason a lot of people feel anxious about travelling abroad is that they worry that anything might happen to them while they’re outside of the country. The fear of not knowing how to sort out common health and finances issues forces a lot of people to stay at home while they should be thinking about travel insurance instead. If your friend or relative is worried about falling ill on holiday or about losing valuable items abroad, you should take a look at standard travel policies to ensure that you can find an appropriate answer to their worries. From overseas travel insurance to snow sports insurance, you can find a lot of options to cover for most accidental situations smoothly and easily. More often than not, you can get an expert insurer to define the best-suited policy for your holiday. This will save you a lot of time searching as an insurer will be able to rely on the data of previous travellers to advise you.

Know how to spend the time

But I can’t travel to India: It’s a long flight, and I’ll get bored!

If that’s the kind of comments you get, you can reassure your friend or relative immediately: There are plenty of solutions that stop you from getting bored during your long journeys. Reading always is a good idea, especially if you’ve got a Kindle so that you can fill it with several books to keep yourself occupied while travelling. Some people might prefer audiobooks, however, if you’ve got a long flight, you’re likely to want to use earplugs and rest your senses. There are also plenty of online games that you can play with a smartphone, so it’s impossible to get bored!

Not one for tech gadgets? A simple crossword or sudoku book can do the trick and keep you busy until you’ve reached your destination. If you’re sitting aside, nothing is stopping you from playing a card game or a small board game. In short, getting bored is not a fatality!

Get a guidebook

How do you know about the best places and monuments to see when you’re visiting a new place? It’s obvious: You get a guidebook like every other traveller. Guidebooks might sound old-fashioned, but they are filled with useful information about an area, from where to stay to what to see. More importantly, you get a detailed breakdown of prices, which makes it a lot easier to plan your trip. As a traveller puts it, in a guidebook you find information that you didn’t know you needed, which helps you to prepare the best you can for your holiday. Besides, you can be sure that gathering knowledge about your destination will be handy to reassure your nervous co-traveller. Knowledge remains, after all, the best weapon against the unknown.

Pick your book

Do you need to know the language?

Most travellers would tell you that speaking English is enough to get by in any destination of the world. However; you need to be aware of one important fact: Just because English is the proxy language by definition, it doesn’t mean that everyone will understand you. A lot of people don’t speak English at all, and therefore you’ll need to be able to ask for directions or a cup of coffee in the local lingo. Why does it matter? You don’t need to be fluent to ask for things you need abroad, but you can be sure that locals are more likely to help and understand if you say it in their language. More often than not, you can get by with a simple phrasebook, from ordering food in a restaurant to finding the way to the art museum.

Prepare a visit plan

What if your friend would agree to go on a holiday but doesn’t know where to? You could inspire them with a list of the most wonderful sites to visit in the world. Stonehenge in England is a great destination for history lovers to enjoy the mysteries of the past. You can even organise walking among the famous stones on specific days! If you want to take their breath away with a fascinating historical site, try to Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. If you want to seduce a nature-lover, take them to the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, which is the world’s largest mirror. Or you could visit the Great Blue Hole in Belize, which is 407 feet deep and can be easily seen from above – no need to dive, thankfully!

Decide on a budget in advance

Let’s be honest: Most people avoid travelling because they’re afraid of spending too much on the go. In reality, it all comes down to clever planning: If you know in advance where you’re going to stay and what’s around to see and visit, you can plan your budget accordingly. Of course, there will always be the unexpected expenses in the form of a cocktail night at the local bar, or a really cute jumper that you simply couldn’t live further without. But for all these, you can rely on a budget app such as Trail Wallet to keep track of your expenses throughout the day. In a few clicks, you can get an overview of how much you can afford and how much you’ve already paid.

In conclusion, the secret to turning a travel-anxious friend into a travel-happy holidaymaker is to share your planning secrets with them. Yes, travelling takes a lot of preps. But it means they can enjoy their trip with their mind at peace!

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Adventure Travel

Top 5 Things to See in Dubai on Your Next Holiday

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Dubai has quickly become a top destination for travelers from around the world.  It offers an impressive mixture of the best of modern architecture, stunning scenery and is a shopper’s paradise.  So, what are the top things to see during your holiday to Dubai?

Burj Khalifa

You can’t miss the Burj Khalifa when you visit Dubai – at 828 meters high, it is the world’s tallest tower and dominates the city’s skyline.  But the building is far more than admiring.  There is an observation deck on level 124 that is a must-see part of visiting the city while At The Top Sky Lounge is on level 148.  If you want a meal amid the clouds, At.mosphere on level 122 offers quality meals.

Palm Jumeirah

Another impressive man-made wonder of Dubai, Palm Jumeirah is a palm shaped man-made island and one of the largest artificial islands in the world.  It is home to a host of high quality hotels including the Waldorf Astoria and the Atlantis, The Palm.  It also has its own monorail that runs along the ‘trunk’ of the tree to connect it with the mainland.

The Dubai Mall

As well as enjoying the glamour of Dubai on your next holiday, you can also enjoy some of the highest quality shopping.  The Dubai Mall is more than just a shopping mall – there are 1200 shops, 150 restaurants, an indoor theme park, a waterfall, ice rink and even an aquarium and underwater zoo.  It takes shopping to a whole new level!

The Dubai Fountain

Standing outside the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Fountain is equally impressive and stands at the entrance to the Dubai Mall.  It is the world’s largest choregraphed fountain system reached 150 meters high with colorful, illuminated jet sprays that are timed to various musical pieces.  There are two shows a day on afternoons and evenings so plenty of chances to watch it in action.

Dubai Creek

Dubai is the epitome of a modern city but that’s not to say there isn’t history amid the stunning skyscrapers.  Dubai Creek is the heart of the old city, where the original Bani Yas tribe settled.  Here they started the pearl diving and fishing trades and the area slowly built into a trade center.  Now you can visit the gold, textile and spice souks as well as take a ride in a traditional abra boat.  It is also great value at just AED1 for a ticket.

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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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