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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

WHY WE LOVE TRAVELLING IN ANTIPOLO (AND YOU SHOULD, TOO)

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Antipolo is one of the seven most popular cities in Philippines which is located in the province of Rizal. The city of Antipolo is famous for being a pilgrimage site and is popularly known as the “pilgrimage site of Philippines”. Being the heritage city of the country Antipolo holds many beautiful and amazing places where you can explore your travel buds. The main and the enshrined attraction of the place is the marine image of the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage present in the Antipolo museum which was brought from Mexico during the year 1626.

There are many beautiful and extravagant places present in the beautiful city of the Antipolo where one can easily find peace and can explore the beauty of Philippines, the Antipolo style.  The city consists of many historic and natural sites which will blow your mind off and are worth visiting. We have some tourist attractions in Antipolo where you can go exploring with your friends or family or even alone.

Antipolo Cathedral: – Being the most historic and antique church present in the city the Antipolo church is widely famous for its renowned icon, the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. The church is located in the proper town and every year on the month of May Antipolo becomes the centre of attraction for many of the visitors and tourists who travel from faraway lands and locals in order to pay homage to the Our Lady.

Boso Boso church: – This church is mostly a remnant of a centuries old church which was destroyed during the Second World War. This beautiful remnant of the church belongs to the Spanish era that dominated the country of Philippines that for more than 300 years. It was constructed in the year 1700 under the Jesuits. After getting destroyed by earthquake in 1800, the church was abandoned in the 1930 and got into a fire scandal in the year 1945; it got restored back by the government in the year 1995. If you are a great lover of history and past things this place might fascinate you.

Hinulugang Taktak: – The name of the place means “where the bell was dropped”, is a waterfall that was designated by the government of Philippines as a national park. The mesmerizing waterfall got its interesting name due to a turn of event down the history. The priest of the nearby church on the demand of the town people had thrown the church bell into the river as it was causing unwanted sound in the town every time it rang during the Angelus.

Mystical Cave: – The cave is named as mystical because one can see the several religious images that appear inside the cave. Mostly the images are in stalactite and stalagmite formations that mainly resembles religious Gods. The cave consists of two floors but the visitors are allowed to explore the first one without permission.

Pinto Art Museum: – If you adore art and paintings and want to connect with the Antipolo’s culture then this art museum is an amazing chance you to get connected with the locals. The museum mainly displays the art, sculptures and paintings of the local artist bringing out the cultural background of the place.

Not only have these amazing historic places given you a clear image of the Antipolo’s beauty and history but there is a little more than just places that you will find fascinating. As the city of Antipolo is situated in a higher elevation than the Metro Manila, it gives you a breathtaking view of the metropolis at night, which is a sight to behold in the ancient city. In order to stay in the city you can easily find vacation home in Antipolo Philippines where you can stay and enjoy of your own.

Not only just places the city of Antipolo provides you exquisite food choices to make your taste buds go bananas or you can have fresh locally grown mangoes and cashews. The most famous dish in the city is the Suman, which is normally a local delicacy that is made from glutinous rice.

Antipolo is a breathtaking place hidden in the depth of Philippines with a mesmerizing history and culture. It will not only make you fall in love with itself but also will make your eyes reach with beauty.

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Adventure Travel

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

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Top of Cappadocia day trek with Middle Earth Travel

Trekking through the valleys of Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys with Middle Earth Travel feels more like the set of a Star Wars movie than a historical region once carved out and lived in by humans. Churches, homes and pigeon houses are scattered throughout the valleys, all waiting to be explored. The best part is, Middle Earth Travel know all the hidden secrets.

Standing at the top of Cappadocia

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

On the 26th of July (which just so happens to be my birthday!) Middle Earth Travel took us on their private and guided Top of Cappadocia day trek. From Pasabag, along the top of Cappadocia and down through the Gulludere Rose Valley to Goreme, we trekked 15kms in one day! (We recommend getting your bearings with this map)

Upon arrival to the Middle Earth Offices, we were warmly greeted by our new friend Atil whom we had met a few days earlier while mountain biking through the Kizilcukur Red Valley. We were then introduced to our guide and given a briefing regarding the day. Normally, the Top of Cappadocia tour would start from Çavuşin, however, since we had already explored Çavuşin Castle, they adapted our tour to compensate ensuring we would explore new terrain!

With charged cameras, plenty of water and our running shoes on, we were driven to our starting point of Pasabag. We wandered through the fairy chimneys, coming across camels and markets – then the true hike began.

Pasabag in Cappadocia

The police station in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

It was a slow and gentle incline. With no trees to provide shade, I quickly realised why our tour guide had chosen to wear fully covered clothing! As the sweat quickly set in (a waterfall in Moss’s case) we snapped away with our cameras and enjoyed the entertaining shapes of Imagine Valley and the amazing view. We also passed a lot of rock piles, which according to our guide mean ‘father’ and are built to help lead the way.

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Middle Earth Travel, Cappadocia

Making our way to the top of Cappadocia

Father leading the way (rock pile)

Father leading the way (rock pile)

The higher we trekked, the more breath taking the views became! As we walked along the summit of Bozdag mountain (the Top of Cappadocia) we could see EVERTHING – Pasabag, Çavuşin Castle, Kizilcukur Red Valley, Gulludere Rose Valley and Goreme. We were on the Father of Valleys! After a quick nod of agreement to the guide, we pushed ourselves the extra distance and made our way to the flag, as this HAD to be the highest point and was definitely worth a photo and a selfie or two!

View from the top of Cappadocia

View from the top of Cappadocia

Flag at top of Cappadocia

From the flag we looked down upon Aktepe Hill which is known as a popular destination for watching the sun set and could spot Kizilvadi Restaurant, our destination for lunch! Kizilvadi Restaurant is an attraction of its own. With its own historic winery and Grape church, plus some Middle Earth Travel treks even stay there for the night! After having a massive feed of soup, salad and pasta plus a surprise birthday cake, we made our way down into Gulludere Rose Valley.

Kizilvadi Restaurant

Kizilvadi Restaurant

The scenery is amazing, with strong colours visible in perfect layers on the chimneys, you would wonder what an artist was thinking, had it been a painting. Also, hidden to the side of the track we walked across a little bridge and not expecting anything to be there we were wowed by the massive church carved. It was absolutely huge and hard to believe that its most recent use has been as a pigeon house!

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Church in Gulludere Rose Valley

Hard to believe this Church is carved inside a fairy chimney!

Middle Earth Travel Review

  • The team at Middle Earth Travel were extremely knowledgeable and certainly know Cappadocia’s hidden secrets. They have friendships with local tea garden owners which is also of benefit as it gained us entry to locked churches and hidden rooms that we would not have otherwise seen.
  • We covered a lot of ground, however we did not feel rushed. The whole day focused on showing us the region, therefore we had as much time as we needed to explore each church and to take ‘just one more photo’.
  • It wasn’t all about trekking. With a whole day and 15kms to cover, there were a few silly poses (especially in Imagine Valley), and we learnt a lot about the myths, legends and way of life in Cappadocia.
  • In conclusion I highly recommend Middle Earth Travel if you wish to go trekking or mountain biking in Cappadocia.
  • Cost: Day treks with Middle Earth Travel range from 50-90 euro, depending on the number of people taking part. This includes lunch, guide, vehicle transfers and entrance fees to historical sites, but excludes alcoholic and soft drinks.
  • Middle Earth Travel are outdoor enthusiasts and offer multi-day over night treks, mountain biking, abseiling, or custom made itineraries, in multiple regions throughout Turkey.
  • www.middleearthtravel.com

Disclaimer: We were provided with a discount for the trek with Middle Earth Travel, however, as always our thoughts on our adventure travel blog our own.

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Tibet Cycling: The Complete Guide to Lhasa to Ganden Monastery Cycling Tour

Tibet Cycling: The Complete Guide to Lhasa to Ganden Monastery Cycling Tour

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Tibet appeals to travellers in many ways. The first and most important thing is the beautiful natural scenery. However, Tibet is a bit different from the other scenic spots. There is a charm to this place, which is not found anywhere. Travellers have a mind which wanders and loves to explore new things. They can get this experience for their Tibet travel as the various associated activities can completely thrill them. From photography to trekking and cycling, the options never seem to end.

Almost everyone is well acquainted with the various joys of cycling in Tibet, the atmosphere is absolutely perfect. Tourists can pass through several spots and they can enjoy every bit of this beautiful natural land. Cycling happens on various routes and these routes have to be understood thoroughly. In this article, we will discuss about the cycling tour to Ganden Monastery from Lhasa and provide you every detail that you need.

Why travel to Ganden Monastery?

Tibetan Buddhism has a unique appeal which calms the soul of all wanderers. They are struck by wanderlust and the monasteries in Tibet, offer them something to cherish about forever. For those who love religious places, Tibet has plenty of offerings. The monasteries, the temples and the rituals, Tibet’s heritage have always echoed through the ages.  This brings us to Ganden Monastery, which is truly a magical place. It is an absolute wonder in front of the eyes and the viewers are left completely captivated. This was the very first monastery, which laid the foundation of Tibetan Buddhism. The vast expanse of land on Tibet’s western site is absolutely heavenly. Emperor Yongzheng who was from Qing Dynasty gave a very special name to this monastery and called it “Yong Tai”. Situated at a height of 3,800m from the sea’s level, the elevation is majestic. Lagyi Hall, Angyiukang, Yangbagyain Hall are the major construction in this monastery.

Located 47Km away from the capital city of Lhasa, this monastery witnesses a huge influx of people every year. This is an important structure as far as Tibet’s cultural heritage is conserved and it is preserved for this reason. The cultural and artistic significance is terrific and Ganden will always be the centre of Tibet’s attraction. It joins the famous Sera Monastery in a unique list, which also features Drepung Monastery. These three temples are considered “great” and the visitors value them greatly. Tibetan Buddhism features many activities and some of them are grand and marvellous. Once in a year, a giant picture of Buddha is unfolded and it easily attracts disciples from all parts of the country. Cycling to this monastery can provide a great experience, but you must follow the basic guidelines. Once these points are followed, your trip will not only be great, it will be perfect.

Highlights of the amazing cycling tour from Lhasa to Ganden Monastery

Cyclists are of different types and they begin their journey, by having different trips in their minds. We have introduced trips of various lengths and they are tailor-made for each type of traveller. Some people can opt for the short and customized tour, while, others can choose the longer version. The distance from Tibet’s Lhasa to this amazing monastery can vary slightly, depending on the route taken. Cyclists have to travel 60Km to reach their destination and not much difficulty is faced in the process.  Don’t forget to be in a relaxed mood, as you take this trip. Lhasa is a great spot to be in the right frame of mind and two days can be easily spent here.  The famous trip begins from Lhasa River and cyclists go upstream.  Picturesque villages and some amazing farmlands fall between that and they are just perfect. Reaching Ganden is easy and once you reach here, your soul will be touched by a positive vibe. The environment is filled with peacefulness and everything seems perfect here. One night can be spent here to soak in the feeling. The return journey can start next day and Chubuxi village falls in the route. Tibet is all about the unique lifestyle of the locals and this is something you can’t afford to miss.  From Chubuxi, the trekking trip to Samye commences.

The most classic 6 days Lhasa and Ganden Monastery Bike tour, you will enjoy the cycling joy and Tibet wonderful natural landscape and Tibetan monasteries architecture. Most tourists can complete this short ride after relaxing yourself in Lhasa for two days. The ride route begains upstream along the Lhasa River, and you will pass some farmlands and small villages. Then arrive in Gandan monastery, one of six Gelug sect monasteries, and worship this famous monastery. Then you are expected to spend a night at Gandan monastery to experience the peaceful environment. Next day, you will head back to Lhasa, and visit Chubuxi village at the foot of Gandan monastery. On the way you can experience the daily life of local people. Moreover, Chubuxi village is the starting point of Ganden to Samye trek. Finally we move back to Lhasa and the ride ends.

Tackling the changing altitude on the way to Ganden Monastery

The altitude in Lhasa is about 3600m, and that of Ganden Monastery is 3800m. There is no strict change of altitude, so it’s relatively easy for travellers who want to try short cycling in Tibet.  Cycling is a strenuous activity and it can take a toll on your health. That being said, cycling in the rough terrains of Tibet is even more challenging. Ganden is situated high above the normal sea level and this steep rise can often weaken cyclists. The high altitude woes will continue, if proper precaution is not taken. Carrying additional oxygen cylinders is a must and this should be done in advance. The temperature changes greatly and travellers should also be aware of this. However, if you choose us for this trip, everything becomes easier. The freezing months can pose a far bigger threat and that should be avoided at all costs.

The perfect time to take Lhasa – Ganden Monastery cycle tour

Tibet embraces every season fabulously, though the conditions are not favourable every time. Travellers and especially cyclists must understand the timing absolutely well. If the activity is done in a pleasant month instead of the harsh winter, the fun can increase manifold. The best time for cycling is from May to October because good weather and temparature. The other months can be targeted as well, but the safety issues become important in the hilly roads.

Getting the Tibet Travel Permit – How can we help?

Exploring Tibet is a fun activity, but Tibet travel permits matter greatly. Foreign travellers must fulfil the necessary travel guidelines to get in this region and we can help you from all sides. We make the process easier, by getting you the right documents at the right time.

What to pack for this cycle tour? – Bicycle Rent and Other Tips

Taking the most essential things can do the job here. The all-important ID card and travel permit is absolutely essential and it gets the first priority. Take a medium-sized backpack to put in your things and pack it with the right kind of warm clothes. Waist packs also come in handy, as they store many important things. This is a place where you will see high elevation, so oxygen should be there in abundance. Avoid getting sunburn by taking a good sun-screen cream or lotion and lastly don’t miss out on the medicines. Helmets and other cycling wear can be taken, as it is very essential. The bicycle can be rented easily and it is supplied by the tour operator itself. An important trip in this aspect would be to prepare for the changing weather. It can stay sunny or it can rain, so plan accordingly.

The challenges in Tibet are quite tough, but it will gift you an experience, which you will not forget in a long time. Cycling here is precious and it is an important aspect that strengthens Tibet’s tourism.

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Meet Cole and Adela

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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