You won’t ever have to worry about “boredom” in the City by the Bay! Despite the fact that San Fran only covers an area of roughly 49 square miles, it could take a person weeks just to get through the overwhelming number of attractions in the city. Almost everyone knows about must-see San Francisco attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square. But with all the touristy outdoor activities in the Bay Area available to visitors within San Fran, the places just outside the city’s limits can be forgotten. Beyond great food, great wine, and great chocolate there are countless things to do in San Francisco!
If you’ve finished your trek to the top of the world’s most crooked street (Lombard St.), have satisfied your inner rule-breaker by hanging off the side of cable cars and suppressed the urge to group hug outside the Full House home, but are looking for something a little different, well, you got it, dude! Keep reading for a list of activities that are off the beaten path in San Francisco and that will allow you the opportunity to take in the natural beauty of the Bay Area.
One of the top must-see locations in all of San Francisco, Twin Peaks offers 180-degree views of the City by the Bay. For a breathtaking photo op, drive or take a bus to the Twin Peaks around two in the afternoon, just in time to see the haze to dissipate from Fog City,. If you get the chance to escape the city and venture to this 64 acre park, you may even catch a glimpse of the endangered Mission Blue Butterfly!
Capturing the beauty of San Francisco by venturing beyond the city limits does not mean you have to immerse yourself in nature. In fact, for these great views (not to mention shopping and restaurants), all it takes is a quick ferry ride across the bay or a bike ride over the Golden Gate bridge. A day trip to Sausalito makes for a great afternoon of shopping, eating, and sightseeing that should not be missed!
Don’t forget your camera when you visit this place unless you want to miss some of the best photo opportunities of your trip! To get to the Point Bonita Lighthouse in the Marin Headlands, you can either venture through a small cave carved into the side of the mountain or cross the suspension bridge. These trails offer unobstructed views of the Golden Gate Bridge, California coast and San Fran.
Take a break from the concrete jungle and enjoy this rocky, romantic coastline. Follow the many steps to the bottom or make things interesting by venturing off-road for your descent to reap the benefit of such a glorious view. Just avoid thinking about how much your ascent will hurt your poor legs until you make it to the bottom — where the land actually ends. Trust me, the landscape proves that the view from the top isn’t the only sight worth capturing!
Just twelve miles north of San Francisco are 240 acres of Redwood forests protected within the 554 acres of the park. Spend the afternoon strolling among the trees or enjoying a picnic among the trees that tower over you at at least 350 feet tall. The immensity of these trees is bound to make you change your perspective.
This trail in Presidio is short, but it packs a punch! The whole path is only a mile long, but it will work you out better than any stairmaster. If the throbbing, aching pain in your legs becomes too much though, pause for a moment and look up at the breathtaking view of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a worthwhile view at the top, but be prepared to work for it!
The parrots of Telegraph Hill can be heard, and often seen, from the top of this 210 foot tower. These birds became wildly popular due to a book and subsequent documentary titled, The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. Be sure you also make your way onto the platform beneath the tower in order to see clear across the bay.
If you’re an experienced surfer, this is the perfect place to hang ten! You won’t have much luck tanning on this beach due to the inordinate amount of fog, but it is a great place to chillax with friends, play some volleyball, or have a bonfire. After proving your mega-ripper status, hang loose or take a walk along the four mile coastline and enjoy the sensational sunset.
Hopefully you will now want to venture beyond the San Fran city limits in order to capture the natural Bay Area beauty that will make your friends jealous when they see the pictures online. Not that you needed any additional reasons to leave your heart in San Francisco!
Dan Patterson works for CityPASS. In addition to the places mentioned in this post, no visit to San Francisco is complete without seeing the attractions in the San Francisco CityPASS. Not only will you see the best the city has to offer, but you’ll get to skip most lines!