San Francisco has been a city I've referred to as 'home' for 26 years aka my entire life. Here are some of my favorite outdoor locations.
1) Fort Funston
Whenever anyone asks me about my favorite spot in the city, my response is always Fort Funston! Fort Funston is a gorgeous beach on the south/west side of San Francisco. Granted, I may be slightly biased as I have an unhealthy obsession with beaches. I swear nothing can compared to that feeling of sand curled up in your toes, waves crashing in the background.
Normally people don't usually associate San Francisco with beaches. It's understandable - SF is almost always windy and the waters get far too cold to dip your feet in. But, this beach has amazing sand dunes that don't compare to anywhere else. Trust me, I've been to Dubai and would say these sand dunes are comparable.. okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but you get the point. There have multiple trails - ranging from quick hikes to longer ones. The best part? It's dog friendly! So you can find yourself getting lost in the sand while making a new friend or too.
I personally recommend coming during the day on a weekday. The beach is relatively empty and it feels so unbelievably peaceful. Again, maybe it's my bias to beaches. I swear it's in those moments, empty beach, just me staring at the vastness, that I realize how small I am in the grand scheme of things.
In full disclosure, I'm a total introvert and love my alone time. The introvert in me loves to curl up with a good book while refueling my Vitamin D. Some of my favorite parks in SF are
- Alamo Square
- Yerba Buena Gardens
First we'll start with Dolores. If you're a local, I'm sure you're laughing at the cliche of this one. But, it's hard not to love Dolo. I think it does such a great job of representing SF and the melting pot that we are. It's a park filled with culture - from hippies to hipsters to winos to druggies. More days than not, I head their with friends for Sunday Funday - bringing a bottle of wine, some cheese, and a blanket. For my friends that do smoke, they'll bring some weed, or hunt down the truffle man. Yup, Dolo does indeed have a truffle man. But, on weekends when my friends aren't down for Sunday Funday - I still love navigating there. It's an amazing place to people watch - whether it be the girl hulu hooping, the guy in a dinosaur costume, or the lady selling me flower headbands. I personally love bringing a blanket, my headphones, and a good book. It's always packed and definitely not quiet - so if you are someone that is looking for more a peaceful and mellow park, I wouldn't recommend this one.
My second favorite park is Alamo Square. Again, it's a bit of a cliche. Ever watch Full House? You know that opening scene where they're picnic-ing and pan to the victorian houses in the background? Those houses are known as the 'painted Ladies' and are located right across from Alamo Square. I love this park for a couple of reasons. For one, it's the tourist aspect. I love coming there and people watching as tourists stop by to take pictures with the houses. Okay, let's be real - before I officially moved to the city, I've definitely been one of those tourists cheesing for a picture with the houses. For two, there's two sides to the park. On days where I don't want to get swarmed by the tourists, I just head to the other side - with my blanket and book - and stare out to a different set of victorian houses. Best part? This park is also a dog park - so you are constantly surrounded with potential new best friends.
My third favorite park would definitely have to be Yerba Buena Gardens. This park is usually relatively empty and I think that's what I love most about it. You get gorgeous views of waterfalls and if you head to the backside of the waterfalls - you can read amazing stories. Personally, I love this park for just how peaceful it is.
3) Lands End
Another potential cliche, but again one of my favorites is Lands End. Lands End is approximately a 4 mile hike that takes you to a Nude Beach. Get your mind out of the gutter! I don't love it for the nude beach. This hike gives you amazing views of Golden Gate Bridge and gives you a great way to hike and see a beach. Again, I may be slightly biased as I have an unhealthy obsession with beaches.
My last favorite outdoorsy spot would definitely have to be walking by Embarcadero. After beaches, I have another unhealthy obsession with lakes and bodies of water. Again, it's this concept of realizing how small I am in the grand scheme of things. One of my favorite things to do is to put my headphones in and take a stroll by the Ferry Building. You get amazing views of both the tall skyscraper buildings, as well the bay bridge, all surrounded by water.