If you live to be outdoors then you will absolutely love living in San Francisco. There are endless parks here offering opportunities for biking, cycling, camping, wildlife and bird watching, kite flying, picnicking, swimming, fishing, kayaking, or any other activity you enjoy. The entire Bay Area offers diverse terrain and habitat, awarding you with breathtaking views everywhere you look. Most people have no idea how many parks are in the area until they actually live here. In fact, the Natural Park System here is one of the most visited in the United States, welcoming more than 13 million annual visitors. Below are just a few of the many parks waiting to be explored.
This is not your typical park! It is comparable to Central Park in New York City, only 20 percent larger. Although there are walking and biking trails throughout, you will also find museums, a Japanese Tea Garden, the Conservation of Flowers, a botanical garden, lakes, a stadium, windmill, a bison padlock, beach chalet, a carousel, children’s play area, and so much more.
Angel Island State Park
You can only access this island via public ferry or private boat. Bicycles can be brought over on the ferry, but you can also rent them on the island. You can barbecue there, but you must use charcoal. Metal detectors, dogs, rollerblades, roller skates, scooters, and skateboards are not permitted. There are 11 environmental campsites, 9 numbered sites, and a group site that is kayak accessible.
More than 80,000 acres are protected here by the National Recreation Area. It stretches from southern Marin County to San Mateo County and offers incredibly diverse areas. Inside the recreation area is Ocean Beach, Presidio of San Francisco, Alcatraz, Point Bonita Lighthouse, Olema Valley, and the Marin headlands. You can do everything from camp to surf here.
Buena Vista Park
One of the great things about Buena Vista is that it is really close to Corona Heights Park, so you can visit two parks in one day if you chose. There are plenty of dirt trails to explore, and this is the best place to see a nice variety of raptors, including Cooper’s hawks and Red-tailed hawks. There are tennis courts here as well as a children’s playground.
Although this park is just south of the city, it is well worth going to, especially if you have a dog. Not only are there groomed trails, sand dunes and bluffs to explore, there is also a hilltop dog park that offers great views of the Pacific. This is a popular place for hang gliders to lift off, and the area is perfect for flying a kite. When the wildflowers are in bloom, it is breathtaking, and you are almost always guaranteed to see a ton of wildlife.
This urban state park features two fishing piers, hiking trails, and picnic areas. Also, due to the location on the San Francisco Bay, the wind is typically strong here, making the water very popular for windsurfing.
If you love to hike, you will get a lot of use out of this trail. You can jump on the trail at several places, but if you start at Point Lobos just below the Louis Restaurant, you will be sure to pass the Sutra Baths on your journey. If you don’t mind taking a detour, there is a stairway that leads down to Mile Rock Beach. The labyrinth and tumultuous ocean tides are worth the 100 or so steps you need to scale to get back on the trail.