Forget Boulder; San Francisco is the ideal city for outdoor enthusiasts. Runners and bikers navigate its tree-lined streets on a daily basis. And given the (mostly) warm and sunny weather, we need and love our outdoor time.
So to get your fix without battling bridge traffic (no joke), head to one of these parks and enjoy the great outdoors right in the heart of the city.
1. FORT MASON
Photo Credit: Patrick Nouhailler | Flickr
The go-to Fleet Week spot, Fort Mason has about as much wide-open sky as any city-goer can ask for. Head there to watch airshows, or host your next Saturday barbecue. Really any time of any day is good — this park always has something going on.
2. GOLDEN GATE PARK
Photo Credit: James | Flickr
The city’s largest park is an obvious choice for some outdoor bliss. Home to the Japanese Tea Garden and the San Francisco Botanical Gardens, the park also hosts a portion of the city’s favorite bike trail, the Golden Gate Park Loop. Cut out of work a little early to see top museums or just get lost in the wild of a green space that spans nearly half the length of SF — and covers more than 1,000 acres.
3. GLEN CANYON
Photo Credit: Marcie Palmer | Flickr
A canyon in the middle of the city? You heard right. Isn’t San Francisco awesome? Hike through this hidden wonder or bring along a crash-pad for an epic bouldering session. Can’t find any rocks to get a hold on? Just search for the chalk marks and have at it.
4. LANDS END
Photo Credit: @lawdawg1 | Flickr
Arguably the best hike in the city, follow the trails in Lands End for some seacliff adventure. Wander through ferny-green paths to arrive at Instagram-worthy viewpoints of the Golden Gate Bridge. Then, meander back through some of the nicest (and swankiest) neighborhoods in the city.
5. CRISSY FIELD
Photo Credit: Golden Gate NPS | Flickr
One of the oldest parks in the city, Crissy Field’s open grassy field is the perfect place to relax on a sunny afternoon. Bring your crew and spread out for a game of soccer (or pretty much anything that requires space) or rent bikes and rollerblades to cruise along the edges of this awesome park.
6. CORONA HEIGHTS
Photo Credit: Michael Fraley | Flickr
Climbers of all levels head to Beaver Street Wall in Corona Heights Park to attempt challenging routes on San Francisco’s only crag. This polished slab (like see-your-own-reflection polished) offers four climbs with top-rope anchors, allowing climbing enthusiasts to take their gym skills outdoors. There’s a sign next to the wall that tries to discourage climbers (but it’s been confirmed as complete b.s.). So unless you plan on bolting your own route (which is illegal), climbing here is completely kosher. Above the wall, visitors can find a dog park and rocky paths where urban hikers hang out and admire the views of downtown.
7. ALAMO SQUARE
Photo Credit: Javier Ignacio Acuña Ditzel | Flickr
Also a dog park, this famous square sits in front of the “Full House” houses, or as locals call them, the Painted Ladies. Lush grass, great views and full sun (until the fog, of course) make Alamo Square pretty cool. But even better, this park is just a short stroll from some of the city’s best brunch spots. So if you overdid it on the huevos rancheros, feel free to relax in this grassy paradise while strategically making room for Smitten Ice Cream down the hill.
8. BERNAL HEIGHTS
Photo Credit: Daniel Ramirez | Flickr
Secret swings and sweeping city views? Yes, please. Named after a 17th-century rancher whose property made up roughly 20 percent of modern-day S.F., this hillside became a desirable neighborhood shortly after the 1906 earthquake. Since then, it has steadily grown into a hugely popular residence. Today, the park on top of the hill offers panoramic views of the city and a secret swing that feels every bit as magical as it sounds.
9. BUENA VISTA
Photo Credit: edwardhblake | Flickr
The name of this lesser-known park says it all. Climb a short hill to the top for an amazing view (that’s basically what Buena Vista means) of the fog rolling in and the sweet smell of eucalyptus trees. Grassy green knolls await at the top — perfect for picnics, catching rays or a game of Frisbee.
10. MISSION DOLORES PARK
Photo Credit: Christopher Bowns | Flickr
For a grittier S.F. adventure, check out Mission Dolores Park. The backyard to some of the city’s quirkiest characters, endless onesie parties and people who will make every attempt to sell you — ahem, “brownies” — this park is the outdoor version of live theater (at its finest). Plus, the top of the park offers beautiful views of downtown and some of the happiest dogs in the city.