We rented bikes in order to cover Golden Gate Park and the coast without having to rent a car. Surprisingly, after 10 years, I still knew how to pedal! We decided NOT to try to bike over the GG Bridge, but instead went to the edge of the Presidio, along the coast, and back through the Park.
San Francisco, at least on its western end, isn't particularly bike-friendly. Many of the paths inside GG Park do not allow bikes. Once leaving the park, there are not separate bike paths that we could find - and the ones alongside the (busy) roads are not well marked. Once you're into residential areas, however, you can breathe a little easier.
Equipment: We rented bikes at Golden Gate Cyclery, 672 Stanyan Street, at the Haight Street entrance to Golden Gate Park. Rates were $25 each (including helmet) for 4 hours - which was about all we could do.
Other rates: $10.00 per/hour (up to 2½ hours)
or $30.00 for the whole day.
The San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club was founded in 1901 and claims to be the oldest municipal lawn bowling club in the USA. Bowlers must wear all white while on the green. The lawns are located the eastern corner Golden Gate Park, near Sharon Meadow and the Children's Carousel.
Walking the dog is very popular in San Francisco, but laws are very strict about picking up after one's pooch. Bring plastic bags to pick up dog litter, and drop off in any available garbage can. Also, while there are a few special dog parks where roaming off-leash is allowed, the general law in the city is that all pets must be leashed.
Sponsor by Safeway, a local grocery store chain, the Union Square ice rink is a popular tourist opportunity to have some exercise and fun skating right in the center of downtown! See the link for more details, as the use of the rink is divided into "sessions". The link offers the possibility of purchasing tickets on-line. What a great way to enjoy the lights of the Christmas tree and other decorations around Union Square during the holidays.
Equipment: Equipment rental is the norm here, but I assume use of your own skates is OK too.
(Repeating from my Things to Do pages)
This was the highlight of our week. It's also somewhere around 16 miles on foot so not for coach potatoes. The hike takes you from hotels near downtown to the Haight, through Golden Gate Park to Ocean Beach, and along the coastline to Fisherman's Wharf - where you will be good and ready to catch the F-line up the hill.
What's great about this one is that the scenery evolves from downtown skyscrapers to quiet, Victorian neighborhoods, and from green expanses of parkland to lofty oceans perches. The route isn't exact - we sort of figured it out as we went - but that's half the fun. I have too many pictures of the GG Bridge here but you can see the silly thing for miles along the coast so it just sort of ends up in most of the shots.
So here's what you do:
• Start early and head west towards the Haight. How you do that is up to you but I'd suggest a route north of Market, weaving through residential neighborhoods that look interesting.
• Have a gut-buster of a breakfast at the Pork Store in the Haight (see tip); you'll need it.
• After completely stuffed, walk north and into the panhandle of Golden Gate Park; head west through the park. Download a map before you go (http://www.sfgov.org/site/recpark_page.asp?id=17796) and pick a route that includes anything you'd like to see along the way (see previous tips).
• Eventually arrive at Ocean Beach; rehydrate at the Beach Chalet (see tip) and then head north up the hill along Great Highway, passing Cliff House and taking in killer oceanfront panoramas.
• Just past Cliff House, catch a trail down into the Sutro Bath ruins (see tip): wander about. Then head uphill to Lands End Trail on the north side of the parking lot.
• Follow the long, winding trail along the coast; stop at overlooks, admire the wildflowers
• Eventually you'll come out onto El Camino del Mar and a nice residential area called Sea Cliff; follow the road. Here's where the path became less defined - we had to detour south at one point and then drop back down closer to the ocean. You'll figure it out; just head back towards the water at the first opportunity.
• Keep heading north and into Golden Gate National Recreation area, following the path all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge, passing Baker Beach and WWII bunkers. Stop at Fort Point National Historic Site, if you have time, and take pictures of the bridge.
• Here's where you pick up the Golden Gate Promenade that runs 4 miles east to the wharf. Follow the path along the water, passing Crissy Field in the Presidio, the marinas, and Fort Mason. If you have the energy, walk out Yacht Road (just past Crissy Field) to the Wave Organ. Otherwise, just keep heading east.
• Pass the old ships of San Francisco Maritime National Park at Hyde Street and continue into the wharf area
• Find a pub. Collapse.
This downloadable brochure from the National Park Service should be helpful, and reference the Golden Gate NPS website (below).
Equipment: Weather being impossible to predict:
Hot: sunscreen; hat; sunglasses
Wet/chilly: waterproof, windproof jacket; fleece; gloves; warm hat
For all weather: sturdy shoes with a good tread; daypack; water; wet wipes; moleskin/bandaids; camera; snacks; SF city map with bus lines marked (in case you poop out)
While there is no doubt that watching a baseball game where the Giants play in SBC/Yahoo/PacBell Park is truly a San Francisco treat, its also extremely expensive and the tickets hard to get. So if you have already seen a Giants game or can't get a ticket but want to experience a Major League Baseball game consider going across the bay to catch the Oakland Athletics. To get there take the BART from downtown S.F. to the Oakland Coliseum, it costs about $3.55, takes twenty minutes, and drops you off right in front of the stadium. The A's always field a competitive team and there are almost always tickets available for day of game purchase. You can get a bleacher seat for $13 and row one seat by the dugouts along the baseline for anywhere from $35 to $50 and your so close you feel like your part of the game. So if your a baseball fan or just curious about the sport in general taking in a Oakland A's game is a perfect way to enjoy a afternoon or evening!
If you are into Tai-Chi exercising, than there are a few spots in town that offer just that for free. On Saturdays and Fridays.
Free Tai Chi Classes are for all, just show up and wear comfortable shoes and loose fitting clothes. Brooks Park is a beautiful hilltop park close to SF State University. From SFSU, take Holloway Ave eastward to Ramsell St, go up to the top of the hill.
LOCATION: Brooks Park.
TIME: Every Saturday from 9.30am to 10.30am
There is another spot in town offering free Tai-Chi lessons on Saturdays - West Portal Playground, Taraval & Lenox Way from 11am to 12pm.
Friday classes are offered at Pilgrim Senior Community Center from 9.30am to 10.30am.
LOCATION: 446 Randolph Street at Arch Street.
Equipment: Just wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
Free adult tennis program is offered every Saturday from 3pm to 4.30pm at Golden Gate Park Tennis Complex.
The program takes place on courts #1-4. Participants will be matched up with players of similar ability. Must bring
own tennis balls.
Equipment: Tennis ball.
Mmm hmmmm. As of 2006, San Francisco has a professional lacrosse team, the Dragons. Home games are played at Kezar Stadium (the former home of the 49ers), which is basically at the end of Haight Street. The season is not a particularly full one as there are only 6 home games and 6 away games per season and the season runs from the end of May through August.
Partly a serious race, but mostly a lot of fun. Register and come in costume to join in the world's longest block party.
From their web site: "Bay to Breakers is a world-renowned footrace and one of the oldest consecutively run races in the world. Established in 1912 as a sporting event to unite San Franciscans and boost spirits as the City re-built following the infamous earthquake of 1906, Bay to Breakers continues to embody a true sense of the City’s pride, uniqueness and audacity. Today it is one of the largest footraces in the world with 75,000 + participants and 100,000 + spectators annually."
It can be rather chilly....especially in July. Pack your jackets when you play here. It used to be the exclusive golf course of the military brass that resided on the base. Now its open to the public.
2005 will witness the 5th Annual SF Grand Prix Bike race, on September 4th. This race brings tens of thousands of spectators. The 108 mile course is comprised of 9 eight mile laps and 5 five mile laps. Each includes the brutal Taylor Street climb. Although less than a mile in length, the climb is a series of very steep blocks, punctuated by flat cross streets. The gearing required to navigate this section can take the legs from any pro cyclists. (Lance Armstrong himself pulled out of the race!)
This year's race will include world class riders, George Hincapie (Discovery), Ivan Basso (CME) and Dave Zabriskie, SF resident and wearer of the yellow jersey in the first 3 stages of this year's Tour de France. A short race, held right before the race, usually includes local celebrities. Don't be surprised to see Robin Williams on his bike!
Equipment: Unless you're a pro cyclist, forget about participating in this race! Locals can join in the prerace fun. And find a good cafe along the route to sit and watch the race.
Many San Franciscans (at least those of us who exercise) will often skip the day at the gym and head to the nearest set of stairs.
The most popular stairs where you will see people running, hiking, walking, huffing and puffing are the Lyon Street Steps, and the steps up to Coit Tower that are reached from Sansome Street near Levi Plaza.
My favorite steps are on Lyon Street. I like to walk to the Golden Gate Bridge and then return up to the Marina Green, walk through the Palace of Fine Arts and up Baker Street, turning right on Chestnut (cross at the light) and turn left on Lyon Street. The street starts with a gradual hill, which eventually becomes steeper until Vallejo where the stairs begin. The stairs rise rather steeply for 2 blocks. Hike these stairs 2 or more times, and your body should "thank" you the next day.
Equipment: Tennis shoes, exercise clothing, sunglasses and a bottle of water.
The Bay Area has two famous horse racing tracks - Golden Gate Fields in the East Bay, and Bay Meadows in the South Bay.
They run complementary schedules; GGF runs in the late spring and fall, while Bay Meadows runs in the summer during fair season. They are also open on off days for simulcast wagering. Of the two, Bay Meadows is much nicer; the weather is always better, and it attracts a less seedy clientele.
GGF is in the city of Albany; if you're driving on Hwy 80 you can't miss it. BM is in San Mateo, and is accessible from San Francisco via Caltrain.
Greyhound tracks are illegal in California.
Ok although I will tell you that Lake Merced is my favorite place to run, I know that most of you will probably prefer this run better.
In the summer at around 8pm in late May, such as yesterday, if you Jog the Marina Green, this is what you'll see, the lovely sun disappearing behind the Marin Headlands by the Golden Gate Bridge.
It's quite calming.
Equipment: Running shoes and a stopwatch.
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