The Great Outdoors

For hiking and beaches outside of SF, See Day Adventures & Weekend Adventures Outside of SF.

San Francisco’s Park Culture  

Park culture is huge in SF. When the weather’s good, parks are transformed into the living rooms of San Franciscans—dinner parties, birthday parties, and any-excuse-to-parties are taken to the grass outside.

The Big Greens

  • Alamo Square: Provides snapshot-worthy views of San Francisco’s iconic Victorian architecture, including the “Painted Ladies.”
  • Crissy Field: BBQs, kites, joggers, and Marina families. 
    Crissy Field San Francisco Mark di Suvero

    Mark di Suvero’s public art work at Crissy Field

  • Duboce Park: Dogs, dogs, and dogs. This sweet park is right in the middle of the city, close to the Castro, the Lower Haight, and NoPa. Duboce Park Café is a nice place to enjoy a cappuccino or sandwich.
  • Dolores Park: ACG likes to refer to this as the wild living room of San Francisco. You can witness anything and everything at this oftentimes-wild party. Best enjoyed on a sunny weekend afternoon with picnic supplies. One of ACG’s favorite SF experiences.
  • Fort Mason: Picnic, play drinking games, and sun bathe. A slightly more yuppie crowd than that of Dolores Park.
  • Golden Gate ParkMassive expanse filled with lush vegetation, museums, gardens, lakes, rollerbladers, and bison. Starting in the 1960s when SF was a haven for hippies, GGP keeps up a tradition of hosting large, free public gatherings like the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival every October. GG Park is wonderful any day of the week (note: if you want to visit DeYoung museum, it is closed on Mondays), however Sundays the park is closed to street traffic and therefore it’s especially lively. Read more about ACG’s favorite Golden Gate Park experiences.
  • The Panhandle: If Golden Gate Park was a cooking pan, the panhandle would be it’s handle. Frisbee, BBQs, horseshoes, neighborly gatherings, and a popular biking/jogging path. This was the site of the Human Be-In of 1967, preceding the Summer of Love.
  • Washington Square: Picnics and coffee breaks for lazy days in the heart of North Beach.

San Francisco’s Beaches  

  • Baker Beach: Usually sunnier and less windy than Ocean Beach, Baker Beach is the most popular beach for SF’s warmest days. The northern portion is popular among volleyball-playing nudists. 

    Southern California beach experience with views of Golden Gate Bridge.

  • Aquatic Park: Calm waters offer peaceful (albeit cold) swimming next to the frenzy of Fisherman’s Wharf.
    • Like to swim? Dolphin Swim & Boat Club (502 Jefferson St): One of the most hidden gems in the entire city, this swimming club was established in 1877. It’s $10 for a visitor’s pass which includes water access, locker room facilities (including a hot sauna), and a walk down history lane. If you want to fit in, follow suit from the members and don’t wear a wetsuit when swimming in the bay.
  • Mile Rock Beach: Hidden spot most locals don’t know about off of the Lands End Trail. Bonus points if you find the labyrinth (hint: follow the signs to Eagle’s Point Labyrinth!) 

    Setting up for a bon fire at Mile Rock Beach

  • Ocean Beach: Kite surfers, surfers, and bonfire. Huge wide open space to cure anything heavy on the mind.

Urban Hikes

  • Bernal Heights: Dog lovers and epic views atop this tight-knit community.
  • Corona Heights Park: Climb this peak in the heart of the Castro and discover Randall Museum along the ascent.
  • Twin Peaks: Transport yourself temporarily to Ireland. Enjoy the unique architecture on the trek up. 
    A windy and foggy day atop Twin Peaks

    A windy and foggy day atop Twin Peaks

  • Lands End: Escape the city on the trails. Start or end at Sutro Baths.
  • Glen Canyon Park: Experience SF’s diverse terrains as they appeared before the city’s development.
  • Tank Hill:
Alley Cat Guides San Francisco, Twin Peaks view Market Street

A rewarding view from Twin Peaks allows one to get their San Francisco bearings. Photo credit: Ansu Sahoo