Whether you are a first-time traveler, a frequent visitor, or a California native, there is much to uncover and explore in the Bay Area. With more than 250 days of sunshine per year, intrepid explorers can plan outdoor activities in San Francisco that are fun and educational. Read on for the top 5 choices for fun San Francisco outdoor activities.
1) Angel Island State Park
Taking a 30-minute ferry to Angel Island is one of the best outdoor activities in San Francisco.
Angel Island is the largest natural island in the Bay Area. The island is covered in grass and woodland, with 12 miles of trails for hiking and biking. A 6.2-mile trail takes you around the circumference of the island. The island boasts an impressive view of the city skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge.
The island has played a key role in San Francisco’s history. It was first inhabited by the Coast Miwok tribe. Followed by a supply stop for Spanish explorers. Later, it served as a US Immigration station and a processing area for troops embarking on or returning from military war service.
With the departure of the military in the early 1960s, the island officially became a protected state park.
2) Alcatraz Island
For most travelers visiting San Francisco, a trip to Alcatraz is at the top of their must-do list.
For 29 years, from 1934 to 1963, Alcatraz Island served as a federal prison for some of the most dangerous criminals in the United States. People like Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and Robert Stroud, also known as the Birdman of Alcatraz, served time here along with a long list of others.
Take the short ferry ride from San Francisco’s pier 33 at Fisherman’s Wharf. A member of the National Park Service staff will greet you with a brief island orientation.
A tour of the cell house is provided by a self-guided audio tour. Free interpretative presentations are delivered by volunteers and staff throughout the island.
Return ferry service runs every half hour. Allow 2-3 hours to tour the island.
3) San Francisco Botanical Garden
For outdoor activities in San Francisco, few can top a trip to the San Francisco Botanical Garden. You’ll walk through 55 acres with 8000 species of plants from around the world.
Attractions at the San Francisco Botanical Garden include:
- Andean and Southeast Asian Cloud Forests
- Plants from Australia, Chile, South Africa, and New Zealand
- Camellia and Rhododendron Gardens
- A Moon-Viewing Garden
- California Native Plants and Mediterranean Gardens
- Children’s and Succulents Gardens
You’ll also see palm trees, conifers, redwoods, and more.
Plan to spend 1-2 hours touring the gardens. Tickets are available online or at the door. Advance online purchase is highly recommended.
4) Japanese Tea Garden
Visit the Japanese Tea Garden and escape to Japan without a passport. You’ll find 4 acres of gardens and outdoor art in authentic Japanese style.
You’ll see a 5-story red pagoda and an ornate temple gate that was created for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Well-groomed maple and cherry blossom trees line the pathways, with a koi pond at the center.
The tea house serves tea and Japanese snacks while overlooking the garden and south-facing pond.
The garden is open daily. Purchase tickets online at the San Francisco Parks and Recreation website. Plan to spend 1 – 2 hours touring the garden.
5) Golden Gate Bridge
You’ve seen the bridge, you’ve most likely driven across the bridge, but have you ever considered walking it?
Visitors to San Francisco can break out of their comfort zone by walking across the Golden Gate Bridge. The trek is 1.7 miles one way that can be done in 1-2 hours roundtrip.
Why not walk into Sausalito and take the ferry back?
Start at the welcome center on the San Francisco side of the bridge and walk to the charming town of Sausalito in Marin County. This town is the second most visited place after Muir Woods. The journey is just over 4-miles. Relax over lunch with a glass of wine and a view of the Bay before returning to pier 41 on the Blue & Gold ferry.
The open times for the pedestrian path are:
- November to early March: 5 am to 6:30 pm
- March to early November: 5 am to 9 pm
Golden Gate Park Segway Tour
Take a tour of Golden Gate Park on a super fun Segway!
You’ll see famous sites like:
- The National Aids Memorial
- Music Concourse
- The Pioneer Grove
- Stow Lake
As well as a few hidden sights:
- The Lilly Pond
- Shakespeare Garden
- The Fern Grotto
Explore the east end and more with a knowledgeable local guide sharing fun facts and trivia.
The tour is 2.5 hours long, including training time on these easy-to-use Segways.
Explore our guided Segway Tours! We are excited to meet you!