San Francisco outdoor adventures: What to do and where to stay

by Kelsey Blodget on June 25, 2010

Outdoorsy travelers can take in sights like the Golden Gate Bridge by sea kayak, or from beautiful Presidio National Park.

Outdoorsy travelers can take in sights like the Golden Gate Bridge by sea kayak, or from beautiful Presidio National Park.

With rich natural attractions — like Presidio National Park, and of course, the bay — and plenty of jogger- and cyclist-friendly paths, San Francisco is a great city for getting outdoors. Below, take a look at our picks of some of the best outdoor activities to try during your trip, and our favorite hotels that are convenient for each.

Hop on the ferry to Sausalito for a sea kayaking adventure through Sea TK.

Hop on the ferry to Sausalito for a sea kayaking adventure through Sea Trek.

Do: Sea Kayaking

To observe spectacular wildlife, like harbor seals and cormorants, in the nature preserves near the city, take the ferry to Angel Island or Sausalito for a sea kayaking trips through Sea Trek. To take in the sites of the city, like Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, book one of City Kayak’s trips.

Stay: The Argonaut Hotel

This nautical-themed boutique on Fisherman’s Wharf is the perfect launching point for your seafaring adventure. It’s near Slip A21, where a few of City Kayak’s trips depart (the rest leave from South Beach Harbor, which you can reach by taking the 10 Townsend Bus to the SBC Ballpark stop), as well as the Ferry Building on Pier 41, where you can catch a ride to Saulsalito or Angel Island.

Take your dog to the beautiful Presidio National Park.

Take your dog to the beautiful Presidio National Park.

Do: Dog-friendly hiking in the Presidio

Neither you nor your four-legged best friend will want to miss the beautiful, 1,491-acre Presidio National Park, with 11 miles of hiking trails, diverse wildlife and scenic views. Don’t miss the 3.5-mile Golden Gate Promenade, which runs along Crissy Field and has beach access (where you can let your dog run off the leash), views of the Golden Gate Bridge, a marine sanctuary visitor’s center and saltwater marshes.

Stay: Laurel Inn

The enthusiastically pet-friendly Laurel Inn is just five blocks from the Presidio. When you and your dog return after a long day, you can enjoy a complimentary glass of wine at the adjacent lounge, and your pet can gnaw on a free chew toy or treat. A dog bed, water bowl and food bowl are also provided free of charge.

Jog along the Embaradero

Jog along the Embaradero

Do: Jog along the Embarcadero

The Embarcadero Promenade is one of the most popular running paths in the city, for good reason — it’s flat, and has few traffic lights and great views of the bay. It will get clogged with tourists later in the day, but it’s a great spot for an early morning run.

Stay: Radisson Hotel on Fisherman’s Wharf

If you want to tighten your budget as well as your figure, stay at the Radisson, which offers easy access to the Embarcadero and is one of our top value picks in San Francisco.

Go cycling in Presidio National Park and golden Gate Park.

Go cycling in Presidio National Park and Golden Gate Park.

Do: Take a bicycling tour of the city

San Francisco is one of the most cyclist-friendly cities in the country.¬† You’ll find¬† most extensive bike trails Golden Gate Park and the Presidio, but cycling enthusiasts can explore just about anywhere in the city by bike. See a detailed map of trails here.

Stay: W Hotel San Francisco

You can avoid the hassle of renting your wheels by staying at the sleek, hipster-luxe W, which loans Puma Biomega bikes to guests for free (and has particularly fancy bike parking.) The location in the SoMa museum district isn’t particularly scenic, but you’ll find a short bike path at At&T park to the southeast and free valet bike parking (yes, you read that correctly) during Giants home games. To the southwest, you’ll find the excellent trails at Golden Gate Park.

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