Top 5 Outdoor Spots to Visit in San Francisco

San Francisco, California, is a stunning jewel of a city thanks to gorgeous architecture built upon rows of hills and surrounded by a sparkling blue bay. Though San Francisco offers much in terms of restaurants, clubs, and museums, the outdoor ambiance visitors can get from visiting the city is what often brings them coming back to San Francisco again and again. When visiting San Francisco, here are five can’t miss outdoor spots to explore.

The Golden Gate Bridge

This is one gorgeous bridge that isn’t just for looking at from a distance or staring up at its red arches while you drive underneath. To really get a feel for the sheer mass and architectural wonder that is the Golden Gate Bridge, you need to walk along it. Bring a windbreaker style jacket with you, don’t forget a sturdy pair of sunglasses to shield the glare from the sea water and passing cars, and take a stroll down the edge of the bridge. A pedestrian section was created for people to walk across it safely.

Pier 39

Pier 39 is home to many shops and restaurants, but what makes this small shopping and dining mecca stand out in a city full of excellent places to shop and eat is the seaside atmosphere it has thanks to its prominent real estate right on a large pier jutting out into the water. Many of the restaurants on Pier 39 serve seafood alongside panoramic bay views. The sea theme continues with souvenir shops selling beach theme trinkets. The pier also is home to one of the galleries of the world-renowned marine life artist, Wyland. Head around to the side of the pier to watch and delight in the antics of the many seals who lounge about on docks next to Pier 39 every day.

Muir Woods

Woods hikers will love visiting Muir Woods, located just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. With massive redwood trees and several different hiking trails winding through the heavily wooded area, it’s hard to believe you’re less than 15 miles away from downtown San Francisco.

Presidio Park

This park is located just south of the Golden Gate Bridge. As a former army base, it is great to walk around to see historic military buildings. Today those buildings house museums. Also due to military occupancy, the grounds of Presidio Park that weren’t used for building construction were left wholly untouched, resulting in the perseverance of many rare types of plants that aren’t found in many other places. The Presidio is also home to wildlife and boasts over 200 species of bird who make their home in the shrubbery and trees of the Presidio. Walking around Presidio Park will also give you great views of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge.

Lombard Street

Yes, it’s just a street but it’s a special one, and no trip to San Francisco is complete without walking or driving down Lombard Street – considered to be the most crooked street in the world. With many sharp turns going back and forth down a steep hill, it’s definitely one street that needs to be taken slowly. You also may find yourself wondering about the row houses that line Lombard Street and what their residents think of the massive line of cars that go down it every day with people hanging out the window and snapping pictures.

After exploring these five spots, you might find yourself wanting to experience more of San Francisco’s great outdoors. The good news is that San Francisco is a great city for walking around – you may stumble upon a hidden gem that becomes your own favorite outdoor spot of the city.

Gina Tarnacki is a freelance writer, online marketing professional and avid traveler. When she's not busy finding a creative way to squeeze in a few more vacation days so she and her husband can explore the world together, she writes about balancing travel with a career and relationship at One Day in a City.

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