Earth Day is April 22, and it’s an opportunity to reflect on how lucky we are to live in such a vibrant, thriving city while also being close to nature. In fact, San Francisco actually ranked as the 4th best U.S. city for an outdoorsy lifestyle, thanks to its good air quality and amount of residents living within 10 minutes of a local park.
We wanted to hear your favorite spots to get close to nature, so we asked our Instagram followers for their best local outdoor escapes. They certainly didn’t disappoint, and these 10 spots come highly recommended by San Franciscans, for San Franciscans!
Tiburon is a beautiful town in Marin County with stunning views of the San Francisco Bay. If you want to visit by bike, it’s not a bad ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. Once you arrive you can take an easy ride on Old Rail Trail or the Paradise Loop. If you’d rather stay on your own 2 feet, there are plenty of nearby places to see in Marin including Stinson Beach and Muir Woods.
2. Dolores Park
This little patch of green in the Mission District is good if you want to see nice views while eating your lunch. We wouldn’t go so far as to put Dolores Park at the level of nearby Bay Area hikes, but we really appreciate these beautiful green spaces in the City for when we need some easily-accessible Vitamin D.
3. Golden Gate Park Trails
Golden Gate Park is one of the largest public parks in the world at 1,017 acres. Both city residents and visitors love the manicured gardens and sweeping lawns that the park is famous for, but it’s also a unique space showcasing natural plants and walking trails. Try the Golden Gate Park Loop for a little bit of everything, or the Stow Lake and Strawberry Hill Loop for some birdwatching.
4. Hawk Hill
Hawk Hill provides one of the most stunning panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay that we’ve ever seen. It’s a 923-foot peak in the Marin Headlands where you can watch hawks circling above as well as the Mission Blue Butterfly.
5. Point Reyes National Seashore
Drakes Beach at Point Reyes is about an hour and a half outside of the city. It’s a popular spot for elephant seal spotting in February in March, but the beach and surrounding views are worth the visit any time of year. While you’re at it, check out the fascinating Tule Elk Preserve at Tomales Point.
6. Lands End
Located on the northwest tip of San Francisco, this spot offers gorgeous views of the Sutro Baths and the Golden Gate Bridge. The Lands End Trail is a lovely family-friendly hike that isn’t too strenuous, but visitors should note that there are stairs. The Coastal Trail will take you through cypress trees, open grasses and beautiful wildflowers to see the rockiest corner of the city, where you can see 30 miles up and down the coast.
7. Ocean Beach
This beautiful beach all along the west coast of the city is a wonderful, windy escape. You can access it easily from Golden Gate Park or the Sunset District What’s more, bonfires are allowed at Ocean Beach in provided fire rings, which can be found between stairwells 15 and 20. Go for a walk along the shore and watch the windsurfers!
8. Twin Peaks
These 2 adjacent peaks in the City stand 922 feet tall, making them second only to Mt. Davidson. The park itself is 64 acres, and you can see breathtaking panoramic views of the Bay by hiking the 0.7 mile trail network to the top. You can also observe plenty of animal and plant diversity during your journey.
The Presidiois one of San Francisco’s famous parks, located on a former military post. The City of San Francisco began from this point in 1776 when Spain established a military fort there. Prior to their colonization, Native American tribes including the Ohlone, Chochenyo, Karkin, Ramaytush, Yokuts, and Muwekma tribes inhabited the Bay Area for thousands of years.
Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, taking control of the post and establishing the Yerba Buena pueblo, which later became San Francisco. It was in 1846 that the Presidio became a U.S. Army post, serving generations of soldiers until 1994, when it became a national park site complete with museums, public art, grassy fields, and much more.
The Presidio has plenty of incredible natural wonders to check out. See our list of hidden gems to get you started.
10. Mt. Tamalpais
Mount Tamalpais is a gorgeous hiking destination just an hour outside of the city. Cruise across the Golden Gate Bridge and you’ll find dozens of beautiful spots in Marin, but Mt. Tamalpais really takes the cake for its panoramic views, grassy meadows, and magical forests.
Take a look at these amazing captures, and be sure to make time to see this magical state park in person, whether its for hiking, biking, or just a scenic drive.
[Featured Image: @livalittlelot via Instagram]