Outdoor Things to Do in San Francisco

The tech hub of America is a trailblazer in innovation and delivers world-class museums and an award-winning culinary scene. But the City by the Bay is also an excellent destination for an alfresco adventure. From street art and murals in the Mission to rowboats on Stow Lake, beautiful canyons, colorful staircases, and unique street festivals, there are so many outdoor things to do in San Francisco this summer.

Outdoor Things to Do in San Francisco

Street car in San Francisco.
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In fact, a trip to San Francisco is one of the best things to do in California. The bay glistens in the morning, and the city's skyline sparkles at night. And the visiting fog is so famous that the locals even gave it a name—Karl. But don't worry about the chilly summer weather. Karl only adds to the mystique of this magical metropolis. So, get outside and witness San Francisco's natural beauty, historic landmarks, and quirky neighborhoods. Just don't forget to layer. 

1. Hike the Lands End Trail

Outdoor stairs San Francisco.
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In San Francisco's northwestern corner, the Lands End Trail winds atop rocky cliffs above the ocean with postcard-worthy views of the Golden Gate Bridge at every turn. The dirt path detours from the main trail taking hikers to beach-level or lower-level cliffs overlooking the water.

To add to the adventure, hike down the stairs at the Visitor's Center to explore the remains of the historic Sutro Baths—a large saltwater swimming pool built in 1890. 

2. Rent Boats on Stow Lake 

Stow Lake.
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San Francisco is one of the best U.S. cities for family vacations, and with places like Stow Lake in Golden Park—it's no wonder why! The highlight of the beautiful lake is the boats. Renting either a rowboat or a pedal boat to travel around the lake's island, past the waterfall, a Chinese Pavilion, and underneath its old stone bridges is such a fun thing to do. Plus, being out on the water lets you get up close and personal with the lake's many residents—geese, ducks, turtles, and sometimes Great Blue Herons.

3. Spend the Afternoon at Baker Beach

Baker Beach.
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Another great spot for families, Baker Beach is a gorgeous place to build sandcastles, jump in the (very cold) waves, stroll along the sand, and have a picnic. And the beach is ideally situated with gorgeous views of iconic Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands. 

4. Climb the Filbert Street Steps

Filbert Street Steps.
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This is a steep climb up a wooden staircase past cute cottages and colorful gardens. Stop along the way to catch your breath and marvel at the beautiful scenes of the San Francisco Bay from different vantage points.

Coit Tower awaits you at the top. Walking around the tower and down the stairs on the other side will lead you to North Beach, where you can reward yourself with a large plate of pasta. 

5. Attend a Free Street Festival

Street Festival.
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Two local favorite summer festivals are the North Beach and Union Street festivals. Refer to the specific festival websites for dates and other information for these summer festivals. Both offer food vendors, beer gardens, live music, arts and craft vendors, entertainment, activities for kids, and so much more. Attending a free summer festival is a really fun thing to do in San Francisco and a great way to see unique neighborhoods. 

6. Walk Across the Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge.
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One of the most iconic things to do in San Francisco is walking across the Golden Gate Bridge. The pedestrian walkway is on the city side of the bridge, so you'll get those gorgeous sights of Alcatraz, the city skyline, and the little white sailboats that decorate the bay. 

The bridge is 1.7 miles across, but if you're feeling adventurous, keep walking to Sausalito and take the ferry back to the city.

7. Go to a Giants Baseball Game

San Francisco Giants.
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A hot dog, a cold beer, and a seat in the sun. Even for non-sports fans, the atmosphere at the ballpark is fun. Cheer on the home team and enjoy the bay views from the stadium. 

8. Visit Fillmore Street

San Francisco.
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Fillmore Street has many trendy outdoor cafés and restaurants, designer boutiques, and a rich musical history. The Fillmore Theater, a psychedelic music focal point in the 1960s, hosted musicians like the Grateful Dead, The Doors, Pink Floyd, and many more. It's a great spot to stroll the streets, pop in and out of stores, and stop for a bite. Pizzeria Delfina and Roam Artisan Burgers are local favorites and equally delicious.

9. Relax at the Japanese Tea Garden 

Japanese Tea Garden.
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With native Japanese plants, arched drum bridges, steppingstone paths, pagodas, a Zen garden, and tranquil koi ponds—this five-acre Japanese Garden is a great spot to stroll before enjoying a cup of tea and popular Japanese refreshments at the Tea House nestled in the center of the gardens. 

10. Marvel at San Francisco's Crooked Lombard Street

Lombard Street.
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One of the most photographed streets in the world, Lombard Street, has staircases that line both sides of the zig-zagged brick road. Walk up one side and down the other. The residents' homes and colorful gardens are just as impressive as the city views from the top of the street.

11. Dine Outside on the Bay

San Francisco Bay.
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San Francisco is one of the top dining destinations in the country. The cultural diversity, the year-round fresh ingredients, and the sheer number of options and price points make this city a food mecca. For casual outdoor dining, try Red's Java House for a burger and a beer. If you're feeling fancy, try the Waterbar for fresh seafood.

12. Cruise the San Francisco Bay 

Cruise San Francisco Bay.
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One of the most exciting outdoor activities in San Francisco is cruising the bay. From sunset and bridge-to-bridge cruises to catamaran rides and traditional sailboat excursions, seeing the city from the middle of the bay is a great way to spend the day outside in the fresh air.

13. Stroll Along Crissy Field

Crissy Field.
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A stunning place to stroll, and a favorite spot for tourists and locals alike, Crissy Field is a promenade that stretches from the Marina Green to just under the Golden Gate Bridge, where you'll find the Warming Hut, a great spot to grab a cup of Equator Coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Along the way, you'll spot tidal march overlooks, picnic tables, and beaches. 

14. Marvel at Street Art and Murals

San Francisco Street Mural.
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Beautiful murals decorate the city streets of San Francisco, but the neighborhood with the largest concentration is the Mission District. Many pieces focus on human rights, social movements or are politically motivated. A wander around the Mission is one of the most unique things to do in San Francisco. Popular spots to see the artworks include Clarion Alley, Balmey Alley, 24th Street, Osage Alley, and Lilac Street. 

15. Explore Glen Canyon Park

Park with rocks.
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With dramatic rock formations, wooden staircases, dirt paths, and a ton of Eucalyptus trees, exploring Glen Canyon's almost 70 acres of wilderness in the middle of San Francisco is the perfect way to drown out the busy city noises. Hike the flat path along the foot of the canyon, explore the cliffs, or even try rock climbing. 

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks Travel.