Thanks to more than 200 parks and dedicated open spaces, San Francisco offers tons of beautiful and rewarding places outdoors to exercise.
Despite the city’s density, a plethora of challenging hills and coastal terrain with ocean-side vistas helps motivate all types of physical activity. SF also has plenty of well-maintained trails for cyclists and hikers. Best of all, a consistent marine layer usually prevents temperature conditions from getting too hot.
As summer draws to a close, we put together a round-up of the best outdoor workout spaces in SF each with a recommended track to listen to at each location.
- Lands Ends in the Presidio | Paired track: CHVRCHES
- Crissy Field and Marina Green Park | Paired track: Slaptop
- Golden Gate Park | Paired track: Zedd
- Billy Goat Hill in Glen Park | Paired track: Teeko
- Mount Sutro Open Preserve | Paired track: Lulacruza
- 16th Avenue Tiled Steps in the Inner Sunset | Paired track: Dam-Funk
- Pine Lake Park in the Parkside | Paired track: Matrixxman
At the top of the list is the Lands Ends trail, which is a waterfront hike on the northwest peninsula with wildflowers, shipwreck views and access to the Sutro Baths ruins. Cap off a workout with lunch at the West Fort Miley picnic area with grassy space among three turn-of-the-century gun emplacements. The extended trail can best be enjoyed to the soothing sounds of Scottish electronic band CHVRCHES, who are playing at Treasure Island Music Festival in October.
Running or biking alongside the yacht harbor with views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge makes this spot one of the most popular around. Hit up some pull up bars at the crossfit station near Fort Mason while listening to the local producer Slaptop, who plays at Mad Decent Block Party in Berkeley on September 11.
This notoriously huge, urban park with few cars encompasses over 1,000 acres (nearly 3 miles by 0.5 mile) in the northwest part of the city. It has everything a fitness enthusiast could want – paved trails, scenic views of multiple lakes, plenty of trees, and sporting facilities for golf, disc golf, tennis, track and field, polo, archery, football, soccer, baseball, and Frisbee. Break a sweat, cruising past eclectic bunches of tourists and break dancers to the sounds of premier EDM artist Zedd, who has two shows at Bill Graham Civic next month September 16 and 17.
This underrated hill makes for a great training exercise, overlooking the Mission District and has a rewarding rope swing tied to a big tree near the summit. Even if you don’t go on the swing, the beautiful view on a clear day allows visitors to see a lot of the city. San Francisco-based turntablist Teeko, who plays at the Elbo Room as Starship Connection with B.Bravo on September 17, makes great background music for this welcome adventure.
A 61-acre area just south of the Parnassus Heights campus at UCFSF provides a friendly escape to city-dwellers. Once on the trail, the noise and bustle of San Francisco fades away. Chirping birds and the soothing smell of eucalyptus trees blends perfectly with the avant-garde and electro-acoustic styles of South American electronic group Lulacruza, who play at SF Elks Lodge on Friday, August 21.
Mosaic, tiled steps in the Sunset make different designs when seen at different vantage points. Breathtaking views of SF can be seen from here with glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge. Once you get down the the last step, make a right onto 16th Street and walk down about half a mile to see Hidden Garden Steps on your left, which are cleaner and more colorful. Arrive before sunset or early morning to avoid the crowd, and embrace the inspiring beats of So-Cal boogie musician Dam-Funk, who visits to The Independent on Sunday, September 6.
There’s something special about Pine Lake Park simply because it connects to Stern Grove trails. The trail circles the lake, providing opportunities for see birds, and connects to the larger trail network that winds through Stern Grove. Pursue a segment of the Bay Area Ridge Trail while listening to music from San Francisco house and techno producer Matrixxman, who plays at the Beat Box night club on September 6.
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