The San Francisco Bay Area is beloved for its abundance of outdoor adventure; plan to take full advantage on your own or with the family by following my guide to all the best activities.
Perhaps more than any other region in the country, the San Francisco Bay Area is replete with outdoor opportunities ranging from the Pacific Ocean to the Redwood forests to a plethora of deserts and so much more. After all, thousands of people travel from around the world to visit the Bay Area every day. After reading this article, you’ll realize why you should be taking advantage as well. If you’ve clicked on this link, you’ve got some adventurer in you! So below are 35 outdoor adventure recommendations to ensure a fun and exciting time for you and the entire family. Adventure awaits you!
Visit a National Park
We are so fortunate to have two National Parks right in our Bay Area backyard:
1. Point Reyes National Seashore
This peninsula juts out into the Pacific Ocean offering a wide variety of activities, habitats, and wildlife to explore. You might see whales, seals, sea lions, and more sea life than you ever knew existed! I recently took a very memorable backpacking trip to Point Reyes with my daughter, which you can read all about on a previous personal story blog post and for more general information about a day trip to the park, click here. Want a sneak peek into this beautiful destination? Press play to view my interactive video blog!
2. Pinnacles National Park
A great place to visit in the springtime and cooler months when the grass is green and a variety of wildflowers beautifully line your hiking or rock climbing experience.
Visit a State Park
There are approximately 50 state parks around the San Francisco Bay Area. How fortunate! Below are some of my favorites:
3. Castle Park State Park
There is a fascinating mix of trees in this park but the rocks steal the show. A bit different from the usual hiking trails in the area, most visitors to the park are rock climbers, boulders and waterfall enthusiasts.
4. Angel Island State Park
Visit the largest natural island in the San Francisco Bay Area with 12 miles of biking and hiking routes and salt-water fishing. Click here for more details about Angel Island.
5. Mount Diablo State Park
Experiencing the views from the summit of Mount Diablo is a worthwhile activity during the springtime. You can see miles in each direction of unique panoramic views of this part of Northern California . You can drive or hike or bike to the summit. Visiting Rock City is a must for kids depending on their physical abilities. There are boulders, rocks, caves and a maze sandstone structure everywhere in Rock City. And just southeast of Mount Diablo, you can visit Vasco Caves that offers visitors an easy, two-mile, group-led hike that passes 10,000 year-old Native American rock paintings.
Visit the Redwoods
The whole family is sure to be in awe of hiking beneath the tallest trees in the world. Such a magical place! Here’s why:
6. Big Basin Redwoods State Park
California’s oldest state park is covered in Redwoods, sprinkled with waterfalls, inhabited by banana slugs and offers hiking trails for all levels from stroller friendly trails to more strenuous, long backpacking trails for the entire family.
7. Muir Woods National Monument
Home not only to the redwoods but over 50 species of birds, flora and fauna. The park has a number of paved walking trails where visitors can get a close look at the giant trees that stand over 250 feet and are over 600 years old.
8. Santa Cruz
Whether you spend an afternoon exploring the tide pools at Natural Bridges State Beach, stroll through Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, or bike along the coast in Wilder Ranch State Park, Santa Cruz has become the ultimate destination for nature lovers. Plan on enjoying a beach day, taking a surfing or zip lining lesson or biking along the West Cliff Drive to see the seals and sea lions.
Visit a Beach
California is home to some of this country’s best beaches and is definitely the ultimate Spring Break indulgence. Some of my favorite sandy retreats include:
9. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve
Full of natural marine wildlife splashing in the Pacific Ocean, it’s an ideal spot for your little marine biologist.
10. Natural Bridges State Beach with Monarch Butterfly Refuge
A great beach with several outdoor options such as beachcombing, swimming, surfing, hiking, tide pools and marshland exploring. A great place to view more than 100,000 migrating Monarch butterflies in the fall and winter months. Click here to see my post and read more about the park.
Still looking for more adventures? No problem! I have prepared a comprehensive list that includes 32 outdoor adventure ideas in the San Francisco Bay Area. To keep indulging, please inquire and I will reply back with your very own personal long-form list, which also includes a handy map of the recommended places. – Adventure awaits!