Live in the City and don’t want to drive far for a run with the jogging stroller? Lake Merced Park has a four-mile long paved path that’s perfect for just that.

The park’s huge freshwater lake is fed by an underground spring and used to link to the ocean way back when. It’s a favorite place for families to picnic, go bird-watching, or just get out into the fresh air.

When to go: It tends to get crowded with bike-riders and skaters on weekends, so best head there on a (sunny) weekday.

Where to find it: The park is just south of San Francisco Zoo.

What to see/do: See how many hawks, grebes, loons, egrets, and cormorants you can all spot among the many birds that make their home around the lake, and watch while a fisherman catches a rainbow trout.

Where to have lunch: Bring your own to enjoy at one of the many picnic tables.

How to dress: Be prepared for breezy and cool weather and take a couple of warm layers.

Bonus: Why not rent a rowboat there? It’s just $9 an hour.

Cost of trip: Inexpensive (parking is FREE).


—Annie Sheldon