Let's be real, California has a high-key vibe for doing things outside.
You hear about all the Bay Area has to offer, and aside from the city, you’ll hear all about the great trails and hikes that surround the city. You’ll be pestered with invites for BBQs on the beach or a weekend long camping trip, when really, all you want to do is curl up indoors and watch some Netflix. Or go shopping. Or go to a restaurant, or really, ANYTHING else that’s indoors.
And we hear ya', we get it. No one likes bugs in their soup or up their nose. Wind swept hair is only cute in TV commercials and movies, in real life, it’s not so cute. But as not-fun going outside can be, you know it’s unavoidable sometimes. So, here’s some quasi-outdoor things you can do, to quell your fears of nature-filled adventures and mollify your friends so they don’t continually ditch you.
This place is known for all sorts of outdoorsy activities. But don’t despair—you can get some amazing Instagrammable shots of the San Francisco skyline, and there’s loads of shops and restaurants to browse through and spend a leisurely Saturday. Sure there’s trails and even Mount Tamalpais State Park, but the mix of options here really makes it a good happy medium for trail haters and hike lovers alike.
Coit tower is a San Francisco icon. And only kinda outdoors, which may be pleasing to those indoor-inclined locals. It’s got loads of history—it was built by the money Lillie Hitchcock Coit left to city of San Francisco when she passed away in 1929. Coit was an awesome, bad-ass lady; she was the only woman on the volunteer fire squad—before there was even an established fire department in the 1800s. The tower has some beautiful murals on the walls as you wait for the elevator up. Only the top deck is outside in the actual tower, but it’s surrounded by some nice green walkable areas—It counts as an outdoorsy thing, we promise. // 1 Telegraph Hill Blvd, North Beach
Sure, recommending the Golden Gate Bridge is a little obvious and touristy. But honestly, when was the last time you went? Was it when your parents first visited SF and you took them around to show off your awesome new city? Yeah, same. In the grind of daily life, we forget how nice of a monument this one really is. And, it’s outside, so check. The splendor of it all will take away from any hesitations you have about surrounding trails or hikes, because that view really makes up for it. If adventuring down a trail is so not your thing, check out Fort Point—it’s an amazing historical spot—it was used to defend the San Francisco Bay from California's Gold Rush all the way until World War II.
This one’s pretty solid, I mean, even if you hate going outside, who hates lying on a nice warm beach and taking in the rays? With summer just around the corner, this sure is one to bookmark (though granted, summer can be a fickle thing in this city). Their website even says “Picture a 3.5-mile stretch of white beach with few tourists and no highrises. It's just you and the waves and the seabirds at Ocean Beach.” Also, this is no place to go swimming (a high chance of riptides) unless you’ve got some crazy killer surfing skills, so consider yourself safe from your more adventurous friends’ whims here. They make it pretty clear that all the fun is to be kept on the sand and not in the waves—a happy medium for we less adventurous folk.
So this one’s probably the most outdoorsy of all of these. But, it makes the list because it’s not too extreme. You can leisurely stroll through on the short hike, which doesn’t take more than an hour. The weather right now is beautiful, and you’ll enjoy all the fun plaques to read. You can spend as long, or as little, time as you would like here. There’s plenty of stairs and ramps to make the experience a little less lost in the woods, and the abundance of people should qualm any fears you have about being abandoned in the middle of nowhere. The scenery is one you’ll surely love, even if you and Mother Nature aren’t BFFs. There’s amazing treescapes for the Insta, and some cute pockets in tree trunks for great selfies. If you do even one outdoorsy thing this year, this is the one.
Sanica Apte is a writer and a news and politics junkie living in the Bay Area. A former Bostonian and Florida-native, she got her start in the creative world on Boston University's student-run TV station, producing an Emmy award-winning news show called On That Point. Previous to that, Sanica interned for PBS Boston and NBC Boston. In her spare time, she's a full-time cat lover and is slowly eating her way through all the good food the Bay Area has to offer.