I like people, don’t get me wrong. I love running into new and interesting people and I will talk to strangers very willingly, especially if I want to pet their dog. On the other hand, I like to find nice little escapes that I don’t have to trek far to get to in the city that give me a slice of peace and perspective. These are my few. There are many places that are not listed here, but just like everything in life, it is much more exciting when there is something left to the imagination. Sure I could list Presidio, Golden Gate Park, Twin Peaks and Corona Heights but there is so much more to explore dear San Francisco newbie. In addition, let’s face it, it’s hard to keep secrets with the age of the internet. I share with you some small treasures that I have come to know as a regular and have utilized numerous times to spice things up and get my much-needed nature fix while living in SF.
1. Tank Hill Park- This unique picnic spot is slightly windy on most days but holds a magnificent view of the western part of the city that’ll make you feel like you are on top of the world. With a tree swing and plenty of space for frolicking, I think it’s a top pick for inspirational places. Tank Hill is located right off of Clarendon Avenue, near the end of Twin Peaks drive. It’s a good idea to bring a jacket even on a sunny day because places like this seem to have their own “micro” micro climate.
2. Billy Goat Hill- Just a short hike up from 30th street and Laidley or Beacon street, this tree swing has some of the best views to soak up the city. If you are 100 lbs or less, be a kid again or …if you are a kid, be a kid. enjoy the swing while viewing the dynamic colors and depth of the art work that is Noe Valley and the Mission area. This place gets windy too! The great thing about wind is that it carries away noise, so it is quite peaceful.
3. Glenn Canyon Trail- Nestled just below Twin Peaks and Diamond Heights, Glenn Park has a secret. My favorite refuge from the city life. This place has been a blessing to me when I have been without a car. This is a great place to slip into nature by the Muni or Bart (Glenn Park Station) for a picnic or a quick hike. Many people bring their dogs so to all of the dog stalkers, you know who you are, go for a jog and pet a dog. There are multiple trails that climb hills, roll through small forests with creeks and marshes or lead through grassy knolls with views of the canyon. There is even a small outdoor school hidden in the bottom that I stumbled upon one day, which explained the weird doll collection nailed to a tree on the trail leading to it.
4. Bernal Hill – Again, dog heaven, but isn’t the entire city of San Francisco dog heaven? I really wish that the rest of the world was dog friendly like this city. Regardless, Bernal Hill is just right across from the Mission and provides a really smooth hike with benches along the way to enjoy awesome views. The neighborhood around the hike provides an eclectic show of murals of giant sharks eating caviar and interesting coffee shops the size of a small shed (that open whenever they feel like it). It is never boring to walk around this neighborhood. When you come back down from the hike you can visit the Bernal Park Cafe for a Pizza, latte, beer or gelato..they have everything. If you have kids, there is a fenced in park across the street where you can let them loose after you feed them ice cream. Everyone wins!
5. Mile Rock Beach- If you are not willing to go off the beaten path of Lands End, you would not know this beach is here, however, it i
s the most populated place I have been to on my list. I still think that it gets overshadowed by Baker Beach and China Beach, so I am counting it as the underdog and giving it a little attention. With such breathtaking views of the ocean, there is so much room for play here. A great place to enjoy an evening picnic cocktail while sitting on a rock and watching the sunset, you will see people running barefoot all and toying with the ocean tides. This is a place where you will get your feet wet, catch a glimpse of sea life, sit on rocks and receive salty wet hair from the ocean spray after hiking down a mountain on a dirt trail.