Though a lazy day at the spa will always be a luxurious way to recharge, sometimes you need to energize yourself with something that offers a little more excitement to match a city as vibrant as San Francisco. When that’s the case, the six following experiences will allow you to reset while also appreciating just what it is that makes this place so remarkable.
An excellent way to see San Francisco is on two wheels. It’s an invigorating experience that not only allows you to really take in the sights, smells and sounds but also tap into your sense of exploration. While the hills can be intimidating, there are cycling maps that show the easiest routes. Also, some rides don’t involve many hills at all, like biking across the Golden Gate Bridge or along Crissy Field. If you want a little extra help, you can also rent a tandem bicycle with your partner or an electric bike that can reach speeds of almost 20 miles per hour (32 kilometers per hour). Civitatis rents bikes for 24 hours at a time, so you can take your time exploring.
There are only a few places in the world where you can see coastal redwood trees, with the most stunning being Muir Woods National Monument – about 30 minutes north of San Francisco. A walk in nature offers a sense of peace not easily found in the city, so this park’s proximity to SF allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds. With its flat and wide wooden walking paths, the park is easy to explore but can get quite crowded, making a guided tour an ideal way to see the forest. On the tour, you’ll learn about the trees in Muir Woods, including their age (the average age is 600 to 800 years old, with the oldest tree being at least 1,200 years old) and their height (the tallest one is 258 feet, or 79 meters).
The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park is the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States and is home to three acres of winding stepping-stone paths, native Japanese plants, koi ponds, stone lanterns and pagodas. The garden feels like a true oasis in the middle of the bustling city and can be very tranquil, especially in the morning hours. Be sure to climb over the highly arched drum bridge, which reflects a full circle on the water and is intended to slow people down. You can even stop for a meditative cup of tea at the Tea House, which overlooks the pond.
San Francisco’s historic Ferry Building Marketplace has some of the Bay Area’s best local farmers, artisan producers and independently owned restaurants. It’s an excellent place for anyone who loves food and wine, much of which can be enjoyed while taking in gorgeous views. With burgers, biscuits, cheese, chocolate, doughnuts, dry rubs for meat and more, the Ferry Building is a first-class culinary destination. Go on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday when the farmer’s market is in full swing to discover fresh farm products and prepared foods.
There’s something truly magical about sitting around a fire with friends, and you don’t have to leave the city to experience that magic. Ocean Beach has 16 fire rings that are available from the beginning of March until the end of October. The fire rings are first come, first served; and you can buy everything you need, including firewood, hotdogs and ingredients for s’mores, at the Safeway across the street from the beach.
Discover just how much you take your sight for granted when you enter the total darkness of the Tactile Dome at the Exploratorium, San Francisco’s hands-on science museum. The sensory journey requires you to walk, crawl, climb, slide and feel your way through the twists, turns and textures of the interactive sculpture – created in 1971. The wonderland of textures is an extraordinary way to reset your senses and possibly experience a sense of rebirthing (which was the artist’s original intention). Reservations are required. The Exploratorium lies on Pier 15 along the Embarcadero and features more than 650 interactive works of sound, color and touch, challenging your perceptions and leaving you awestruck, inspired and full of laughter.