Fun 1-hr activities around the bay area?
September 1, 2010 3:31 PM   Subscribe

Where are some fun 1-hr activities I could surprise my boyfriend with in the bay area?

My wonderful boyfriend has requested more "surprises", in the same vein as date nights, where I randomly take him to small little fun spots around the bay area.

I'm looking for suggestions (note they don't have to be at night) - along the lines of:

1) spots to watch airplanes land at SFO/other local airport
2) best hidden dessert spots (bonus points for best bread pudding ever)
3) local hills with amazing views that are nestled in neighborhoods (such as Indian Rock in North Berkeley, or Grand View Park at Moraga & 13th in the Sunset)
4) mini-golf, drive in theaters, trampoline places - but for adults if possible
5) any other fun suggestions for discovery

He likes airplanes, motorcycles, bicycles, "experiences", mini-golf, really great views, places that have sweet things that are moist, chewy, or both (think bread pudding, tres leches, mochi, etc).

He does not like places that are insanely crowded, like festivals or bars.

I've already checked out this, this, and this, which have pretty good suggestions.
posted by cranberryskies to Society & Culture (18 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
I like the idea of roaming the countryside looking for esoterica:

Sonoma Gravity Hill.

Bliss, the ubiquitous WinXP image, was taken in Sonoma, so you could track down the original location.
posted by Paragon at 3:42 PM on September 1, 2010

malibu grand prix (in redwood city), which apparently are disappearing.
posted by rhizome at 3:57 PM on September 1, 2010

The best place to watch planes at SFO without getting hassled is Bayfront Park. The parking lot is usually crowded, though. There are some parking lots in this area where you can hang out and have departing planes take off over you, but you have to pay or have special access to get in. The cell phone waiting lot is an OK place but is a bit too far out of the way.
posted by zsazsa at 3:59 PM on September 1, 2010

If you're looking for something a little peculiar, you can go see the Wind Harp in South San Francisco. Or maybe the hundreds of carved statues at Cayuga Park in San Francisco off the Alemany exit on 280.

I also like the hike from the end of Sneath Lane in San Bruno--hike up Sweeney Ridge and see the ocean and the bay on either side, and the old missile sites as well.
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:08 PM on September 1, 2010

Have breakfast or lunch at Sky Kitchen, which is at the San Carlos airport. You can watch small planes take off and land.

Seconding Sweeney Ridge, but I prefer the trail up from Skyline College rather to the Sneath Lane trail.
posted by purpleclover at 4:16 PM on September 1, 2010

Here are some various Berkeley-centric suggestions:

For sweets, Masse's Pastries, Crixa Cakes, and Love at First Bite are all swell. Masse's and Crixa are probably better than Love at First Bite, which mainly specializes in cupcakes, but part of the fun of going to Love at First Bite is that it's tucked away in a little corner off of the main drag, so it definitely feels like a "discovery".

Gregoire, which is right around the corner from Masse's and Love at First Bite, also sometimes has some tasty bread pudding on the menu, but it's seasonal, so definitely check. They're a tiny, tiny, tiny gourmet French take-out place (sounds weird, I know, but it totally works), and they're awesome for a special, yet still casual, occasion.

For views, the Berkeley Rose Garden is tucked away in the Berkeley Hills and it's quite lovely around there. Worth checking out if you've never been.

For experiences, go check out the Adventure Playground down by the Berkeley Marina. It's for nominally for kids, but I remember being totally blown away the first time I went there. It made me wish I was a kid again so I could tear around pretending I was one of Peter Pan's Lost Boys (or girl, in my case).
posted by Diagonalize at 4:47 PM on September 1, 2010

Climb Mission Peak. Go to Miller Knox and watch the sunet/bay, hike just about anywhere in the marin headlands, El Cerrito Rialto (dinner/movie on a couch), try to see if you can get on a birding trip to Brooks Island (inredibly rare that people get to do this). EXPLORATORIUM!!! Go to one of the observatories. Heinholds first and last chance saloon, hike from Dolores park to the radio towers through the neighborhoods, Barbary coast trail through san francisco.
posted by iamabot at 4:57 PM on September 1, 2010

Bay Trail biking! Walk the Ohlone Greenway, Stargaze on the Berkeley Pier.
posted by iamabot at 4:59 PM on September 1, 2010

The bread pudding at Tartine is awesome. I love the quiche, the gougeres, and many other things there too.

On the savory end of bread puddings, I like Outerlands. Yum.
posted by soleiluna at 5:03 PM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Fly kites in Berkeley at Cesar Chavez Park.

Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland is pretty neat. It has wonderful views and tons of history.
posted by spork at 6:17 PM on September 1, 2010

wave organ
REAL curviest st in the world
glen canyon park
balmy alley
pacific pinball museum (okay, probably more than an hour)
posted by kelseyq at 6:19 PM on September 1, 2010

kelseyq stole some of mine ...

here's a few more, SF-centric:
- Walk up to the top of Mount Davidson. Awesome on a foggy day.
The views from Bernal Hill are great.
Get ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery.
Ride your bikes across the Golden Gate Bridge to Rodeo Beach. (more like a couple of hours)
Take the ferry to Sausalito or Jack London Square.
posted by chbrooks at 7:08 PM on September 1, 2010

Response by poster: Love the recommendations! Thanks everyone!
posted by cranberryskies at 9:00 PM on September 1, 2010

Does your boyfriend like dogs?---El Cerrito has an awesome dog park.
posted by Napoleonic Terrier at 10:08 PM on September 1, 2010

Go to Jack Early park, on the east side of Grant ave between Chestnut and Francisco in north beach. Afterwards, head back to Columbus and get a piece of Sacrapatina cake at Stella pastry, or maybe a cocktail at 15 Romolo or Specs Adler Museum cafe.
posted by spatula at 9:45 AM on September 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Come up to "Whippersnapper" in San Rafael. It says right there on the menu, "Best Bread Pudding" and it really is. But first, hike up the hill behind Sun Valley Elementary for a great view of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Marin Civic Center!
posted by wzcx at 1:38 PM on September 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

Just found out about this: The Tenderloin National Forest

SFGate Article

posted by serunding at 1:35 AM on September 3, 2010

I've never been, but House of Air is a trampoline place that just opened up in a converted Crissy Field hangar.
posted by tellumo at 9:35 PM on September 21, 2010

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