Where should I take an outdoorsy girl near (but not in) San Francisco?
June 14, 2012 10:44 PM   Subscribe

Where should I take an outdoorsy girl near (but not in) San Francisco?

I met this cool girl and she likes camping and stuff like that. We both live in SF. I have a car and she doesn't, so I think it'd be cool to take her some place awesome/special/beautiful/romantic/fun/etc...

I don't know of any such place since I just moved here about 9 months ago and haven't explored outside the city.

Where should we go? Ideal driving distance is up to an hour or so.

Bonus points for great views of a sunset or water or random animals.
posted by farmersckn to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (17 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Point Reyes
Stinson Beach

are all safe bets for something like this.

Big Sur and Carmel to the south are great options but don't fit your <1hr driving time criterion.
posted by un petit cadeau at 10:57 PM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Muir Woods!
posted by mrsshotglass at 10:57 PM on June 14, 2012 [5 favorites]

Big Basin state park.
posted by MillMan at 10:59 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Pacifica is just a few minutes away -- pretty sunsets, beaches, etc.

Heck, Fort Funston is technically in San Francisco and great for a quick walk on beach, a sea cliff, see lots of dogs running around

The drive down 280 from San Francisco to San Jose is, in many spots, breathtaking. There are vista points and hidden lakes and lovely things. You can always take Highway 1 back up and do that twisty, amazing beachview cruise.

My favorite massive park is a little over an hour -- Big Basin is remarkable, close to Santa Cruz. There's camping, but even just hiking and finding hidden waterfalls. Gorgeous.

For an hour away and camping, head north along the coast and you'll find some pretty amazing campgrounds in forests that are nice walks to the beach -- haven't found a bad one yet. It's more a matter of where you can get a reservation.
posted by Gucky at 10:59 PM on June 14, 2012

Hiking with nice views: Muir Woods, Mt. Tamalpais, Marin Headlands

Random Animals: San Francisco Zoo

Camping: Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, Henry W. Coe State Park, Mt. Tamalpais State Park

Nice Beach Walking: Stinson Beach, Pacifica, Half Moon Bay, Anywhere down the coast south of Half Moon Bay and north of Santa Cruz, along Highway 1.

Most of this info can be found here: http://www.parks.ca.gov and here: http://www.bahiker.com/.
posted by ruhroh at 11:00 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Angel Island if you can get a reservation is about as close as you can get, yet so very far far away...
posted by ch3ch2oh at 11:00 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Pt. Reyes would be great. Pescadero would be greater, because it's less obvious. Camp in the state park there, and have an excellent meal at Duarte's. [It's pronounced Doo-Arts.]
posted by mudpuppie at 11:04 PM on June 14, 2012

If you're driving down the Peninsula you could go tidepooling. I think you're supposed to go during low tide for the best experience--read up on it and check tide tables.
posted by needs more cowbell at 11:06 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

also Mt Diablo for hiking.
posted by gt2 at 11:23 PM on June 14, 2012

The best place for hiking nearby IMO is Point Reyes. (Muir Woods is kind of touristy.) Bodega Bay is also beautiful.
posted by désoeuvrée at 1:00 AM on June 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

Mt. Tam is great at sunset. At Mt. Tam and Pt Reyes you can catch a little bit of beach as well.
posted by victory_laser at 1:21 AM on June 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Elkhorn Slough is a little ways away but the kayaking and animal watching is incredible. Tons of seals and sea otters to watch, sunsets, and water.
posted by benzenedream at 1:37 AM on June 15, 2012

Wildcat canyon regional park: hike around random cows
Tilden regional park: nice hiking, has a little farm with various animals

Both in the east bay very close to Berkeley
posted by mulligan at 7:11 AM on June 15, 2012

Muir Woods is way too touristy. There are too many people there. If your girl is the outdoorsy type and you live in SF, then she probably wants to get away from people and really get back to nature, then don't take her to Muir Woods.

Point Reyes is great, as is the hills/mountains around Santa Cruz. Or if you wanna go a little further south, then go to Monterey/Carmel and go tidepooling.

I know this is waaay touristy and I usually like to avoid crowds whenever possible, but I absolutely love the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It's absolutely amazing.
posted by ATX Peanut at 7:33 AM on June 15, 2012

Muir woods does not only just encompass that tiny swath of cemented jank in that forest.

Their are literally a dozens of trails in that area.

The route I take often is the dipsea trail which has access past the visitors area, to the stepalvildt trail, to the tcc, then the bootjack down and it then runs into the ben johnson and then sail past the visitors area from the backside without paying and bail out. (this route gets you bay view, redwoods, creeks twice, and not many folks around till the end.

You can also take the dipsea and branch out to the oceanview trail (more like a fireroad) south to muir beach.

The dipsea trail of course goes to stinson beach if you stay on it.
posted by couchdive at 9:09 AM on June 15, 2012

The Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is a good place to go tidepooling, and it's basically in Half Moon Bay, so it's a quick trip. Plan to arrive around low tide, and think about footwear -- the water is cold and you don't want to have to tiptoe around trying to avoid it. Rainboots with good grippy soles could work, but I like to wear my scuba boots, which you could rent from any dive shop for maybe $5 each for the day.
posted by ktkt at 4:24 PM on June 15, 2012

All the above suggestions are great, but here are a couple more:

Ano Nuevo State Parkis just over an hour away and has an elephant seal colony. Jenner Beach is a longer drive in the other direction, but it has a harbour seal colony.

Marin Headlands is a hop, skip and a jump away and it's glorious. We had this amazing encounter with a bobcat right on Rodeo Beach; we've also seen a collective-noun of raccoons up there. And the Marine Mammal Center is right there as well, and great for a visit.

Those are all on the coast, and have as much water and sunset as you can stand.

We met a beautiful skunk on San Bruno Mountain, and I saw an awesome coyote at Felt Lake in Portola Valley.

An item on my bucket list is a visit to the Martinez beaver colony.
posted by rdc at 2:39 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

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