Active recreation in Palo Alto, CA.
June 19, 2013 2:23 PM   Subscribe

I'm a recent transplant to the South Bay. I live and work in downtown Palo Alto. I don't drive, but I do have a bike and live near a Caltrain station. I'm looking for some kind of structured, regular physical activity to do outside the house. Recommend good things near me. It doesn't necessarily have to be athletic. Think outside the box. A list of things I don't want is inside.

  • yoga, crossfit, kettlebell, Pilates, spinning, or any other "lifestyle fitness" classes: I already have a regular gym
  • running and biking groups: my endurance sucks and I'm a pretty inexperienced bicyclist
  • hand-to-hand martial arts are potentially OK, but I went to classes with several different groups in middle school, high school, and college, and never felt like I was making progress
Otherwise, go nuts! Thanks for your suggestions.
Yes, I realize that Palo Alto is supposed to be really boring.
posted by Nomyte to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is California. People recreate by doing "outdoors" stuff. Join a hiking/mountaineering club.
posted by deanc at 2:26 PM on June 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Rock climbing! You will need some practice indoors before you are good enough to go outdoors.

There are biking groups that are more about exploring and making friends than about spandex and going fast - look for an "urban explorers" biking meetup.

Join a clean up group that cleans up parks and other public spaces - picking up trash, painting park benches, planting flowers.

Community gardens are always looking for volunteers - bonus, free veggies!

Adult intramural/casual sports - frisbee, softball, kickball, volleyball are the ones my friends play.

Tennis lessons - once you get good enough, a beginners doubles league.

Surfing lessons in Pacifica (not too far of a drive).

A kayaking club on the Bay.

Man, I wish I had more time for outdoorsy fun stuff.
posted by amaire at 2:30 PM on June 19, 2013

Sailing? I don't know what your budget is or how far you want to travel throughout the Bay Area for your recreating (I know you say Palo Alto...) but I'm about to sign up for classes at OCSC Sailing in Berkeley. If you don't want to Caltrain/BART there maybe there's something similar in the South Bay?
posted by hapax_legomenon at 2:32 PM on June 19, 2013

Any interest in social dance? Stanford has a social dance group and they're open to non-students and to beginners.

The Stanford triathlon team is also open to non-students. I know you're not interested in biking or running, but you could just go to the swimming practices. It might also give you a way to meet other active, outdoorsy people who could connect you to other activities.
posted by pompelmo at 2:34 PM on June 19, 2013

It might be a bit of a pain to get to, but there are medieval martial arts classes (longswords!) in Santa Clara:
posted by unix at 2:41 PM on June 19, 2013

Oh yeah, and re: amaire's suggestion: the Stanford kayak club is also open to non-students. They offer beginner sessions, both in the pool and on rivers, as well as paddling trips. Note: they primarily (exclusively?) do white water kayaking, which is pretty different from sea kayaking.

Also, it may be worth exploring Stanford Outdoors in general. I believe the Stanford Alpine Club is open to non-students, not sure about the rest of the clubs.

Sorry to keep suggesting Stanford stuff, but since you're in PA, it's right in your neighborhood, and there's a big population of active, outdoorsy people involved in these clubs. They definitely skew young, but many of the clubs include grad students and alums, as well as locals who aren't affiliated with Stanford, so there's a mix of ages.
posted by pompelmo at 2:41 PM on June 19, 2013

For rock climbing, there's Planet Granite in Sunnyvale which is about a mile and a half from Caltrain.
posted by TwoWordReview at 2:43 PM on June 19, 2013

Go to Muir Woods. Hike. See the redwoods.

To die for.
posted by Michele in California at 2:44 PM on June 19, 2013

Peninsula Open Space Trust has volunteer opportunities.
posted by radioamy at 3:09 PM on June 19, 2013

The Greenbelt Alliance has a bunch of outdoorsy outings all over the bay area. You could probably carpool with someone else if you need a ride.
posted by ambrosia at 4:17 PM on June 19, 2013 has dozens of hiking groups and many members with cars are happy to give folks rides (especially if you are the excellent carpooler who's ready when you say you will be, chip in a few bucks for gas/tolls, etc.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:49 PM on June 19, 2013

If you like the idea of dancing but are intimidated by social ballroom dancing, you might try contra dancing -- good exercise and better fun, with a really diverse crowd (with the usual Bay area caveats) at the Palo Alto dance. With contra, you don't need a partner and you always get asked to dance -- although I have to give huge props to the Palo Alto social dance scene for being more welcoming than most. Bonus: once you get to know dancers they're all willing to give you rides to other dances if they aren't public transit-friendly. Most dances are listed at the BACDS website. Look for contra specifically as it's the most accessible (on the other hand, if you love Jane Austen and period literature/films of that ilk, you might also try English Country dancing).
posted by obliquicity at 7:38 PM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Came here to say what obliquicity just did. Contra Dance. Once you're hooked, you can do it everywhere.
posted by jvilter at 6:36 AM on June 20, 2013

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