What can you do in the Bay Area during quarantine? Turns out, a heck of a lot!
By Maria De La O
What can you do in the SF Bay Area during COVID stay-at-home orders? Here are some ideas for day trips by grizzled locals who’ve seen it all. If you’re craving to get out of the house and see something new, read on!
- Salesforce Transit Center This multistory San Francisco landmark transforms a commuter hub into an urban destination. With interiors open to the light, it’s a social, open space for people to gather, topped by a leafy park where the sky is the roof. Both kids and parents will love the views, exotic plants, and challenging rope play structure.
- New Presidio Walk San Francisco’s Presidio Trust just opened up trails through the Quartermaster’s Reach Marsh – a restored section of watershed near Crissy Field and North Beach. Now you can do a full loop of the entire Tennessee Hollow watershed – from the bay, through the marsh, across the parade grounds, up to Inspiration Point overlooking the Pacific and back. Follow the self-guided tour map for a few hours of gorgeous views and watershed learning along the way.
- Fay Park A family-owned property for more than 120 years, the residence and garden were bequeathed to the city to become the public park it is today. Situated on the northeast slope of Russian Hill, an intimate, quiet space awaits. Families walk down curvy Lombard Street and then head on over to the park, just a stone’s throw from the touristy twist.
- Crosstown Trail The Crosstown Trail is a 17-mile route connecting San Francisco neighborhoods and open spaces. It runs from Candlestick Point in the southeast corner of the city to Land’s End in the northwest corner. The route is usable by both pedestrians and bicyclists, and it connects to parks, business districts, residential areas and public transit.
- Crane Cove Park Opened in September 2020, this 7-acre park on San Francisco’s Pier 70 includes a multi-purpose lawn, plazas, barbecue areas and a pocket beach. The park also features pathways for pedestrian and bicycle access, gardens and historic interpretation about the rich history of Pier 70.
- Shoreline Park A beautifully situated shoreline picnic area, a secluded cove with swimming beach, a fishing pier at a historic site and a hilltop with panoramic views of the North Bay are part of 307-acre Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline in Richmond. When indoor museums open again, don’t miss the nearby Rosie the Riveter Museum.
- Bike 3 Bridges The Golden Gate Bridge is easily accessible by bike (if you don’t have one, many bike outfits geared to tourists are available to rent bikes) or go over the Bay Bridge to Treasure Island. Alternatively, you can check out the San Rafael Bridge.
- SF Christmas Tree and Holiday Light Forest Begin your journey at the park’s east entrance, where you can visit Uncle John’s tree, San Francisco’s official Christmas tree, named in honor of the man who built Golden Gate Park, John McLaren. The massive Monterey cypress (planted circa 1880) has been illuminated, usually in a ceremony led by the mayor, every Christmas since 1929. After that, from now till February 28, in honor of Golden Gate Park’s 150th Anniversary, visit the park’s Peacock Meadow light forest. The installation, which may be extended to June 1, (but don’t wait!) is located on the east end near the Conservatory of Flowers.
- Heavenly Stairways Climb San Francisco’s most famed steps. Criss-cross the city to snap some pix or take it slow and make a day of your two or three favorites.
- More Hikes and Bikes! Haven’t tired out the kiddos yet? Try some of these iconic city hikes and bike trails: the Golden Gate Park Loop; the Ferry Building to Mount Tamalpais Cycle Route; Baker Beach Trail to Golden Gate Bridge; Presidio Loop Trail; Upper Market Stairway Walks; or the Pacific Shore trail.
- Fort Funston Fort Funston features 200-foot high sandy bluffs on San Francisco’s southwest coast where the winds blow reliably wildly. No surprise it is one of the premier hang-gliding spots in the country. A network of trails make it ideal for hiking and horseback riding. (Dog owners will be happy to know they can take leashes off here.)
- Paddleboard Sausalito or Angel Island Rent kayaks and paddleboards, or check out a guided tour from Sea Trek to Angel Island. Or just ferry to the island with Captain Maggie and hike/bike around it.
- Safari West Pretend you’re in the Serengeti instead of the scrub oaks of Santa Rosa. Guests may choose between Brews and Buffalo, Cheetahs and Chardonnay, Winos and Rhinos or the traditional private wine safari. Go on Safari and explore the Sonoma Serengeti or Spend the Night in a luxury safari tent. And though the cheetahs and giraffes are always impressive, Safari West’s walk-through aviary of African birds is always our favorite.
- Filoli Gardens Located 30 miles south of San Francisco, Filoli is nestled on a slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains and surrounded by more than 23,000 acres of the protected Peninsula watershed. A former country estate, Filoli’s current mission is to connect California’s rich history with a vibrant future.
- Pinnacles This national park is perfect for a winter or early spring hike. (It’s not really doable in summer unless you’re a diehard heat-lover.) Hikers journey through chaparral, oak woodlands, and canyon bottoms, and enter rare talus caves that emerge to towering rock spires teeming with life: prairie and peregrine falcons, golden eagles, and the back-from-the-brink California condor. This little-known gem is just an hour south of the city.
- Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park Watch the kids pan for gold at the place in the American River where James W. Marshall found shining flecks of gold in the sawmill he was building in partnership with John Sutter in 1848.
- Columbia State Historic Park Speaking of panning for gold, step back into the 1850s to sip sarsaparilla and ride on a stagecoach in this well-preserved Gold Rush town, just 2 1/2 hours from San Francisco.
- Monarch Sanctuary Arriving in October, monarch butterflies cluster together on pine, cypress, and eucalyptus trees in the Sanctuary. Their migration to Pacific Grove is so unique that Pacific Grove is nicknamed “Butterfly Town, U.S.A.”
- Muir Woods Hug an old-growth redwood tree. But make a reservation.
Maria De La O
Magazine editor. Documentary filmmaker. Copy expert. Mother. Traveler. Maria brings it all to the pages of ROAM.
© ROAM Family Travel 2020 – All rights reserved
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