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  • Best Park Without The Crowds

    Mountain Lake Park

    Mere blocks from the mob scene that Golden Gate Park becomes on any day when the temperature rises above 65 degrees lies another beautiful patch of land — all but hidden to the masses. Mountain Lake Park is 14 acres of unsullied beauty in the Inner Richmond, complete with tennis courts, a dog park, and Mountain Lake itself, one of the few remaining freshwater lakes in the city (where Spanish explorers supposedly found their rest before the city was a... More >>

  • Best Gym to Make Your Booty Bigger

    TRX Training Center

    For a full-body workout that will also help lift and tone your glutes, a mere 55-minute TRX class a few times a week will do the job. Founded a decade ago by a former Navy SEAL commando, TRX revolves around the use of suspension training equipment — which is a fancy way of saying straps that hang from the ceiling that you then use to perform exercises on. Though the goal of each class is to give your entire body... More >>

  • Best New Bike Lane

    Page Street

    If you've been cycling around San Francisco for more than five or so years, you'll remember what a funhouse it used to be. Even no-brainer cross-town routes like 17th Street carried discontinuous segments of striped asphalt, and sharrows were considered the zenith of enlightened planning. No more. Following last year's unique "contra-flow" lane at the foot of Polk Street, we now have a smart, one-block addition to Page Street in Hayes Valley. Between Laguna Street and Octavia Boulevard, a green-painted... More >>

  • Most Strenuous Hike With Rewarding Views

    Golden Gate Heights

    Earlier this month, the Outer Sunset got a new park. Full of raised beds and basketball courts, the new "Playland" at 43rd Avenue is partly made from shipping containers (a true urbanist dream if ever there was one). But if you want to ramble somewhere a little less developed, look east to Golden Gate Heights. The steep crag with 360-degree views taking in downtown, Golden Gate Park, the ocean, and Sutro Tower rises so abruptly from nearby 19th Avenue that... More >>

  • Best Dog Park

    Upper Douglass Dog Park

    We're not going to lie: It's muddy up there. But if you can get past the drainage issue, Upper Douglass Dog Park in Noe Valley is hands-down the best puppy playground in the city. It's not as if dog-friendliness is the paramount virtue to San Francisco parks, so we'll gladly take glorified litterboxes like Collingwood and the beneath-the-freeway Brady Bunch backyard that is SoMa West. But Upper Douglass has benches, natural turf, a picnic table, beautiful views, friendly humans and... More >>

  • Best Place To See Totem Poles

    Cayuga Park

    Once upon the 1980s, Filipino emigrant Demetrio Braceros (known as Demi by friends and locals) was entrusted with the care of Cayuga Park, a seedy sump of public space that had fallen into disrepair. With great love and hope, Demi transformed the space into a whimsical experience filled with lush gardens and over 300 imaginative wooden sculptures and totem poles, most of which were carved from tree stumps native to the site. One of San Francisco's more unusual gems, the... More >>

  • Best Camping View of The City

    Kirby Cove

    The most clichéd things you can possibly associate with San Francisco are the Golden Gate Bridge and fog over the bay, but looking out at the bridge in a thick fog from Kirby Cove, with the skyline of the city peeking through, is just as magical as it is stupidly clichéd. Although you have to make your way to the Marin Headlands to experience this view, the Kirby Cove campgrounds are well worth the adventure into that home base of... More >>

  • Best Hike to Get Lost

    "Philosopher's Way" in McLaren Park

    The 2.7-mile "Philosopher's Way" trail in McLaren Park is the cure for when you've overdosed on San Francisco's increasingly technology-saturated, artisanal-minded spiral into gentrification. Located in the oft-neglected southeast region of the city, McLaren is the city's second largest park, and the home to remarkable views, flourishing wildflowers, sun-dappled meadows, and perhaps most importantly, nothing else. There are 14 "musing" stations placed throughout the path, which engage hikers on the connection of the area's ecology, geography, and history. Plus you... More >>

  • Best (Possibly Illegal) Swimming Hole

    The Inkwells

    With a dearth of freshwater swimming spots in the Bay Area, seekers of the aquatic will go to great lengths to discover a hidden watering hole. One of those gems is the Inkwells, a small group of pools located off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Lagunitas, in Marin. The legality of the spot is highly questionable, as it's surrounded by "No Parking" signs and there is no mention of it on any official maps or guides. Patrons have to park... More >>

  • Best Workout Using Depression-Era Facilities

    Handball courts in Golden Gate Park

    Handball — the four-walled version, not the super-rad Olympic sport that no one in America plays — is the ultimate old-dude endeavor. The real canny pros know how to play all the angles, helping to eliminate any needless running around, which means that some of the most feared players are the ones with hefty beer guts. The handball courts in Golden Gate Park—situated between the Cal Academy of Sciences and the Big Rec baseball fields—offer a glimpse into the big-bellied... More >>

  • Best Test of Mental Mettle

    Mechanics' Institute Chess Room

    When gold was found and San Francisco was in its infancy, more was needed to occupy the minds of the young city's denizens than whiskey and cutthroat commerce. An integral part of fostering education and inspiration for the pioneer city's creative class — the writers, engineers, and inventors who turned the roughneck frontier town into the imperial Paris of the West — the Mechanics' Institute boasts the oldest chess club in the United States, with April 24, 1855 pegged as... More >>

  • Best Newly Renovated Hoops Spot

    Joe DiMaggio Playground

    Pickup basketball is a weird social phenomenon where a bunch of strangers meet at a designated spot during a designated time to engage in an athletic competition governed by de facto rules established in some mythic rulebook. There are a lot of moving parts, which is why it's so important to find a basketball court that suits your needs. That makes Joe DiMaggio Playground, located in North Beach, a haven for amateur hoopers. Once a patch of asphalt with crumbling... More >>

  • Best WTF Free Agent Sports Signing

    Aldon Smith

    Once famous throughout the league as a haven for misfits and rejects looking to resurrect their careers, the Raiders have for the last decade or more made an art from out of epically wrong personnel decisions. (JaMarcus Russell, anyone?) So when the 49ers decided to part ways with uber-talented Aldon Smith — a sack machine on the field, and a scandal machine off of it (with DUI, vandalism, and hit-and-run charges to his name) — it was only fitting the... More >>

  • Best Way to Attract Foreign Tourists

    Volleyball courts in Golden Gate Park

    On a sunny day, Golden Gate Park hosts a series of athletic activities we barely knew existed. (Archery? Fly-fishing? That sport where people put on huge rubber suits and run into each other?) Of all these options, your best bet for an awesome and interactive sporting experience may be volleyball, specifically near the Conservatory of Flowers. Located at the head of the park, these impromptu games feature a mix of old-school regulars (who know how to play) and various newcomers... More >>

  • Best Bike Shop for Daily Riders

    Huckleberry Bicycles

    Is there anything worse than a mechanic who makes you feel like a chump for not knowing every last thing about how to fix your bike? (It's like, dude, you'd be out of a job if I could.) Huckleberry Bicycle, shrewdly located on a block of Market Street past which the vast majority of cyclist commuters pedal, is one place where you're guaranteed not to stammer and go red in the face when talking repairs. The dudes are friendly, the... More >>

  • Best Fighting Gym

    Fight and Fitness

    Leave the Crossfit injuries to your coworkers and ditch the screaming-in-your-face-before-sunrise bootcamp. There is no endorphin boost like getting in fighting shape. That phrase is not just an aphorism; the level of fitness required to adequately defend yourself and stand a chance against someone fitting to knock you out has no parallel. Getting there is hard work, but trainers skilled in Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu, and boxing teach classes morning, noon, and night at this Mission District staple co-owned by UFC... More >>

  • Best Legit Way to Frisbee on the Beach

    Bay Area Disc Association Beach League

    Nothing caps off a nice day at the beach like a mouthful of sand — especially if the grit in your teeth is the reward for the grit required to splay flat-out on your stomach, for the prize of a plastic disc in your hand, and all the glory that comes along with it. If you think Ultimate Frisbee is the pursuit of campus slackers skipping class on the quad, think again: Sprinting on the sand and navigating throws through... More >>

  • Best Burning Man-Friendly Pro Sports Team

    The Oakland Raiders

    You're in the middle of nowhere, a sort of wasteland in between various civilizations. You've traveled far to reach this final destination, and prepared long: You've created your own costume and your own character — a portable personality that traveled here via truck, caravan, or RV. You're here to be among members of your own tribe, to pay homage, and to do a bit of unholy worship before you must shed the layers you've carefully assembled and return to the... More >>

  • Best Wild-Eyed Eccentric

    Hunter Pence

    We'll forgive his gift to the Golden State Warriors of otherwise-acceptable high-end Stumptown cold brew coffee. (Portland move, bro.) But the gift to his Bay Area sports fam was welcome — because it came straight from an excitable and unpredictable heart. Giants right fielder Hunter Pence remains a freak for our time, the wild-eyed heart and soul of San Francisco and a perfect distillation of the sui generis character traits that still excite even the most smartphone-dulled workaday drones. Where... More >>

  • Best Less-Sung Warrior

    Shaun Livingston

    Coach Steve Kerr was not the only fresh face when the Golden State Warriors began their incredible and still a bit unbelievable rise to the best team in NBA history. Sitting there on the edge of the bench, Shaun Livingston was a near-anonymous journeyman, playing with his 10th team in 10 years in the league, backing up the incomparable Steph Curry. In other words: just another spare part. Or so he might want you to think. With Curry sidelined via... More >>

  • Best Giant

    Brandon Crawford

    The immortal moment came decades ago: a long-suffering fan already, at 8 years old, slumped against a rail at the ballpark for what could be the last time, defeated on the field and off of it, where the Giants were planning to possibly decamp from Candlestick Park to Florida. That the team was saved and that the sad-eyed child — one Brandon Crawford — eventually made the club, now an integral part of modern-day San Francisco life, would have been... More >>

  • Best School on Four Wheels

    S.F. Skate Club Skate Camp

    Summer camp doesn't need to be in the Sierra foothills — in fact, lifelong companions and a longer-lasting obsession can be found anywhere there's a friendly stretch of San Francisco pavement. Instead of sentencing them to a summer of bug bites and wack camp songs, send your young grommets away to an intensive, five-day-a-week, two-week-long schooling in the art of thrash. Kids ages 8 to 13 receive daily instruction from seasoned, sponsored skateboarders in small groups, as well as an... More >>

  • Best Neighborhood Gym

    Fit Club

    Going to the gym sucks. It sucks worse when you have to maneuver your way past muscle-bound blocks of aggression waiting in line for the weights or slink into the back of a cardio class to avoid group humiliation (who knew triathletes could side-eye so well?). Wouldn't it be nice to just go to a safe environment, maybe even a quiet, semi-private one, where there is just enough — workable cardio equipment, maybe a full set of weights, people you... More >>

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