Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Sports & Recreation

  • Best Marathon

    The San Francisco Marathon

    As the warmer months approach, the race is on for your marathon money, with an onslaught of organizations wanting you to compete in their runs. Upward of 15,000 people hit the pavement every year for the city's most scenic sprint, though — the San Francisco Marathon. Although we prefer the half portion to the full (13.1 miles versus 26.2 miles), the course is stunning no matter how long you can withstand feeling your muscles burn. At an hour too early... More >>

  • Best Foot Race in a Gorilla Suit

    The Great Gorilla Run

    This 7K race through Golden Gate Park began last year with the amazing sight of 425 runners dressed up in gorilla suits (which participants are given after signing up and paying the entry fee), all to benefit the Gorilla Organization's efforts to protect endangered mountain gorillas in Africa. Yes, we still love the fun and frivolity of Bay to Breakers, but the Great Gorilla Run gives you a chance to be silly for a great cause. Plus, wearing a hairy... More >>

  • Best Jogging Spot to See Native Plants

    Restored WPA Trails on Mount Sutro

    Before 1886, the 904-foot hill behind the UCSF Medical Center then known as Mount Parnassus was covered in low brush and chaparral, just like the rest of San Francisco. Mayor Adolph Sutro celebrated Arbor Day that year by planting the hill with thousands of blue-gum eucalyptus trees, that era's wonder plant. Decades later, laborers with President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration cut a network of hiking trails through what had become a dense thicket of eucalyptus, blackberry, elderberry, soaproot,... More >>

  • Best Indulgent Cross-City Hike

    Ferry Building to Windmills

    Begin with a fortifying bayside nosh at the Ferry Building, then head up one of the city's great thoroughfares, Sacramento Street, through the canyons of the Financial District and up vertiginous Nob Hill. Take a breather at Huntington Park, savoring the rarefied oxygen, and then descend to Polk Gulch for a revivifying bivalve or two at Swan's. Cross 101 and make your way past Lafayette Park and the splendid mansions of Pacific Heights, knock back a quick one at the... More >>

  • Best Outdoor Basketball Court We Can't Tell You About

    Somewhere on States Street

    The people who play pickup games at the best basketball court in San Francisco don't really want you to know anything about it. So we've decided on a compromise. We'll tell you about the court, but only on the condition you never show up. Ever. Understand? Great. On a beautiful sunny Saturday, please don't ever take Market to Castro to States and then drive up the hill and park your car. Then, do not walk up the path to the... More >>

  • Best Sporting Goods Store

    The Sports Basement

    Here's what kind of operation Sports Basement runs: When its store on 16th Street closed in 2007, the staff installed two employees and a jug of refreshments on the sidewalk. All three stayed put for months, and anyone who missed the huge "We've moved!" signs got the message shouted to them. The new shop extends that regard for the customer. The first thing you notice is its staggering size, a stunning brick building that has been only gently refurbished. A... More >>

  • Best Health Club with a Bar

    The Sports Club/LA

    Size does matter in health clubs. You don't want to feel like one of those workout ants, following a trail of sweat to the next machine, and then have to stand and wait because of overcrowding. Try the Sports Club/LA's numbers on for size: 127,000 square feet over three floors, including six exercise studios and eight lanes in the pool; 50 private trainers; 120 weekly group exercise and yoga classes; two hoops in the full-court basketball gym. And the 4,000... More >>

  • Best Driving Range

    Presidio Golf Course and club

    The year 2006 was bad for the casual, sometimes ironic activity of hitting buckets of golf balls, for that was the year SOMA's beloved Mission Bay golf complex shut down and became a vacant dirt lot (which it remains). But relief can still be had within the city proper. The range at the esteemed, very clubby Presidio Golf Course is perched just inside Golden Gate Park, next to the Arguello entrance, so you can slip in largely undetected with your... More >>

  • Best Public Pool

    North Beach Pool

    Three years after an extensive $7.5 million renovation, North Beach Pool remains the city's sleekest public watering spot. Two parallel 90-foot pools are housed in a low-slung luxury-liner-like milieu of aqua-green mosaic tiles, a retractable skylight, and floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on the Joe DiMaggio Playground tennis courts and the spires of Peter and Paul. There's even a dry sauna available for postflotation refreshment. The cold pool (76 degrees) is used exclusively by lap swimmers; the warm pool (85 degrees)... More >>

  • Best High-Risk Water Sport

    Kite Surfing at Ocean Beach

    Kite surfing in the bay is nasty enough — freezing water, hellish currents, oil tanker captains playing chicken with the bridge footings. But the hardiest waterfolk have cast an eye toward a body of water that has made killing people a matter of record for decades: Ocean Beach. When conditions become horrendous for any activity beyond trying to withstand a gale, out go the kite surfers, riding back and forth, skimming atop the wind-tossed sea and threading along the powerful... More >>

  • Best Sportswriter

    The Betting Fool

    Even before readers began to read his first column a decade ago, the Chronicle's Betting Fool scored major points with his moniker. It was an explicit acknowledgement of the simple truth that few newspapers and no TV network that broadcasts sports will admit: Many Americans watch sports because they have money riding on the outcome. Why else would the average Joe tune in for Texas versus Austin Peay in a first-round NCAA tournament game, or endure the tedious inanity of... More >>

  • Best Place to Play Pétanque

    Pétanque Bowling Field, Golden Gate Park

    Golden Gate Park has so many tucked-away, little-known attractions — the cardplayers' shelter, the fly-casting pool, the archery field, the lake reserved for model yachts and sailboats — it isn't surprising that there's a tree-lined clearing set aside for the purpose of playing pétanque. Formally invented (after a lengthy gestation period) 101 years ago in Provence (Balzac and Pagnol were aficionados), the game resembles Italian bocce and English lawn bowling but has its own particular mystique. The idea is to... More >>

  • Best Yoga Studio

    YogaKula San Francisco

    What makes YogaKula (formerly Yoga Sangha)so dang great, considering the surfeit of studios in the area whose sun salutations could vie with the best of 'em? Pure, utter unpretentiousness is what. Maybe it's the gritty brand of Mission Street down-hominess — flyer-posting anarchopunks alongside grandmothers picking up goodies at the local panaderia — that sets the place apart from the more bougie asana peddlers. Or perhaps it's the gorgeous yoga studio itself, with its sun-dappled hardwood and floor-to-ceiling windows looking... More >>

  • Best Aerobics Alternative

    Bombshell Betty Dance Burlesquercise

    Tired of the gym? Yawning at yoga? If your workout routine needs a little oomph and maybe even a dose of va-va-voom, get off the treadmill and slap on those pasties. Bombshell Betty is the eponymous shimmy-shaker who leads gaggles of women — from shy coeds to brassy grandmas — to hot bods and greater confidence, sans the sweat and ogling crowds. This ain't just boa-fluffy stripper aerobics. As titillating as the moves can be, Betty's bump 'n' grind warm-ups... More >>

  • Best Drop-In Dance Lessons

    Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts

    Attention all dancers at heart still stinging from the bun-headed bitches and stage mothers who made dance class hell back in high school: There's a place to dance and enjoy yourself in high-quality classes without the catty pressure of a studio setting. From Tuesday to Saturday, the Mission Cultural Center (one block from the 24th St. BART station) offers a myriad of classes for children and adults: ballet, flamenco, salsa, samba, Afro-Cuban, Aztec, tango, capoeira, Nicaraguan folklore, hip-hop, and belly-dancing.... More >>

  • Best Steep Hill Bike Ride

    Broderick Street

    You think you're a champion because you can ride your bike up California Street? Think you're king of the mountains because you can creep your way up 17th Street from the Castro? Think you know hills? Well, we'll give you some hills! Dalewood as it circles Mount Davidson hits 25 percent for a quarter mile. Duncan hits 28 percent between Diamond and Douglass. The final southern block of Stanyan hits 33 percent — double the grade of 17th Street. But... More >>

  • Best Outing with the Kids

    Tandem Bike Trip to Tiburon (Plus Ferry Back to S.F.)

    Every adult who has fidgeted for two hours in the Bay Area Discovery Museum's Clifford the Big Red Dog exhibition — or whatever other child-intoxicating abomination has been installed there since — knows how achingly boring it can be to take the kids to, well, places where kids want to go. But there is a solution: tandem bikes. You scoff, we know — but hear us out. Children absolutely love riding a bike as fast as they've seen their parents... More >>

  • Best Bicycle Shop for Rookies

    Pacific Bicycle

    If you've finally decided to buy a bicycle but suddenly realize you don't really know anything, then get yourself over to Pacific Bicycle. The employees are all avid riders, and will take plenty of time to show you what kind of bike will fit your body as well as your price range. That amount of service is no small thing in San Francisco, where the bicycle is worshipped and some shop owners look at you like the damned if you... More >>

  • Best New Skate Shop

    Mission Skateboards

    With a half-dozen of them in San Francisco, skate shops are not exactly rare in this town. But the city has been missing a back-to-basics shop — that is, until Mission Skateboards opened late last year. Instead of overtly catering to money-burning sneakerheads the way other shops do, co-owner Thorin Ryan provides skateboarders with a firm-handshake sort of place. Skate videos old and new loop on a projection screen, and the clerks are always down for a sidewalk barbecue (beer provided!).... More >>

  • Best Place to Skate Under the Influence

    16th St. between Church and Mission

    A boozy midnight barge down 16th Street's seamless blacktop is a great way to enjoy the city after dark. It's also the most fun way to violate the city's bullshit ban on skating at night or in the street. Powerslide, split lanes, and skitch your way to that fifth tall can of Tecate. If you're itching to crack it and wanna socialize, post up with lurkers outside Delirium, aka Hooker Spit. That's where skateboard barneys, American Apparel employees, fixed-gear babes,... More >>

  • Best Legal Skateboarding Spot

    "Third and Army"

    A rectangular plaza initially created to accommodate lunching factory workers, Third and Army (more like Indiana and Marin) has existed as the city's unofficial public skate park for more than a decade. Flush with the Islais Creek channel, the spot is iconic for its block-long stretch of waxed concrete ledges. Recently, proactive locals have anchored a flat-bar and added a concrete quarter-pipe (now the spot's second), in which Eric Koston and Mark Gonzales are shown skating on this month's cover... More >>

  • Best Place to Practice Parkour (Sorta Legally)

    The Bunkers in the Presidio

    In the unofficial sport of parkour, there are no teams or regulations, just acrobatically inclined individuals traveling a short distance in a straight line — the more wall-scaling and rooftop leaping, the better. For the traceurs who use public stairways, ledges, and lampposts in their quest for a mind-over-matter outlook and killer calves, the world is their practice gym. Problem is, a lot of the world is private property. While some have negotiated unofficial practicing rights with nightwatchmen, those concerned... More >>

  • Tastiest Walking Tour

    The San Francisco Gourmet Chocolate Tour

    Three hours of purposeful walking around the Embarcadero, Financial District, and Union Square while inhaling a gluttonous amount of candy confections is precisely our idea of getting fit and happy. Some fabulous highlights of the Bay Area chocolate boom that has taken off over the past few years may be found in these areas, from the transcendent bonbons of Recchiuti in the Ferry Building and the exciting start-up Tcho (which makes chocolate from bean to bar) to the otherworldly, obsessive... More >>

  • Best Far-Out Flashback

    Flashback Tour of Haight-Ashbury

    Forget the Gap store at Haight and Ashbury. This two-hour walking tour through the symbolic birthplace of the flower child revolution is all about the '60s, baby. And to keep things light, your guide is a comedian. Starting at the Peace Cafe in the Red Victorian Bed and Breakfast at 1665 Haight (near Belvedere), you stroll down Summer of Love's memory lane past the onetime homes of Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane. Along the way, your good-humored... More >>

  • Best Yacht Club for Nonboaters

    Mariposa Hunters Point Yacht Club

    As cookie-cutter loft renovations turn Third Street into a wasteland of yuppie money, you have to hold on fast to the old-school charm of a place like the Mariposa Hunters Point Yacht Club. Created in 1932, the waterfront property is a working-class watering hole without an ounce of pretension, with cheap drinks, amiable bartenders, and events ranging from BBQs to cruises on the bay. Although the club prefers patrons to own boats, your interest in seafaring voyages is more important... More >>

  • Best High-Art Ping-Pong

    Ping Pong Gallery

    Joey Piziali, co-owner of the Ping Pong Gallery in Potrero Hill, got skunked, and the rules are the rules. "I had to crawl ass-backwards under the table," he admits several months after the crushing defeat at one of the gallery's bimonthly social gatherings. Piziali and his partner, Vanessa Blaikie, opened the Ping-Pong–themed gallery in November 2005 with the idea that the game and its back-and-forth nature had applications to art. They brought in a five-by-five white Baltic birch table and... More >>

  • Best Local Sports Heroes

    Man, does the Bay Area have some crappy teams or what? It's not easy to assemble a list of bests for some of the worst teams in professional sports. This is what we came up with. Best Giant Tim Lincecum Tim "The Enchanter" Lincecum is perhaps the first Major League player ever handed a nickname derived from Monty Python. With his youthful looks and a baggy uniform billowing off his 5-foot-11, 160ish-pound frame, you can't help but think, "They're... More >>

  • Readers' Poll Winners

    Best Foot Race Bay to Breakers Best Bike Race AIDS ride Best Hike Mount Tamalpais Best Place to Skateboard Embarcadero Best Fitness Club Crunch Best Martial Arts Studio Quantum Martial Arts Best Bike Shop Valencia Cyclery Best Ski/Snowboard Shop SFO San Francisco Best Public Tennis Court Alta Plaza Park Best Golf Course Presidio Golf Course & Clubhouse Best Place to Walk the Dog Dolores Park Best Jog Golden Gate Park Best Sailing Supplies West Marine Best Yoga Studio Mission Yoga... More >>

Search Best Of Awards

Best Of Award Graphics 2008