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Sports & Recreation

  • Best Early-Bird Pickup Basketball Run

    YMCA, Embarcadero

    From swimming in lanes to jogging in parks, early-morning workouts tend to be solitary. Not at the Embarcadero Y.M.C.A., where full-court five-on-five pickup basketball games start at 6 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Long waits to play are rare, and the competition is largely good-natured. You won't find Monta Ellis gliding through the lane here, or even Andris Biedrins rising up for a rebound. The usual parade of shirted and skinned gym rats holding court here include foul-prone scrappers, lumbering... More >>

  • Readers' Poll Winners

    Best Bike Path The Wiggle Best Place for Skateboard Embarcadero Best Gym Bar Method, Marina Best Martial Arts Studio Suginami Aikikai Best Bike Shop Valencia Cyclery Best Ski/Snowboard Shop Sports Basement Best Public Tennis Court Dolores Park Best Golf Course Harding Park Best Place to Walk the Dog Crissy Field Best Jog Crissy Field Best Yoga Mission Yoga Best Sportswriter Ray Ratto, San Francisco Chronicle Best Sportscaster Jon Miller, ESPN and Giants Best Giant Tim Lincecum Best 49er Frank Gore... More >>

  • Best New Hybrid Workout

    Planet Granite

    Stunning views of San Francisco Bay loom through the windows of this climbing-plus-all-in-one gym and yoga studio. The scenery surrounding this hangar off Crissy Field is just one of the reasons this spot is so remarkable. Climbing builds long, lean muscles, while yoga stretches them — so this combo packs a double whammy. Towering walls are staggered throughout the open layout, and teem with climbers of all levels and ages. Classes are held daily, starting with Belay Lessons and Climbing... More >>

  • Best Indoor Playspace

    Recess Urban Recreation

    For people who don't have babies, indoor playspaces (with their monthly fees) are a perfectly insane idea. "Go to a playground!" the child-free scream. "We do, all the time!" parents shoot back. "But it's cold, my baby just learned how to walk, and a homeless person is shooting smack in the fort, and stay out of raising my baby!" So true: For the very young, playgrounds can be as hazardous as ungated staircases. But behold the interior of Recess: 3,200... More >>

  • Best Training Group

    Team in Training - Greater San Francisco Bay Area Chapter

    This enthusiastic and well-organized bunch envelops you in its team mentality. It's infectious. It's almost a better way to meet people if you're new to the city than singles night at a club, or joining Whether you're training for the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon, a century ride, or just a shorter 10K walk, Team in Training hosts weekly sessions and clinics on injury prevention, nutrition, and race-day tips. The incredibly supportive mentors and coaches do laps around the Presidio... More >>

  • Best Secret Sporting Event

    Dead Fucking Last Cross-Dress Cyclocross

    To innocent passersby, the annual DFL Cross-Dress Cyclocross series defies explanation: Without warning, 150 bicycle-mounted men and women, mostly in drag, emerge from a thicket in full sprint, leap from their cycles like acrobats, and then throw them over their shoulders and sprint up dirt embankments. This is a two-decades-old subterranean version of a century-old off-road sport called cyclocross. The San Francisco version, however, is even more anarchic. Events, which are held during September and October, are announced by word... More >>

  • Best Street Closures

    Sunday Streets

    We're a city of street fairs. For decades, we've raised barricades, stationed cops, erected stages, and clogged sidewalks with truckloads of questionable merch. Turns out we're wasting everybody's time: Sunday Streets proves that all people want is for the city to close the streets, then step away from the planning table. Last year's Mission closures (huge swaths of 24th and Valencia streets) drew thousands to simply walk, paradelike, down the usually traffic-bombed corridors. We got to truly explore the flavor... More >>

  • Best Rugged Hike

    Mile Rock Beach

    Strap on your boots for this one: There's a reason this stretch of sand just beyond the Golden Gate is one of San Francisco's great unknowns. What was once the site of Adolph Sutro's private railroad, meant to lure daytrippers out to his Sutro Baths, is now nothing more than a narrow trail perched atop steep cliffs overlooking treacherous Pacific waves. Maneuver past Dead Man's Point, and the prize awaits you at the bottom of the 100-plus steps down a... More >>

  • Best Family Hike to a Nudist Beach

    Battery to Bluffs Trail

    It used to be that the trail to North Baker Beach was so overgrown with poison oak and other brush that only nudists, mostly male, found it worth the trip. The National Park Service completed a first-rate trail in 2007, and since then, the balance of visitors has steadily tipped toward families. As long as visitors can ignore occasional grumpy nudists, disappointed at the invasion of their formerly exclusive enclave, it's a great place to take the kids to play... More >>

  • Most Stunning Surf Break

    Fort Point

    The left break off Fort Point directly beneath the Golden Gate Bridge may be one of the world's most challenging waves. For surfers brave enough to dodge tankers and tempt the raging current, it's an accessible spot. It's even better for spectators when a big swell comes in. You can stand on the rocks and practically reach out and touch the daredevils as they maneuver for position. Fort Point takes a combination of conditions to break; it's dependent largely on... More >>

  • Best Dog-Friendly Gym

    Fit Bernal Fit

    Artwork by Jesse Lefkowitz For many a San Francisco dog owner, the question of whether to work out at the gym and leave the pup at home, or slog up Bernal hill (again) with leash in hand has heavy moral implications. But thanks to Fit Bernal Fit, you can maintain your regular workout routine while your canine is within barking distance. Whether they’re chilling with other dogs in the lounge, or out on a prearranged walk around the neighborhood, dogs... More >>

  • Best Playground with a View

    Walter Haas Park and Playground

    At some point, all parents wonder why they're trying to raise kids in San Francisco instead of Walnut Creek (usually that point involves seeing wide-eyed tweens wandering the Mission, or someone defecating al fresco). That's when a trip to Haas is in order. Perched atop Diamond Heights, it features a newish playground, an undulating grass field, a basketball court, a dog run, and — wait. Forget all that, for now, because on your first visit you'll be pulled to the... More >>

  • Best Bike Ride for Kids

    Golden Gate Park Panhandle to Sutro Heights

    You can take this eight-mile round-trip ride to a great picnic and play destination mostly unaccompanied by cars. Start at John F. Kennedy Drive at Oak and Stanyan streets, and proceed along bike trails through Golden Gate Park to the Great Highway. Cross at the light and follow the sidewalk on the west side of Point Lobos Avenue. Ride past the Cliff House to the 48th Avenue stoplight, and head south to the entrance of a park that used to... More >>

  • Best Women's Marathon

    The Nike Women's Marathon

    The Nike Women's Marathon starts in Union Square, winds through Golden Gate Park, and ends up at the Pacific Ocean. With nearly 20,000 men and women taking part, the energy is electric, the volunteers organized and ubiquitous. DJs and bands jam along the route, and there are multiple stations serving up water, Gatorade, energy bars, and even Ghirardelli chocolates. Finishers are handed Tiffany necklaces by tuxedo-clad porters. The race, now in its seventh year, is so popular that participants must... More >>

  • Best Swim

    Aquatic Park

    Swimmers intimidated by the Pacific's wild waves can head instead to 415's equivalent of a tidal pool in the extremely accessible, calm waters of Aquatic Park. There's no need for membership in the nearby Dolphin Club (with its private beach, pah!): Note the many people cheerfully stripping down and jumping in for a few laps beneath the watchful eyes of tourists waiting for the Hyde Street cable car. Bathers range from marathon swimmers to doggy paddlers; then there are those... More >>

  • Best Giant

    Pablo Sandoval

    Hope springs eternal that the Giants will win the National League West this season. And with the Giants' pitching staff, they may yet be able to do so with players like Aubrey Huff, Mark DeRosa, and Aaron Rowand sopping up key at-bats. Yet no one runs into the room to watch the television when one of the aforementioned quasisluggers comes up. You will for Pablo "Panda" Sandoval, a roly-poly, switch-hitting baseball savant who plays with the happiness everyone as remarkably... More >>

  • Best 49er

    Vernon Davis

    Prior to last season, the San Francisco 49ers' tight end was a classic example of the old saying that potential never won anything. Davis was smart, he was strong, he had great speed — he had great hair. But he was best remembered for being thrown out of a game in Oct. 2008 by coach Mike Singletary, who went on to deliver a profoundly entertaining rant ("Cannot play with them. Cannot win with them. Cannot coach with them. Can't do... More >>

  • Best Chance to Watch Tomorrow's NBA Superstars for Free

    Kezar Pavilion

    When the next National Basketball Association superstar is blowing up, fans will all want to tell stories about how they saw him way back when. And if your story includes said superstar playing pro-am ball in a gym best known for being the home of roller derby — you win. SF Bay Area Pro-Am offers fans the chance to watch high-quality men's and women's basketball games for the same price as blowing your nose without a tissue: free. Past stars... More >>

  • Best Bar to Shoot Pool

    Jillian's Billiards Club

    San Francisco is a tough town for hustlers of all varieties, but the kind who carry pool cues are particularly hard up. Every bar with a billiards table seems crowded with douchebags, be they the sort with popped collars or those wearing their wallets on chains, and all are jockeying for the chance to show their dates that they can't shoot worth a damn. Praise be that no-nonsense pool players still have a refuge at Jillian's, a lonely bright spot... More >>

  • Best Sporting Spectacle on Wheels

    Kezar Pavilion

    Roller derby was already in the midst of a renaissance when Drew Barrymore made it official with Whip It, her 2009 film about the adventures of a scrappy crew of derby-playing punk chicks. But nothing beats the thrill of watching men and women sporting roller skates and scant protective padding crunch the shit out of each other live and in the flesh. Luckily for San Franciscans, we have a formidable hometown team. The San Francisco Bay Bombers periodically play home... More >>

  • Best Places to Recreate in Golden Gate Park

    Photograph by Kelly Nicolaisen The crown jewels of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department are more than just lakes, trees, and world-class museums. Here the urban warrior can indulge in dozens of sports and activities, from soccer, softball, and skateboarding to the less mainstream forms of athletic endeavor. Over the past few years we’ve vouched for the park’s archery, pétanque, and model yacht–racing facilities. Here are a few more options. Horeshoe Pits Corner of Fulton (at Stanyan), off Conservatory... More >>

  • Profile: Mike Krukow, Giants Broadcaster

    By Joe Eskenazi Photograph by Joseph Schell When he was the San Francisco Giants' staff ace for much of the 1980s, Mike Krukow did not live in San Francisco. He's actually a bit apologetic about it. "I was renting a house on the Peninsula, I had a ton of kids, there was the proximity to [Candlestick Park] and the airport," he says. Krukow, a familiar voice to Bay Area fans as the Giants' radio and television announcer, now lives practically... More >>

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