Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Sports & Recreation

  • Best Way to Get Contemplatively Lost

    Looking for the Labyrinth at Land's End

    Obviously the Labyrinth at Land's End inside Golden Gate National Park Conservancy exists. There's proof all over the Internet! Artist Eduardo Aguilera says he created it! But just try finding the damn thing. Yes, it's nestled somewhere among the rocky coastline at Land's End, between one stunning view and another. And yes, there's only so many lovely paths to wander down. But no matter how much prep-work you do, finding this is like life itself: You never really know until... More >>

  • Best Place to Relax While Feeling Like You're on an '80s Porn Set

    The Hot Tubs

    There are plenty of establishments offering offering the sauna-and-spa experience, but if you're looking for a retro vibe to go with your shvitz, The Hot Tubs is the best value for your soaking-in-hot-water dollar. It's certainly neither the most nor least sleazy joint in town. The rooms are clean, with pleasing tiles and paint jobs, and if you get there before 5 o'clock you get an extra half-hour for free. There are even convenient coupons available on the website. But... More >>

  • Best Kid-Friendly Outdoor Adventure

    Urbia Adventure League

    If you're entertaining kids in San Francisco, you've likely already hit the Zoo, the Academy of Sciences, and the Exploratorium. All those are great. But what if you want to show your children an adventure in the city's gorgeous and diverse outdoors, seek out the Urbia Adventure League. Founders Damien Raffa and Barbara Corff have dedicated themselves to getting S.F. kids outside and inspiring in them eco-literacy and sense of place. After learning about "questing," a tradition of creating and... More >>

  • Best Day Trip

    Point Reyes National Seashore

    Ever feel like life is a series of repeated exercises that bounce you between your office and the couch? Escape the doldrums with a trek north to the Point Reyes Lighthouse in the Marin County headlands. This enduring lighthouse, which opened in 1870, guided seafarers for over 100 years through the second-foggiest waters on the North American continent from one of the windiest places on the Pacific Coast. The 1906 earthquake moved the cast-iron colossus a whopping 18 feet north,... More >>

  • Best First Date

    Conservatory of Flowers

    Bring romance back to its together-in-real-time, stop-and-smell-the-flowers basics with a visit to the iconic Conservatory of Flowers, built in 1879 and both the park's oldest structure and the nation's oldest wooden conservatory. Much more than a greenhouse, the Conservatory stands as a sensory experience—its heated interior alone will melt away first-date jitters. On display are over 1,700 species of tropical, potted, and aquatic plants—one of which, the Victoria amazonica, a giant water lily, has been known to grow up to... More >>

  • Best Indoor Nature Fun

    Randall Museum

    This city-run museum atop Corona Heights hosts a menagerie of rescued wild animals for your budding Jack Hanna. Kids can get up close and personal with a desert tortoise, a gopher snake, a hawk, two kinds of owls, and a talking raven. The miniature petting zoo includes rabbits, exotic chickens, and guinea pigs, plus kids can peer into the cross-section of a buzzing beehive. In other parts of the museum, aspiring seismologists can build Lego houses on vibrating platforms and... More >>

  • Best Place to Practice the Force

    Letterman Digital Arts Center

    There was no small amount of controversy in 1999 when George Lucas won the bidding war to build in the Presidio, and it continued until the Letterman Digital Arts Center opened in 2005. At issue: whether the facilities would blend in with the old-old-old-school Presidio architecture (which they do, nicely). Complicating matters, those Star Wars prequels came out between 1999 and 2005, and nobody's been very happy with George since then. But, now that time has had its way, it's... More >>

  • Best Excuse to Perform Kung Fu in Public

    AT&T Park (Giants' Ballpark)

    Bruce Lee was born in San Francisco, which grants us the right to claim him as our own. (Just like that other genius of controlled kinetic movement, Isadora Duncan.) For those born too late to see his name on theater marquees, the martial arts maestro achieved international stardom by reinventing the action movie in a supernova burst interrupted by his death in 1973 at 32. Lee resides in the pantheon of screen immortals alongside James Dean and Elvis, but come... More >>

  • Best Midnight Yoga

    Laughing Lotus Center

    While most people out on 16th Street on a Friday night are hitting the bars, one group opts for hippies over hipsters. Deepening into their chair poses, the practitioners at the Laughing Lotus Center are supported by an array of candles and live musicians, who accompany the transitions (or flow) between poses with a quiet sitar, a cello's rich hum, or the guttural drones of the didgeridoo. The result is music as therapy — or at least trance-like, blissed-out yoga.... More >>

  • Best Bowling League

    Presidio Bowling Center

    Good news for all the fun-loving amateurs who have been chased away from bowling nights by too-serious experts demanding silence as they strive for that 300 game they're never going to get. At Thirsty Thursdays league night, you don't have to wear matching shirts, or even be very good, so you should feel free to jump up and down when someone gets a strike. It's just about drinking beer and hanging out with friends at this league night. For seven... More >>

  • Best Waterfall

    Huntington Falls

    Yes, it's man-made and flows into the bird-filled Stow Lake rather than some Yosemite basin, but there's something about the kitschy Splash Mountain vibe of Huntington Falls that draws us back each time we stroll through the park. We often forget the falls were established far before Disneyland; the water has been flowing since the early 1900s, when Golden Gate Park designer John McLearn was inspired to create the structure after meeting with John Muir. Climb the stairs adjacent the... More >>

  • Best Intellectual Tour for Locals

    ThinkWalks

    Between dealing with Segways, yellow minigolf carts, and giant red buses, it's easy to get tired of tours without even actually going on one. But not all tours have forgotten the locals. ThinkWalks, led by Joel Pomerantz, is the best one for those who want to learn about the city's natural and historical past. Tours cover topics from public art to geography to politics, and take place all over our 49 square miles, from the Water Walking Tour to the... More >>

  • Best Natural Art Piece Resembling the Transamerica Building

    Andy Goldsworthy's Spire

    Situated on a hillside inside the Presidio, the 100-foot-tall structure composed of cypress tree trunks dwarfs the young pines surrounding it, and towers over the rows of cypresses to the west. Completed in 2008, Spire is built of unhealthy trees that required cutting, and at first glance looks like the first step in prepping the city's best-ever bonfire. Pass it at different times of the day and year, and its subtle beauty becomes more apparent: The spire cuts a sliver... More >>

  • Best Bowling Alley

    Mission Bowling Club

    Since January, San Francisco has jumped from a one-bowling-alley town to one boasting three. One of the newcomers is truly a knockout. The industrial exterior of Mission Bowling Club, an 8,000-square-foot warehouse in the heart of the Mission District, disguises a retro décor that pays stylish homage to the sport. Six beautiful golden lanes upend the stereotype of sticky floors and bad upholstery choices, and Chef Anthony Myint, the mastermind behind popular local restaurants Commonwealth and Mission Chinese Food, has... More >>

  • Best 49er

    Justin Smith

    We could have chosen any number of standouts from the 49ers' transcendent defense for this honor — which is why a player of Justin Smith's caliber has flown under the radar for so long. In fact, the 6-foot-4, 285-pound defensive end may be the team's third-most illustrious Smith after Alex and Aldon. He's well known in Hawaii, however, having cracked three consecutive Pro Bowl rosters. Last year, in fact, he was tapped as an AP All-Pro at both defensive end... More >>

  • Best Use of Candy During a Professional Football Game

    49ers Fan Feeding Skittles to Larry Grant

    Christmas Eve. The 49ers needed a win for a first-round bye in the playoffs. Up by two with less than 90 seconds left, they had let Seattle drive to the 36 yard line and game-winning field goal range. Seahawks star running back and Oakland native Marshawn Lynch had ripped apart the Niners' defense all game, rushing for 107 years and becoming the first man to score a rushing touchdown against the Giants all season. To celebrate, Seahawks fans had showered... More >>

  • Best Giant

    Buster Posey

    In 2010, Rookie of the Year Gerald Dempsey Posey III hit .305, popped 18 home runs, and provided Johnny Bench-like defense behind the plate in the Giants' championship season. Last year, his season was limited to 45 games after a brutal home plate collision that bent his leg in several directions a leg is not supposed to bend. The team, to put it mildly, did not challenge for a world title in his absence. Ergo: Posey is kinda important. The... More >>

  • Best Golden State Warrior

    David Lee

    In a sense, David Lee wins this accolade the way Carl Lewis won the gold in the 100-meter dash at the 1988 Olympics: Monta Ellis was the Warriors' best player this year, but as he is no longer eligible, the prize goes to the next guy. No shame in this, though. Lee put together the best season of his career in 2011-12, notching a consistent 16 and 10. While he probably should have snatched more double-doubles, he also should have... More >>

  • Best Hippie Idea in Action

    Alemany Farm

    "If you don't work, you don't eat," English settlers at Jamestown were told. So they toiled — or starved. Nowadays, one needn't dirty one's hands for daily bread, but those seeking togetherness with their food don't require such survival incentive. Every Monday and on most weekends, volunteers grab hoes and rakes and till the urban soil, driven by pure ideals. The small pond and windmill visible from two freeways alerts visitors that there's something different about this neighborhood attraction between... More >>

  • Best Parklet with Video Games

    Luna Rienne Gallery

    You can keep your upright bicycle parking, uptight faux-European cafe-style outdoor seating, and whatever else is going on in your reclaimed parking space: It isn't classic video games encapsulated in publicly sittable art installations. The making of artist Erik Otto, whose works currently feature in the gallery inside, this parklet's rolling hill, lighthouse, and beanbag chairs are all made of recycled materials scrounged from the city's dump, where Otto was artist-in-residence. The ancient color television and vintage video game setup... More >>

  • Best Fun Way to Break a Limb

    Billy Goat Hill

    Eucalyptus trees are the rebels and outcasts of our plant community. Originally from Australia, the trees have systematically pushed out and dominated San Francisco's native species, causing ecological terror and chaos. The madness hasn't stopped here. In the process of taking over, one particular eucalyptus tree has taken its DGAF attitude to the next level — meet the Rope Swing at Billy Goat Hill. Sitting solo on the outermost edge of the hill, the tree offers a lovely view of... More >>

  • Best Fighting Alternative to Expensive Gyms

    Mission Recreation Center

    Get in shape, drop weight, and become an Olympic fighter. Why not? Raquel Miller did it. The Bayview native began boxing just a few years ago, doling out $8 per class at a public gym in the Mission to learn the skills that took her to training camp for the U.S. Olympic women's boxing team. The jabs, hooks, and slips taught by area Golden Gloves winners have taken Miller to tournaments in China and across the country, but the MRC... More >>

  • Best Full-Contact Fun with (Clothed) Strangers

    SF Footy's Coed Australian Rules Football

    Situated within a Tecate's throw of the infamous Marina Dateway, the Fort Mason green has long been a see-and-be-seen scene. Is that why SF Footy, the coed Australian rules football club, sets its goal stakes up there each season? The sport is simple: Advance the ball up field with foot or clenched fist, and then get it through upright posts before someone rips it away. Think soccer for grownups, or football for athletes capable of moving longer than 15 seconds... More >>

  • Best Place to Run

    Crissy Field

    Many runners swear that Marin or the East Bay beats S.F. proper, which terrain snobs swear is a concrete jungle. These complainers must not have hit Crissy Field, which is as good as a running route gets. It's got the perfect trifecta: a grand dirt trail, a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and a coffee stand at the end.... More >>

  • Readers' Poll Winners

    Bike Shop Mike’s Bikes Best Boot Camp Koi Fitness Best Golf Course Presidio Best Gym Club One Fitness Best Hike Land’s End Best Park Golden Gate Best Dog Walk Duboce Park Best Athlete Buster Posey Best Team Giants Best View Twin Peaks Best Yoga Studio Iyengar Yoga Institute Best Place to Skateboard Doyle Drive... More >>

Search Best Of Awards

Best Of Award Graphics 2012