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Adventure Town: The Play-by-Bay
Sure, there's plenty of outdoor activity surrounding San Francisco. But have you seen what's inside city limits?  Text by Bob Cooper   Photograph by Jeff Pfueger

Photo: Paddling in San Francisco

STAYING LOCAL: Sea kayaking beneath San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.     

See our selects for the 31 best places to live >>


BY THE NUMBERS

800
Number of yards from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to where a "Coyote Crossing" road sign is posted

70°F (21°C)
Average high temperature in October

7x7
Length and width (in miles) of San Francisco

31.5
Percent of incline of the steepest city block (Filbert Street between Leavenworth and Hyde)

"Out-of-town friends are always surprised by the nature inside the city."

—Carolyn Link, 25, San Francisco native and instructor at
Mission Cliffs Indoor Climbing gym

Like Alcatraz prisoner Frank Morris before them, San Franciscans are famous escape artists: Each weekend, they skip town to hike Big Sur, bike Point Reyes, or surf Santa Cruz. These three stellar options are each within three hours of the city. But what if you're short on time? The solution is San Francisco itself—an increasingly adventurous place, as recent years have seen the opening of the city's first kayaking center and continuing improvements to its urban trail network. Approximately 40 miles (64 kilometers) of within-city-limits trails now crisscross the Presidio (a former military base that has more than 60,000 trees), Lands End (where cliffs plummet to the Pacific), and Fort Funston (a dune-dominated favorite of local hang gliders). These three water-hugging preserves are a part of the 75,398-acre (30,512-hectare) Golden Gate National Recreation Area, a UNESCO biosphere reserve that's the largest urban national park in the world. With so much in-town parkland to play in, you'll be tempted to put yourself in local lockdown for a weekend, a week—even a life sentence.

Scouting Trip: Your Weekend in San Francisco

WHERE TO PLAY: Recently improved trails include the Bay Area Ridge Trail, in the Presidio, and the California Coastal Trail, in Lands End (www.parksconservancy.org). Bike and Roll rents full-suspension mountain bikes for exploring them ($10 per day; www.bikeandroll.com). Or paddle to one of four within-city-limits bay islands accessible from Pier 38, where City Kayak offers rentals ($15 an hour; www.citykayak.com).
 
WHERE TO EAT: At mid-hike enjoy the marinated artichoke and sun-dried tomato salad at The Warming Hut (www.parksconservancy.org/visit/parkcafes.php), which lies steps from the bay in the Presidio. The Beach Chalet (www.beachchalet.com) is the only restaurant in Golden Gate Park that sits right on the ocean; take in the historic murals while you feast on entrées such as housemade goat-cheese ravioli with local wild mushrooms.
 
WHERE TO STAY: The Hyatt Regency ($179; www.sanfranciscoregency.hyatt.com) is a short trolley ride from nearby kayak and bike rental shops. The quieter Stanyan Park Hotel ($135; www.stanyanpark.com) is a Victorian-era boutique property near Golden Gate Park.


Want to Live Here?


REAL ESTATE LOWDOWN: The median price for a single family home is a hefty $767,000, with the best values in SOMA (South of Market) and the Sunset District. City-wide, one-bedroom apartment rentals start around $1,200 a month.
 
WHAT $300,000 BUYS: Next to nothing within the city proper. Twice that buys a two-bedroom condo in the hot Mission District (www.sfarmls.com).
 
LOCAL ECONOMY: Effects of the dot-com crash are long past, and job growth is picking up again. In the first half of 2006, unemployment fell from 4.7 percent to 4.1 (national average: 4.8). Within commuting range are Google, Apple, Wells Fargo, and other tech, health-care, and finance giants.


Cover: Adventure magazine


Our October 2006 issue features how to live your Adventure dreamTanzania's man-eating lions; outdoor activities in San FranciscoWorld Class adventure travel trips; and more!






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