By Lauren Seward, on behalf of the Balboa Village Merchants Association (BVMA)
Although so much of San Francisco is known for being an outdoor lover’s paradise, the Outer Richmond district seems to be overlooked as a recommendation for those looking to find a bit of nature in the big city. From Ocean Beach to Golden Gate Park, there truly is an outdoor activity for everyone, whether they seek sport and adventure or just a break from life.
And to think, this is all just steps off the Balboa Village Corridor, home to restaurants, bakeries, shops, and the famed Balboa Theater.
Here is a run down of just a few of the outdoor activities that BVMA recommends to patrons who are looking to find a piece of the big outdoors in our little neighborhood.
Fort Miley Adventure Challenge Course (Ropes Course)
The Fort Miley Adventure Challenge Course is more than just a chance to get up in the trees — it is a thrilling and mentally engaging opportunity for individuals or groups to reconnect with nature while building confidence in themselves and in others. The ropes course takes you through the trees in a series of challenges that range in difficulty; some are on the ground, and others take you dozens of feet in the air.
Small groups and individuals are invited to come to Community Open Days on the first Sunday of each month from 1–4pm. Larger groups of 10–100 people are welcome to rent the service throughout the rest of the year. Pricing: $35 youth and students, $50 for adults. Learn more at: http://www.pliprograms.org/programs/fort-miley/
Bike Trails and Rentals in Golden Gate Park
While the streets of San Francisco aren’t exactly the most bikeable, Golden Gate Park (GGP) totally is. There are hundreds of miles of bike-friendly roads and trails and plenty of businesses that rent bikes by the hour or day. If you already have your own bike, consider bringing it on the 5-Fulton, 38-Geary, or 7-Haight buses to get it out here (or you can ride one of the many bike routes that get you here throughout the city).
The most well-placed bike rental shop is Golden Gate Park Bike & Skate on Fulton St between 6th and 7th Aves in the Inner Richmond district. You can rent an adult bike by the hour ($5) or by the day ($25) from 10am-5pm on Monday to Friday and 10am-6pm on the weekend. A bike helmet and lock is included in your rental, so you can safely park your bike when you come check out all of the great businesses in the Outer Richmond! GGP Bike & Skate: 3038 Fulton Ave, San Francisco, CA.
If you’re already in the park, Parkwide rents out bikes, tandem bikes (for two), and surreys (for two or four) daily from 8am-6pm. You can find them behind the bandshell at the Music Concourse between the California Academy of Sciences and De Young Museum.
Pro tip: much of John F Kennedy Dr (a major road that runs through GGP) is closed to motorized traffic on Sundays, making it the optimal day for biking in the park. Read more about biking in the park here. The most detailed map of all GGP bike routes can be found my viewing GGP on Google Maps and turning on the Bicycling Path layer.
Archery in the Outer Richmond and GGP
If you’re ever feeling particularly medieval, you can get your kicks at the archery range in GGP, just steps off Fulton and 47th Ave. The range is open year-round, but you first need to rent or purchase a bow, arrows, and other archery supplies before you get there. We also highly suggest a lesson or two before your first run.
SF Archery Pro Shop is the most highly regarded archery equipment provider in the area, and offers an incredible deal on rentals and various kinds of lessons for various settings — private, company team-building, and events/birthday parties. They are open every day of the week from 11am-6pm.
SF Archery Pro Shop: 3795 Balboa Street, San Francisco, California 94121
You can take beginning lessons directly at the archery range on Tuesdays from 2–4pm and on Thursdays from 12–2pm and 2–4pm. Intermediate archery classes are offered on the same days from 1–3pm. Learn more about archery in GGP here.
Beach Bonfires at Ocean Beach
There are few scenarios more “California” than ending a sunny beach day with a roaring bonfire as the sun sets. Unfortunately, there are very few opportunities for this dream to come true… unless you make your way to the only place where public bonfires are permitted in all of San Francisco.
Located just steps from the Outer Richmond, the length of Ocean Beach between stairwells 15 and 21 (where GGP meets the sea) is home to sixteen fire pits. These fire pits are free for small groups and individuals, and operate on a first come, first served basis. Groups of 25 or more require permits in advance. Visit here to learn more about the Ocean Beach Fire Program.
***Things to keep in mind***
Beach fires are not allowed during the No-Burn Season at Ocean Beach, which runs from November 1 through the end of February this year. Fires in the pits have to be extinguished by 9:30pm and need to be put out with water, not sand! Most importantly, please remember that these fire pits will only stay open if we actively work to keep the beach safe for all!