I should be living in the wilderness. Luckily, this city is perfect for metro-phobes like me and has plenty of open spaces, secret hills, and eucalyptus groves. Recently I spent a whole day walking and didn't hit a single city street...so I thought I'd share.
??If you are one of the fortunate Green Tortoise Guests, take the 71 bus from Market street over to Golden Gate Park. Golden Gate Park is huge, so you'll have to wander around for yourself, but a couple of my favorite spots are the Cal Academy of Sciences green roof, the sculpture garden next to the De Young, SF botanical garden, and most importantly, the BISON PADDOCK! I love bison, and you probably do too.??
Keep walking west until you hit the giant windmill and tulip garden, where you'll find the Great Highway and beautiful Ocean Beach. Watch surfers, sunbathers, and puppies while you perhaps eat a picnic lunch. If you really like to plan ahead, get a sandwich from Molinaris Deli in North Beach just as you are leaving the Green Tortoise hostel. That is, if you can wait to eat it. ??
At this point in your travels, you can follow my lead and take a short post-lunch nap, or walk striaight up Ocean Beach to the north, where Land's End rises from the surf. At the top of the hill near the parking lot you'll find the beginning of the Land's End trail, which is a truly breathtaking hike along the coastal cliffs.
The trail offers up fantastic views of the Marin Headlands, the Golden Gate, and during low tide, shipwrecks! Also a great area for relaxed people watching; I came across a man nestled in a sunny, grassy pocket overlooking the Bridge, sipping a coffee, and reading the newspaper. Just through a cypress grove and down a hill of wooden steps, a couple of banjo playing 20-somethings. On a windy, open cliffside, an artist was painting a group of California Poppies. Skip the fisherman's wharf wax museum and see real people, out in the world, breathing Pacific air and watching the ships come in.??
Some other green places: ??
Tank Hill Open Space- Perhaps the best view in the entire city.?
Alta Plaza- It's a shame adults can't play on playgrounds by themselves. If you must, kidnap your cousins and enjoy the most scenic swingset in SF.?
Mt. Sutro- A few years ago, conservation volunteers found the remnants of century old riding trails in the Eucalyptus forest of Mt. Sutro. After much rebuilding, 5 miles of dirt paths now wind through hills and valleys of flowering trees and quiet groves. Watch out for mountain bikers zooming by.?
Crissy Field- A beautiful grassy expanse at the water's edge. A giant sculpture of an elephant seal. In the shadow of Golden Gate Bridge. Not to mention the bomber Planet Granite climbing gym in one of the old warehouses and the popular "warming hut" coffee shop. ?
Grand View Park- The gem of the Sunset district, in my opinion. A challenging set of stairs snakes up the west side to a small hill summit adorned with grizzled cypress trees and a single bench overlooking the park, the headlands, and the Pacific.