It’s summer in the San Francisco Bay Area! OK, not really. But it sure feels like it these days. The famously foggy City by the Bay and its surrounding areas can get downright chilly during the real summer months. But many of our late-autumn and early-winter days bring the kind of sunshine and clear skies that just make you want to get outdoors. Luckily, the Bay Area has thousands of acres of National Parks to help you do just that.
There are giants in California. They jut out of soil dampened by fog rolling in from the Pacific and reach greater heights than any other living thing on the planet. They are the coast redwoods: the world’s tallest trees. Many of them grow to be over 200 feet tall and the tallest soar to over 350 feet -- higher than a 30 story skyscraper. When you’re in the middle of redwoods and look up, you won’t be likely to see the tops of the trees and it’s fascinating to realize there’s a hidden world in the canopy above.
The picturesque Marin Headlands, located just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, is an ideal destination for wildlife watching. As part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), the entirety of the Headlands, including the historic Marin Headlands Hostel, reside within federally protected lands, and enfold an astounding richness of biological diversity.
Rainfall in the Bay Area brings many wonderful things: snow in the mountains, wildflowers to the hillsides, and water to the handful of small but mighty waterfalls in Marin County. For those who enjoy a reward after a long hike, consider these four hikes around HI Marin Headlands and HI Point Reyes hostels and enjoy a gorgeous stroll through Marin County open space with a waterfall waiting at the end.
As any budget-conscious traveler knows, some of the best things to do in a new place are free -- and a nice view is certainly at the top of the list! Since San Francisco is a city of hills, there are great views to be found everywhere, especially at the top of some 300+ public stairways. For the vista-hungry spectator who isn't afraid of an incline, this list of San Francisco's most scenic stairways will guide you on an epic adventure.
Modern California holds sprawling metropolitan areas, the biggest population of all the United States, and the eighth largest economy in the world. But prior to the mid-1800s, California was a land of sleepy settlements. Now densely populated, San Francisco had only 459 residents in 1847. Everything changed when gold was discovered east of Sacramento in 1848, and the rush of gold prospectors that followed gave rise to California as we know it today.