Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Sports & Recreation

  • Readers' Poll

    Best Local Race Bay to Breakers Best Urban Hike Lands End Best Suburban Hike Mount Tam Best Place to Skateboard Embarcadero Best Gym 24 Hour Fitness Best Bike Shop Pedal Revolution Best Outdoors Shop REI Best Place to Walk the Dog Crissy Field Best Swim Aquatic Park Best Jog Golden Gate Bridge Best Beach Baker Beach Best Sailing Supplies No winner Best Yoga Studio Yoga Tree Best Walking Tours Crissy Field Center Best Giant J.T. Snow Best 49er Joe Montana... More >>

  • Best Bike Shop

    Valencia Cyclery 1077 Valencia (at 22nd Street), 550-6600 Unless you plan to wear tight shorts and shave your legs, deciding which bike to buy should be easy, and it shouldn't take all day. For those who want a city bike, Valencia Cyclery won't try to sell you a Rockhopper or something you can lift with your pinkie. Good, honest advice and a pressure-free atmosphere keep this store -- and its bustling repair outlet a few doors down -- moving. Bargains... More >>

  • Best Extreme Sport

    Kiteboarding on the Bay Pull up to East Beach or Crissy Field on a windy day and you're just as likely to see kiteboarders speeding toward the shipping lanes as windsurfers. Although the two sports have roughly the same objectives -- going fast and getting air -- the kiteboarders accomplish them in a manner that's more, shall we say, nuts. You see them out there, leaning back nearly horizontal with the water, holding onto kites shaped like melon slices that... More >>

  • Best A's Bar in S.F.

    Thieves Tavern 3349 20th St. (at Shotwell), 401-8661 Whether it be the traffic on the Bay Bridge, a long day at the office, or the crippling phobia of getting shivved at Oakland's Coliseum, there are plenty of excuses for San Franciscans not to join the other couple dozen A's fans who show up to games. Though you can choose from a handful of green-friendly bars around town, none can top the dutiful reverence of Thieves Tavern. Aside from the disgusted... More >>

  • Best Sports Bar

    Kezar Pub 770 Stanyan (at Waller), 386-9292 With a dozen satellite dishes, 20 televisions, and all the requisite DIRECTV sports packages, the Kezar, located near the stadium that once housed the 49ers before their tumble to the bottom of the football food chain, is a sports fanatic's paradise. Naturally, the pub has its bases covered: football, basketball, baseball, and (theoretically) hockey on tap for domestic patrons, soccer and rugby for the U.K. crowd. And if watching the games isn't enough... More >>

  • Best Hidden Basketball Court

    Grattan Playground Stanyan & Alma, 753-7039 Tucked away in Cole Valley, this sunken playground features one of the easiest-to-join pickup games in the city, with a minimum of prima donnas and most players in the same slightly-above-average competitive range. And on weekdays, the park is an absolute hidden jewel, a great place to swing by on a lunch hour or after work and shoot jumpers -- your only company the sounds of kids at the adjacent playground and the sight... More >>

  • Best Reason to Go to a Warriors Game

    The Margaritas Near the Cabo Wabo Stage Oakland Arena, 7000 Coliseum (at 66th Avenue), Oakland, (510) 569-2121, www.coliseum.com This season's trade for guard Baron Davis from the New Orleans Hornets makes the team at least watchable, but it's still the Warriors, and a stiff drink may be necessary to get you through a night at the Arena. The facility serves only the high-end, Sammy Hagar-invented Cabo Wabo brand, and you must get it at the stand located near the Cabo... More >>

  • Best Baseball Team

    The 2006 Oakland A's "I'm excited about 2005," A's General Manager Billy Beane told an interviewer not long ago. "I'm even more excited about 2006." And well he should be. This past winter, in the span of a week, Beane overhauled a team that has won at least 90 games in each of the past five seasons, turning two expensive All-Star pitchers on the wrong end of their career arcs (Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson) into six cheap young players... More >>

  • Best Sports Blog

    Athletics Nation www.athleticsnation.com Run out of Sacramento by Tyler Bleszinski, a former sportswriter, and reportedly inspired by the political blog Daily Kos, Athletics Nation is the essence of blogging ascendant, sports or otherwise. "I often think I should've called the site AthletiholicsAnonymous.com," Bleszinski writes in his "manifesto." "This Web log is my therapy. You are my support group." It's far more than that, however. Since starting the site in November 2003, Bleszinski has become one of the most astute observers... More >>

  • Best Fishing

    Pacifica Pier Beach & Santa Rosa, Pacifica When you want to while away a Sunday afternoon with a line in the brine, Pacifica is the place to do it. A short drive south of San Francisco on Highway 1, the town boasts a scenic boardwalk, a 1,140-foot pier with a nearby bait shop, and, most important, fish untainted by the toxic muck of San Francisco Bay. Both avid and amateur anglers can spend hours here watching the waves roll in... More >>

  • Best Giants Player Who's Not on Steroids

    Jason Schmidt Starting pitcher Everything revolves around Barry Bonds, of course, but in recent seasons it has been hard-throwing ace Schmidt whose fortunes have determined the team's success. (Besides, Bonds draws so many intentional walks it's sometimes difficult for him to impact a game.) When he's healthy, Schmidt is all but unhittable, compiling a 35-12 record over the past two seasons while striking out more than 450 batters. His emergence as a first-rate starting pitcher has been crucial for the... More >>

  • Best Giant

    Stan Conte Head athletic trainer Behold, the boys of winter. As of July 1, the average age of the Giants' starting position players will be 36, the highest in baseball. Barry Bonds (40 years old) might be the star, but the most valuable Giant is the guy picking up the Celebrex prescriptions -- Stan Conte. And if his spring is any indication, Conte, now in his 12th season with the Giants, will have a busy year: He spent most of... More >>

  • Best Hidden Tennis Courts

    The Presidio When Golden Gate Park is full or a tournament holds sway over your usual tennis court, try one of the several little-used public gems scattered throughout the Presidio. Julius Kahn Playground, on West Pacific Avenue at Spruce Street, offers several courts just inside the southern border of the Presidio; if folks are playing on these, head deeper into the park and search out the single court at Lombard Street and Letterman Drive. There's another on Moraga Avenue, across... More >>

  • Best Place to Learn Tai Chi

    Washington Square Park Columbus & Union Every morning dozens of people get up early to participate in communal tai chi and qigong classes in Washington Square Park. Some of the larger groups have more than 50 people; many individuals, wary of appearing too interested, follow along at a distance, across the grass field, perhaps behind a tree, giving a disorienting synchronicity to the many swaying motions. Tai chi sword is also popular: Its practitioners swing 3-foot blades in graceful, slow-motion... More >>

  • Best Swimming

    Aquatic Park West end of Fisherman's Wharf (Van Ness & Beach) It's an area steeped in history and thronged by tourists. But a number of thick-skinned locals consider Aquatic Park the ideal spot to strip down to Speedos and swim laps in 50-degree water. The location couldn't be more picturesque: A wraparound pier protects the swimmers and calms bay waves; the 219-foot C.A. Thayer, built in 1895, looms over the water. Onshore, concrete bleachers give way to a beach and... More >>

  • Best Surf Break

    Ocean Beach Great Highway & Fulton Maverick's gets all the press, but you shouldn't surf it unless the locals extend an invitation, due to the spot's many dangers (the waves, the rocks, the locals throwing rocks). Ocean Beach is also risky, of course, especially according to our city officials, who won't even post lifeguards for fear of sending the wrong message. But that doesn't sway your average San Francisco surfer, who, equipped with deep lungs and a strong sense of... More >>

  • Best Outdoors Club

    Absolute Adventures 793-4948, www.absoluteadv.com No, it's not a singles' club, but judging by the number of single professionals who attend Absolute Adventures events, don't be surprised if people pair off. Primarily an adventure club, the company organizes trips for active types who like the convenience of letting someone else handle the details. Events take advantage of the best of the Bay Area, from kayaking under the Golden Gate Bridge, sailing on the bay, and skiing Tahoe to horseback riding on... More >>

  • Best Outdoor Store

    REI 840 Brannan (at Seventh Street), 934-1938, www.rei.com/stores/sanfrancisco REI is an excellent place to experience outdoor-store psychosis, where you'll pick up an ax and think, "Yeah, ice climbing ...," or start seriously comparing rock-climbing clips. The place is pristine, a shrine to the well-heeled explorer, and the breadth of products is nearly absurd, with 14 different lights to wear on your forehead, four different ice-climbing axes, and freeze-dried bananas foster. Specializing in camping, climbing, cycling, kayaking, and snow sports, REI... More >>

  • Best General Manager

    Billy Beane Oakland A's Read Moneyball to get the full rundown on the maverick executive's philosophies, which have helped the upstart Oakland A's put together a string of post-season appearances in recent years despite one of the smallest payrolls in Major League Baseball. To Bay Area sports fans, it's enough that Beane is constantly challenging the conventions of the game, trading his high-priced stars (Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder) for low-cost youngsters whom he handpicks, almost uncannily,... More >>

  • Best Driving Range

    Mission Bay Golf Center 1200 Sixth St. (at Channel), 431-7888, www.missionbaygolfclub.com Urban golfers pack this China Basin range well into the night. The two-story steel-and-concrete contraption has 66 bays of fake grass, some with plastic tees to set your ball upon, most without. I-280 roars overhead with a sound not unlike, say, the crashing surf at Pebble Beach. There are plenty of ashtrays. The grass fairway is wide and long, with nine angled greens; beyond the twin flags at 250... More >>

  • Best Shark Diving

    Great White Adventures 875A Island, No. 338, Alameda, (510) 814-8256, www.greatwhiteadventures.com Right now you're thinking, "But I'm not a scuba diver." Who cares! That's the fun of great white shark diving off the Farallon Islands -- you don't need a scuba license or training. All you need is the ability to suck a hookah, which is standard around here, and the wherewithal to complete a safety course on board. Then you're dumped like bait into a four-person cage and fed... More >>

  • Best Midnight Playground

    Michelangelo Playground Greenwich between Jones and Leavenworth Sometimes a grown-up just has to slide and swing and jump from ring to ring, especially when it's 'round midnight in the asphalt jungle, the dives and joints are thrumming and shrieking, and a little alfresco regression is a beatific necessity. Three blocks uphill from the grappa-scented neon of North Beach is a juvenescent oasis where the simple pleasure of coasting down a sand-slick slide is particularly splendid by the light of the... More >>

  • Best Gridiron Wild Child

    Randy Moss Oakland Raiders First, you notice the hair, a towering rebel 'fro tamed for formal interviews by dapper cornrows. Next, you notice the hands, giant sticky mitts designed to lock onto pigskin missiles. Then, of course, you notice the attitude and the exploits, on the field and off. Moss pretended to moon Green Bay fans during the playoffs. He was arrested in 2002 for knocking over a traffic officer who had impeded the path of his Lexus. He's been... More >>

  • Best Low-Key Pickup Basketball Game

    Dolores Park Church & 18th streets While the Bay Area's professional basketball team may be mired in a decades-old mess of mediocrity and neglect, street ball is alive and well in the city. Hoop dreams are born and die on the concrete courts, and no court is more conducive to a fun and healthy afternoon of b-ball than this one. Located at the northern tip of the park, it often sports an open basket if you just want to fool... More >>

  • Best Serious Pickup Basketball Game

    Contra Costa College 2600 Mission Bell (at El Portal), San Pablo During the summer, from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, Contra Costa College hosts a pickup basketball game that's a cut above a street game but not so serious that a guy can't walk in off the street, call "Next," and run with some of the best players around. On a typical day last year, you could find a Cal guard, a USF player, a local semipro,... More >>

  • Best Coaching Legacy

    Mike Nolan San Francisco 49ers His father, Dick, roamed the 49ers sidelines as head coach from 1968 to 1975. Now, Mike Nolan will try to return the red and gold to its customary place atop the football universe. Nolan's track record should preclude any talk of nepotism. He's been successful everywhere he's coached, most recently in Baltimore, where he led the Ravens' run-stuffing defense to the third-best ranking in the NFL. Nolan's linebacker-heavy schemes should wreak havoc in a weak... More >>

  • Best Way to See the Sun Set Over the City

    City Kayak Pier 38, Embarcadero & Townsend, 357-1010, www.citykayak.com It's easy to appreciate a glimpse of glorious horizon, whether you catch it from a bar patio, a hilly park, or the window of your car as you commute westward from work to home. But everyone knows that the best means to see the sun drop out of sight is to gaze out over the ocean and admire the reflection on the water. And what better way to do so than... More >>

  • Best Reason for Warriors Fans to Have Hope

    Fresh Talent An infusion of new names -- many of them unpronounceable -- combined with the aggressive approach of head suit Chris Mullin has the Bay Area buzzing about its hoops team. The Warriors of old would have let the trade deadline lapse (along with their chances for improvement), but Mullin did something shocking and swindled the Hornets out of a bona fide star in Baron Davis. Davis is an explosive guard with three-point range who can slash to the... More >>

  • Best Reason for Warriors Fans to Remain Skeptical

    Fresh Talent It's peaches and cream right now, but what about next season? Here's a grim scenario: Baron Davis starts to sulk after the Warriors go 6-23 in the first two months. He refuses to shave his beard and antagonizes teammates by giving them insulting nicknames. Jason Richardson becomes "J-Poor," since he makes $4 million less each year than the Baron. Zarko Cabarkapa is dubbed "Wonder Years" due to his striking, if outsized, resemblance to former sitcom star and current... More >>

  • Best Announcer

    Mike Krukow San Francisco Giants analyst Yes, his banter with dulcet-toned play-by-play stalwart Duane Kuiper can get way too folksy and irritating at times -- and if we could ban one phrase from ever being uttered again, it might be Krukow's signature put-down, "Grab some pine, meat." But those are minor annoyances compared to Krukow's insights and generally spot-on analysis, which he mixes with his trademark humor and locker-room lingo. A former pitcher for the Giants, Krukow has a feel... More >>

  • Best Martial Arts Instruction

    Ralph Gracie Jiu-Jitsu 178 Valencia (at Duboce), 552-4777, www.ralphgracie.com So you want to slap a rear naked choke on a fool, eh? Maybe you want to stick someone in an arm bar and hear a joint pop? Well, Grasshopper, you've got some learning to do. You'll probably be on the receiving end of hundreds of brutal ass-kickings before you reach your goal, but there's no better place to take a beating than the friendly confines of Ralph Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in... More >>

  • Best Cheap Sporting Event

    San Jose SaberCats www.sanjosesabercats.com The Arena Football League has always touted itself as sports' most fan-friendly league -- the league even has a Fans' Bill of Rights -- and that's largely because of the prices. A family of four can spend $400 to watch the Niners lose to Arizona 17-13, or pay a fraction of that to watch the SaberCats play a solid brand of uptempo, high-scoring football at the HP Pavilion. This April, for instance, the team offered a... More >>

  • Best Free Sporting Event

    San Francisco Bay Area ProCity Summer Basketball League www.sanfranciscoproam.com After you've spent a year watching the Warriors play something only vaguely resembling basketball, San Francisco's long-running ProCity summer hoops league at Kezar Pavilion is more than a diversion; it's a reprieve. The summer pro-am (which starts June 15) draws basketball players of all stripes -- high-schoolers, college players, even pros when they happen to be in town. Take last year's rosters, for instance, a virtual who's who of Bay Area... More >>

  • Best Neighborhood Dojo

    IOMASDA Karate Academy 3572 20th St. (at Lexington), 824-9369 Most weekday evenings at around 6, an uplifting sound wafts across the intersection at 20th and Lexington streets: A class full of ghi-outfitted 3- to 10-year-olds belts out "Yaaaaa!" It's particularly easy to hear the joyful little hollers on warm summer nights, when the door of this corner dojo is propped open. Owner Sensei Reed is celebrating 10 years of specializing in affordable self-defense and exercise classes for kids and teens.... More >>

  • Best Way to Tear Up Golden Gate Park

    Wheel Fun Rentals 50 Stow Lake (at MLK), 668-6699, www.wheelfunrentals.com Everyone knows about the bicycle carriage-y looking contraptions you can rent at the Stow Lake boathouse. They're called surreys, and if you're in a "pip-pip, tallyho" kind of mood, they're just the ticket for taking in the park's more sedate sights, old chum. But say you feel more like pretending you're NASCAR's Jeff Gordon, or you're in one of those hyperactively pre-adolescent moods? The good people at Wheel Fun have... More >>

  • Best Bike Ride

    Round Trip From San Francisco to Stinson Beach to Mill Valley Sometimes simplest is best, and the loop that goes from the city, over the Golden Gate Bridge, and out to the coast before swooping through Stinson Beach and up the near-five-mile climb to West Ridgecrest Boulevard and back is our beautiful-bike-ride-studded region's best. This four-hour journey feels like a tour of the globe. The steady, eucalyptus-shaded climb up Highway 1 toward the Panoramic Highway evokes the rain-forest highways of... More >>

  • Best Run for the Money

    The Sevenpeak If you've been looking for motivation to get in shape, consider the "Sevenpeak," a run that's life-affirmingly beautiful for the fit and physically crippling (or at least damned challenging) for everyone else. Here's how it goes: Start at Oak and Cole streets in the Panhandle. Turn south on Cole to Parnassus Avenue, then head west three blocks to Willard Street. Turn left, go 15 paces, and head rightward up the block-long staircase that connects Willard and Edgewood Avenue.... More >>

  • Best Baseball Prospect

    Daric Barton Oakland A's Barton, a catcher, came over from the Cardinals as the undercard in the Mark Mulder deal, which was being derided and mocked and generally screamed about in some of our finer media outlets before anyone even bothered to look at the numbers. (Ray Ratto in the Chronicle described the trade as Mulder "for pitchers Dan Haren, Kiko Calero and catcher Daric Barton, like that matters.") What they should've seen is Barton, in Single-A Peoria last year,... More >>

  • Best Local College Basketball Player

    John Cox Guard, University of San Francisco John Cox comes from a family steeped in basketball talent: He's the cousin of Kobe Bryant, the nephew of former NBA player Joe Bryant, and the son of '70s USF star Chubby Cox. The 6-foot-5 senior finally came into his own this season, his sixth year of eligibility after a knee injury cost him all but a game of his 2003-04 campaign. Cox earned first-team all-conference honors, leading the league in scoring... More >>

  • Best Baseball Series

    Take yourself out to these ballgames. A's vs. Boston, May 16-18 The world champs swing by Oakland, which means thousands of A's fans will be sneaking projectile-ready Duracells into the Coliseum. Giants vs. A's, May 20-22/A's vs. Giants, June 24-26 Year after year, the cross-bay rivalry hardens a bit more into a Manichaean showdown. This season is as stark as ever: old (Giants) vs. young (A's), rich (GM Brian Sabean) vs. poor (GM Billy Beane), evil (Barry Bonds) vs. good... More >>

  • Sports & Recreation

    Best Bike Shop Valencia Cyclery 1077 Valencia (at 22nd Street), 550-6600 Unless you plan to wear tight shorts and shave your legs, deciding which bike to buy should be easy, and it shouldn't take all day. For those who want a city bike, Valencia Cyclery won't try to sell you a Rockhopper or something you can lift with your pinkie. Good, honest advice and a pressure-free atmosphere keep this store -- and its bustling repair outlet a few doors down... More >>

  • Readers' Poll Winners

    Best Local Race Bay to Breakers Best Urban Hike Lands End Best Suburban Hike Mount Tam Best Place to Skateboard Embarcadero Best Gym 24 Hour Fitness Best Bike Shop Pedal Revolution Best Outdoors Shop REI Best Place to Walk the Dog Crissy Field Best Swim Aquatic Park Best Jog Golden Gate Bridge Best Beach Baker Beach Best Sailing Supplies No winner Best Yoga Studio Yoga Tree Best Walking Tours Crissy Field Center Best Giant J.T. Snow Best 49er Joe Montana... More >>

  • Best Extreme Sport

    Kiteboarding on the Bay Pull up to East Beach or Crissy Field on a windy day and you're just as likely to see kiteboarders speeding toward the shipping lanes as windsurfers. Although the two sports have roughly the same objectives -- going fast and getting air -- the kiteboarders accomplish them in a manner that's more, shall we say, nuts. You see them out there, leaning back nearly horizontal with the water, holding onto kites shaped like melon slices that... More >>

  • Best A's Bar in S.F.

    Thieves Tavern

    Whether it be the traffic on the Bay Bridge, a long day at the office, or the crippling phobia of getting shivved at Oakland's Coliseum, there are plenty of excuses for San Franciscans not to join the other couple dozen A's fans who show up to games. Though you can choose from a handful of green-friendly bars around town, none can top the dutiful reverence of Thieves Tavern. Aside from the disgusted grumbling of the team's loyalists, there are... More >>

  • Best Sports Bar

    Kezar Pub and Restaurant

    Kezar Pub 770 Stanyan (at Waller), 386-9292 With a dozen satellite dishes, 20 televisions, and all the requisite DIRECTV sports packages, the Kezar, located near the stadium that once housed the 49ers before their tumble to the bottom of the football food chain, is a sports fanatic's paradise. Naturally, the pub has its bases covered: football, basketball, baseball, and (theoretically) hockey on tap for domestic patrons, soccer and rugby for the U.K. crowd. And if watching the games isn't enough... More >>

  • Best Hidden Basketball Court

    Grattan Playground Stanyan & Alma, Tucked away in Cole Valley, this sunken playground features one of the easiest-to-join pickup games in the city, with a minimum of prima donnas and most players in the same slightly-above-average competitive range. And on weekdays, the park is an absolute hidden jewel, a great place to swing by on a lunch hour or after work and shoot jumpers -- your only company the sounds of kids at the adjacent playground and the sight of... More >>

  • Best Reason to Go to a Warriors Game

    The Margaritas Near the Cabo Wabo Stage Oakland Arena, 7000 Coliseum (at 66th Avenue), Oakland, (510) 569-2121, www.coliseum.com This season's trade for guard Baron Davis from the New Orleans Hornets makes the team at least watchable, but it's still the Warriors, and a stiff drink may be necessary to get you through a night at the Arena. The facility serves only the high-end, Sammy Hagar-invented Cabo Wabo brand, and you must get it at the stand located near the Cabo... More >>

  • Best Baseball Team

    The 2006 Oakland A's

    "I'm excited about 2005," A's General Manager Billy Beane told an interviewer not long ago. "I'm even more excited about 2006." And well he should be. This past winter, in the span of a week, Beane overhauled a team that has won at least 90 games in each of the past five seasons, turning two expensive All-Star pitchers on the wrong end of their career arcs (Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson) into six cheap young players on the make... More >>

  • Best Sports Blog

    Athletics Nation www.athleticsnation.com Run out of Sacramento by Tyler Bleszinski, a former sportswriter, and reportedly inspired by the political blog Daily Kos, Athletics Nation is the essence of blogging ascendant, sports or otherwise. "I often think I should've called the site AthletiholicsAnonymous.com," Bleszinski writes in his "manifesto." "This Web log is my therapy. You are my support group." It's far more than that, however. Since starting the site in November 2003, Bleszinski has become one of the most astute observers... More >>

  • Best Fishing

    Pacifica Pier Beach & Santa Rosa, Pacifica When you want to while away a Sunday afternoon with a line in the brine, Pacifica is the place to do it. A short drive south of San Francisco on Highway 1, the town boasts a scenic boardwalk, a 1,140-foot pier with a nearby bait shop, and, most important, fish untainted by the toxic muck of San Francisco Bay. Both avid and amateur anglers can spend hours here watching the waves roll in... More >>

  • Best Giants Player Who's Not on Steroids

    Jason Schmidt Starting pitcher Everything revolves around Barry Bonds, of course, but in recent seasons it has been hard-throwing ace Schmidt whose fortunes have determined the team's success. (Besides, Bonds draws so many intentional walks it's sometimes difficult for him to impact a game.) When he's healthy, Schmidt is all but unhittable, compiling a 35-12 record over the past two seasons while striking out more than 450 batters. His emergence as a first-rate starting pitcher has been crucial for the... More >>

  • Best Giant

    Stan Conte Head athletic trainer Behold, the boys of winter. As of July 1, the average age of the Giants' starting position players will be 36, the highest in baseball. Barry Bonds (40 years old) might be the star, but the most valuable Giant is the guy picking up the Celebrex prescriptions -- Stan Conte. And if his spring is any indication, Conte, now in his 12th season with the Giants, will have a busy year: He spent most of... More >>

  • Best Hidden Tennis Courts

    Presidio Theatre

    When Golden Gate Park is full or a tournament holds sway over your usual tennis court, try one of the several little-used public gems scattered throughout the Presidio. Julius Kahn Playground, on West Pacific Avenue at Spruce Street, offers several courts just inside the southern border of the Presidio; if folks are playing on these, head deeper into the park and search out the single court at Lombard Street and Letterman Drive. There's another on Moraga Avenue, across from... More >>

  • Best Place to Learn Tai Chi

    Washington Square Park

    Every morning dozens of people get up early to participate in communal tai chi and qigong classes in Washington Square Park. Some of the larger groups have more than 50 people; many individuals, wary of appearing too interested, follow along at a distance, across the grass field, perhaps behind a tree, giving a disorienting synchronicity to the many swaying motions. Tai chi sword is also popular: Its practitioners swing 3-foot blades in graceful, slow-motion arcs, as if choreographing a... More >>

  • Best Swimming

    Aquatic Park West end of Fisherman's Wharf (Van Ness & Beach) It's an area steeped in history and thronged by tourists. But a number of thick-skinned locals consider Aquatic Park the ideal spot to strip down to Speedos and swim laps in 50-degree water. The location couldn't be more picturesque: A wraparound pier protects the swimmers and calms bay waves; the 219-foot C.A. Thayer, built in 1895, looms over the water. Onshore, concrete bleachers give way to a beach and... More >>

  • Best Surf Break

    Ocean Beach Great Highway & Fulton Maverick's gets all the press, but you shouldn't surf it unless the locals extend an invitation, due to the spot's many dangers (the waves, the rocks, the locals throwing rocks). Ocean Beach is also risky, of course, especially according to our city officials, who won't even post lifeguards for fear of sending the wrong message. But that doesn't sway your average San Francisco surfer, who, equipped with deep lungs and a strong sense of... More >>

  • Best Outdoors Club

    Absolute Adventures 793-4948, www.absoluteadv.com No, it's not a singles' club, but judging by the number of single professionals who attend Absolute Adventures events, don't be surprised if people pair off. Primarily an adventure club, the company organizes trips for active types who like the convenience of letting someone else handle the details. Events take advantage of the best of the Bay Area, from kayaking under the Golden Gate Bridge, sailing on the bay, and skiing Tahoe to horseback riding on... More >>

  • Best Outdoor Store

    REI San Francisco

    REI is an excellent place to experience outdoor-store psychosis, where you'll pick up an ax and think, "Yeah, ice climbing ...," or start seriously comparing rock-climbing clips. The place is pristine, a shrine to the well-heeled explorer, and the breadth of products is nearly absurd, with 14 different lights to wear on your forehead, four different ice-climbing axes, and freeze-dried bananas foster. Specializing in camping, climbing, cycling, kayaking, and snow sports, REI also has an impressive selection of electronics,... More >>

  • Best General Manager

    Billy Beane Oakland A's Read Moneyball to get the full rundown on the maverick executive's philosophies, which have helped the upstart Oakland A's put together a string of post-season appearances in recent years despite one of the smallest payrolls in Major League Baseball. To Bay Area sports fans, it's enough that Beane is constantly challenging the conventions of the game, trading his high-priced stars (Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder) for low-cost youngsters whom he handpicks, almost uncannily,... More >>

  • Best Driving Range

    Mission Bay Golf Center 1200 Sixth St. (at Channel), 431-7888, www.missionbaygolfclub.com Urban golfers pack this China Basin range well into the night. The two-story steel-and-concrete contraption has 66 bays of fake grass, some with plastic tees to set your ball upon, most without. I-280 roars overhead with a sound not unlike, say, the crashing surf at Pebble Beach. There are plenty of ashtrays. The grass fairway is wide and long, with nine angled greens; beyond the twin flags at 250... More >>

  • Best Shark Diving

    Great White Adventures 875A Island, No. 338, Alameda, (510) 814-8256, www.greatwhiteadventures.com Right now you're thinking, "But I'm not a scuba diver." Who cares! That's the fun of great white shark diving off the Farallon Islands -- you don't need a scuba license or training. All you need is the ability to suck a hookah, which is standard around here, and the wherewithal to complete a safety course on board. Then you're dumped like bait into a four-person cage and fed... More >>

  • Best Midnight Playground

    Michelangelo Playground Greenwich between Jones and Leavenworth Sometimes a grown-up just has to slide and swing and jump from ring to ring, especially when it's 'round midnight in the asphalt jungle, the dives and joints are thrumming and shrieking, and a little alfresco regression is a beatific necessity. Three blocks uphill from the grappa-scented neon of North Beach is a juvenescent oasis where the simple pleasure of coasting down a sand-slick slide is particularly splendid by the light of the... More >>

  • Best Gridiron Wild Child

    Randy Moss Oakland Raiders First, you notice the hair, a towering rebel 'fro tamed for formal interviews by dapper cornrows. Next, you notice the hands, giant sticky mitts designed to lock onto pigskin missiles. Then, of course, you notice the attitude and the exploits, on the field and off. Moss pretended to moon Green Bay fans during the playoffs. He was arrested in 2002 for knocking over a traffic officer who had impeded the path of his Lexus. He's been... More >>

  • Best Low-Key Pickup Basketball Game

    Dolores Park Church & 18th streets While the Bay Area's professional basketball team may be mired in a decades-old mess of mediocrity and neglect, street ball is alive and well in the city. Hoop dreams are born and die on the concrete courts, and no court is more conducive to a fun and healthy afternoon of b-ball than this one. Located at the northern tip of the park, it often sports an open basket if you just want to fool... More >>

  • Best Serious Pickup Basketball Game

    Contra Costa College 2600 Mission Bell (at El Portal), San Pablo During the summer, from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, Contra Costa College hosts a pickup basketball game that's a cut above a street game but not so serious that a guy can't walk in off the street, call "Next," and run with some of the best players around. On a typical day last year, you could find a Cal guard, a USF player, a local semipro,... More >>

  • Best Coaching Legacy

    Mike Nolan San Francisco 49ers His father, Dick, roamed the 49ers sidelines as head coach from 1968 to 1975. Now, Mike Nolan will try to return the red and gold to its customary place atop the football universe. Nolan's track record should preclude any talk of nepotism. He's been successful everywhere he's coached, most recently in Baltimore, where he led the Ravens' run-stuffing defense to the third-best ranking in the NFL. Nolan's linebacker-heavy schemes should wreak havoc in a weak... More >>

  • Best Way to See the Sun Set Over the City

    City Kayak Pier 38, Embarcadero & Townsend, 357-1010, www.citykayak.com It's easy to appreciate a glimpse of glorious horizon, whether you catch it from a bar patio, a hilly park, or the window of your car as you commute westward from work to home. But everyone knows that the best means to see the sun drop out of sight is to gaze out over the ocean and admire the reflection on the water. And what better way to do so than... More >>

  • Best Reason for Warriors Fans to Have Hope

    Fresh Talent An infusion of new names -- many of them unpronounceable -- combined with the aggressive approach of head suit Chris Mullin has the Bay Area buzzing about its hoops team. The Warriors of old would have let the trade deadline lapse (along with their chances for improvement), but Mullin did something shocking and swindled the Hornets out of a bona fide star in Baron Davis. Davis is an explosive guard with three-point range who can slash to the... More >>

  • Best Reason for Warriors Fans to Remain Skeptical

    Fresh Talent It's peaches and cream right now, but what about next season? Here's a grim scenario: Baron Davis starts to sulk after the Warriors go 6-23 in the first two months. He refuses to shave his beard and antagonizes teammates by giving them insulting nicknames. Jason Richardson becomes "J-Poor," since he makes $4 million less each year than the Baron. Zarko Cabarkapa is dubbed "Wonder Years" due to his striking, if outsized, resemblance to former sitcom star and current... More >>

  • Best Announcer

    Mike Krukow, San Francisco Giants analyst

    Yes, his banter with dulcet-toned play-by-play stalwart Duane Kuiper can get way too folksy and irritating at times -- and if we could ban one phrase from ever being uttered again, it might be Krukow's signature put-down, "Grab some pine, meat." But those are minor annoyances compared to Krukow's insights and generally spot-on analysis, which he mixes with his trademark humor and locker-room lingo. A former pitcher for the Giants, Krukow has a feel for the game and an... More >>

  • Best Martial Arts Instruction

    Ralph Gracie Jiu-Jitsu

    So you want to slap a rear naked choke on a fool, eh? Maybe you want to stick someone in an arm bar and hear a joint pop? Well, Grasshopper, you've got some learning to do. You'll probably be on the receiving end of hundreds of brutal ass-kickings before you reach your goal, but there's no better place to take a beating than the friendly confines of Ralph Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in the Mission. Gracie teaches a form of jiujitsu... More >>

  • Best Cheap Sporting Event

    San Jose SaberCats www.sanjosesabercats.com The Arena Football League has always touted itself as sports' most fan-friendly league -- the league even has a Fans' Bill of Rights -- and that's largely because of the prices. A family of four can spend $400 to watch the Niners lose to Arizona 17-13, or pay a fraction of that to watch the SaberCats play a solid brand of uptempo, high-scoring football at the HP Pavilion. This April, for instance, the team offered a... More >>

  • Best Free Sporting Event

    San Francisco Bay Area ProCity Summer Basketball League www.sanfranciscoproam.com After you've spent a year watching the Warriors play something only vaguely resembling basketball, San Francisco's long-running ProCity summer hoops league at Kezar Pavilion is more than a diversion; it's a reprieve. The summer pro-am (which starts June 15) draws basketball players of all stripes -- high-schoolers, college players, even pros when they happen to be in town. Take last year's rosters, for instance, a virtual who's who of Bay Area... More >>

  • Best Neighborhood Dojo

    IOMASDA Karate

    Most weekday evenings at around 6, an uplifting sound wafts across the intersection at 20th and Lexington streets: A class full of ghi-outfitted 3- to 10-year-olds belts out "Yaaaaa!" It's particularly easy to hear the joyful little hollers on warm summer nights, when the door of this corner dojo is propped open. Owner Sensei Reed is celebrating 10 years of specializing in affordable self-defense and exercise classes for kids and teens. As impressive as this is, the real value... More >>

  • Best Way to Tear Up Golden Gate Park

    Wheel Fun Rentals 50 Stow Lake (at MLK), 668-6699, www.wheelfunrentals.com Everyone knows about the bicycle carriage-y looking contraptions you can rent at the Stow Lake boathouse. They're called surreys, and if you're in a "pip-pip, tallyho" kind of mood, they're just the ticket for taking in the park's more sedate sights, old chum. But say you feel more like pretending you're NASCAR's Jeff Gordon, or you're in one of those hyperactively pre-adolescent moods? The good people at Wheel Fun have... More >>

  • Best Bike Ride

    Round Trip From San Francisco to Stinson Beach to Mill Valley

    Sometimes simplest is best, and the loop that goes from the city, over the Golden Gate Bridge, and out to the coast before swooping through Stinson Beach and up the near-five-mile climb to West Ridgecrest Boulevard and back is our beautiful-bike-ride-studded region's best. This four-hour journey feels like a tour of the globe. The steady, eucalyptus-shaded climb up Highway 1 toward the Panoramic Highway evokes the rain-forest highways of Costa Rica. There's a moment of breathlessness as the Pacific... More >>

  • Best Run for the Money

    The Sevenpeak If you've been looking for motivation to get in shape, consider the "Sevenpeak," a run that's life-affirmingly beautiful for the fit and physically crippling (or at least damned challenging) for everyone else. Here's how it goes: Start at Oak and Cole streets in the Panhandle. Turn south on Cole to Parnassus Avenue, then head west three blocks to Willard Street. Turn left, go 15 paces, and head rightward up the block-long staircase that connects Willard and Edgewood Avenue.... More >>

  • Best Baseball Prospect

    Daric Barton, Oakland A's

    Barton, a catcher, came over from the Cardinals as the undercard in the Mark Mulder deal, which was being derided and mocked and generally screamed about in some of our finer media outlets before anyone even bothered to look at the numbers. (Ray Ratto in the Chronicle described the trade as Mulder "for pitchers Dan Haren, Kiko Calero and catcher Daric Barton, like that matters.") What they should've seen is Barton, in Single-A Peoria last year, hitting .313 and... More >>

  • Best Local College Basketball Player

    John Cox Guard, University of San Francisco John Cox comes from a family steeped in basketball talent: He's the cousin of Kobe Bryant, the nephew of former NBA player Joe Bryant, and the son of '70s USF star Chubby Cox. The 6-foot-5 senior finally came into his own this season, his sixth year of eligibility after a knee injury cost him all but a game of his 2003-04 campaign. Cox earned first-team all-conference honors, leading the league in scoring... More >>

  • Best Baseball Series

    Take yourself out to these ballgames. A's vs. Boston, May 16-18 The world champs swing by Oakland, which means thousands of A's fans will be sneaking projectile-ready Duracells into the Coliseum. Giants vs. A's, May 20-22/A's vs. Giants, June 24-26 Year after year, the cross-bay rivalry hardens a bit more into a Manichaean showdown. This season is as stark as ever: old (Giants) vs. young (A's), rich (GM Brian Sabean) vs. poor (GM Billy Beane), evil (Barry Bonds) vs. good... More >>

  • Best Bike Shop

    Valencia Cyclery

    Unless you plan to wear tight shorts and shave your legs, deciding which bike to buy should be easy, and it shouldn't take all day. For those who want a city bike, Valencia Cyclery won't try to sell you a Rockhopper or something you can lift with your pinkie. Good, honest advice and a pressure-free atmosphere keep this store -- and its bustling repair outlet a few doors down -- moving. Bargains are easy to find, especially when last... More >>

Search Best Of Awards