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Sports & Recreation

  • Best Gym for Real People

    YMCA, Embarcadero

    The Embarcadero YMCA is located in a fancy part of Downtown, and the surrounding area swarms with uniformly groomed thirtysomethings sucking down specialty cocktails at 6:30 on a Wednesday evening. The building itself is also grand — huge, with heavy glass double doors. But inside, members say, are the People. You know, the ones who deserve the Power. All ages, races, and socioeconomic strata gather here to work out at the well-appointed facilities. Indeed, the feeling here is one of... More >>

  • Best Pool With a View

    UCSF Bakar Fitness Center at Mission Bay

    It's almost dizzying to keep up with the new development in the southeastern part of San Francisco, from high-rises in progress to the recently opened UCSF Mission Bay campus. But the school's Bakar Fitness & Recreation Center is worth paying attention to: This lovely modern facility features north-facing windows overlooking Downtown from every floor. Nowhere is the view better than from the six-lane, 25-yard pool on the rooftop (and its adjacent patio), a vista that takes in all the new... More >>

  • Best Place to Play Darts

    Eagles Drift In Lounge

    When you feel the need to throw a small feathered javelin at a circle of cork, propel yourself to this Inner Sunset darts hangout. Every Monday night at 8:30 there's a darts tournament ($5 entry fee) complete with handicapping and trash talking. Single players take on random "shooters" in a best-of-three competition; the top eight winners advance to the semi-playoffs, then the top four battle their way to bull's-eye glory. Eagles also has a pool table, free food on Fridays,... More >>

  • Best Place to Score a Bull's-Eye

    Golden Gate Park

    Just this side of the Dutch windmill at the western end of Golden Gate Park is a lovely, misty glade just perfect for making believe you're in Sherwood Forest, where joints of mutton trump shiitake risotto and an unwavering skill with quiver and bow is a matter of life and death. At one end of this tree-enclosed, daisy-dappled lawn, backed by a gentle slope and a low forest, are nine bales of hay reinforced with wooden slats and metal tubing.... More >>

  • Best Pool Hall

    Family Billiards

    Despite its cuddly moniker, Family Billiards delivers its share of that neo-noir Minnesota Fats ambience you crave when you're in the mood to shoot a little stick. There's the long, low-slung room, hidden away in a subterranean grotto off Geary Boulevard; the pools of lamplit green felt flanked by shadowy figures with cuesticks; the retro stools and raised benches for kibitzers, talent scouts, and other random spectators. In many other ways, however, the joint's positively dapper. The 18 tables are... More >>

  • Best Place to Swashbuckle

    Golden Gate Fencing Center

    Before you storm the parapets or raid your next Spanish galleon, drop by the Golden Gate Fencing Center and pick up a few (literal) pointers. The staff of former Olympic coaches and national team fencers trains both novice and experienced swordspersons in the art of the foil (a thin, blunted sword for thrusting) and epee (a heavier, stiffer sword) through tactical drills, footwork, directed bouting, and physical fitness. Men's and women's epee classes are held Monday nights, foil classes Thursday... More >>

  • Best Dance/Exercise Class

    ODC Dance Commons

    In March, Rhythm & Motion Dance Center decamped from its SOMA base to join forces with ODC Dance Commons in the Mission District. Whatever positives and negatives might have resulted from the merger, R&M's longstanding and beloved Fusion Rhythms class continues to provide those who like to shake their booties of a morning, afternoon, or evening with the same special buzz it always has. The class is the perfect way to combine all your favorite cheesy dance moves with a... More >>

  • Best Place to Learn to Fly

    Motivity Aerial Dance Classes

    Have you ever wanted to learn how to fly? Studio 12's Motivity classes prove that you don't necessarily need wings or to become a human cannonball to do it. Taught by husband-and-wife team Kate and Phil Weglarz, the beginner and intermediate level courses combine dance with trapeze techniques into an unusual art form that's a cross between contemporary ballet, gymnastics, and circus. Over a typical six-week series, budding flyers learn how to balance on and swing from a variety of... More >>

  • Best Night Kayaking

    City Kayak

    If you're a baseball fan, City Kayak provides one of the most unusual views of the game. Join one of the company's Full Moon kayaking trips and you'll end up bobbing about outside PacBell Park just as the post-game fireworks go off. You'll literally feel the vibrations from the explosions in the base of your boat. And the colors look very pretty reflected in the inky water. The fireworks display isn't the only marvel you experience on this two-hour nighttime... More >>

  • Best Place to Golf Alone

    Golden Gate Park Golf Course

    Golfing alone on Golden Gate Park's nine-hole course, which the San Francisco Recreation & Park Department opened in 1951 as a "pitch and putt," offers two options. One is almost ideal for reclusive folks, and one is geared toward social butterflies who feel comfortable in any setting. If you come down for a game on a weekday afternoon early in the week, you face the possibility of being truly alone out there, with only the wind as companionship. Alternatively, if... More >>

  • Best Outdoor Escapades

    Bay Area Outdoor Adventure Club

    When these folks say "adventure," they mean it. The Bay Area Outdoor Adventure Club celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, still packing its calendar with an incredible range of activities — from full moon kayaking, flying trapeze lessons, and cave crawling to mountain biking, hiking, and surfing. All events are open to the public with no membership required, which is a perfect way to dip a few toes into some new sport without too much commitment. But super-duper advanced journeymen... More >>

  • Best Ping-Pong Table

    Finnegans Wake

    Keep your dart boards and liar's dice and pool and pinball; Ping-Pong is the pastime that separates the posers from the players and builds up a thirst for strong drink — the game every bar should have as its centerpiece. Among its many charms (pool and pinball among them), Finnegans Wake features an honest-to-God Ping-Pong table out on its rustic back patio. Ask the barkeep for a couple of paddles and balls and you're in business. The table itself is... More >>

  • Best Dance Classes

    Cheryl Burke Dance

    Tucked away in Potrero Hill (but easily accessible by bus), Metronome offers pretty much anything you could want in the way of rug-cutting. It'll set you up with lessons ranging from beginning group Argentine tango to one-on-one ballet instruction, from massage for dancers to lessons on becoming a dance instructor. Some classes are focused on fitness; others (like the ballroom dancing program) can prepare you for serious competition. Metronome offers a men-only beginning hip hop class for boys who'd like... More >>

  • Best Lady Gym

    Curves, North

    Yes, we know, Curves' CEO, Gary Heavin, donates some of his personal wealth to right-wing causes. Individual Curves franchises, however, are free to donate their proceeds to charities of their choosing, so chances are if you join a Bay Area Curves your karma will stay intact. Politics aside, these gyms are a wonderful thing for busy women. Show up wearing whatever you want to (there are no mirrors and no dudes), hop into the circuit of exercise machines, dance around... More >>

  • Best Gay Softball League

    San Francisco Gay Softball League

    No matter which team you play for, which side you bat on, or which trite sexual-orientation sports metaphor you prefer, you're welcome to join San Francisco's premier gay softball league. It's got some quotas in place to keep the league true to its fruity roots, but anyone who's pretty serious about the game and about having some sporty fun should check it out. The league is rigorous about tracking players' individual stats (in order to ensure teams are fairly matched... More >>

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