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Sports & Recreation

  • Best Public Golf Course

    Gleneagles GC

    While highfalutin Harding Park gets all the headlines, this scrappy nine-holer gets the nod from hard-core locals, who prefer their fairways narrow and their golf without frills. There's no tee times or butt-kissing at the bag drop. Just pay your greens fees at the counter and let it fly. The layout, set in the hills south of San Francisco and abutting the Sunnydale housing project, bucks and rolls through stands of knotty cypress trees, and the quirks of the greens... More >>

  • Best Tennis With a View

    Potrero Hill Recreation Center

    Look, your backhand ain't what it used to be. And maybe your serve is so bad you consider underhanding it to avoid another double fault. But there's no reason your game needs to self-destruct on an ugly tennis court. That's where the Potrero Rec Center comes in handy. Nestled among the pines on the eastern edge of Potrero Hill sit two courts with a lovely view of the bay and the Oakland hills in the distance. The projects are nearby,... More >>

  • Best Urban Soccer

    Mission Playground

    Ever notice how the commercials during the World Cup always show kids in other countries playing soccer everywhere but the pristine grass pitches that define America's soccer landscape? Future stars are training in the back alleys of Rio, the hardened thoroughfares of Mombasa, and the street corners of Buenos Aires. Never fear, urban soccer does exist in San Francisco. The Mission Playground has a cement "field" that's about half the size of regulation with smaller goals. Still, there is fierce... More >>

  • Best Bocce Ball Court

    Aquatic Park

    Twenty-three centuries ago, or so it's said, a couple of bored Roman centurions started tossing around a few handy boulders, attempting, in an early and distant relative of horseshoes and penny-pitching, to come closest to a designated smaller stone some distance away. Fast-forward and -westward to Aquatic Park on a recent foggy weekend, where the ancient game of bocce ball is still practiced by the third-millennium descendants of those imperial sportsmen. Upon graded lanes paved with clay, soil, and pulverized... More >>

  • Best City Bike Ride

    Legion of Honor Cafe

    It's a bike tour with a mini Alp d'Huez climb, a museum rest stop, and dramatic ocean views that truly inspire one to want to keep it a secret. Begin the ride at the mouth of Golden Gate Park on JFK Drive. Head west on JFK, wheel past the rose garden and the buffalo paddock, then swing right at the fork in the road (still on JFK). The first glimpse of the ocean rises into view after a small dip... More >>

  • Best User-Friendly Bike Shop

    Box Dog Bikes

    Bike shops, like record stores and plumbers, can sometimes be a bit daunting to deal with, but not so the friendly confines of Box Dog Bikes, a worker-owned collective in the Mission that opened in '04. With a helpful staff, affordable accessories, and quality products, the shop always offers a pleasurable experience. For the everyday bike commuter, it's an essential pit stop when you catch a flat on the way home. And for the weekend novice, you can ask a... More >>

  • Best Bowling Alley

    Presidio Bowling Center

    With all the great outdoor sporting outlets in San Francisco, it seems bizarre that anyone would want to spend the day indoors, tucked into shoes that someone else recently wore, throwing a heavy spherical object down the same lane, over and over. But then again, sometimes bowling just feels right — especially when you're at Presidio Bowl. Where else can you drink Bud Lite shaped like a bowling pin? Or get chastised for poor performance by animated figures on TV... More >>

  • Best Place to Ice Skate and ... Bowl?

    Yerba Buena Ice Center

    Turns out that ice skating and bowling is the chocolate and peanut butter of the recreational world. Two great tastes few knew went so well together, this unconventional combination of activities hosted in one complex is a good option to consider when entertaining visitors with differing tastes in recreation. Both happen to make good spectator sports as well, so even sideliners can enjoy themselves. Maybe they'll even spot the next Bay Area star, since we're responsible for Olympic champs Peggy... More >>

  • Best Place for a Game of Pickup Chess

    Cafe La Boheme

    If you love chess but don't like to squabble over the spoils of the game, steer clear of the chess mayhem on Powell and Market and head over to Cafe La Boheme in the Mission. La Boheme's chess-friendly staff makes the cafe a preferable alternative to the Buckingham Palace of chess three BART stops away. Bring your own chess set or use the cafe's chess mats for an impromptu game. La Boheme even offers free wireless for those few minutes... More >>

  • Best Place to Play Ping-Pong

    Thee Parkside

    At an establishment that bills itself as San Francisco's premier dive venue, you'd best not be expecting some slick Olympic setup. No, ping-pong on Thee Parkside's back patio is a ramshackle affair. The table sags and the paddles are frayed (last time we were there, one paddle had the editorial comment "Loser!" scrawled on its surface). But the bar's proprietors know that ping-pong, when played slightly sauced in a crowded area, is simultaneously excellent physical exercise and a great icebreaker.... More >>

  • Best Place to Be a Kid Again

    Seward Slides Minipark

    There is something exhilarating about zooming down a giant slide so fast that you land — boom — on your ass. Given our current rash of innocuous swirly slides, most playgrounds don't exactly offer adults and daredevils a spontaneous whoosh of excitement or a desire to get down and dirty in the sandbox. But take heart — in the precipitous climes of Noe Valley hides one of the city's unsung treasures. Seward Slides Minipark, as it's known, is more than... More >>

  • Best Arcade

    Riptide Arcade

    Entering Riptide is not unlike descending into hell, or maybe Vegas: It's a dark, cacophonous maelstrom populated by jittery, glassy-eyed lost souls illuminated by flashes of Mephistophelian fire. In other words, it's an absolutely ideal 21st-century amusement palace. The 12,000 square feet are chockablock with every conceivable videogame, from Tron and Space Invaders to Mr. Driller 2, House of the Dead 3, and such highly interactive experiences as Eighteen Wheeler, Wave Runner, and Harley-Davidson Deluxe. There's Guitar Freaks and Drummania... More >>

  • Best New Playground

    Helen Wills Park

    It's not exactly a new playground — Helen Wills Park has been offering the denizens of Russian Hill a bit of recreational breathing space since World War I — but a couple of years ago the old girl got a dazzling facelift that amounted to a stem-to-stern, all-inclusive, cross-generational rebirth. For years the .83-acre concrete-and-asphalt playground (named after the great Bay Area tennis star and Olympic gold medalist) had been in disrepair, with a dilapidated clubhouse, little or no seating... More >>

  • Best Yoga Studio

    The Mindful Body

    In a city populated with yoga studios of all kinds — offering ashtanga, hatha, Bikram, power yoga, body-shaping yoga, vinyasa, and so much more — the Mindful Body stands out as a quiet beacon of peace in the midst of an ancient practice that has become a frenzied trend. Tiny, unassuming, and occupying a corner of lower Pacific Heights, the Mindful Body is a center for health and well-being both physical and mental. In addition to a different yoga class... More >>

  • Best Kayaking by Day

    Sea Trek Kayak

    There are many ways to explore the bay, from kite-surfing to paddling to taking the ferry. But one of the most sublime is by kayak. Sitting close to the surf in a small brightly colored boat somehow makes you feel especially connected to the water and to the wildlife in and around it. Based in Sausalito, Sea Trek Kayak runs a casual though well-organized outfit for anyone seeking a leisurely paddle among the pelicans and seals. Customers can rent a... More >>

  • Best Indoor Rock Climbing

    Mission Cliffs Rock Climbing Center

    Always wanted to try rock climbing but feared grave injury? Or are you a seasoned pro stuck in the city visiting your relatives when all you really want to be doing is perfecting your climbing and belaying skills? Look no further than Mission Cliffs, a local climbing community fixture. For the novice, Mission Cliffs offers introductory belaying classes, where you'll learn all you need to know to start trying the beginner routes already laid out for you on the gym's... More >>

  • Best New Gym

    UCSF Bakar Fitness Center at Mission Bay

    If there were ever a reason to go back to school, UCSF's new fitness center at Mission Bay could be it. Luckily, you don't have to be a student to join the gym, which offers brand-spankin'-new equipment, pools, youth and family programs, group fitness, recreational sports, aquatics, outdoor programs, personal training, massage services, and a kids' club — whew! The all-new facility offers up Gucci-like amenities like flat-screen cable TVs on all of the workout machines, a heated rooftop swimming... More >>

  • Best Hike

    Land's End

    The Northern California coast is no tropical paradise of white-sand beaches and gentle turquoise waters. Our ocean is cold and rugged and full of sharks. Our surfers brave dark, 50-foot waves that crash into rocky underwater caverns. Nowhere in the city is our harsh splendor displayed better than along the Coastal Trail at Land's End, which starts over the bay, and leads you — relatively painlessly — along the jagged coastal cliffs that drop to the Pacific Ocean. The trail... More >>

  • Best Place for Outdoor Sex

    Golden Gate Park

    Al fresco sex is tricky to come by in any big city. There simply aren't enough secluded spaces to get it on without being carried off by the cops. But San Francisco is blessed with one of the largest urban parks in the country, where there is no shortage of sublime spots for lovebirds to enjoy a quickie in between catching a show at the de Young Museum and riding on the carousel. For romantics, the area behind the Conservatory... More >>

  • Best Camping Getaway

    Buckhorn Recreation Area

    After nearly 60 years in the automobile business, 86-year-old Cal Worthington has slowed down a little, spending much time at his 38-square-mile ranch near Orland, 18 miles west of Chico, flying occasionally to any of his four dealerships in his personal Lear 35. While it's not easy to catch sight of the great man, known for his kitschy car commercials and his Stetson, it is possible to bask near his presence, or at least his extended aura. This thanks to... More >>

  • Best Place to See Nude People Run

    Bay to Breakers

    It's true: The people you generally don't want to see naked are the ones who, shaved and tanned hides bared in glory, will be out in droves at Bay to Breakers, a historic footrace held on the third Sunday in May that embodies the true spirit of San Francisco like hardly any other event. Both a serious 12K race from the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean, and an irreverent costume parade that locals and tourists anticipate all year,... More >>

  • Best Dance Teacher

    ODC Dance Commons

    Amara Tabor-Smith is one of the few people in the Bay Area who can start teaching a high-powered dance class at 8.30 in the morning and have the entire room shaking their booties with wild abandon five minutes later. As one of the instructors at Rhythm and Motion/ODC Dance Commons, Tabor-Smith brings an audacious attitude and a sassy sense of humor to her Fusion Rhythms dance workouts. She may crank up the speed on all the routines, causing mass exhaustion... More >>

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