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Sports & Recreation

  • Best Early-Bird Pickup Basketball Run

    YMCA, Embarcadero

    From swimming in lanes to jogging in parks, early-morning workouts tend to be solitary. Not at the Embarcadero Y.M.C.A., where full-court five-on-five pickup basketball games start at 6 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Long waits to play are rare, and the competition is largely good-natured. You won't find Monta Ellis gliding through the lane here, or even Andris Biedrins rising up for a rebound. The usual parade of shirted and skinned gym rats holding court here include foul-prone scrappers, lumbering... More >>

  • Best New Hybrid Workout

    Planet Granite

    Stunning views of San Francisco Bay loom through the windows of this climbing-plus-all-in-one gym and yoga studio. The scenery surrounding this hangar off Crissy Field is just one of the reasons this spot is so remarkable. Climbing builds long, lean muscles, while yoga stretches them — so this combo packs a double whammy. Towering walls are staggered throughout the open layout, and teem with climbers of all levels and ages. Classes are held daily, starting with Belay Lessons and Climbing... More >>

  • Best Indoor Playspace

    Recess Urban Recreation

    For people who don't have babies, indoor playspaces (with their monthly fees) are a perfectly insane idea. "Go to a playground!" the child-free scream. "We do, all the time!" parents shoot back. "But it's cold, my baby just learned how to walk, and a homeless person is shooting smack in the fort, and stay out of raising my baby!" So true: For the very young, playgrounds can be as hazardous as ungated staircases. But behold the interior of Recess: 3,200... More >>

  • Best Training Group

    Team in Training - Greater San Francisco Bay Area Chapter

    This enthusiastic and well-organized bunch envelops you in its team mentality. It's infectious. It's almost a better way to meet people if you're new to the city than singles night at a club, or joining Whether you're training for the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon, a century ride, or just a shorter 10K walk, Team in Training hosts weekly sessions and clinics on injury prevention, nutrition, and race-day tips. The incredibly supportive mentors and coaches do laps around the Presidio... More >>

  • Best Rugged Hike

    Mile Rock Beach

    Strap on your boots for this one: There's a reason this stretch of sand just beyond the Golden Gate is one of San Francisco's great unknowns. What was once the site of Adolph Sutro's private railroad, meant to lure daytrippers out to his Sutro Baths, is now nothing more than a narrow trail perched atop steep cliffs overlooking treacherous Pacific waves. Maneuver past Dead Man's Point, and the prize awaits you at the bottom of the 100-plus steps down a... More >>

  • Most Stunning Surf Break

    Fort Point

    The left break off Fort Point directly beneath the Golden Gate Bridge may be one of the world's most challenging waves. For surfers brave enough to dodge tankers and tempt the raging current, it's an accessible spot. It's even better for spectators when a big swell comes in. You can stand on the rocks and practically reach out and touch the daredevils as they maneuver for position. Fort Point takes a combination of conditions to break; it's dependent largely on... More >>

  • Best Dog-Friendly Gym

    Fit Bernal Fit

    Artwork by Jesse Lefkowitz For many a San Francisco dog owner, the question of whether to work out at the gym and leave the pup at home, or slog up Bernal hill (again) with leash in hand has heavy moral implications. But thanks to Fit Bernal Fit, you can maintain your regular workout routine while your canine is within barking distance. Whether they’re chilling with other dogs in the lounge, or out on a prearranged walk around the neighborhood, dogs... More >>

  • Best Playground with a View

    Walter Haas Park and Playground

    At some point, all parents wonder why they're trying to raise kids in San Francisco instead of Walnut Creek (usually that point involves seeing wide-eyed tweens wandering the Mission, or someone defecating al fresco). That's when a trip to Haas is in order. Perched atop Diamond Heights, it features a newish playground, an undulating grass field, a basketball court, a dog run, and — wait. Forget all that, for now, because on your first visit you'll be pulled to the... More >>

  • Best Swim

    Aquatic Park

    Swimmers intimidated by the Pacific's wild waves can head instead to 415's equivalent of a tidal pool in the extremely accessible, calm waters of Aquatic Park. There's no need for membership in the nearby Dolphin Club (with its private beach, pah!): Note the many people cheerfully stripping down and jumping in for a few laps beneath the watchful eyes of tourists waiting for the Hyde Street cable car. Bathers range from marathon swimmers to doggy paddlers; then there are those... More >>

  • Best Chance to Watch Tomorrow's NBA Superstars for Free

    Kezar Pavilion

    When the next National Basketball Association superstar is blowing up, fans will all want to tell stories about how they saw him way back when. And if your story includes said superstar playing pro-am ball in a gym best known for being the home of roller derby — you win. SF Bay Area Pro-Am offers fans the chance to watch high-quality men's and women's basketball games for the same price as blowing your nose without a tissue: free. Past stars... More >>

  • Best Bar to Shoot Pool

    Jillian's Billiards Club

    San Francisco is a tough town for hustlers of all varieties, but the kind who carry pool cues are particularly hard up. Every bar with a billiards table seems crowded with douchebags, be they the sort with popped collars or those wearing their wallets on chains, and all are jockeying for the chance to show their dates that they can't shoot worth a damn. Praise be that no-nonsense pool players still have a refuge at Jillian's, a lonely bright spot... More >>

  • Best Sporting Spectacle on Wheels

    Kezar Pavilion

    Roller derby was already in the midst of a renaissance when Drew Barrymore made it official with Whip It, her 2009 film about the adventures of a scrappy crew of derby-playing punk chicks. But nothing beats the thrill of watching men and women sporting roller skates and scant protective padding crunch the shit out of each other live and in the flesh. Luckily for San Franciscans, we have a formidable hometown team. The San Francisco Bay Bombers periodically play home... More >>

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