Nature lovers are often drawn to the peninsula of San Francisco and its breathtaking landscape, from rocky cliffs that drop straight into the Pacific to massive hills that get caught up in a dense blanket of fog. Here are some of San Francisco’s most incredible natural wonders.
Well, they aren't exactly
hidden, but we can't ignore San Francisco's most prominent feature(s). The number of actual hills in San Francisco depends on how you actually define a “hill,” and so the official count falls somewhere between 42 (according to 1959’s “Hills of San Francisco) and over 50. Either way, they give the city so much of its beauty and charm, and keep its residents in tip-top shape.
2. Karl the Fog
As it eerily creeps across the city, enveloping us in its mystical vapors, the fog in San Francisco is like nothing else—it even has a name and a Twitter account, for cryin' out loud:
. The best time to enjoy the fog: those chilly summer days and nights.
3. The rocky coastline, best experienced on the Lands End and Batteries To Bluffs Trails
Even taking out all the manmade wonders: the Cliff House, the Sutro Baths ruins, the Golden Gate Bridge, and this
, walking along the Coastal Trail—lined with cypress trees from Lands End to Lincoln Park—and further up to the Batteries To Bluffs Trails, which will have you weaving your way up and down the coastline, is truly a nature lover's paradise.
4. The sandy
Pacific beaches: Ocean, Baker, Mile Rock, China, and Marshall Beaches
Beautiful beaches line the northern and western edges of San Francisco, including the expansive Ocean Beach; the hidden gems of China Beach, Mile Rock Beach, and Marshall Beach; and the beautiful Baker Beach with its spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands. Hint: You can catch them all if you follow the trails mentioned in #3.
5. Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve
A dense eucalyptus forest sits atop the slopes of this 900-foot hill near the geographical center of the city. Former San Francisco mayor Adolf Sutro actually planted this forest over a century ago. Karl the Fog loves to hang out in this spot, creating an ethereal cloud forest that'll quickly have you forgetting your smack-dab in the middle of a bustling city.
6. Seal Rocks
This small group of rock formations in the Lands End area near the Cliff House and Sutro Bath ruins used to be home to a population of sea lions (hence its name). They're now mostly taken over by birds, but still just as beautiful.
7. Angel Island
Some 3,000 years ago, Angel Island was a fishing and hunting site for Coast Miwok Native Americans. Over the centuries, it became a home for Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala, a cattle ranch, a U.S. Army post, an immigration inspection and detention facility, a Nike missile base, and even a site where WWII POWs were held. In 1954, it was named a state park and officially opened its doors to the public. Walking its rugged trails and capturing spectacular views of San Francisco and the bay is an absolute must.
8. The Bison of Golden Gate Park
OK, so they're not technically "natural wonders," since the original herd were placed by man in Golden Gate Park way back in the1890s, but seeing bison in the middle of a major city is pretty cool any way you slice it. The bison you will find today, near Spreckels Lake and just off John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park, are descendants of 1984 birthday presents given to mayor Dianne Feinstein.
What are some of your favorite pieces of nature in San Francisco? Enjoy more of San Francisco’s natural wonders on these
10 awesome hiking trails.