Kids and Nature

Nature for free, David’s best picks

August 9, 2012

For the sake of saving money or living more sustainably, the “staycation” is becoming ever more popular. But what can you do to have fun when keeping close to home?

Holly Kernan of KALW 91.7 FM explains on her daily radio show Your Call the many websites listing free things to do in San Francisco. This week she spoke with our head honcho David Loeb, executive director of the Bay Nature Institute and publisher of Bay Nature Magazine, to pick his brain for free things to do outside the concrete jungle.

David’s quick picks:

  • Rodeo Lagoon and Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands offer a great picnic site at the beach and a launching spot into the Marin Headlands. Check out the amazing views of the city.
  • Point Reyes Nat’l Seashore, celebrating its 50th anniversary, has excellent birding in Tomales Bay and Drakes Estero and yields a view quite unlike anything else.
  • East Bay Regional Parks District offers picnic areas and a merry-go-round in Tilden Park to less developed preserves that you can explore for hours without seeing another person. At the moment there are bald eagles nesting in Lake Chabot, just 5 minutes from Oakland.

Little-known gem in South Bay

Natural Swimming Holes

  • Crabcove Visitor’s Center in Alameda offers the natural history of the San Francisco Bay. While you’re there, swim at Crown Beach, one of the only places to saline swim in the Bay area without worrying about an undertow.
  • Lake Anza in Tilden Park just east of Berkeley features a rock jump into the lake.
  • Lake Temescal in Oakland
  • Lake Deval south of Livermore and Shadow Cliffs in Livermore

Bike around the Bay

  • Cycle from San Francisco to Sausalito or Tiburon, taking the Golden Gate across
  • Ride from Emeryville to Richmond using the Bay Trail. At the end of the trail, you can visit the free Rosie the Riverter Museum. With the summer waning, birds are coming back as well, so bring your binoculars!

Guided hikes

Check out the TrailFinder! Find described hikes and parks along with photos!

Plan your winter staycation

  • Free Salmon walks this winter when the Coho begin to return to Lagunitas Creek. Look on for more information.
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