Bay Nature’s Summer Guide Is Here!

May 23, 2023
Ruth Bancroft Garden and Nursery, in Walnut Creek
The 2023 Bay Nature Summer Guide is generously sponsored by the Ruth Bancroft Garden & Nursery.

Itching to get outside? Whether you’re looking for an ambitious solo adventure, or you want to introduce kids to the joys of peering at low-tide critters, Bay Nature’s got you covered. For 20 years we’ve been writing about special natural places to explore around the Bay. Plus, we’ve got a community event calendar that’s always hopping. 

Here’s some inspiration to get you started.

Go Exploring

Walk the Entire Bay …

crissy field
Crissy Field. (Photo by Will Elder, courtesy of the National Park Service)

For over three decades, a coalition’s been working to build a 500-mile walking and cycling loop around the whole Bay—though all nine counties, and 47 cities. Over 350 miles have been completed so far. Learn more about some particularly nice segments, and how to help out with the project.

Or … Paddle the Entire Bay

Alviso County Marina Park
The Alviso County Marina Park trailhead. (Photo by Paulie Pan)

And if your ambitions tend toward the salt and wind and wet? Choose a piece of the Bay Water Trail, which offers kayakers and canoeists a gamut of habitats, from rivers to sandy shorelines. An interactive website provides a map of all the trailheads.

The Refuge On the Wild Side of Silicon Valley

american avocet
An American avocet at the refuge. (Photo by Hilary Clark)

Over 30 miles of trails cover the tidal marshes at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay Wildlife Refuge, including portions in East Palo Alto, Alviso, and Redwood City. Birders have logged over 280 species. Here, witness transformation, in this restoration from our industrial salt-farming past.

Discover a World of Plants!

A Sponsored Message from the UC Botanical Gardens

Summer is here and the UC Botanical Garden is blooming. Bring the entire family and explore one of the most diverse plant collections in North America, nestled in a canyon in the Berkeley hills. There is something new to see with every visit!

Join Us for Summer Birdwatching

A Sponsored Message from Los Gatos Birdwatcher

Celebrating 27 years in the south bay, the Los Gatos Birdwatcher’s mission is to educate, share adventures, and have fun through the love and experience of birds and nature through nature-inspired gifts & birding opportunities. Click here for our summer birdwatching schedule.

Bring the Family

How to Go Tidepooling

You never know what’s out there—even experienced tidepoolers find something different every time, and one survey at Pillar Point Reef found over 550 species! Here’s how to get started (but beware: it can become a lifelong obsession!).

The First Rule of Mudflats: Get Dirty

Small green shore crabs are abundant at Crab Cove.
Small green shore crabs are abundant at Crab Cove. (Photo by Sally Rae Kimmel)

A mudflat might not look like much at first, but look closer. The scores of shorebirds and waterbirds congregating there—coots, cormorants, curlews, egrets, sandpipers, and pelicans—are a clue to the incredible density of life in the muck.

Know Your Cetaceans

Crop of cetacean guide: whales, porpoises, dolphins.

An all-time favorite Naturalist’s Notebook, from renowned illustrator John Muir Laws, is our secret weapon for distinguishing between the whales, dolphins and porpoises that visit the Bay. Many cetaceans, like gray whales, are stopping by more frequently in recent years as the Bay’s health improves.

The Great Animal Orchestra: Bernie Krause & United Visual Artists

A Sponsored Message from The Exploratorium

Listen up: You’re about to take a sonic journey around the planet. Don’t miss the stunning West Coast premiere of The Great Animal Orchestra this summer at the Exploratorium. This immersive audiovisual art experience celebrates the splendor of the animal world—and makes an unforgettable plea for preserving it. Hear the howls, croaks, hums, trills, clicks, growls, and cries of animals in the wild, and see this rich symphony of sound made visible through real-time streaming spectrograms. June 10 through October 15 at Pier 15 in San Francisco.

Tree Frog Treks: Wild Science Summer Camps

A sponsored message from Tree Frog Treks

Summer camps spots are available at our 5 SF Park locations! Tree Frog Treks strives to create critical thinkers who will work to save, preserve, and maintain our planet’s biodiversity by introducing them to live rescued reptiles and amphibians, offering hands-on science, literacy, and exploring nature. You can count on us to continue supporting your kids and family with the TFT basics:

  • Outside every day
  • Positive social dynamics
  • Productive play
  • Science and nature exploration

Summer Activities for Kids at the Mitchell Canyon Visitors Center 

A Sponsored Message from the Mt. Diablo Interpretive Association

Easy-to-access activities for the whole family! Explore the outdoors!

  • Hiking trails, from easy to more difficult, 1 hour to 7 hours
  • Visitor’s center exhibits (open weekends)
  • Learn about local plants and flowers in the Native Garden
  • Explore the creek

Also, see the plans for the new Mitchell Canyon Education Center! Donate to the future of Mitchell Canyon at MDIA.org today.

Explore The Bay with San Francisco Whale Tours

A Sponsored Message from SF Whale Tours

Come aboard for exciting excursions from the SF Bay and into the Pacific! Take in amazing views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge as we search for the majestic giants of the ocean: gray and humpback whales!

Frey Vineyards Open House

A Sponsored Message from Frey Vineyards

Saturday, June 17, 11:00 am-5:00 pm. Enjoy organic wine tasting, appetizers, live music, and pollinator garden tours in beautiful Mendocino County. Food, family, and fun! Bring your own wine glass; this is a free event!

Off the Beaten Path

How to Feel Like a Giant

pygmy forest
A platform trail through the pygmy forest. (Photo by Christine Connerly)

It’s easy to feel small these days, when the world seems dark. Here’s an antidote, nestled in the uplands of Mendocino: an hour spent in the pygmy forests of Van Damme State Park.

Discover a Little-Known Side of Mount Diablo

A big gnarled log on a yellow hill in the sun.
A fallen tree on a hill at Macedo Ranch. (Photo by Kristin Hugo)

Tucked away on Diablo’s west side, Macedo Ranch is a favorite for locals in the know, including equestrians, mountain bikers, runners, and geology enthusiasts.

Camping on Private Lands

Two private campsites in a redwood forest at Salmon Creek. (Photo by Phillip Lee)

A reporter books a Sonoma campsite on Hipcamp—where private landowners may list any site where campers can “connect with nature.” Some sites are remote, while others offer tipis or yurts. A hidden benefit: camping helps fund the conservation stewardship of such lands. 

Celebrating 70 Years

A Sponsored Message from Lyngso Garden Materials

Since 1953, Lyngso has served the Bay Area community with passion and dedication to beautify our landscapes and environment in a sustainable way! As a local business, we are proud to have been a part of your lives, and thank you for 70 amazing years of support! Join us in commemorating this milestone as we express our heartfelt gratitude to all our customers and transition to an employee-owned company. Come by and visit Lyngso today and let us help you with your dream landscaping projects!

Get Into Nature with Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST)

A Sponsored Message from Peninsula Open Space Trust

The Bay Area is a spectacular place to live — so let’s enjoy the outdoors! POST has something for everyone. Take your pick from guided hikes, volunteer opportunities, family events, webinars, and more. Best of all, you’ll join a community of nature lovers to share your experiences.

Midpen’s Guided Summer Activities

A Sponsored Message from Midpen Regional Open Space

Join a guided activity with Docent Naturalists who share their knowledge and enthusiasm with you about the natural and cultural history of Midpen preserves. All guided activities are FREE and only some require reservations: click on a specific activity title for more information.

The 2023 Bay Nature Summer Guide is generously sponsored by the Ruth Bancroft Garden & Nursery.
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