Bay Nature’s 2023 Holiday Activity Guide

November 19, 2023

Wintertime in the San Francisco Bay Area offers quiet delights, from introspective hikes on less crowded trails to ocean walks dotted with migrating shorebirds foraging in the surf. Explore the seasonal wonders of our parks, bays, and coastline—and refresh your spirit—with the help of Bay Nature’s 2023 Holiday Guide!

Explore the Bay & Coast

Peer Into a Tidepool

Curious about the tiny fantastical critters that inhabit our coastal tidepools? Here’s an excellent guide to this miniature universe. Moonglow anemones, periwinkles, and brilliantly colored sea slugs await you!

Meet Deep-Diving Rockstars

Spend a few hours getting to know the colossal and LOUD marine mammals that arrive on our shores each winter: the extraordinary elephant seals of Año Nuevo State Reserve.

 Find Whales In The New Year

A year-round whale ‘calendar’ drawn by naturalist John Muir Laws helps you find the whales that visit our coast and Bay, and ID them!

A Sponsored Message from the Marine Mammal Center

The Marine Mammal Center Adopt-a-Seal® is a perfect gift for the animal lover in your life. Each symbolic adoption includes the animal’s photo and story from rescue to release. Add a plush to create a unique ocean-friendly gift that gives back to this Marin-based nonprofit. Discover dozens of seals, sea lions, and otters to symbolically adopt today.

Adventure Close to Home

Take a Different Path

The Chimney Rock trail at Point Reyes National Seashore. (Joe Vare via Flickr, CC-BY-ND)

A free guidebook—and an annual Trails Challenge—invite you to get outside and explore some of the 93 different trails in the vast East Bay Regional Park District, including many accessible trails. Try a new trail you’ve never taken before!

Venture further afield: Take a long walk in the wilds of the Ohlone Regional Wilderness, in the Diablo Range.


Explore a New Open Space Jewel

(Tule elk bulls. Derek Neumann, courtesy of the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority)

Máyyan ‘Ooyákma–Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve, a prime grassland habitat just south of San José, is now open to the public. Take a five-mile loop trail through this 1800-acre biodiversity hotspot, home to 13 threatened or endangered species, including the Bay checkerspot butterfly.

Go on Walkabout

(Photo courtesy Marin County Parks)

Follow the footsteps of author and biologist Jules Evens, who hiked every inch of trail in Point Reyes National Seashore to celebrate the park on its 50th birthday.

Where to Watch Birds Migrate in the North Bay This Fall: A bird expert shares his favorite spots!

Go on a Christmas Bird Count: Join hundreds of Bay Area birders in counting all the birds and species they can find in one day. It’s one of the largest citizen science projects in the world, and all for birds!

Renew the Spirit: How to turn a day hike into a restorative spiritual journey.


Give the Gift of Adventure

A Sponsored Message from Tahoe Adventure Company

This holiday season, give unique experiences and long-lasting memories with the Gift of Adventure. Gift certificates are the perfect surprise for the adventure seekers in your life. Our year-round outdoor activities are a great way to experience all that Lake Tahoe has to offer. Contact us at Letsgo@TahoeAdventureCompany.com or 530-913-9212.

Get Muddy!

ID Winter Fungi

Fly agaric mushroom (Tiffany Theden via iNaturalist CC BY-NC 4.0)

From the whimsical to the macabre to the downright bizarre, there’s an incredible amount of diversity in the shape, size, and color of Bay Area fungi and lichens. With 1,700 species in all, here are some of the most eye-catching to help guide you on your fungal forays.

Get Grounded: A Guide to Soil & What’s in It – Gardener/writer Anne Hayes shares the origins of soil, its layers, and the organisms that thrive in and enrich it. From Bay Nature’s popular Soil Matters guide, the must-have guide for Bay Area gardeners.

Get Your Hands Dirty: A guide to winter volunteer stewardship opportunities around the Bay Area, from building a new park to restoring a creek to helping control wildfire risks

All Together Now: Where to find ladybugs converging in the Bay Area hills this winter!

The Garden of D’Lights

A Sponsored Message from the Ruth Bancroft Garden Center

Garden of D’Lights is back at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek! Explore the Garden at night illuminated by lights, lasers, and new illuminated sculptures. This event is festive fun for the whole family – including pets on leashes! Tickets are on sale now.

For more ideas on getting outside, check out the Exploration section of Bay Nature’s website, or browse our events calendar, featuring fun outdoor activities and webinars throughout the Bay Area!

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