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San Francisco's 10 wildest outdoor adventure activities

From horseback riding along Fort Funston to kiteboarding in the Marina

Hang gliding at Fort Funston.

San Francisco is blessed with an abundance of natural features that create a haven for adventurous outdoor activities right here in the city. Want to try your hand at some of the biggest surfing waves in the United States? Head to Ocean Beach (warning: not a spot for rookies). Care to soar over picturesque scenery on a hang glider? Fort Funston's your spot. We've rounded up the top ten adventurous activities within the city limits and the best places to do them.

Hang Gliding, Fort Funston

According to the Fellow Feathers of Fort Funston Hang Gliding Club, this spot at the far edge of San Francisco is one of the best places in the world to hang glide. If you want to learn how to fly, you'll have to get out of the city, though. Lessons are available at Fremont's Bay Area Hang Gliding.

Surfer Dane Reynolds flies over a wave at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.
Surfer Dane Reynolds flies over a wave at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.
Photo by AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Surfing, Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach's huge waves pick up in the fall and carry through winter, where they can reach 20 feet on the biggest days. The beach, which is infamous for its fatal riptides, drawn the attention of professional surfers. But normal humans can venture out on calmer days and rent boards from Aqua Surf Shop or Wise Surfboards.

However, if you're a beginner, venture down to Santa Cruz first and take some lessons on smaller waves at Santa Cruz Surf School. This beach is not for newbies. Seriously.

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Rock Climbing, Glen Canyon

If you want to get high up off the ground in the city, indoor climbing gyms may be your best bet. But if a bit of technical bouldering sounds appealing, Glen Park's Glen Canyon is where it's at. People have been scrambling up these rocks since at least the 1930s. There are lots of beginner options. Climbers have compiled lots of different routes over the years.

Sea Kayaking, Pier 40

Enjoy the bay from inside a kayak. Paddling out to watch a Giants game from McCovey Cove is one of the most popular kayak trips available and offers the chance to catch a ratre splash hit. Check out the houseboats of Mission Creek and the Navy ships while you're at it. Rentals and lessons are available from City Kayak on Pier 40.

Horseback Riding, Fort Funston

Head down to the south end of Fort Funston's beach to ride alongside the waves. The trail goes along the bluff overlooking the ocean and then down to the beach, where riders keep an eye out for dolphins and sea lions from horseback. Mar Vista Stables, which is located just outside the city limits, offers rides every hour with no reservations necessary.

Kiteboarding, Oyster Point Park, The Marina

Kiteboarding is a wild sport that seems to made for San Francisco's windblown waterfront. During the spring, kiters dot the shores of Crissy Field every weekend. Take a beginner's course at KITE415, which has a center at Oyster Point Park.

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Mountain Biking, Mount Sutro

There’s plenty of mountain biking in the Bay Area, but the trails within the city are lesser known. One of the best places to mountain bike in San Francisco is Mount Sutro, a 61-acre park near UCSF.

SF Urban Riders have mapped the trails and maintain them every month. McLaren Park is also a center of city riding and hosts the SF Mountain Bike Festival.

Windsurfing, Treasure Island

If kitesurfing sounds a little too crazy, there's also great windsurfing in San Francisco. Spots to windsurf dot the bay, but when wind is nonexistent at Crissy Field, you can often catch it out at Treasure Island. Windsurfers park on North Point Drive on the island and then head out into the water. Boardsports School can get you started with a beginner's lesson in Alameda.

Hiking, The Presidio

From shaded woods to coastal bluffs, the Presidio offers up some of the best urban hikes imaginable. There are 24 miles of routes and eight scenic overlooks. The Presidio has mapped them all.

Stand-up paddleboarding, Pier 40

Stand-up paddleboarding, otherwise known as SUPing, has boomed in popularity in recent years. Paddleboards can be rented from City Kayak and taken out on the relatively flat waters of the bay. Or, if you want something wilder, paddleboards can also be used to surf waves.

Fort Funston

500 Skyline Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94132

Ocean Beach

1000 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA 94121