When it comes to incredible access to outdoor recreational activities of all shapes and sizes, there's nowhere quite like the Bay Area. From biking across the Golden Gate Bridge or through Muir Woods to hiking Mt. Diablo or the Santa Cruz Mountains, the possibilities for family outdoor adventures in the Bay Area are practically endless.
We know that outdoor activity is good for our health, our spirits and building kids' character, plus a great way to spend more quality time (and less screen time) with our families. So if you're lucky enough to live in the natural wonder-rich Bay Area, what's stopping you? If you're like most locals, it's probably some combination of a crazy-busy schedule and the general craziness—congested roads, full parking lots, crowed trails—of the Bay Area itself.
Fortunately, you don't have to plan an expedition to some uncharted redwood forest or run up an astronomical tab on fancy equipment to have fun, fulfilling family outings in nature. The secret, we've discovered, is simply really good planning.
Have you ever set off on a family ride only to discover the trail you chose definitely wouldn't work for your beginning biker? Or arrived at the trailhead for a hike on a warm day and realized you forgot to pack a water bottle? Good planning—researching your destination, brushing up on relevant skills, making sure you have the right gear, packing the essentials, planning some complementary activities—makes the difference between an awesome day outdoors and a miserable one… and the more awesome the day, the more excited everyone (even the most reluctant adventurers) will be to do it again.
If you're not sure what you need, how to plan your day or where to go, it's no problem. We've thought through every detail of your family adventures so you don't have to. Here are your must-read resources:
- What: Your kids can't successfully hit the trails without the right gear. We've got the lowdown on how to choose the right backpacks, hiking shoes and bikes.
- How: Getting your kids excited about hiking—and having a great experience once they're on the trail—isn't always easy. That's why we compiled some essential tips and tricks for hiking with kids.
- Where: Having summer camps across the Bay Area means we know all the best local outdoor recreational areas for your family can continue the adventure, whether you want to hike, bike, paddle or climb.
Remember, a memorable outdoor family adventure isn't about expensive gear or insider information; it just takes a little planning ahead to get the most out of your chosen destination. And speaking of destinations, the Bay Area is a pretty big, varied place. So if you're looking for more localized recommendations to find the best parks and recreation spots in your little corner of it (or farther afield), we have you covered there, too:
- East Bay: Explore the Bay Area's highest mountains and most picturesque grasslands with adventures across the East Bay. From hiking in Briones Regional Park to paddling in San Pablo Reservoir, we have details on planning fun family adventures in Moraga and Pleasant Hill recreation areas.
- Peninsula: Beautiful beaches, stunning peaks and the best weather in the Bay await your family on the Peninsula. For Burlingame recreation areas—Coyote Point, El Corte de Madera Creek Preserve and lots, lots more—check out our tips for hiking, biking and paddling in the Peninsula's best parks.
- South Bay: The South Bay is wildest land the area has to offer, full of dense redwoods and stunning mountains. Explore Los Gatos recreation with our suggestions on where to hike (Sanborn County Park), bike (Los Gatos Creek County Park) and paddle (Vasona Lake) in the South Bay.
Now that we've covered the who (you and your family), what, where, when (hopefully soon and often!) and how of outdoor family adventures, we just have a few words about why. While the skills that make kids good at pedaling a mountain bike or paddling a canoe are certainly valuable, they're not nearly as important as some of the other benefits that come with being active outdoors. The natural world is where kids (and often their parents) challenge themselves, learning to take positive risks and build resiliency when they fail. It's where they get healthy physically, intellectually, socially and emotionally. It's where they decrease their screen time and reverse the beginnings of a sedentary lifestyle. In short, it's the reason WHY you go through all the planning it takes to get them outdoors on family adventures in the first place.
Whatever outdoor activities you and your family want to explore, simply consult Avid4 Adventure's handy resources, make your plan and start enjoying everything Bay Area recreation areas have to offer. Happy adventuring!