San Francisco and its surrounding towns and cities comprise one of the most diverse regions in the world. Bay Area residents are renowned for their love of things different, cool and offbeat, and recreation is no exception. Here are a few unusual recreation opportunities that may pique the interest of even the most savvy San Franciscan.

Kayaking the San Francisco waterfront

kayak generic Best Offbeat Recreation Spots in San Francisco

A kayaker paddles at night (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Perhaps the most unusual way to see San Francisco and get a workout is by kayak. City Kayak rents boats and runs trips from South Beach Harbor and Pier 39 at scheduled times. Trips include safety gear, touring kayak, instruction and guides on the water.  Kayak tours paddle along the downtown San Francisco waterfront, McCovey Cove and the city’s waterfront landmarks. Fees and hours of operation vary greatly. Please see website for details.

Astro Bowl in Pacifica

Hours & Rates

One of the region’s best offbeat bowling experiences can be found at Sea Bowl, on coastal Highway 1,  just south of San Francisco in quiet community of Pacifica. Every Friday night from 10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., Sea Bowl employs multi-colored laser and strobe lights to light its 32 lanes while pop music surrounds you. It is truly a unique bowling and music video experience. Try the glow-in-the-dark bowling balls. As the bowling alley says: “You’ll have to see it to believe it!”  

Pinball wizardry across the Bay

Hours & Rates: Click here for admission information.

 Across the Bay from San Francisco, Alameda’s Pacific Pinball Museum’s mission is to “teach science, art and history through pinball, and to preserve and promote this important part of American culture.” To do this, they offer visitors a beautiful selection of 90 fully playable, historic pinball machines. Admission fee covers all pinball play.

Related: Bay Area’s 10 must see museums for kids.

Swing dancing in Golden Gate Park

Interested in learning the basics of swing dancing? Lindy In the Park offers free outdoor beginner lessons every Sunday, from 12 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Golden Gate Park. In no time at all, you’ll be doing the Charleston, Boogie Back, Kick Around, Swingout, and Lindy Circle. Taught by Hep Jen, the lessons are short, easy, and fun. No partner is required, as they rotate leaders and followers throughout the lesson. Don’t miss this fun free weekend activity.

Crissy Field kite flying

kite Best Offbeat Recreation Spots in San Francisco

On Crissy Field along San Francisco’s windswept northern waterfront, kites soar above a sail-dotted bay in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. Buy yours at Chinatown Kite Shop, a local business located in the heart of Chinatown. The store has a large selection of kites, parafoils, windwheels. Kite flying is a perfect outdoor adventure for the entire family.

Ben Davidson is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His work can be found at


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