Fall in Love: Eight Great Dates Around San Francisco
By: Kaitlin Roberts
This story is brought to you by offMetro SF. offMetro SF is an online travel guide to getaways from San Francisco—car optional. When you need a city break, we know how best to get you off the beaten path, be it by train, bus, bike, boat, or car share. If you can't make the weekends longer, strive to make them better. Photo by Matthew Roth.
As the weather cools and we stand a little closer, there’s no denying that autumn is the season when summer flings fall in love. It’s time to break out that new wardrobe and hit the town (and country) with one of these eight great date ideas around San Francisco.
Pedal Her off Her Feet
An autumn bike ride has it all—colors, leafy smells, and a breeze that keeps you feeling fresh and free. There are plenty of great bike rides around the Bay, but the Marin Headlands trails offer some of the best views. For a trip that’s about 9.5 miles, start on the Marincello Trail, followed by the Bobcat, Miwok, and Old Springs trails.
Directions: Take Golden Gate Transit Bus 70 to Marin City-Donahue & Terners and transfer to Bus 17 to Tam Junction-Shoreline & Almonte. From there, bike to the trail head.
On This Date, We’re Just Gonna Wine
Autumn is the perfect time to sip, stomp, and savor in California’s beautiful vineyards. Go gourmet at Lava Cap Winery (2221 Fruitridge Road), where the tastings are free and there’s a cornucopia of cheese, meats, and sweets to build a picnic. Or go for a romantic pairing of vino with views at Kuleto Estate Winery (2470 Sage Canyon Road).
Directions: Based on the remote locations of the wineries, it is best to drive.
The Love Boat
Head to Petaluma, where you get out on the river in a boat or kayak. Clavey Paddlesports (409 Petaluma Boulevard South) rents kayaks or stand-up paddle boards. Back onshore, float away at Lagunitas Taproom and Beer Sanctuary (1280 N. McDowell Boulevard), where live music rocks out every day the joint is open.
Directions: Take Golden Gate Transit Bus 101 to Fourth Street & C Street.
Get Kiddie with It
Playing at a petting zoo in the some afternoon sunshine is sure to make you feel the love. With hiking trails, picnic spots, and a miniature farm, the Tilden Nature Area provides hands-on fun for all. Afterward, share a few scoops at Ici (2948 College Avenue) where the ice cream is anything but vanilla. Add a little mystery and try out one of the more exotic flavors, like Maple Bacon or Rum Raisin.
Directions: Take BART to Rockridge and then catch AC Transit Bur #67 in to the Canyon Drive. Or take BART to Downtown Berkeley. From there, you can either take the AC Transit Bus #67 to Grizzly Peak Boulevard, or rent a bike from the BART bike station and hit the park on two wheels.
Mom always said, “Only date a man who can give you the world.” Sound too heavy for a first date? Well, at least give her a little piece of Paris. Head to Palo Alto, where the Cantor Arts Center (328 Lomita Drive) displays the second largest Rodin gallery in the world. After posing with the Rodin sculptures and making fun of the artsy know-it-alls, grab a quick (organic, locally grown) bite at the Cool Café.
Directions: From Mission St & 9th St, take the KX bus toward Palo Alto. Hop off at El Camino Real and stroll to 328 Lomita Drive in Stanford.
Lady and the Champ
It’s weird to bring your friend along on a date—unless we’re talking man’s best friend. Besides, everyone knows dogs have the special power to help their lonely owners find love. So make it a pet-friendly date and head for Sausalito, where great hikes, beach walks, and spectacular views abound. Trek down to Rodeo Beach for frisbee throwing, and then the three of you can grab a bite at Fred’s Place (1917 Bridgeway).
Directions: Pets are permitted on the Golden Gate Ferry, which makes daily departures from San Francisco to Sausalito. All dogs must be in hand-held containers while aboard the ferry.
Turn Up the Heat
Can’t get enough of romantic Sausalito? Show of your skills In the Kitchen (300 Turney Street), where you can get hands-on (um, not that kind!) in the culinary arts. Classes usually last two to three hours, and if things are going well, you can follow it up with drinks at Le Garage (85 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 109), a steel-and-glass boat garage turned French bistro. And because Sausalito is located in the Bay’s “banana belt,” outdoor seating tends to 15-20 degrees warmer than similar locales in San Francisco. Is it hot in here, or is it just you?
Directions: Take the Golden Gate Ferry to Sausalito.
The Ultimate Secret Rendezvous
You may not have noticed it, but one of the most romantic spots in the Bay is floating just off Pier 39, literally in the Bay. There’s something rather heady and “in-the-know” about picking up a courtesy phone to call for a clandestine rendezvous and being ferried out to the world’s only floating island. Part Tiki hut, part Pirates of the Caribbean, and part covert lair, Forbes Island serves up hearty fare, spectacular sunsets, and views to match. Be sure to brave the 55 steps to the top of the lighthouse. Looking out at the skyline, Alcatraz, and the Golden Gate, you’ll fall in love with San Francisco—and maybe your date—all over again.
Directions: Pick up the courtesy phone at “H” dock (left of Pier 39, below the pedestrian overpass) and the free shuttle will pick you up (after 5p.m. nightly).
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