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Ideas for winter walks in the new year

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I have several people in my life who have shared their “steps per day” goals with me for the New Year. Maybe they think because I work at Walk San Francisco, I’ll really hold them accountable!

Walking has so many benefits beyond being physically active. A study came out last year on the power of walking for brain health and memory. A Wall Street Journal article detailed many other benefits, including how walking is a kind of behavioral preventative against depression.

If you’re reading this, I probably don’t need to convince you to get out there. But if you need some new ideas, here are a variety of walks of different lengths to get you off the beaten path in our amazing city.

Evening walk along car-free JFK Drive

Length: ~2.5 miles round trip

If you haven’t yet seen the Entwined forest of lights in Golden Gate Park, you only have until February 1 to check out this unique, magical experience (here are details and a map).

As you walk west, you’ll enjoy the light installation that’s projected onto the Conservatory of Flowers (walk up to the stairs to hear the music it’s choreographed to). You’ll also enjoy the quiet of the park with no traffic (which could go away this spring, so take action now!).

Continue along JFK Drive to see additional lights as you approach 8th Avenue. Head into the Music Concourse to see the colorful lights of the Skystar observation wheel and the ‘Lift Every Voice’ light projection on the bandshell.

To make this walk even more special, go on a Friday night. There’s a skating party at Skatin’ Place that’s pure San Francisco awesomeness.

Slow Sanchez in Noe Valley

Length: ~3 miles round trip

One of the new ‘Slow Streets’ that quickly became a treasured neighborhood space is in Noe Valley. San Francisco Chronicle reporter Peter Hartlaub explored Sanchez Street, and put together an urban hike that includes lots of local flavor and one of the best (and least known) views in the city: Billy Goat Hill. Get the route and Peter’s suggested stops.

Off-the-beaten-path destinations in your neighborhood

Length: Up to you

During the pandemic, the incredibly knowledgeable Nancy Botkin curated all kinds of walks we’ve shared on our blog. Many of these routes and destinations will surprise even the most experienced walkers.

Hidden trails of Golden Gate Park

Length: Two 5-mile loops or a 10-mile single hike

Our wonderful WalkLab volunteers (Nancy Botkin, Mike Smith, and Eric Chase) have meticulously created a map and turn-by-turn directions that will take you through beautiful forests and gardens, along the stunning waterfalls, lakes, and ponds of Golden Gate Park.

This is a new way to experience the park and take in its watery wonders (and get a lot of steps in). Buy your route map now.

Share your walks with us

We love to see and share where people are walking in San Francisco. Be sure to tag your photos on social media with #IWalkSF and @walksf. We may feature your photo in our newsletter!

Stay tuned for a brand-new, epic walking adventure we’ll launch this spring. Sign up for our newsletter to be sure you don’t miss this and other walks.