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Fitness + Outdoors

Whale Watching in the Farallon Islands

July through October is prime whale watching season here. It's when the Humpbacks and Blue Whales spend time fattening up on krill off of the coast of Northern California before heading back down to Baja to breed. A trip to the Farallon Islands, 27 miles west of San Francisco, can be one of the best ways to get up close to these giants of the sea.

You can get out to the Farallones on tours organized by SF Bay Whale Watching, which depart early in the morning from Fort Mason (weather permitting). The two hour haul to the Farallons is a bit harrowing, which is to say strong stomachs, sea legs (and potentially Dramamine) are required.

Scenes of the City: The San Francisco Marathon

For this week's Scenes of the City we got up early (4:30 am) on Sunday morning and made our way down to the Embarcadero to capture the SF Marathon.

Two runners take a moment to stretch and appreciate the early morning scenery.

Elite runner and Olympic qualifier Michael Wardian crosses the finish line in about 2 1/2 hours to win the overall marathon. 

Make Your Own Surfboard At Sunset Shapers

There are plenty of places in the Bay Area where you can buy a surfboard. And almost as many that offer customized boards, where you meet with the shaper and discuss the specific dimensions of a board you’d like. But Sunset Shapers, located in the Outer Sunset, is a totally unique surf shop, because you can shape your own board there.

Ping Pong, Rally's On!

Feeling indoorsy? Table tennis is just as competitive as the full-court version and inspires hundreds of tournaments held all over the globe. In North Beach, players 5- to 75-years-old practice at AMDT Table Tennis Training Center (1968 Powell St. at Lombard), which offers coaching Monday–Friday. The SF Table Tennis Club plays open-challenge games on five tables Monday and Friday 7:30–11 p.m. and on Saturday 1:30–5 p.m at the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House (953 DeHaro St. at Southern Heights). Don’t be surprised if you get crushed by someone your grandfather’s age.

The Bay Area's Dog Friendly Beaches

We're praying San Francisco's "summer" will arrive soon. (Please!?) In that spirit, we've decided to forget the current temperature and instead start planning for sun, starting with this guide to the area's dog-friendly beaches. If you're with pup, give these a walk (check their websites for leash rules).  

Kehoe Beach: The 0.6 mile trail to the beach is short enough that you can take your dog and kids without them complaining. The beautiful grassy hills, wildflowers, and mustard plants along the trail make the trip worth it. Bring your own food since there aren't many restaurants nearby. (Point Reyes National Seashore, Tomales Bay)

The City's Most-Beloved Tennis Courts

Put your game face on and try out these courts. 

Golden Gate Park Tennis Complex

The park’s 21 hard-surface tennis courts are nestled between the Conservatory of Flowers and the Children’s Playground. The trees deter the wind from ruining your serve, and courts are typically first come, first served. Players of all levels go for pickup games and private and group lessons ($50 and $20). It’s also the site of the annual City Open. The tournament takes place over the last weekend of August and first weekend of September.

Go Whaleboating the Bay with the Embarcadero Rowing Club

For years, the Embarcadero Rowing Club, a 31 year-old club that specializes in the niche activity of whaleboat rowing, has been hosting recreational rows on Tuesdays and Sundays, free and open to the public.

The boats are more Captain Ahab than Winklevoss  — they're 26-foot whaleboats optimally made for 10 people: 8 rowers, a coxswain and a bowhook. They hearken to an era when hunting whales was acceptable sport, but now are used as part of an invigorating and novel team sport in the Bay Area.

SFBC Happy Hour!

There are only two Thursdays left in July, which means there are only two SFBC Happy Hours left! SFBC happy hour is like those magical hours at your favorite bar but instead of deals on booze in one palce, the SFBC pick a location along popular commutes each week and offers tasty treats, a free tire pumping, and deals at local businesses. This week's happy hour is at Fell and Masonic, so for those of you who regularly wiggle your way home to the Haight and beyond, this is your chance to catch some free stuff during your commute. Next week catch happy hour at Duboce Park. SFBC Happy hour runs from 5-7.

Scenes of the City: Kiteboarding and Windsurfing

This week's Scenes of the City chronicles the Crissy Field and Ocean Beach kiteboarders and windsurfers. To get into wind sports on the Bay, check out our guide here

  A kiteboarder passes in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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