The air is crisp and the sky is bright — when it’s not raining. It’s winter in the Bay Area and a great time for outdoor adventures and finding cozy shelters. We’ll talk with local travel experts about some of the best places to hike in the rain, look for a good waterfall, find a fireplace to huddle next to or find the perfect spot for playing in the snow. We’ll hear from our experts — and from you — on favorite day and weekend trips to experience the winter.

Peter Fish, editor-at-large for Sunset Magazine
Brad Day, publisher of, a free weekly email about accessible outdoor adventures in the Bay Area

  • loujudson

    I just have to chime in – officially it is not Winter until December 21, the Solstice. But I am quite fond of saying that if the high temp is 50 or less, it’s winter in the Bay Area! If the nighttime low is above 50, it is Summer. (Watch out for Mr. Inbetween!)

    My favorite is to go to the top of Mt. Tam and take in the view on a clear day after a rain. Hike or drive, it is uniquely wonderful. No accident I had my first kiss on the top of Tam, lo so many decades ago… 😉

  • susie L

    I guess like many listeners, I feel ambivalent about sharing “off the radar” places, especially those “little country roads that remind you of days gone by”. Finding those roads that I haze-ily remember from childhood is a longing of mine, too! but those places are transformed by fast cars and traffic. so…. therefore the ambivalence. Sorry to hear some of my places mentioned. But I guess newbies deserve to know about them, too…. :-/

  • Sonoma has been mentioned. A favorite for Sonoma and Napa locals is the somewhat hidden valley town of Occidental, with Negri’s and the Union, it’s two old-fashioned hotels with attached family-style restaurants straight from the 1930s, and has been serving dinners and providing nighttime entertainment to valley locals since that time. One should eat dinner then hang out until sack time in the comfortable, happening cocktail lounges within either one of these hotels, and the motel-style accomodations at Negri’s are perfectly comfortable and inexpensive, though there is a fancier B&B in town. The next day, there’s a great hippy-ish Victorian cafe that serves bountiful fresh-baked meat and vegetarian breakfasts, and you are right at the bottom of an incredible twisty road that takes you over a high, desolate ridge on a sometimes one-lane track through spooky morning fog then spits you out on the dramatic, crashing breakers of the Sonoma coast.

  • Don’t forget ALVISO (a small bay-village of San Jose) & its adjoining Santa Clara county park for the sound of reeds rattling in the wind, – Bill Costley

  • Guest

    Topic – People Without Vehicles – Now-a-days many people cannot afford cars or don’t drive (seniors) and therefore take public transportation or walk. Any tips on public transit would be great. For example bus to Sonoma. Or just walks along State Parks in SF or East Bayl Thanks.

    • susie L

      I was going to suggest using for public transportation information, but, looking at the options there, I would say it really depends on where you are and where you want to get to. S.F to Marin: yes, Contra Costa to Sonoma: if you have 5 hours to get there! I hope there is another info source for you, Felix.

    • Jason Ferrier

      Check out to take Transit outdoors!

  • I joined into this discussion late when you were discussing places to take dogs. I am a dog trainer here in San Francisco and have compiled a list and descriptions of the off-leash open spaces and preserves in the Bay Area here:

  • The campground above Armstrong State Redwoods at Bullfrog Pond in the Austin Creek State Recreation Area is now open year round. More info at

  • relfal

    Has anybody mentioned Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont? It’s got a lot of variety. The hike to the top of Glider hill is one of our favorites — it’s a great hike for small children (my daughter was able to do it at age four), because it has a high payoff/effort ratio — the elevation gain isn’t that much, but when you get to the top there’s a panoramic view of the whole South Bay. Because of the updrafts, it’s a great place to look for hawks, and there are often people there flying remote-controlled gliders.

    Bird-watching is also good on the marsh trail (which is flat and has a boardwalk, so would be a good choice for the man with the cane who called in). There’s also an Ohlone archaelogical site there, and a butterfly garden.

    We also love Ardenwood Historic Farm, which is nearby. Monarch butterflies winter here!

  • Rico

    I couldn’t understand the name of the very last suggestion. Could someone help me? What did he say? The “rickety cabin” place.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor