Health/Fitness

The Best of the Gays: Outdoors and Sports

by Matthew S. Bajko
Friday Apr 20, 2012
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Best Nude Beach

The shoreline is less than ideal, particularly at high tide, and the waters frigid and dangerous year-round, but Baker Beach remains top notch among Bay Area Reporter readers as the go-to place to sunbath in the buff.

For the second year the scraggy coastline on the northwestern edge of the Presidio has been named the best nude beach in the Best of the Gays awards. While the southern edge of Baker Beach is a family-friendly place to picnic and frolic by the Pacific, it is the northern most reaches gay men have staked claim to for decades.

Those in the know scramble over the rock outcroppings at the northern end of Baker Beach to make their way to what is commonly called Marshall Beach. It also has been designated Bad Boy’s Beach due to the hordes of clothing-less men who make a beeline there whenever the city’s fog bank retreats.

The views are stunning, and not just of the chiseled flesh stretched out on blankets. Rising nearby are the International Orange Art Deco towers of the Golden Gate Bridge and across the way are the Marin Headlands. On certain cloudless days the Farallon Islands can be gleaned on the horizon.

Its location had long been a secret hidden spot gay men whispered about among themselves. But the free-for-all days when a hike down a precarious, cliff-hanging, unofficial trail along the bluffs led to a seaside gay fantasia are no more.

Six years ago the Presidio Trust, which oversees the area for the National Park Service, undertook a major restoration project that saw a new staircase built along a safer and less environmentally damaging route. The now publicly accessible pathway has brought more tourists, joggers, beachcombers, and straight families face-to-face with the nudists.

From time to time that has led to complaints being lodged with park rangers and some beachgoers being ticketed for various violations. So keep in mind these rules next time the sun shines down on San Francisco and you head over to catch some rays on your bare behind.

While nudity is tolerated, engaging in sexual activity is not. Park rangers will cite people they discover cavorting on the beach or in the rock grottos people have built at the bottom of the bluffs.

Due to the shoreline being federal land, California’s allowance of medical marijuana use does not apply there. Any drug use on the beach is illegal.

As for dogs, sadly they are not allowed on Marshall Beach or on the Battery to Bluffs trail that leads down to the beach. They can only be at Baker Beach north of Lobos Creek, according to the current rules posted on the Golden Gate Recreational Area’s website listing where canines are welcome.

The one exception is service animals, who when accompanying a person with a disability, as defined by federal law, are allowed anywhere on the beach.

Those looking for less populated coastal hideaways to go nude may want to cross the Golden Gate and head instead to Black Sand Beach off Conzelman Road in the Marin Headlands or Hagmaier Pond further north on Highway 1 near Olema.

Baker Beach, Battery Chamberlin Road, San Francisco, (415) 561-4323. http://tinyurl.com/2ey3pn5


OUTDOORS and SPORTS

Best Professional Sports Team
San Francisco Giants

They may not have repeated their thrilling 2010 World Series win last year, but the San Francisco Giants did make their hometown gay fans just as proud in 2011 by becoming the first major professional sports team to film a video for the It Gets Better project aimed at LGBT youth. The Giants have a long history supporting the LGBT community; in 1994 they were the first professional sports team to dedicate a game toward raising money for AIDS. Now they are repeat winners in this Best of the Gays category. San Francisco Giants, 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco, (415) 972-2000. http://tinyurl.com/6v9fn59

Best Non-Professional Sports Team
San Francisco Fog Rugby Football Club

Also standing in the winner’s circle a second time is the San Francisco Fog, the city’s gay rugby team. There are both women’s and men’s teams, and both are open to heterosexual players as well as newbies to a rugby pitch. While the Fog has found success on the field, it will be forever stitched into the national memory due to one of its players, Mark Bingham, who was onboard hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He and his fellow passengers helped crash the plane in a field outside of Pittsburgh rather than its intended target in Washington, D.C. San Francisco Fog Rugby Football Club, San Francisco. www.sffog.org

Best Gym
Gold’s Gym

Looking to work off that growing waistline or tone up your muscles? Then head over to Gold’s Gym. For the second year B.A.R. readers named it the best gym in the city. Its Castro location is just a block away from the heart of the gayborhood, while its second locale is in the gay section of South of Market. The popularity of the Castro Gold’s has led the family that owns the local franchise to look at expanding the Market Street property. Gold’s Gym, 2301 Market Street, San Francisco, (415) 626-4488. www.ggsf.com


Best Yoga Studio
Yoga Tree

Started in 1999 by Tim and Tara Dale, whose family backgrounds include circus acrobatics and gymnastics, the Yoga Tree earned top honors this year as the best yoga studio. In addition to its five San Francisco locations and one in Berkeley, the Yoga Tree also runs a teacher-training center and a retreat center in Sonoma. It employs a number of LGBT and straight teachers offering classes in meditation and a variety of yoga practices, from Baptiste and Forrest to Hatha and Vinyasa. Yoga Tree, 97 Collingwood Street at 18th Street, San Francisco, (415) 701-9642. www.yogatreesf.com


Best Place to Buy Bikes and Gear
Valencia Cyclery

Valencia Cyclery pedaled past its competitors this year to be named the best bike shop in the city by B.A.R. readers. For 27 years this family bike shop has been outfitting cyclists of all ages and abilities. It boasts that it has the most competitive prices in town and provides the best customer-friendly service. Valencia Cyclery, 1065 and 1077 Valencia Street, San Francisco, (415) 550-6600. www.valenciacyclery.com

Best Personal Trainer
Christopher Watros

This year Christopher Watros, part of the team of personal trainers at Alex Fitness in the Castro, flexed his muscles to be named the city’s best personal trainer by B.A.R. readers. A marathon runner, Watros started out eight years ago showing other runners the ropes. Now a certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist, he has his own business called Phoenix Training and Fitness. Watros provides in-home sessions where he brings the weight equipment to you or works out of the Market Street gym. You can also sign up for his morning Boot Camps. Christopher Watros, (408) 710-2670. http://phoenixtrainingandfitness.com


Best Public Park
Golden Gate Park

When it comes to urban green spaces, nothing beats Golden Gate Park say B.A.R. readers, who once again named it the best public park. From world-class museums like the de Young and Academy of Sciences to scenic windmills and specialty gardens, it is no wonder this windswept, man-made landscape is the third most visited park in the United States. Nothing beats heading over to grab an organic hotdog at the stand behind the band shell and eating lunch al fresco on a bench in the Music Concourse. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, (415) 831-5500. www.golden-gate-park.com


Best Public Park
Golden Gate Park

When it comes to urban green spaces, nothing beats Golden Gate Park say B.A.R. readers, who once again named it the best public park. From world-class museums like the de Young and Academy of Sciences to scenic windmills and specialty gardens, it is no wonder this windswept, man-made landscape is the third most visited park in the United States. Nothing beats heading over to grab an organic hotdog at the stand behind the band shell and eating lunch al fresco on a bench in the Music Concourse. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, (415) 831-5500. www.golden-gate-park.com

Best City Vista
Twin Peaks

Yes, it is overrun with tourists from sunup to sundown. Yes, even on the sunniest days you still freeze atop these identical hills due to the ocean breezes. Yes, locals often only visit when carting guests around town. But there is a reason why no trip to San Francisco is complete without a drive or hike up to the lookout at Twin Peaks. From there you get sweeping views of the Pacific, downtown’s skyline, several bridges and the East Bay hills. It’s where many leave their hearts. Twin Peaks, Twin Peaks Boulevard, San Francisco, (415) 831-2700. www.sfrecpark.org


Copyright Bay Area Reporter. For more articles from San Francisco's largest GLBT newspaper, visit www.ebar.com

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