Road Journal Blog—I love sauntering along the sidewalks of San Francisco, experiencing the city at a pace that let’s me really take in the people, the shops, and the aromas drifting from a java joint or bakery. But sometimes a guy just wants to walk and that's when I head for one of four favorite San Francisco spots.
Bernal Heights Park A short but sweet path beginning near the junction of Folsom Street and Bernal Heights Boulevard slopes upward to the top of this hill, a grassy, open-space site that turns brilliant green in the winter and spring. All year long you'll find dramatic city and bay views as well as loads of dogs and their walkers. sfrecpark.org/parks.aspx/. 
Crissy Field Starting at the Marina Green, this bayside stretch takes you alongside sand dunes, through restored coastal marshlands, and out to Fort Point, the Civil War-era brick fortification directly under the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge. Walking out, views are of the bridge and bay; coming back, there's a stunning city vista. parksconservancy.org/visit/park-sites/crissy-field.html .
The Embarcadero This is what happens when you get rid of a hulking, overhead freeway: A walk along a bayside promenade with an unfolding series of views of open water, maritime traffic, the Bay Bridge, and public art, not to mention the gaggles of runners, skaters, and others keeping you company on the pavement. Start near the Giants baseball park and walk to the top-notch food purveyors at the Ferry Building, where you can reward yourself with anything from gelato to oysters. ferrybuildingmarketplace.com. 
San Francisco Botanical Garden Golden Gate Park is packed with alluring trails, but my favorite spot for a walk there is this oasis with everything from a Mesoamerican cloud forest to a redwood grove. Paths lace the 55 acres, taking you past more than 8,000 kinds of plants from around the world. sfbotanicalgarden.org .
Have your own favorite spots for a walk in San Francisco? We'd love to hear about them.
Photography courtesy of Presidio/National Park Service (Crissy Field Trail); David Yu/Wikipedia (Embarcadero)
This blog post was first published in April 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.