Yelp’s Top Bay Area spots to celebrate Bay Day

Bay Day is almost here! Museums, aquariums, parks, community organizations, and small businesses across the Bay Area will host special Bay-themed programs for residents to explore, enjoy, and learn more about our Bay on Saturday, Oct. 1. Whether you’re in San Francisco, the East Bay, South Bay, or North Bay, there’s something for everyone on Bay Day. Find the event that’s right for you at BayDay.org!

And for more ways to celebrate and enjoy the Bay, check out these top spots as curated by our friends at Yelp:

Bike the Bay on Bay Day

Pump your tires, grab your bike helmet, and zip over to one of three Bay Day cycling events hosted by our friends at the San Francisco Bike Coalition, Bike East Bay, and the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition on Saturday, Oct. 1.

On Bay Day, thousands of Bay Area residents will unite in celebration of San Francisco Bay in their own unique ways. If experiencing the Bay on two wheels is more of your thing, then check out one of these family-friendly Bay Day cycling events happening near you.

Group Bike Ride with SF Bike Coalition
Saturday, Oct. 1:  11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Grab your friends and family for a casual-paced 6 mile bike ride along San Francisco’s famed waterfront, The Embarcadero. Soak in the beautiful Bay views and learn more about the ongoing changes coming to the waterfront and ways you can get involved in the planning processes for new developments and transportation infrastructure. Sign up for this fun event today!

Berkeley Group Bike Ride with Bike East Bay
Saturday, Oct. 1:  3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.

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Grab your friends and family and join Bike East Bay for a fun, easygoing 6.6 mile roundtrip ride from UC Berkeley to the Berkeley Marina and back on Bay Day. During the ride, you’ll pass over and learn about parts of the Bay watershed, including some historically significant creek restoration sites, and a permeable paved roadway experiment in Berkeley encouraging healthier rainwater runoff to the Bay. Sign up for this fun event today! 

Group Bike Ride in San Leandro with Bike East Bay
Saturday, Oct. 1:  10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

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Grab your friends and family for a fun day of riding on the Bay Trail with Bike East Bay. This ride will begin at the San Leandro BART station and make its way to the Hayward Regional Shoreline and back, passing by San Lorenzo Creek and Marina Park.  At the end of this 11-mile round trip Bay excursion, there will be the option to finish the ride at 21st Amendment Brewery on Williams Street. Sign up for this fun event today!

Group Bike Ride with Silicon Valley Bike Coalition
Saturday, Oct. 1:  10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

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Even in the heart of Silicon Valley, the world’s most renowned center for technological innovation, there are miles of paved bike trails leading to the Bay shoreline for all to enjoy. On Oct. 1 pedal your way from the Mountain View Caltrain station to the Bay shoreline with the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition. There will be 10-mile and 20-mile options available for riders of all abilities, and a chance to check out the newly-opened Moffett Field Trail. Sign up for this fun event today!

Heroes on the Bay: Berkeley Yacht Club

Founders flag on sailboat
The Berkeley Yacht Club chose Save The Bay’s founders as ‘Heroes of the Bay’ for the Opening Day on the Bay parade.

Opening Day on the Bay is a long-standing tradition to launch the boating season on San Francisco Bay. Since 1917, sailors have paraded their vessels as a celebration of spring and their love for sailing the waters of our beloved Bay.

The parade’s theme this year was “Heroes on the Bay” and the Berkeley Yacht Club chose to honor Save The Bay’s founders for their entry. They gave us a call to see if we had any images of Sylvia, Kay, and Esther that could be used to fit the theme. Fortunately, we held onto a long banner picturing the founders from our 50th anniversary gala, which the club was able to rig up on the front of a sailboat named Oksza.

The image of our founders flew proudly above San Francisco Bay, and a Save The Bay flag flew high above a long banner reading “Protection and Restoration”. Club members were inspired to introduce the story of these local environmental heroes to a new generation of Bay enthusiasts. Plus, the Oksza took 2nd place sailboat in the parade!

Patti Brennan from Berkeley Yacht Club said, “It was a memorable moment to see the original founders of Save the Bay inspiring a new generation. Berkeley Yacht Club and its members are honored both to have had this opportunity and to receive this award.”

Thanks to the Berkeley Yacht Club for celebrating Sylvia McLaughlin, Esther Gulick, and Kay Kerr, as Heroes on the Bay!

A love affair with San Francisco Bay

Kelley Heye is a former advertising minion, artist, elite cyclist, chubby gal-turned-personal trainer. But more than that, she is a great lover of the outdoors—especially the ocean, the San Francisco Bay, and the critters who live within the cold, wild water.

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I have always loved the water. Growing up in San Diego, I spent time most every day at the beach. Going to the beach is what we did.

When I moved to San Francisco, I missed the beach. Sure, we have Baker Beach and Ocean Beach, but it’s not the same. It’s cold and windy; folks just don’t go hang out at the beach. It’s not what we do here. Sadly, I had lost my connection to the water.

Over the years, I found ways to enjoy the waters of San Francisco without freezing my butt off. I would run along Crissy Field or ride my bike up the hills of the Marin Headlands just so I could look at the water; it made me feel connected, proud. I especially liked the days when the water was calm, striped with currents and vessel traffic. Riding my bike over the Golden Gate Bridge as an enormous freighter passed beneath me was thrilling.

Gazing at the Bay was nice and certainly helped to satisfy my craving for the water, but something was missing—I was just a spectator.

Taking the plunge

Then one day a few years back, I received an invitation that would change everything. A friend invited me to join him for a swim in the Bay. “No wet suit, it’s frowned upon,” he said. I didn’t want to go, I was afraid, but figured I’d better dig deep and go… “Okay I’ll do it!” I said.

The water at Aquatic Park was cold—very, very cold and seemed wild and scary. The second I fully submerged myself in the Bay, my heart rate went through the roof and I couldn’t breathe. I was sure I was going to die, but miraculously, I didn’t. My heart rate eventually went down, and I realized that I was swimming in San Francisco Bay, sans wet suit! I was really swimming in the Bay! The water was shocking, like cool silk on my skin. Turning on my back, the sky was bright blue, dotted with puffy white clouds. It was exhilarating. Cold, yes, but absolutely exhilarating.

Ever since that first swim, the Bay has wedged itself deeply into my soul. I am no longer a spectator—I have grown into a full-fledged participant in all that our Bay has to offer. I swim a couple times a week and have inspired others to join me so that they, too, could experience the water’s cool embrace. I also fly across the currents of the Bay with my crew as we row vintage wooden boats while being chased by playful harbor seals. I cannot describe the joy I feel when their smooth, round heads and huge, black eyes pop up just next to my oar. Lines of pelicans soar by, and remind me how lucky I am to be out there.  Just seeing the animals and natural beauty of the Bay makes my heart swell with love for this special place that is our home.

How has the Bay inspired my workouts, my clients, and me?

San Francisco Bay is a vast, ever-changing element. It can be wild, thrilling and cold, but it’s special: there’s only one San Francisco Bay. Even on its crankiest days it is a magical, inspiring backdrop for a workout of any kind—mental or physical.

People often ask me why I don’t work in a gym. I tell them because there are no wild parrots, pelicans or blue heron at the gym. There are “treadmill bunnies,” but you’ll never see fluffy brown bunnies hop past. At a gym, you’ll never experience the magnificence of a pod of whales coasting by, or inhale eucalyptus-scented air after your run, or discover puddles to jump in.

As for my favorite Bay locations to workout, I like to take advantage of the views from above—especially the Marin Headlands. Your reward for ascending all of those rugged hills: the best views and the best workout ever. Lands End is the best place to workout during whale migration season. It’s hard to stay focused though; you won’t want to take your eyes off the whales. I also really enjoy the Presidio; it’s become a lovely place to workout or just be—whether you’re running, riding a bike, or walking, there’s something very meditative about being amongst all the trees.

Life-changing love

My love affair with the Bay has changed my life. Not only has it taught me to go beyond what I thought was physically possible (or sane!), but the Bay has also rewarded me with great friendships and an appreciation for all that is connected with it. I have gotten up-close and personal with harbor seals and sea lions, and I have met some wonderful, caring people. And, while I hope to never meet a great white shark, I know they are out there and I will do my best to respect their home and do all I can to keep it healthy.

My advice? Hike up into the headlands and gaze at the Bay. Dip a toe in the water. Or better still, be brave and take a quick, cold, exhilarating dip. Our greatest reward for living in the San Francisco Bay Area is our Bay. Submerge yourself in all of its glory.

– Kelley Heye

Giving thanks for healing at the edge of the Bay

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Donna has discovered the healing power of San Francisco Bay. The shoreline supported her recovery and now she loves sailing out on the Bay.

We live busy and often chaotic lives.  Over seven million people live in the Bay area. Our freeways are crowded and busy—and so are our grocery stores, our restaurants and the details of our daily lives.  We are inundated with technology and media vying for our attention.  Many of us escape to nature to find solitude and to recapture a sense of place and belonging that is free from busyness.

The ocean, salt marshes, and the Bay have always been places that bring me a sense of calm and peace, and their beauty and solitary nature appeal to my inner introvert.  As the director of our Habitat Restoration Program at Save The Bay, I’ve been privileged to share the experience of the beauty of the Bay with our volunteers, many of whom are discovering our shorelines for the first time.  I always hope that this experience enriches their lives and opens a door of escape from a busy world.

In a few weeks, it will be one year since I was diagnosed with cancer.  Those of you who have been diagnosed with a serious illness know that it is a chaotic time and that everything seems out of control.   Having worked as a salt marsh ecologist for the last 10 years I’ve come to rely on areas near the water when I need a sense of peace and calm.  I live in Richmond near the Bay Trail so it was only natural for me to look to the Bay as a place of refuge.  Exercise under a doctor’s supervision can be an integral part of a cancer treatment plan, and I found it extremely helpful during my treatment—both physically and mentally to take daily walks along the Bay’s edge.  I live within a short walking distance of the Bay Trail and walks along this path became a part of my strategy to maintain the routine of my life.  I set small goals each day for mileage along the trail and was able to celebrate those small victories each day.

Healing through nature

As I charted my path forward, I relied on family, friends and coworkers to help me through the experience, but I also relied heavily on the experience of being outside and away from all that I associated with being sick.   I was so grateful for the steady rhythm of the waves and the sounds of the wind and of the birds along the shore which daily released me from the chaos in my mind associated with treatment, distracted me from the discomforts of my body, and gave me a chance to focus on things of external beauty.

There is documented research on the power of nature to heal, both physically and emotionally, and many online resources focus on nature’s therapeutic benefits. The days I spent walking or even sitting at the edge of the Bay were instrumental in my healing process I often reeled from the mental chaos and the physical destruction of my body due to the effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, but the time I spent listening to the wind and the waves and watching birds and small animals was relaxing and healing.  Sitting in the sun at the edge of the bay gave me an enormous sense of peace and calm, and on many days it soothed my soul and allowed me to focus on the gratitude for all of those who walked with me on that journey.  I often sat quietly on a bench at the edge of the bay for an hour or two at a time, allowing both my body and mind precious time to relax and heal and to experience peace.

I am happy to say that I have successfully finished treatment and am recovering well.  I am still walking along the edge of the bay, but I’m now able to sail and to ride my bike along the trail again too.  I continue to look to the water as a place of refuge and healing and I have a renewed zeal for bringing our volunteers to the edge of the bay in hopes that they can experience it as a place that can provide them an option for a place of refuge.  I wish health and happiness for each of you and I hope that you too can think of a place in nature for which you are grateful and that inspires and nurtures you.

Take time this holiday season to reconnect with that place and allow yourself to experience the beauty of nature and the power it has to restore your body and heal your soul.