For those who want to get off the pavement, Bay Area options are limitless. Within the city, trail-run the Presidio (over amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the rugged coastline), Crissy Field, Baker Beach or Fort Funston National Park. Camping is even possible in the Presidio, where you're bound to completely forget that you're that close to concrete jungle.
But as soon as you get out of the city, your outdoor adventure options multiply. Between Mt. Tamalpais, the Russian River, redwood forests, the huge, rugged stretch of coastline, Pacific Ocean and most of the space just north and south of the city, wilderness is vast for hiking, trailrunning, mountain biking, kayaking, surfing and kite surfing.
New York City, New York
Aside from the plethora of indoor climbing walls (New York City is home to Brooklyn Boulders, the largest, most dynamic, dedicated rock-climbing gym) and ultra-dense urban bike routes the Big Apple has to offer, there are plenty of day-trip options for getting out of the shadows of skyscrapers if you're willing to travel just a bit.
For hiking, climbing and trail running you can choose from mild to strenuous at Harriman State Park, Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park, just to name a fraction of the long list. Between North Jersey and New York, if you want to get vertical or scramble some mountains, you're in the right place. You can even camp in Brooklyn at Gateway Campgrounds.
Want to get wet? Between the Hudson River Estuary, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, lakes and rivers further outside the city, and the Atlantic Ocean, depending on the season, you're wide open for kayaking, canoeing, sea kayaking, surfing and fishing. Fall and winter (brrr!) are prime for waves up and down Long Island.
Sure, the Midwest is relatively flat but that's not to say there aren't adventures to be had, especially with the miles of nature preserves, campgrounds and beaches around Lake Michigan.What a trail run through the wildflowers and different grasses through state parks and nature preserves lacks in steep inclines, it makes up for in spectacular scenery. In winter, the same landscape provides for perfect cross-country skiing conditions.
Lake Michigan gives anyone with sea legs a chance to fish, kayak, canoe and swim. And, just like the ocean, this Great Lake can be calm and peaceful one day and a vicious beast the next, so any number of challenging conditions can await you.
Find an campsite near the city of your choice today.
Christina Scannapiego is the online Outdoors Editor for Active.com .