From San Francisco to Walnut Creek: The Best Bay Area Spots for Active Older Adults to Stay Mobile

i-agingAfter a somewhat strange winter, there are signs that spring is poking its head around the corner. This is exciting for anyone in the area who loves to get outside. After all, the Bay Area is known for its natural beautiful vistas and its endless hills and valleys. Here nature and development blend together to create some of the most jaw-dropping sights in the country. This rugged beauty certainly makes for great living and some spectacular postcards, but it also means that active older adults have to work a little more to find places to stay mobile. Part of living independently with at-home care means getting out, and there is enough to do in the Bay Area that being cooped up doesn’t have to be your only option as the spring sun starts to warm the land.

Senior Centers

There are senior centers all over the Bay Area, from Gilroy in the south all the way through Napa County. These are places where you can meet old friends or meet new ones, and engage in challenging and energizing activities that are doable and fun. These are places where you are allowed to go your own speed to stay active and healthy year-round. One of the best parts is that senior centers aren’t like they used to be—we’ve all seen the patronizing stereotypes where you are encouraged to just “rotate your arms in place.” There are all levels of exercise and new activities offered, including:

  • Low-impact aerobics
  • Dance
  • Rowing
  • Swimming
  • Softball
  • Tennis
  • Bowling

So whether you are looking to improve flexibility, tone your muscles, or join a team, a senior center is a great place to stay active and have fun. They are also great places to stay active while waiting for the weather to get warmer, to take advantage of what the Bay Area has to offer.

Outdoor Activities in the Bay Area for Active Older Adults

The saying is that California is America, only more so. There is so much beauty in this nation and a great deal of it seems concentrated in the Bay Area, this spot where the continent crashes dramatically into the ocean. Hiking for aging adults means finding places that you can handle. This doesn’t mean you can only do flatlands, nor does it mean trying to do something you can’t. There are hundreds of trails and paths all over and the important thing is to choose the one that is the right level for you.

A good trail guide will let you know important factors like length, elevation, rest stops, handicap accessibility, trail consistency, how much climbing is involved, and everything else you need to know. A 2-mile uphill walk can be a lot more challenging than a 5-mile level hike, so make sure you study the options and decide what works best for you. Here are a few options:

Angel Island’s Perimeter Road: This is an easy hike that can be up to 5.8 miles, and offers spectacular views of the Bay. The island is accessible by ferry, making this option ideal for a day trip. The path is considered easy and level, with plenty of stopping points along the way, and there is a lot to do on the island. It provides a breathtaking 360 view of the region, offering glimpses of San Francisco, the North Bay, and the East Bay, all while habitat to a number of seabirds and other island animals.

Lime Ridge Open Space, Walnut Creek: This is the largest city-owned outdoor space in the region, and its trails range from steeply elevated to flat and easy. No matter where you decide to venture, you’ll find a wild outdoor area and rugged windswept beauty. Hikes here offer a chance to see foxes, possums, chipmunks, and other wild animals. It is easily accessible and abutted by urban areas such as Contra Costa, but during the 1.7-mile trail all of the city slips away, and you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere, but are only a short walk away from facilities and good restaurants.

Lands End Trail: This is exactly what it sounds like: the place where the sea rushes into the land, reminding us of its endless power and infinite beauty. It is a wild place, but the trails themselves are easy and mostly flat. There are two main trails, which can be combined for a 3-mile walk or split up for shorter ones. The scenery is spectacular, with the crashing power of the Pacific Ocean in your main view, although when the fog is clear you can spot the Golden Gate Bridge, a beautiful symbol of our ability to make sense of the world.

There are hundreds more, through forest or beaches, uphills or near urban enclaves. No matter where you are in the Bay Area, you are only a short ways away from seeing the nature that gives shape to our urban lifestyles. For older adults who want to stay active, the Bay Area has an enormous amount of resources to offer. Taking advantage of them while finding activities at the right level for you is a key part of happy, healthy living.

At Institute on Aging, we work with aging adults and their families to connect them with the best resources the Bay Area has to offer, from home care options to social programs and activities. Please contact us today to learn more.

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Institute on Aging

Committed to offering thoughtful discussions and resources to older adults, their families, and their caregivers.

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