Give Back Kick Back: Volunteering and Tropical Vibes Party in the Parks

I think everyone has those few places in their city that they run to for a mini-escape, and this whole park is that and more to me. Golden Gate National Recreation Area will always feel like home. This past weekend, the Parks Conservancy, the non-profit organization supporting Golden Gate National Parks hosted their annual volunteer event at Fort Miley. Formally known as FOGG Fest, Give Back Kick Back is a tropical-inspired volunteer day party. In the morning, you volunteer in the parks. After the hard work you put in, the afternoon is full of relaxation, good food, fun, and friends. Oh and your girl got to co-host the event! Ahh. 

Many of the current donors and supporters of the Parks Conservancy tend to be the generations that came before us avocado lovin' millennials.

By all means, I know we love it too, I see so many of us enjoying places like Fort Mason, Crissy Field, and Ocean Beach every weekend.  We just need to know the how's and why's we can be a part of the change. Well, that's where the importance of these events come in. In the recent years, The Parks Conservancy has turned it up with these experiential events to spread awareness, and grow the love and support for our natural lands. The proceeds from the event tickets go straight back to supporting Golden Gate National Recreation Area and it's education and stewardship programs. Now that I've let my heart sing a bit about why it's important... let's get to the fun details.  Here's how the day went down.

golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event

Part I: Give Back

Bright and early on National Trails Day, over a 150+ attendees kicked off the day and geared up with gloves and picks. We were ready to get our hands dirty for the cause. With the help of the Conservancy Stewardship Team, we divided and conquered the trails along Land's End. Another group went to paint over graffiti in the batteries.

As we pulled invasive plants out of the ground, Abbie and I uncovered wild succulents that were THRIVING. They were completely hidden by the weeds prior to that, and it felt rewarding to see how our efforts were already making a difference.  And that was just our AH-HA moment for the day... imagine the impact we made with 150+ hands on deck! 

give back kick back ggnra
golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event

So many volunteers put in hard work that day... it truly was a labor of love. There was a sense of unity that we were working towards a common goal and it was motivating to keep at it. Even through the work, we were having conversations with the volunteers around us, laughing and enjoying ourselves.

volunteer golden gate national parks national trail day
golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event

golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event

Part II: Kick Back

Giving back was already a prize on it's own, but the kick back was a treat! ;)

Part two of the day was an all-inclusive event for the volunteers at Fort Miley, with a breathless view overlooking Ocean Beach. The Aloha vibes were alive and well, and we really lucked out with the weather. This event was supposed to happen back in April but had to be rescheduled because Karl the Fog was playing us. This time around the weather was warm, yet breezy and so refreshing after a long morning in the sun. 

We walked into the event, and we were warmly greeted by Nemenzo's Te Fare dancers with happy smiles and we got lei'd!

golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event
golden gate national parks trails fun event
golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event
golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event

Nemenzo's Te Fare

The same dancers that greeted us walking in also kicked off the afternoon and put on a show. They performed several routines, both Hawaiian and Tahitian. In true luau nature, Nemenzo's Te Fare got all the volunteers out of their seats to join in. Anjuli and I somehow got roped into that and were brought on stage lol. 

golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event


The attendees worked up quite the appetite, and were all ready to grub. The food lineup did not disappoint. The spread was catered by ABC BBQ and included many fan favorites like Spam Musubi, Mac Salad and Kalua Pork and Pineapple Sliders. Additionally, my girls and I couldn't help but make extra trips back to the dessert bar, packed with Macadamia Nut cookies and Coconut Cupcakes. 

golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event
golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event

As I geared up to get on stage to co-host and announce the afternoon performances, I made sure to visit the Deep Eddy Vodka booth first. You know, just to loosen the nerves a bit.  Deep Eddy Vodka was pouring free lemonade cocktails, and was a perfect pairing to our ono Hawaiian eats. For the beer enthusiasts, Fort Point Beer was handing out some cold brews too. 

golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event
golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event
golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event gabe bondoc


The event soundtrack was full of favorites like J Boog, setting a laidback ambiance. If you saw on my IG stories, my girls and I sang our hearts out. To top it off, Gabe Bondoc came through for a live performance and headlined the event. The audience swooned. My co-host, Joyce, and I grew up listening to his music, so it was a pleasure to welcome him on stage. It was an intimate performance and I felt like we were all just hanging out rather than some concert. We listened to him sing a mix of his original songs from over the years with modern day favorites like Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You". 

golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event gabe bondoc


If the music and good eats weren't already enough to induce your FOMO, there were even more things to keep us all on our toes! From DIY Hats by REI to Lei making, temporary tattoos to lawn games; everyone there seemed to be living their best life.

golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event
golden gate national parks trails fun volunteer event


The Park Conservancy Events will happen throughout the summer and I hope to see you there! Each month, they will be hosting themed trail mixers in different park areas. Here's the links to the tickets!

If you can't make it to the monthly events, they all lead up to the season's Grand Finale. Don't miss NightHowl: The Park Conservancy's Annual Gala After Party. It's a festival style event that supports the parks! They haven't announced the location yet, but I can tell you now... it's iconic. That's all I'll say for now. I'll get you guys more information soon. 😉


FYI this isn't sponsored, just my nature-loving self who will always stand behind public land conservation... and of course, any good party that's worth recommending. Much love to the Parks Conservancy, National Park Service and all the event sponsors for pulling it off and putting this fun event together!


Swing Away at Billy Goat Hill

Shorty, swing my way.


A few weekends back, my adventure friend, Daniel, and I decided to hit up some of the city's best views, aka the instagram jackpot locations. Billy Goat Hill was high on that list, and we lucked out because this time the swing was there! For some odd reason, it's hard to gauge if it's there. It gets taken up and fixed pretty often. I've learned to check the instagram hashtags for the most recent photos to see if it's up.


We people-watched in between snapshots. Each group of people that passed by couldn't resist hopping on for a turn on the swing: families with young children, two college students stopping by to smoke, and saw locals taking their pups on a walk.

It's an easy place to go if you want the city view, but don't want the hike. The location is hidden in the Glen Park neighborhood, and you can park nearby so no need to worry if you aren't wearing comfy shoes.

HIking to Land's End Labyrinth

Spontaneous Saturdays

When the sun comes out on the weekend, we've learned not to think twice about getting outside. We know Karl, the Fog will swallow the sky without a moment's notice. With nothing more than Lea's leash and a camera, we hopped in Daniel's truck and headed to Land's End to explore the infamous labyrinth.

The sun was warm, while the air was crisp and cool. Surrounded by many others, it was easy to see we all had the same idea to get outside and explore the Land's End area. Some were locals and some were visitors. Some were families and some were friends. The people around us represented a spectrum of many individuals, all there for one reason: to enjoy the beauty of Golden Gate National Recreation Area on a sunny weekend.

Down a few more steps, we got to Mile Rock Beach. The waves there are particularly higher than nearby beach areas, so kept our distance from the water. It isn't the best spot for swimming, but you can enjoy a picnic or relax in the sand! One wave was loud enough to shake the ground, but hearing them continuously crash  against the rocks was both fun and soothing. Overall, the morning hike was a short and an easy-going stroll.

The labyrinth is there as a sign of peace, love and enlightenment for all
— Statement on Richmond District Blog

Visit the land's end Labryinth

Essentials: Wear comfortable shoes. Bring water, snacks and a phone (or camera) for awesome pictures. If four-legged friends comes along, remember to bring poop bags and leave no trace! 

Bathroom Tip: Plan ahead. Make a restroom trip prior to arriving, as there are no bathrooms in immediate proximity. For additional planning tips, check out more helpful details here or visit the NPS website for Land's End

Difficulty: The Land's End Labryinth makes for an easy to moderate hike, with a breathless view of the Pacific Ocean and Golden Gate Bridge. Taking our time, and starting our walk near the Legion of Honor, the short excursion (including Mile Rock Beach) was no more than 1-2 hours total. 

Why to love it: This place is a treasure of San Francisco that many locals hold close. Last summer, the hidden spot was vandalized by individuals that threw the curated rocks into the water. Overnight, the masterpiece disappeared. No more than one month after, a group of locals volunteered to rebuild the Land's End Labryinth, and that alone shows how much the community values it's presence. For visitors, it can easily fall behind the iconic San Francisco tourist attractions, but it's not one to miss. When visitors do find it, it's a meditative treat. For SF Bay Area locals, it's a great place to bring family, friends, and pups. (Just remember to be respectful of all the types of recreation happening around you!)

The next time Karl the fog is on hiatus, take the time to go outside and visit the Land's End Labryinth. When you approach the labryinth, I encourage you to enjoy it one step at a time. When you finally find yourself in the middle of it, you may be surprised to find your own center too.