As a new (or long established) city dweller, it is important to regularly get out of the city. It means advance planning, exploring, and choosing places you can get to easily in a day. This way you don’t have to have the funds to finance a weekend trip (so you can get away more often) and so you return feeling refreshed (and still have time to do all the weekend necessities, such as groceries and laundry). I recommend planning a trip out at least twice a month, at the minimum. It will vastly improve your city outlook.
First step, figure out the public transport options for places that are between 1-3 hours each way. You will be beyond the sprawl (in most cities) and it still provides enough time to enjoy being out of the city. I recommend travelling by train as you can easily get through your reading list and also eat, chat and sit more comfortably than a bus. London has excellent train travel to rural locations and small villages just outside the city. It is much easier to escape London by public transport than in San Francisco.
Secondly, you can narrow the plethora of options by picking out your favourite things to do. This weekend, I chose mountain biking. It narrowed the options significantly as I no longer own a mtn bike. Epping Forest’s Go Further Cycling are on the edge of the forest (filled with single track and 4WD forest roads) and rent Kona Lanais for £19 (3 hours) or £26 (full-day). They were super friendly, despite us being late, and offered recommendations for rides. The best bit, it only takes an hour to get there from London’s Liverpool St on the tube.
The scenery was beautifully green, not many people and lovely single-track. I hope to return next weekend.