San Francisco City Parks

Alta Plaza Park

Last week I wrote a post about the San Francisco parks I had not yet visited but wanted to at some point. I thought I’d put together a list of the parks that I have already been to here. I doubt I can remember all of them that I’ve seen in the seven years since I’ve lived here but I’ll at least roundup the major ones I can recall.

The Big Parks

Japanese Gardens Bridge at Golden Gate Park

I’ll start with the big obvious parks. Golden Gate Park is an amazing park that takes up a huge wonderful chunk of this city. I’ve been to it many, many times for many, many reasons. It includes a lot of attractions that I’ve visited including gardens (rose garden, Japanese tea garden, botanical gardens, Conservatory of Flowers), museums (De Young, California Academy of Sciences), a buffalo paddock, multiple lakes, a roller derby rink, lots of trails … there is just a ton to see here and I feel like I’ve still failed to see it all even though I’ve been there many times.

The other major park in the city that I’ve been to often is Dolores Park. It actually isn’t a very large park but it’s a popular one and big enough to have tennis courts, a large kids’ playground and to be a great place for events. I love the view of the city skyline from this park. And I love the fact that it’s usually sunny here when the rest of the city may not be.

I’ll go ahead and include in this one that park area that consists of Telegraph Hill and the Filbert Street Steps. I don’t know if this is actually considered a park or not but it’s a major tourist attraction, with Coit Tower at the top of it, and I spent a lot of time there when I lived closer to that neighborhood. The gardens along Filbert Steps are beautiful and the view from the top of the hill is amazing.

Easter in Dolores Park

The Small Parks

The city’s small parks that I’ve checked out include:

  • Washington Square Park. This was my neighborhood park when I lived in North Beach. It was a great place to eat gelato in the sun, watch people play Frisbee and take a photo of the nearby church where Marilyn Monroe had her wedding photo taken out in front of at some point in history.
  • Alta Plaza Park. This is my current neighborhood park. It has decent views of the water, some beautiful trees and lots of space to lounge. There’s also a playground and I think there are tennis courts
  • Alamo Square Park. This is the one that adjoins the “Full House” houses and also has a terrific city view.
  • St. Mary’s Square. This is a park in Chinatown built on top of a garage. I have passed it many many times and not really hung out there since moving to the city. However, it has a special place in my heart because I spent time taking some great photos there on a vacation prior to my move to the city.
  • Cottage Row Park. This is a tiny mini-park that doesn’t have a lot to offer but it’s on my way to Japantown so I walk through it and sometimes take photos in the sunlight there.
  • Rincon Park. This is the park that is located near the Ferry Building and has a huge bow and arrow structure in it. One of the dogs I petsit used to go to this park daily before a different dog park opened in that area so I’ve spent a lot of time there. I love the views of the water and bay bridge.
  • Fay Park. This is a small park that’s located in North Beach near Fisherman’s Wharf. It really offers nothing exciting to speak of but it’s a stretch of greenery that I was known to plop down on with some Ghirardelli ice cream on my home from playing tourist.
  • Aquatic Park. It’s a beach, not a park, but I guess it’s considered a park and I’ve been here many times (it’s where I usually watch the 4th of July Fireworks).
  • Lands End Park. This is over by the ocean and is filled with trails, which I’ve actually only hiked one time but should definitely explore further.

Are there great parks in your area?

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