What are the best parks in San Francisco?

Answers from Our Experts (3)

Katie Sweeney

At just seven by seven square miles, San Francisco is a relatively small city. Despite its compact size, there is no shortage of parks in SF. On beautiful days, San Franciscans flock to their nearby parks to enjoy the sunshine.

Located in the middle of the city and extending all the way to the Pacific Ocean is San Francisco's largest park, Golden Gate Park. Not only is this park filled with grassy meadows and ample picnic space, it's also the home of the California Academy of Sciences, the Conservatory of Flowers, the Japanese Tea Garden, Kezar Stadium, the De Young Museum, and the Botanical Garden. One of the things that makes Golden Gate Park unique is the Buffalo Paddock where park goers can observe the American bison in its natural habit.

Alamo Square Park is a quintessential San Francisco park situated on a hill with rolling views of the city's nearby neighborhoods. It's famous for the houses that border the park. Known as the Painted Ladies, one of these houses appeared on the 90s sitcom Full House.

Dolores Park in the Mission District is a preferred hang out of young locals who like to drink, eat, and sunbath on warm city days. Be careful of the man selling chocolate truffles. Most likely these truffles are made with something more potent than just chocolate.

Kimberley Lovato

It's always a park day when the sun is shining and SF residents love to sprawl in them any chance they get. The largest park in the city is Golden Gate Park, which extends all the way to the Pacific Ocean. It's filled with winding paths, baseball diamonds, picnic areas and some of the city's other treasures like beautiful Conservatory of Flowers and the Japanese Tea Garden. The park is also home to some of SF's top museums like the California Academy of Sciences and the De Young Museum. There's also a lovely little lake, Stow Lake, where you can rent boats.

Downtown, bordered on one side by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and on another by the Museum of Craft and Folk Art as well as the new Contemporary Jewish Museum  opened in 2008, Yerba Buena Gardens is a an oasis of green space in the heart of one of the busiest parts of the city.

 Aquatic Park,  an easy walk from Fisherman's Wharf and Ghiradelli Square, is not a grassy space like most, but a waterfront treasure worth visiting. Watch from the amphitheater style seats as Dolphin Club members dip into the icy bay waters. Brrr. It's also home to San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, a treasure trove for those interested in maritime history and historic ships.

Washington Square Park in the heart of San Francisco's North Beach is packed on sunny days. Grab a gelato or a slice of pizza and pull up a blade of grass. The view of Sts. Peter and Paul Church is pretty spectacular. 

Maria Hunt

When it comes to a list of the best parks in San Francisco Bay Area, the list begins with Golden Gate Park. The park’s origins stretch back to the 1870s when the 1,000-acre site was planted with 60,000 eucalyptus, Monterey pines and cypress trees. Landmarks like the museum concourse — which includes the de Young, — the Japanese Tea Garden, Conservatory of Flowers, tulip garden and windmills were added in the ensuing decades. Today, Golden Gate Park is one of the busiest parks in the nation, attracting 13 million visitors a year. And on the other side of the Bay Bridge, Berkeley’s Tilden Park is considered one of the best parks in the region. The 2,000+-acre park offers beautiful views of the bay and San Francisco skyline, pathways for walking and hiking and a sanctuary for animals in the heart of the city. Plan a picnic, go for a swim in Lake Anza, or take a ride on the carousel.

Related Questions