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Best Parks in San Francisco

By: Cityseeker
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Dolores Park

Dolores Park is one of the main hot spots in San Francisco and is the major meet-up place for many citizens. Though it is not very large, it attracts crowds of people and the beautiful views make it worth the visit. Recreational resources include a few tennis courts, basketball courts, two soccer fields and a children's playground, but most of all Dolores Park is often used as a venue for special events such as movies in the park. Its surrounding area is known for some of San Francisco's major culinary attractions: Delfina, Pizzeria Delfina and the Tartine Bakery. It is also a great place to chill with some ice cream from the Bi-Rite Creamery. Saturday hang-outs in the park are often events themselves and it's always packed on weekends. Given its location, it's almost always sunny; the famous fog knows better than to ruin the oasis that is Dolores Park. Whether you choose to sit in Dog Beach, Hipster Beach, Speedo Ridge or partake in actual activity at the playground or tennis courts you are sure to have an unforgettable time.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Washington Square Park

Feel like taking a quick stroll along verdant pathways? Or want to relax on a patch of green as you indulge in people-watching? Visit Washington Square Park and have a relaxing time out with family and friends. Walk your dog, meet friends, hold small picnics or simply get drenched in the lively aura of this place. The whole park comes alive with music during the North Beach Jazz festival. An ideal hang out on a lazy day.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Conservatory of Flowers

The Conservatory of Flowers, located in Golden Gate Park, transports you from the city to a tropical rain forest, minus the exotic animals. The five galleries within the conservatory include the Lowland Tropics, Plotted Plants, Aquatic Plants, Highland Tropics and an ever changing special exhibit. The Conservatory of Flowers displays plants and flowers in its unique environment, offers guided school tours and is available to rent for corporate events and weddings. This gallery of flowers is a must see for any nature or horticulture lover.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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San Francisco Botanical Garden

This is a living museum in Golden Gate Park that is home to a wide array of rare and exotic plant life from around the world. Visit the 70-acre garden and explore seemingly endless trails with duck ponds, an arbor, herbs, flowers, blooming trees and redwoods, and smaller, specialized gardens with names like the Garden of Fragrance. Also on hand is an education center that provides different gardening, horticulture, botany, and environmental classes for adults and children, plus a horticulture library and bookstore. Admission is free for San Francisco residents and there is a small fee for non-residents.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Crissy Field

This historic waterfront area dates back to the Ohlone Indians and is an integral part of San Francisco Presidio history. With inhabitants such as Native Americans, Spanish settlers, and the U.S. Army throughout the years, Crissy Field has gone through numerous transformations. Today, the city by the bay has once again transformed this area into a recreational space. A children's swim center, rock climbing business, cafe, sports gear store and other such businesses call the old military barracks home. The space also features walking paths, lush grass and picnic tables. Gorgeous views of the Golden Gate, the Embarcadero and North Beach complete this multifaceted park.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Japanese Tea Garden

Located in Golden Gate Park, this garden is a marvel of landscape architect's art. This traditional Japanese garden covers five acres (2.02 hectares). Several paths take you by an authentic pagoda, a monumental Buddha, and a miniature waterfall over an acutely arched bridge that no kid can resist. Overlooking the gardens, a koi-filled pond rests beside a Japanese-style tea house, which in spring is covered with a cascade of wisteria. The gift shop sells souvenirs with a Japanese flair.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Presidio of San Francisco

The Presidio is one of San Francisco's best kept and oldest parks. The Presidio Trust along with the National Park Service seek to preserve the heritage and architecture of the area while providing both locals and tourists with a splendid recreational spot. The park itself consists of a number of restored military buildings. Attractions such as the "Spire," constructed by artist Andy Goldsworthy, and other unique additions have even helped the park be featured in a number of TV shows and movies. The Presidio is an excellent destination to discover with the entire family and the park provides a number of tours to help you through it all. The park is open all year round and its free entry is an added bonus.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Golden Gate Park

In the late 1800s, California's first state engineer, William Hammond Hall, and his assistant, a Scotsman named John McLaren, transformed more than 1000 acres (405 hectares) of sand dunes into a wondrous haven in the midst of the city, christened Golden Gate Park after the eponymous strait nearby. Stretching over 50 blocks from Stanyan Street to the Pacific Ocean, the lush landscape is etched with numerous trails for walking, jogging, biking and horseback riding, alongside a golf course, bowling greens, a lake with paddle boats, soccer fields and a baseball diamond. From the Japanese Tea Garden and the Conservatory of Flowers to the California Academy of Sciences and the De Young Museum, San Francisco's Golden Gate Park encompasses a wealth of scenic beauty and cultural intrigue within is expansive embrace. There are also several playgrounds, a quaint carousel, an aquarium, a buffalo reserve and an outdoor bandshell where open-air concerts are hosted each summer.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Candlestick Point State Recreation Area

This state park, located on the shore line next to the former site of Candlestick Park, offers a variety of outdoor activities to enjoy. In addition to great views of the San Francisco Bay, it features picnic and barbecue facilities, an exercise trail and a bike trail lined with California poppies. It also has two piers available for fishing with fish-cleaning facilities. Windharp Hill, which consists of permanent metal wind chimes and harps, is what visitors usually remember about Candlestick Point. The park is popular with windsurfers (big winds, small waves) but is not recommended for beginners.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Angel Island State Park

What Ellis Island was to the East Coast, Angel Island was to the West Coast. Graffiti left by immigrants who were awaiting admission or deportation can be seen on the walls of the holding areas. The wooded 740 acre (300 hectare) island sits peacefully in the middle of San Francisco Bay. In addition to the immigration facility, the island is also home to two now-abandoned military installations, Fort McDowell and Camp Reynolds. Hiking and biking trails circle the island and offer spectacular views of the poppy-colored peaks of the Golden Gate Bridge and the iconic San Francisco skyline. Volunteer guides lead informative tours of the island's historical sites and one can even catch a glimpse of the indigenous deer population. Camping is allowed with proper permits. Ferry service varies according to the season.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Muir Woods National Monument

Step back in time and into this primeval forest on Mount Tamaplais. Some of these towering redwoods are more than 2000 years old. Trails are set out for the casual stroller and for the avid hiker looking for a challenge in the cool stillness of this 560-acre (227-hectare) national park. Furthermore, artfully constructed boardwalks through much of the area make this destination eminently accessible. No pets or smoking are allowed. It's recommended that you bring a sweater or light jacket along. The best time to arrive is early morning or late afternoon. Parking space is limited.

Mill Valley, CA, United States
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