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Best Parks in San Francisco

By: Cityseeker
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Mission 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.

19th Street and Dolores Street, San Francisco, CA, United States, 94114
Washington Square

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.

Filbert Street and Stockton Street, San Francisco, CA, United States, 94133
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.

100 John F Kennedy Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, United States, 94118
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.

1199 9th Avenue, San Francisco, CA, United States, 94122
Crissy Field

This historic waterfront area dates back to the Ohlone Indians and is an integral part of the Presidio of San Francisco. Having harbored Native Americans, Spanish settlers, and the U.S. Army throughout the years, Crissy Field has undergone numerous transformations. Today, the city by the bay has once again transformed this area into a recreational space. Visitors will find an educational center, a rock climbing gym, a café, and other establishments in the vicinity. The field also features walking paths, lush lawns, and picnic tables. Gorgeous views of the Golden Gate abound, and you can also unwind on a scenic beach area and enjoy birdwatching along a marsh.

1199 East Beach, Presidio of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, United States, 94129
Japanese Tea Garden

Located within the Golden Gate Park is the enchanting Japanese Tea Garden. Its origins date back to 1894, when the garden was created as an exemplary exhibit of a Japanese Village for the California Midwinter International Exposition. Created by Japanese landscape architect Makoto Hagiwara, this sprawling tea garden proffers an unmissable opportunity to experience the ethereal beauty and tranquility of a true-blue Japanese-style verdant oasis. 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 teahouse, which covered with a cascade of wisteria in the month of springs. Followed by your stroll of the garden, do head to the gift shop to purchase souvenirs marking your visit to this paradisiacal spot.

75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA, United States, 94118
Presidio of San Francisco

Overlooking the San Francisco Bay, the Presidio is one of San Francisco's best kept and oldest parks. The Presidio Trust, along with the National Park Service, seeks to preserve the heritage and architecture of the area while providing both locals and tourists with a splendid recreational spot. Visitors to the park can admire several restored military buildings and embark on explorations of the expansive area. Attractions such as the "Spire," attributed to artist Andy Goldsworthy, and other unique additions have even helped the park be featured in numerous TV shows and movies. The Presidio is an excellent destination to visit with the entire family, and the park also offers tours to help acquaint you with all it has to offer. It is open year-round, and entry is free.

103 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA, United States, 94129
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.

501 Stanyan Street, San Francisco, CA, United States, 94117
Candlestick Point State Recreation Area

This state park, sprawled along the shores of San Francisco Bay, offers a variety of outdoor activities. In addition to great views of the scenic bay, it features picnic and barbecue facilities, hiking and biking trails, and campsites. It also contains two piers available for fishing. Other water-oriented recreation such as swimming and surfing are also popular here.

500 Hunters Point Expressway, San Francisco, CA, United States, 94124
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.

Fire Road, Angel Island, Tiburon, CA, United States, 94920
Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods National Monument is a breathtaking natural sanctuary that is renowned for its stunning old-growth coast redwood trees, and some of the tallest and oldest living organisms on Earth. The towering trees, some reaching heights of over 250 feet (76 meters), create a serene and awe-inspiring environment. It is interesting to note that some of these towering redwoods have survived for over 1000 years. The monument is named after John Muir, a renowned naturalist, and conservationist who played a pivotal role in the preservation of wilderness areas in the United States. Trails are set out for the casual stroller and the avid hiker looking for a challenge in the cool stillness of this 554-acre (224-hectare) National Park. While visiting Muir Woods, visitors can also learn about the ecology, history, and significance of the redwood forest through interpretive displays and guided walks.

Deer Park Fire Road, Mill Valley, CA, United States, 94941
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