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.
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.
Redwood Regional Park is located in the hills of Oakland. It boasts the largest remaining natural strand of coastal redwood in the East Bay. Early mariners used to use these tall redwood trees to help them navigate the San Francisco Bay. Many locals enjoy hiking and biking around the available trails, which offers gorgeous scenery. In addition to the deer, rabbits and squirrels that roam the park, it is also home to rare wildlife species such as the golden eagle and the striped racer snake. The Roberts Regional Recreation Area, a park within the park, features a swimming pool and playgrounds. Throughout the park, you will find access to a well-maintained system of restrooms, water fountains and picnic tables. The Chabot Observatory and Science Center is one of the park's most prominent attractions.
This East Bay woodland canyon offers great panoramic views of the Bay Area. The 205-acre park sits next to UC Berkeley and has trails accessible from the city. There are no facilities such as picnic tables, just wilderness to enjoy. Several trails are available for hiking, and wandering off the trails is not advisable, as the East Bay Park Department maintains this land in its natural state to provide a secluded natural oasis in the heart of the city.
This popular park is a 2,077-acre wilderness wonderland with a variety of attractions for the sports enthusiast or naturalist, or anyone in need of some recreation. Popular activities include swimming, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, sunbathing, exploring, golf, picnicking, fishing, pony rides, train rides and bike rides. It also features a lake, golf course, petting zoo, a mini steam train, a carousel and endless trails to explore. Do not miss the Regional Parks Botanical Garden, home to the world's most complete collection of California native plants.
The Berkeley Marina is a section of the Parks Recreation & Waterfront. The Marina covers an area of 52 acres (21.04 hectares) and features 1100 berths for boats. The marina is complete with boat yard, fuel dock and boat launch ramp. The fishing pier located within the marina is a popular summer spot for those who enjoy the sport. Spend a day learning about nature in an engaging manner at the Shorebird Nature Center, or let your kids enjoy a day out in the sun at the Adventure Playground. You can also dine at one of the marina's three restaurants. The marina is especially lively during the Berkeley Bay Festival and the Fourth of July and Fireworks.
The verdant Jefferson Square Park occupies an area of 5.6 acres (2.26 hectares) and remains one of the finest recreational spots in Fillmore. The lush green landscape and dense plantations offer ample shade to strollers and visitors, thus making it a popular picnic spot. Jefferson Square Park is also home to a well-laid out off-leash space, where pets can roam about freely. Perched atop a small hill, it offers scenic views of Fillmore and Western Addition.
Duboce Park was established in 1902 and was used as a refugee camp after the devastating 1906 earthquake that nearly destroyed the city. This small park has a separate are for dogs to play unleashed. It also features a playground, basketball court and the Harvey Milk Center for the Arts. There are many residences close to it and there are no boundaries distinguishing them which is rare for parklands.
You might remember the Alamo Square Park from the opening credits of the 1980s sitcom Full House, where the Tanner family is seen enjoying a picnic here in the backdrop of the Painted Ladies-Alamo Square. That was the park's shot to fame. This lovely green expanse is a place where most of the local families come to spend time under the bright San Francisco sun. At any given time, you can see kids playing, people strolling with babies or walking dogs around the park. In an otherwise bustling city, the Alamo Square Park is an oasis of peace. If you are in San Francisco, the Alamo Square Park is definitely worth a visit.
Set against the backdrop of the Contemporary Jewish Museum and St. Patrick Church, Jessie Square is a great place to walk your dog, enjoy lunch by the tranquil pool, and indulge in a little people watching. The square is a part of the Yerba Buena Garden Complex and is often used as a venue for live music and dance performances. During the day you will often encounter folk simply lounging about and enjoying the architectural beauty of their surroundings, or taking a break from the bustling Mission Street.