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 offer 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, from easy, family-friendly walks to challenging, steep climbs, there's something for everyone. The Stonewall-Panoramic Trail is one of the most popular trails here. Whether you're looking for a peaceful escape into nature, a place to explore and hike, or simply a spot to soak in some of the Bay Area's most iconic views, Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve is the place to be.
This park provides a charming, secluded nature getaway, mostly utilized by locals in the warmer months. There are two parts of the lake, one smaller area used for swimming, equipped with a lifeguard on duty in the summer, and a larger part that is open for fishing year-round. Situated in Tilden Park, the lake features a sandy beach, grassy knolls, a refreshment stand, a nearby parking lot and picnic tables.
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.
Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge is Mount Tamalpais State Park, a popular hiking area and home of some of the best views of the Bay Area. There are many hikes over varied terrain, including oak and Douglas fir forest, vast grasslands and the distinctive redwood trees. The views of the Pacific are jaw-dropping - once the fog has cleared, that is. Visitors can drive into the park and enjoy the sights, including the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed, the Mountain Theater (a stone amphitheater which can accommodate over 3000 people) or they can park in the many parking lots throughout the park and hike down to Stinson Beach. For a less strenuous hike, venture a little down a winding trail high above the ocean, with incredible views of San Francisco. While entry to the park is free, certain areas charge a nominal parking fee.
East Beach in San Francisco is where locals flock for coastal walks on sunny days. Located further from Crissy Field Park, the powder-white sand, and crystal blue waters is an oasis of calm and is the perfect place for a relaxing swim. You can bring your dog for a walk, take a dip in the cool water, surf, or simply sunbathe along the shore here.
A dairy ranch in the past, this 60 acre (24.28 hectares) park bordering a part of central San Rafael and Sleepy Hollow is a good destination for outdoorsy people. It is a great hiking spot with trails leading into the surrounding hills and ridgeline. A visit here is a great way to spend time with nature.
Located to the north of Wildcat Canyon, Alvarado Park is a truly inviting destination for outdoor enthusiasts and families alike. This park offers a delightful array of amenities to enhance your visit, making it a must-see location in the area. One of Alvarado Park's standout features is its roller rink, providing an exhilarating space for skaters of all ages. Additionally, the open-air pavilion adds to the park's charm, offering a shaded area where visitors can gather, relax, or enjoy a picnic. The park has eight picnic spots that are open to the public and four picnic spots with a total capacity of 385 people that can be booked via reservations.