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The Tailor-Made Top 11 Parks to Visit in San Francisco



San Francisco offers plenty of opportunities to relax, have family time or play sports, with a myriad of public parks spread throughout the city. Every neighbourhood has some sort of recreation area, big or small, but read on as I highlight my favourite parks throughout this green, vibrant city.


Don’t forget that at Tailor-Made Itineraries we delight in creating bespoke self-guided tours. So, if visiting any of these parks appeals to you, reach out to us by email. We would be more than happy to design a self-guided tour around your requirements incorporating the parks of San Francisco, or indeed, a general tour of this amazing city.



It is difficult to create a list of the best parks and is sure to be a little controversial with some, but here are my top eleven.


11. Huntington Park


Huntington Park is a 1.3-acre (0.53 ha) park in the Nob Hill neighbourhood. The park is on land donated to the city in 1915 by Arabella Huntington, widow of railroad tycoon Collis P. Huntington. This quiet park is an oasis of serenity near the heart of the city. As well as having an excellent children’s play area, the park has great views of the stunning Grace Cathedral.



10. Alamo Square Park


Alamo Square Park is situated at the top of a hill overlooking much of downtown San Francisco, with a number of large and architecturally distinctive mansions along the perimeter, including the iconic "Painted Ladies". Named after the lone cottonwood tree ("alamo" in Spanish), Alamo Hill, was a watering hole on the horseback trail from Mission Dolores to the Presidio in the 1800s. In 1856, Mayor James Van Ness created the 12.7 acres (5.1 ha) park.


9. Alta Plaza Park


Alta Plaza Park consists of four-square blocks at the top of Pacific Heights and overlooks much of San Francisco's Marina and Cow Hollow Districts, the Presidio, Fort Mason and Alcatraz. The plaza provides three hard surface tennis courts and a playground in its center and has a large grass park on its northern half and terraced lawns on its southern half.


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8. Buena Vista Park


Buena Vista Park is the oldest official park in San Francisco, established in 1867 as Hill Park, later renamed Buena Vista. The park is on a steep hill that peaks at 575 feet (175 m) and covers 37 acres (150,000 m2). The layout of the park uses the steepness of the hill to good advantage, offering good views of the city (particularly to the north).


Read on to find out which park tops the list.



7. Lafayette Park


Lafayette Park is an 11.49 acres (4.65 ha) park. Originally created in 1936, it is located on a hill, offering views of many areas, including the city's Marina district, Alcatraz Island and the San Francisco Bay, Buena Vista Park, and Twin Peaks. In addition to both open and treed green spaces, the park includes two tennis courts, a children's playground, an off-leash dog area, restroom facilities, and a picnic area.



6. Washington Square


Washington Square was one of the City’s first parks, established in 1847. A popular North Beach stop for visitors and locals alike, this lively urban oasis is bordered by sidewalk cafes and restaurants, as well as Saint Peter & Paul’s Church.



5. Salesforce Park


A recent addition to San Francisco’s long list of attractions, Salesforce Park can be found on the roof of the Salesforce Transit Center, stretching over nearly four blocks. This 5.4-acre park features a beautiful landscape with 600 trees, 16,000 plants, and a linear fountain.


Highlights of this popular downtown park are its walkable glass floor that is the largest of its kind in the US, the amphitheatre that holds up to 1,000 people on its grassy lawn, and the Bus Fountain which is one of the world's longest water artworks.


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4. Yerba Buena Gardens


Yerba Buena Gardens is located between Third and Fourth, Mission and Folsom Streets in downtown San Francisco. Yerba Buena was the name of the town in the Mexican territory of Alta California that became the city of San Francisco, California, after it was claimed by the United States in 1846.


Tailor-Made Top Tip: Make sure to check out the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and Fountain. The King memorial, titled "Revelations," consists of large, etched glass excerpts of King's speeches in the languages of San Francisco's sister cities.



3. San Francisco Botanical Gardens


The San Francisco Botanical Garden grows more than 8,000 plant varieties in 55 acres of landscaped gardens and open spaces. The gardens are divided into various geographic areas, such as a Mediterranean garden, cloud forests from meso-America and southeast Asia, and gardens from Chile, Australia, Japan, California, and more. The garden’s special collections include rhododendrons, camellias, magnolias, and succulents.


Tailor-Made Top Tip: The Children’s Garden can be found in the westernmost corner of the gardens. Here there are many areas that allow kids to get their hands dirty and interact with nature, such as the ‘creation station,’ ‘stump jump,’ and ‘sensory garden.’


Have you guessed yet which park tops the list?



2. Mission Dolores Park


Mission Dolores Park is situated on land that was once a Jewish cemetery. The City bought the property in 1905 and established the park. In 1906 it served as a refugee camp for more than 1,600 residents made homeless by the earthquake and fire. The park encompasses nearly 16 acres, and is the vibrant heart of this vibrant, culturally diverse neighbourhood. The park has extensive sporting facilities as well as being host to different cultural events. The park enjoys spectacular views of the city’s skyline and beyond.



1. Golden Gate Park


Golden Gate Park’s 1,017 acres were developed during the 1870's and 1880's, and now contains gardens, playgrounds, lakes, picnic groves, trails, and monuments, plus an array of museums, events, and activities. The park welcomes 13 million visitors each year. Configured as a rectangle, it is similar in shape but 20 percent larger than Central Park in New York, to which it is often compared. It is over three miles (4.8 km) long east to west, and about half a mile (0.8 km) north to south.



Conclusion


Whether you are looking for some peace and quiet or whether your family wants to let off a bit of steam, San Francisco has plenty of parks for you to enjoy. Make sure to include some in your San Francisco travel itinerary.


Comment below and let us know what your favourite park in San Francisco was.


Don’t forget that at Tailor-Made Itineraries we delight in creating bespoke self-guided tours. So, if visiting any of these parks appeals to you, reach out to us by email. We would be more than happy to design a self-guided tour around your requirements incorporating the parks of San Francisco, or indeed, a general tour of this amazing city.


Join us next time on our family adventures when we explore the best places to view the Golden Gate Bridge. We post every two weeks, and you can subscribe to our latest blog and newsletter here. Until then, happy reading and safe travels.


Barry


Contact Us: tailoritineraries@gmail.com


Tailor-Made Itineraries creates one-of-a-kind bespoke self-guided travel itineraries for adventurous and curious travelers.


Our self-guided tours deliver a personalised and exciting holiday experience that takes the effort out of trip planning.




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