The Bay Area is known for its diverse and enticing green spaces from the Marin Headlands to Coyote Valley. But you might be surprised to find that San Francisco offers some of our region’s most beloved green spaces.
With dozens of urban parks for those looking to trade the harsh light of their computer screens for the natural light of the sun (or whatever light peeks through Karl the Fog), San Francisco has the highest ParkScore in the Bay Area, and fourth highest in the nation.
Everyone knows Golden Gate Park and Dolores Park—here’s a list of some of our favorite under-the-radar San Francisco parks:
Buena Vista Park
This park may only be two blocks from the Panhandle and six blocks from Golden Gate Park, but it holds its own. The many trails weaving through Buena Vista Park can be accessed from Haight Street or Buena Vista Avenue, which circles the park. Steep stairs and hills make some of the trails a pretty strenuous hike, but bring your dog along for moral support and you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the city at the top. “Buena vista” does mean “good view” in Spanish after all.
If you’ve ever ridden the N-Judah MUNI by Duboce Park with its sunny field peppered with frolicking canines and wished that you too could frolic in the sun, we’re telling you to JUST DO IT. Bring your dog for a game of fetch or a blanket for a nice afternoon of dog watching. (We’d say bring a book, but who can read with all that cuteness running around?)
Between Twin Peaks and Inner Sunset
Towering behind the University of San Francisco in the heart of the city, Sutro Forest claims the southern-most tip of the Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve. The hillside is a surprisingly dense, century-old eucalyptus forest with 200-foot tall trees stretching across 80 acres. Amidst the trees is a network of trails perfect for an early morning hike or bike ride. We recommend going before the fog lifts for a surreal and misty stroll. You’ll forget you’re still in San Francisco! Make sure to wear proper shoes and a light jacket, as the trails are often muddy from the trees’ moisture.
Billy Goat Hill Park
Accessible from Beacon Street and Laidley Street and near the Glen Park BART Station, Billy Goat Hill Park offers a vantage point for sweeping views of downtown, Potrero Hill, and even the Bay on a clear day. This small neighborhood park also claims a few trails where native plant and animal species can often be found. However, many park-goers come here in search of an inconspicuous rope swing that dangles thrill-seekers over the hillside. Hop on, hold tight, and let out your inner child (but seriously, hold on tight).
Dorothy W. Erskine Park
Okay, maybe we’re a bit biased about this one. Dedicated by the City in 1979 in honor of the local environmental activist who founded Greenbelt Alliance, Dorothy W. Erskine Park offers great views of the surrounding area. This small, hidden hilltop open space is about a mile from Billy Goat Hill Park and accessible from Martha Avenue. Read more about Dorothy and the history of Greenbelt Alliance.
Photos: Taylor Hanigosky ©