8 San Francisco Playgrounds Worth the Trip - 510 Families
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8 San Francisco Playgrounds Worth the Trip

San Francisco has some really great parks, and I mean really great. The playgrounds have views, huge climbing structures, and hip places to visit nearby. What they lack in parking, they make up for in everything else. I’ve rounded up our favorites with great places to grab food along the way according to neighborhood: Financial District, North Beach, Pacific Heights, and Mission/Castro.

8 Best Playgrounds in San Francisco

Sue Bierman Playground (Financial District)

253 Washington St. San Francisco 94133

Sue Beirman Playground near San Francisco’s Financial District makes my list due to its proximity to the Ferry Building. We like to pick up coffee and pastries first, play, and if we’re hungry again, head back for more! There’s a cute ship for toddlers and a big slide for older kids. It’s fully gated and never too crowded. We tend to go here the most.

Five San Francisco Parks Worth the Drive: Sue Bierman near Ferry Building
Sue Bierman not far from the Ferry Building | Photo: Anna Azimi

Tunnel Tops Outpost (Presidio)

210 Lincoln Blvd, San Francisco
The nature-based playground near Presidio’s Chrissy Field is quite special. Presidio Tunnel Tops is outstanding. The large climbing structures and a unique swing are made of stones and logs. Water features invite children to have a sensory experience, observe cause and effect, and cool off when it’s hot! One section enables families to build their own creations using natural materials such as stones, shells, and sticks. And if you’re into views, how about the base of the Golden Gate Bridge? Find more to do with kids in the Presidio.

water feature child and golden gate bridge
Kid-powered water feature empties into the sand at Tunnel Tops Playground| Photo: Whitney Moss

Joe Dimaggio Playground (North Beach)

651 Lombard St. San Francisco, 94133

Joe Dimaggio Playground in North Beach is super cool. The two metal slides are a huge hit with my boys, as well as the bright orange spider web. My picture doesn’t do this park justice – there’s a whole other part with swings, a hanging seesaw, and a spinning merry-go-round. I like that I can sit up high and watch them play down below, and it is gated. It’s next to a San Francisco Public Library if you want to take a break and read some books, and in the heart of Little Italy, so there are plenty of cafes nearby. Walk just a few short blocks to Liguria Bakery for authentic Italian focaccia – seriously, so good. Cash only!

Five San Francisco Parks Worth the Drive: Joe Dimaggio
Joe DiMaggio Playground | Photo: Anna Azimi

Lafayette Playground (Pacific Heights)

Clay St. & Laguna St. San Francisco, 94115

Lafayette Playground in Pacific Heights is the prettiest park in San Francisco. It’s green, clean, and covered with trees. Another park with so much to do, climb, spin, swing, and see. The water feature is so fun to play in on hot days. There are multiple metal slides (San Francisco really knows how to do slides!) and the ground is soft for the fast landing. Outside the gates is plenty of green grass for picnics and lounging. Work up an appetite to walk to Bob’s Donuts after you play – the best and biggest donuts in the Bay.

lafayette park playground in sf
Nets, castles, monkey bars, twisty slides, twirly poles, and bridges at Lafayette Park Playground. | Photo: Julia Gidwani

Alta Plaza Playground (Pacific Heights)

Jackson St. & Steiner St., San Francisco 94115

Alta Plaza Playground in the Pacific Heights neighborhood sits on the top of a huge hill, in fact, you have to climb about five sets of stairs just to find it. It makes my list for the views – I think they are some of the best in the city. Alta Plaza Park is bounded by Clay, Jackson, Scott, and Steiner streets; the grand staircase rises midway along its southern edge, from Pierce Street. Wheelchair access is from Scott and Jackson

The playground is just one block from Fillmore Street, where you can find Jane, for Instagram-worthy breakfasts, Salt & Straw for 5 Star ice cream, and a Blue Bottle Coffee shop.

Five San Francisco Parks Worth the Drive: Alta Plaza
Alta Plaza Park | Photo: Anna Azimi

Willie “Woo Woo” Wong Playground (Chinatown)

830 Sacramento Street, San Francisco
Willie “Woo Woo” Wong playground is a two-story park with features for all ages: climbing structures inspired by Chinese mythology, traditional playground areas for tots and bigger kids, giant metal slide, multi-level sports courts, and a community center. You’re about two blocks from the small Golden Gate fortune cookie factory.

Climb on or through the play equipment inspired by Chinese mythology. | Photo: Maureen Burke

Helen Diller Playground (Castro / Mission District)

Church St. & Dolores St., San Francisco 94114

Helen Diller Playground in Dolores Park is massive. There’s so much to do here that it’s overwhelming (in a good way). The slides are fun and fast, even for adults! There are also sand, bridges, rope ladders, boats, swings, and a smaller area for toddlers. Take advantage of the acres of green grass and bring a picnic. Save room for ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery – just a block away and a San Francisco favorite.

Parents be warned: This playground is huge and NOT gated. I have trouble watching both my boys here, but it is doable as long as I never sit down.

Five San Francisco Parks Worth the Drive: Helen Diller at Dolores Park
Dolores Park’s playground named for Helen Diller is impressive & wide open | Photo: Anna Azimi

Salesforce Park Playground (South of Market)

425 Mission Street, San Francisco 94105

The playground is just one of the interesting aspects of Salesforce Park. If you’re lucky, the free gondola will be running to take you from the street level at the corner of First and Mission up to the roof of the Salesforce Transit Center. If that’s not running, go inside the terminal to see where the buses park and take the escalator up to the roof. Once on the roof, walk along the path to enjoy the views, the plant life, and of course, the play structure.

It’s not terribly hard to park South of Market these days, but this is also a BART or transbay bus-friendly adventure.

Salesforce Park Playground
Children’s Playground at Salesforce Park | Photo: Whitney Moss

Honorable mentions:

We love the Mission Bay Kids Park and it is fabulous to keep in your back pocket if you’re in the area for a Warriors Game or performance. The playground at the San Francisco Zoo is also quite epic, but that’s a whole other field trip!

San Francisco playground tips:

  • Dolores and Sue Bierman playgrounds are both accessible by BART.
  • Weekdays are less crowded than weekends.
  • Parking is a drag – go early and you’ll find something, plus you can take advantage of the carpool lane crossing the bridge.
  • Bring jackets – it’s always chillier in San Francisco.
  • Have fun!

What are your favorite playgrounds in San Francisco that are worth the trip?

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2 thoughts on “8 San Francisco Playgrounds Worth the Trip”

  1. My kids called the climbing structure at Eureka Valley Recreation Center “climbing heaven” and keep asking to go back.

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