San Francisco has some really great parks, and I mean really great. The playgrounds have views with have 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 top five favorites with great places to grab food along the way according to neighborhood: Financial District, North Beach, Pacific Heights, and Mission/Castro.
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.
Joe Dimaggio Playground (North Beach)
651 Lombard St. San Francisco, 94133
Joe Dimaggio Playground in North Beach has been recently renovated and 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’s plenty of cafes nearby. Walk just a few short blocks to Liguria Bakery for authentic Italian focaccia – seriously, so good. Cash only!
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 has been turned back on and 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.
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. It’s 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.
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 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.
One tricky thing about this park – it’s huge and NOT gated. I have trouble watching both my boys here, but it is doable as long as I never sit down.
Koret Children’s Quarter at Golden Gate Park is another REALLY great park in San Francisco, however, due to an arson incident the park is closed. So don’t go there!
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?
[Photo Credit: Anna Azimi]