Play in a Secret Corner of SF: The Redwood Grove Playground in McLaren Park - 510 Families
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Play in a Secret Corner of SF: The Redwood Grove Playground in McLaren Park

The McLaren Park Redwood Grove Playground is like a chameleon: it’s beautiful, discreet, and designed to camouflage into its surroundings. Situated in a sweet corner of the expansive McLaren Park, the Redwood Grove playground is constructed with logs and boulders that blend into the iconic San Francisco flora.

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McLaren Park’s Redwood Grove Playground camouflages into its gorgeous surroundings. | Photo: Julia Gidwani

We stumbled upon this playground quite by accident, and to my surprise, it has become one of our favorites in the city due to its inconspicuous location, natural beauty, and various levels of play structures.

McLaren Park Redwood Grove Playground Features 

Location: 200 John F Shelley Dr, San Francisco in McLaren Park
Unique Features: Multi-tiered climbing tower constructed out of logs and ropes, a massive slide from the top of the tower, unique structures that are designed to blend into the natural surroundings.

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This slide is at least 20 feet long! | Photo: Julia Gidwani

Swings: Two big kid swings are next to the larger structure with turf underneath.
Fenced in? No, however, it is not near any streets, so kids are safe exploring outside of the playground.
Surfaces: AstroTurf, grass, and mulch.
Bathroom: Yes, newly renovated and clean.
Lunch tables & seating: There are several picnic tables and benches on both sides of the playground which are on a separate, lower level from the playground, so there is plenty of space to distance while eating.
Parking: Street parking is available, and you will have to talk a little walk into the park to get to the playground.
Shade: There is no shade directly on the playground structures. The area surrounding the playground is shaded by towering redwood trees (hence the name) and feels like you’re actually in a forest. We love it, but it can be chilly on shorter days when the sun goes behind the trees earlier.
Covid-19 Restricted Occupancy: Yes, all occupancy limits are clearly marked.
Pros: Though the towering structure is in the center of the playground, because it’s made of ropes and logs, you can see through and watch a few kids without having to chase them throughout the playground.
Cons: The playground is not super large, so it might feel crowded during peak playground hours. Also, there is no parking lot close by, so do plan to walk to get to the playground.

Louis Sutter Playground 

McLaren is a vast park and if you’re up for a little hike, you can also hit up the Louis Sutter Playground and Duck Pond. It’s a choose your own adventure hike with many paths and trails you can take to get there, we took the trail over the bridge. The Louis Sutter playground is older but the ducks on the lake we the most entertaining part of this journey. We spotted a pair of elusive and rare Muscovy Ducks which my daughters think look like giant chickens.

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The Rest of McLaren Park

The playground is only one location within the lovely McLaren Park. There are hiking trails that twist through groves of Redwoods, little bridges over running streams, and gorgeous, ancient Cypress trees. When we have time, next time we’re aiming to explore one of the following locations all within walking distance of the Redwood Grove Playground: Mansfield & Burrows Children’s Play Area, McLaren Mountain Mystery Maze, McLaren Upper Reservoir, or the BMX track.

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McLaren Park’s Redwood Grove Playground | Photo: Julia Gidwani

Pro tip: mark your parking spot via maps, it’s super easy to get turned around with all the winding trails throughout the park.

Bottom Line 

The Redwood Grove Playground in McLaren Park is not to be missed. Make sure to pack a lunch and enjoy all the park has to offer by taking in the natural surroundings. If you have a lot of energy, treat your family to a little hike, or a big hike! Check out the duck pond and enjoy the expansive views of the San Francisco skyline from a new vantage point.

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