San Francisco is an urban paradise. It’s packed with world-class museums, a bustling food scene, and some of the most Instagrammable views of any city in the country. But hidden behind all the concrete are some incredible gardens and parks that offer some much-needed green space for residents and visitors alike. Whether you want to relax in serenity or get your heart pumping on some hiking trails, these spots will give you just one more reason you’re happy to call this city your home.
Presidio Tunnel Tops
The Presidio Tunnel Tops is a new park that sits on top of Presidio Parkway tunnels. Bring your lunch or plan a group picnic at one of their many designated picnic areas, or just enjoy a cup of coffee as you soak in the Golden Gate Bridge views. Take the kids to the Outpost for climbing, swinging and jumping, or enjoy an adult playground with the Overlooks and Campfire Circles.
Buena Vista Park
What makes Buena Vista Park special is its location. It sits in the center of the city and offers gorgeous views (and some shade) without being too crowded with tourists like the popular Coit Tower or Fisherman’s Wharf. If you’re looking for something quieter than those tourist favorites but still want a view over San Francisco Bay, add Buena Vista Park to your must-see list. In addition to the postcard-worthy views, it has a dog play area, tennis courts, playground, and hiking trails.
Maritime Plaza has a tranquil and picturesque small urban park in the middle of the bustling Financial District, offering stunning views and a peaceful respite from the city’s hustle and bustle. It features a large central lawn, surrounded by trees, shrubs, and benches as a popular spot for office workers to enjoy their lunch breaks or for tourists to take a break from exploring the city.
Salesforce Transit Center Park
The Salesforce Tower is hard to miss from anywhere in the city, and the Salesforce Transit Center Park is an elevated spot to stop and get away from the concrete jungle below. Located in the heart of San Francisco’s South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood, the rooftop garden on the transit center is a stunning space that offers panoramic views of the city. It’s open to the public and is a great place to take photos, enjoy the sun, or have a bite to eat at the rooftop café. The park also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including concerts, festivals, and community gatherings. Check the park’s calendar to see what’s coming up.
Joaquin Miller Park
Discover the marvels of the urban wildlands of Oakland by visiting Joaquin Miller Park, the 500-acre park with over 200 species of native plants. It’s hard to believe the redwoods can grow so close to a city setting, and the California state flower (the California golden poppy) and the California state grass (Purple needlegrass) thrive and grow abundantly here. Take your pup with you to the dog-friendly hiking trails, then head over to the lookout point for an amazing sunset.
Golden Gate Park Bison Paddock
Take a serendipitous wrong turn while looking for parking at Golden Gate Park and you might come face to face with a herd of bison. The bison were first introduced to the park in a conservation effort when the furry creatures were close to extinction. Since then, they have become a beloved fixture of Golden Gate Park and are a popular attraction for both locals and tourists. They stand as a reminder of the park’s history and a symbol of the importance of conservation efforts to protect endangered species.
Exploring the Bay Area’s parks in Oakland and San Francisco is a great way to appreciate the beauty and diversity of the region. From the scenic views of Golden Gate Park to the peaceful tranquility of Joaquin Miller Park, these parks offer something for everyone. Whether you’re a local looking for a weekend adventure or a tourist exploring the area for the first time, visiting these parks will give you a new appreciation for the natural wonders of the Bay Area. Grab a picnic basket, put on your walking shoes, and get ready to discover some of the best parks in the bay.