San Francisco is chock-full of fun and convenient old- and new-school playgrounds, which can be found every few blocks in most neighborhoods. When compiling this list, I took into consideration each playground’s location, features, views, and popularity. The below list consists of spots that are go-to destinations for folks from all over the city and beyond.
Koret Children’s Quarter (Golden Gate Park Playground)
320 Bowling Green Drive
Nestled in the the spectacular Golden Gate Park next to a beautifully restored 1912 Herschel-Spillman carousel, the Golden Gate Park Playground is serious fun for kids and parents alike. The playground boasts two incredibly exhilarating 60-foot concrete slides (bring some cardboard!), a huge rope pyramid that’s big enough for adults to enjoy, a wet sand play area, and a myriad of other unique features for all ages. The Golden Gate Park Playground is considered the flagship of San Francisco’s playgrounds.
Alta Plaza Playground
Washington Street and Scott Street
Atop a large hill with breathtaking, 360-degree views of the city skyline in the heart of the Pacific Heights neighborhood, Alta Plaza Playground’s stellar collection of play structures for all ages makes it a destination for families from all over the city. The giant spider web dome and the humongous sandbox, along with a merry-go-round and seesaw, are all-around favorites, and there’s a set of tennis courts and a popular off-leash dog run area nearby.
Duboce Avenue and Noe Street
The Duboce Park Playground might be small in stature, but its location bordering the Castro and Lower Haight neighborhoods and its tight-knit and diverse community setting more than make up for it. The playground, which consists of two engaging play structures along with a sandbox and swings for both babies and older kids, features the N Judah stop on one side with a steady stream of trains going through every few minutes — a huge hit with the little ones. Another side of the playground includes basketball courts and the invaluable Harvey Milk Cultural Arts Center. The other two sides feature a dog park and an additional large, open grass area.
26th Avenue & Vicente Street
Adjacent to Stern Grove and Pine Lake Park, Parkside Square Playground is one of the largest in the city. A large bright red pirate ship beckons kids of all ages, along with the ubiquitous spider web climbing dome, a sand area with a water fountain, interesting seesaws and swings, long ramps, tube slides, and swinging bars. The park also has large, well kept basketball and tennis courts.
Bocana Street & Highland Avenue
Holly Park, located in the Bernal Heights/Glen Park area, is framed by wonderful Monterey cypress and eucalyptus trees and an olive tree allée, and boasts breathtaking city views, giving the park what one Yelper describes as “a giant snow globe” appeal. The boldly colored playground includes a popular vertical climbing web, a sandbox, a merry-go-round, and a seesaw, and it’s just a couple of blocks from the main Bernal Heights drag on Cortland Avenue. The park also features basketball and tennis courts.
Leanne Maxwell is the mother of a toddler who loves checking out the many kidcentric activities the Bay Area has to offer. She’s also a freelance writer, designer, and all-around web enthusiast. You can find her over at leannemaxwell.com.