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SF's Lesser Known Parks

A woman blowing bubbles in the park

From its prime Bay Area location to its business-centric hub and beaches, San Francisco is known for many things. While SF might be a bustling city, it’s also known for its ample amount of natural beauty found within its many parks. Most of these tend to be overcrowded, but there are plenty of lesser known parks around the San Francisco apartments for rent that offer the serenity locals so desire.

If you’re looking for a less crowded place to unwind and soak in the sunshine, you’re in luck. The city offers over 220 parks both overly-tourist and hardly known. This is your guide to those that offer peace within this bustling metropolis.

Grandview Park

Located at Moraga and 14th Avenue, you’ve probably passed this park a dozen times while heading towards Ocean Beach. While the location is small, the size works to the park’s benefit. Tourists simply haven’t heard of it yet.

Take the climb up the mosaic stairway on Grandview Park’s 666-foot hill where you’ll find a quiet, little bench to relax and take in astounding 360-degree views of the area. Afterward, stop at the Inner Sunset’s ethnic food district for a fantastic feast.

Lafayette Park

You can find Lafayette Park at Gough in Washington Pacific Heights. Similar to neighboring Alta Plaza, there’s an ample amount of green space that incorporate expansive lawns, tennis courts, and tree clusters. Since this park is located on a hill, you’ll also witness beautiful views of the nearby marina and Alcatraz Island.

The park remains a historic landmark for SF locals, too. When the city was set ablaze in 1906 after an earthquake, this is where refugees camped as they watched the destruction take place. It isn’t the brightest piece of the area’s history, but it makes for an interesting spot to reflect and gain perspective on your life.

Corona Heights Park

Just south of Buena Vista Park rests Corona Heights, a natural space marked by its hilly staircase. The walk is considered excruciating by some and leisurely by others (a clear sign of how SF’s landscape varies so wildly). Once you make the climb, however, Corona provides some of the best views of southern San Francisco.

You’ll find lots of families here enjoying the day while visiting the Randall Museum and plenty of dog owners who enjoy finally letting their pooches off their leashes. There’s ample parking and restrooms here but steer clear of the poison oak.

Pine Lake Park

Head out to the western side of the city and you’ll find Pine Lake Park. Located at Sloat Boulevard and Vale Street, this trail takes you through a tree-lined stroll as you wrap around a lake and back again. There’s plenty of grassy fields, too, for the dog walkers and picnickers out there.

After you’ve taken in your fill of the park, this is an excellent opportunity to explore the Outer Sunset. Sure, it’s a drive for most people to get here. That drive is absolutely worth it, however.

Esprit Park

Esprit Park rests in the Dogpatch and Potrero Hill neighborhood at 19th Street. This is one enormous, flat square with grassy fields lined by redwood trees. Local families come here for barbecues on the weekends, signifying what a peaceful atmosphere this park provides.

Esprit Corp. gifted this green space to the city to counter the growing neighborhood in Dogpatch, and they created an excellent place to unwind and enjoy the day. The only possible downside is its proximity to 280, which creates a decent amount of noise from passing traffic.

Strawberry Hill

There’s a magical feel to Golden Gate Park’s 1,017 acres of trails, lakes, fields, and beaches. The highest point is known as Strawberry Hill, which offers one of the most secluded locales in the city. You’ll have to walk a mile through trails, over bridges, and past exceptional landscaping to reach it, but the journey is half the fun.

Pick a clear day and head up to Strawberry Hill’s west-facing side near the rope swing. This spot offers a breathtaking view of the sunset over the water that you won’t want to miss. Make sure to bring water and snacks, though, because there are no amenities once you start making the climb.

Mount Davidson Park

There are two defining aspects to Mount Davidson Park: It is one of the most overlooked places in the San Francisco areaand happens to be the city’s highest natural point. There are stairs on the west side lined by dense vegetation that lead to two lookout points with exceptional views.

The area is also known for fog, making it a unique hike. If you hunt hard enough, you’ll also find the filming location for an infamous scene from Dirt Harry. Mount Davidson is also home to a gigantic concrete cross belonging to the Council of Armenian-American Organizations of Northern California.

John McLaren Park

John McLaren can be found on Mansell Street at John F. Shelley Drive in the Excelsior and Portola neighborhoods. It contains 312 acres of meadows mixed with grasslands and wetlands. While the latter two are virtually unwalkable, the meadows offer a complete escape from city living.

After you’re done getting in-tune with an uninterrupted nature scene, head over the amphitheater or golf course to round out your day. Alternatively, you could spend all day within John McLaren’s dog parks, picnic areas, trails, and ponds.

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