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Our 13 Best Kid-Friendly Parks in San Francisco
October 28, 2021

Unplug from a busy week and connect with your kids by spending active time and enjoying outdoor activities at any of the best kid-friendly recreational parks in San Francisco!

With the emergence of new technology and the post-pandemic era, kids today spend most of their time on smartphones and other tablet-based toys. As parents, you are aware that excessive usage of these technologies can damage your kids’ health. If you’re thinking about strategies to limit your kid’s screen time, hold on, you’re on the right page! Perhaps, you might want to consider bringing your kids to the best kid-friendly recreational parks in San Francisco! Encourage your kids to get physically active and enjoy outdoor activities to divert their attention away from gadgets or glued on the couches at home.

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San Francisco is flooded with parks, gardens, and pockets of green space for kids to explore and enjoy. Indeed, a brilliant source for parents to keep their kids off the devices. More so, taking a trip to the best kid-friendly parks in San Francisco will keep them fit, curious, and engaged with the real world. These fantastic places offer spectacular views which allow them to appreciate wildlife and nature. Plus, these parks also offer “free admission” days throughout the year with unlimited use of playgrounds. 

Do you want your kids to go outside and have some fun? Bring your children to the great outdoors and keep them moving! Let them enjoy the park swings and slides and play with other kids in the playground. Whether you live in proximity or are a visiting tourist, take advantage of the best kid-friendly recreational parks in San Francisco. And since there are too many options under the list, we’ve narrowed it down to our top 13 favorites. Here they are!

Best kid-friendly recreational parks in San Francisco - Alamo Square Park
Alamo Square Park

Alamo Square Park

Steiner St. & Hayes St. San Francisco, CA 94117
Phone Number: (415) 218-0259

A hilltop park with views of the city, Alamo Square Park features many things to do with kids. There is a full tennis court, plenty of walking trails and benches, flower beds, and a dual-level kids’ lot with six swings, three slides, and a pair of climbing structures. The upper level is for older kids (age 5-12), while the lower level is for, the younger ones (age 2-5). Wheelchair access is available at the gate leading into the upper level.

Dogs are permitted in the park, however, they must remain on leash on the eastern side of the park. They are allowed to run off-leash in the dog play area on the western side. Located in what’s traditionally known as Western Addition, this central gathering space stretches across four city blocks between Steiner Street, Fulton Street, Scott Street, and Hayes Street, providing drool-worthy views and plenty of picnicking space. For more information, please visit their website.  

Outdoor activities for kids - Alta Plaza Park
Alta Plaza Park

Alta Plaza Park

Jackson St. & Steiner St., San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone Number: (415) 831-5500

Alta Plaza Park, arguably one of the best kid-friendly recreational parks in San Francisco, is located in the Pacific Heights neighborhood. A broad, tiered staircase climbs the terraced southern slope of this steep hillside park. When you reach the top, you will find panoramic views of the city and the Bay. Trees and benches crown the summit. It is truly a gem for the community as it is beautiful, safe, clean, and well maintained. 

Alta Plaza Park features a playground for kids aged 0-8 and a large lawn area. There are different play structures for your kids to enjoy, a sandpit, benches, slides, and seven swings. This park also includes two full tennis courts, plus a multipurpose basketball/tennis court. There are plenty of paved walking trails, benches, and an off-leash dog play area is in the park’s southeast corner. For more information, please visit their website.  

Recreational parks in San Francisco - Buena Vista Park
Buena Vista Park

Buena Vista Park

Haight Street, Buena Vista, San Francisco, CA 94117
Phone Number: (415) 831-5500

If the air on Haight Street has gotten too, well, smokey for you, head up for some fresh air and gorgeous views in little-visited Buena Vista Park. Situated in the center of the city, Buena Vista Park not only delivers remarkable views when you reach its upper, grassy slopes but also holds the title of the oldest park in San Francisco. Gasp-inducing views of the Bay Area will grab visitors from time to time through its forests of eucalyptus trees. The park also has tennis courts and a children’s playground.

Buena Vista Park features secluded, winding trails and one of the city’s few remaining coast live oak groves. Buena Vista’s natural area is on the park’s northern side. Visitors find themselves while relaxing greenery and active pursuits. The park is now characterized by untamed winding trails and pathways that provide plenty of opportunities to venture off the beaten path. For more information, please visit their website.  

Corona Heights Park
Corona Heights Park

Corona Heights Park

Roosevelt and Museum Way, San Francisco, CA 94114
Phone Number: (415) 831-2700

Corona Heights Park is one of the kid-friendly recreational parks that have some of the best views in San Francisco. But don’t overlook the incredible wildflower display that carpets the grasslands each spring. Among the flowers, you may see here are checkerbloom, California poppy, footsteps of spring, Douglas iris, mule’s ears, and Johnny jump-up, a sensitive species that is the only host plant for the callippe silverspot butterfly. Also, look for anise swallowtail, a big yellow butterfly with black shoulders that frequents San Francisco’s hilltops.

With easy access to a nearby museum, large grassy spaces, BBQ pits, tennis courts, fenced-in off-leash dog run, children’s playground for outdoor activities, and unique recreational features, Corona Heights Park is a favorite neighborhood stop for kids and families. Boasting a signature red rock, hilly terrain that offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy leisure pursuits across multiple hiking trails against a backdrop of inviting, scenic city views, the space is formally known as Rock Hill has come a long way. For more information, please visit their website.

Recreational parks in San Francisco - Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park

501 Stanyan St., San Francisco, CA 94117
Phone Number: (415) 831-2700

Golden Gate Park is the ultimate haven away from urban chaos and is the third most visited park in the country. Stretching more than three miles inland from the ocean, Golden Gate Park features more than 1,000 acres of gardens, meadows, and woodlands. Kids will enjoy the gardens, playgrounds, lakes, picnic groves, trails, and monuments, plus an array of cultural venues, events, and outdoor activities. You can even rent a boat and paddle around the park’s biggest lake, Stow Lake.

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While the park is free to visit, popular attractions charge admissions, such as the deYoung Museum, California Academy of Sciences, and Conservatory of Flowers. Here, you can find museums, art, flowers, trees, birds, and wildlife. And this park is so big it has its parks, such as the lovely Japanese Tea Gardens and the always famous Shakespeare Gardens. There are also plenty of opportunities to participate in sports, clubs, and other activities. For more information, please visit their website

Outdoor activities for kids - Huntington Park
Huntington Park

Huntington Park

California St. & Taylor St., San Francisco, CA 94108
Phone Number: (415) 831-2700

Located on Nob Hill and surrounded by the Grace Cathedral, the Fairmont Hotel, and the Mark Hopkins Hotel, Huntington Park is a quiet place that features a playground for kids to enjoy outdoor activities, plenty of benches to kick back on, and an excellent area for your dogs. The park’s modern playground structures were recently installed with a mix of equipment for younger children, ages 2-5 years on the eastern side, and older children, ages 5-12 years on the western side. 

Huntington Park is designed as a formal rectangular space with entrances on all four sides that connect to a central circular plaza and fountain. Low hedges and trees border the park’s edges and line the brick walkways that bisect the park. Grass lawns and flowering plants soften the edges, such as hollyhocks, lavender, roses, lilies, yarrow, and other flora. Neighborhood residents and tourists alike enjoy spending time in this public space. For more information, please visit their website.  

Lafayette Park
Lafayette Park

Lafayette Park

Gough St. and Washington St., San Francisco, CA 94109
Phone Number: (415) 292-2012

Lafayette Park is one of the best kid-friendly parks in San Francisco, with an 11.5-acre multi-use recreational area bounded by Laguna, Sacramento, Gough, and Washington Streets in the Pacific Heights District. It is an ideal place to exercise in the great outdoors, spend quality time with loved ones and pets, and let children (and dogs) run off excess energy. With its grassy lawns and lovely views of the city and the Bay, this park is truly one of San Francisco’s gems. 

This park is excellent if you want to get some fresh air! Four blocks long, the numerous paths allow you to walk or run. There is plenty of open space to play and enjoy outdoor activities with your kids and many trees to provide shade on a hot day. Also, it is a great place for a picnic! There is a small, fenced in playground for kids. It is in good condition with two tennis courts. There are picnic tables to sit at and restrooms available. For more information, please visit their website.  

Outdoor activities for kids - Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park

34th Avenue and Clement, San Francisco, CA 94121
Phone Number: (415) 994-0802

This 100-acre park in the city’s northwestern corner offers superb views of downtown, the Golden Gate Bridge, Pacific Ocean, SF Cityscape, and the Marin Headlands. The park was dedicated to President Abraham Lincoln in 1909. Lincoln Park’s main features are an 18-hole public golf course and the Legion of Honor museum, with its fine collections of European paintings, European decorative arts, and sculpture. 

It has a playground for kids but what’s great about this area is how green it is! This massive area is perfect for a romantic stroll or a little exercise. Walk up to the tiled Lincoln Park Steps near 32nd Avenue, a destination not to be missed. The project represents one of the most beautiful tile work stair renovations in the greater Bay Area. For more information, please visit their website.  

Outdoor activities for kids - McLaren Park
McLaren Park

McLaren Park

100 John F Shelley Dr, San Francisco, CA 94134
Phone Number: (415) 819-6138

At 313 acres, McLaren Park, San Francisco’s second largest park, offers a wide range of both active and passive recreational opportunities. These elements range from trails and paths to six playgrounds, five picnic areas, tennis and basketball courts. The park also features an amphitheater, natural areas, a clubhouse, an off-leash dog play area, a golf course, a reservoir, a lake, a marsh, baseball diamonds, and other amenities. 

A haven for hikers, mountain bikers, walkers, dog lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts, McLaren Park, is filled with endless adventures and outdoor activities for kids and adults alike. Enjoy a guided walk with Healthy Parks, Healthy People as they take you through groves of redwoods and cypress trees. Depending on your heart desires, the park provides vibrant play spaces and isolated hideaways at any given moment. For more information, please visit their website.

Outdoor activities for kids - Mission Bay Parks
Mission Bay Parks

Mission Bay Parks

451 Berry Street, San Francisco CA 94158
Phone Number: (415) 543-9063

Mission Bay Parks offers beautiful kid-friendly public parks and recreational opportunities in a dynamic, new neighborhood in San Francisco. Located on the edge of San Francisco Bay, it’s a place for everyone to enjoy. Today you’ll find shoreline parks, pocket parks, kids’ parks, and even parks made just for dogs. It offers beautiful, expansive lawns and tree-lined patios, plazas, esplanades with views of the city and Bay, overlooks of Mission Creek, a boat launch, and sports courts.

These best kid-friendly recreational parks in San Francisco are a perfect example of a public-private partnership transforming former industrial sites into public space. When completed, the Mission Bay Parks system will include 40 acres of planned open space. It is the ideal venue for outdoor activities and events for kids and the whole family or a small, private gathering or a celebration with hundreds of people. For more information, please visit their website

Mission Dolores Park
Mission Dolores Park

Mission Dolores Park

19th and Dolores St., San Francisco, CA 94114
Phone Number: (415) 554-9521

Mission Dolores Park is one of the most popular kid-friendly recreational parks in San Francisco with a local Mission District feeling. It is a vast city park with a super kids playground for outdoor activities, quite different from regular parks and kids love it. There is a large grassy area for picnics, kite flying, and more. This park houses six tennis courts, two basketball courts, and an open field if you like sports.

There are great big hills in this park that are perfect for rolling down. Dog owners frequent this park. General people-watching is a prevalent activity here, especially on the weekend. Bring a blanket and lay on the grass or use one of the picnic tables. The southern half of the park is also notable for its views of the Mission district, downtown, the San Francisco Bay, and the East Bay. For more information, please visit their website.  

Best kid-friendly recreational parks in San Francisco - Mountain Lake Park
Mountain Lake Park

Mountain Lake Park

98 Funston Ave., San Francisco, CA 94118
Phone Number: (415) 831-5500

Mountain Lake Park is a city park that’s a fantastic place to bring your kiddos. Situated next to Mountain Lake, where the southern edge of the Presidio meets the Richmond District, this park offers many different amenities. There are swings, slides, and things to climb, and all tucked away in a quiet neighborhood. Dog lovers flock here for the dog run at the eastern end of the park. There are four full tennis courts in the middle of the park, and nestled closer to the lakeshore is a half basketball court. 

Kids will enjoy the sand-floor playground at the 12th Avenue entrance that features a multi-level play structure. Pack a picnic and hang with the family on a lakeside bench, or bring your binoculars for a water wildlife safari on the lake’s south side. With its proximity to the playground, fields, and the lake, the great meadow is a favorite spot for birthday parties. For more information, please visit their website.

Outdoor activities for kids - Presidio of San Francisco
Presidio of San Francisco

Presidio of San Francisco

103 Montgomery St., San Francisco, CA 94129
Phone Number: (415) 561-5300

Wrapping around the north end of San Francisco, the Presidio, a 1,491-acre park part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It is an outstanding destination for families, adventure seekers, history buffs, and anyone else who likes to relax on the edge of one of the most beautiful bays in the world. The park provides world-class museums and restaurants, 24 miles of hiking trails, and scenic overlooks with expansive views of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco’s city skyline, the Pacific Ocean, and the San Francisco Bay.

Explore that splotch of green on the map between Baker Beach and Crissy Field, and you’ll find parade grounds, Yoda, a centuries-old adobe wall, and some fascinating art projects. The park also provides free public programs and events, a public golf course, the world-class Inn at the Presidio, and a wide range of recreation, wellness, and dining offerings through the Presidio’s many tenants. For more information, please visit their website.

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San Francisco truly has plenty of great parks! Rest assured, your kids will enjoy the vast playgrounds with slides, swings, climbing walls, crawling tubes, and more. Between the pandemic and digital devices, it’s time for kids to run off some steam, feel free, and run wild to their heart’s content. These kid-friendly parks are the best places for family recreational activities and creating lifetime memories with your kids. If you’re up for some fun under the sun, play in a wide space, follow the trails for a long walk, or have a picnic in the grassy parks, these urban gems are all worth a visit!

San Francisco offers so many opportunities for kids to enjoy and have fun all year round! Check out our list of resources, or browse through our things to do in San Francisco with kids. Still looking for more activities for kids in San Francisco? No problem! Check out our comprehensive listing of places to go in the region and our highly recommended outdoor blog posts.

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Troy A. View All Posts