Park it here: an alterna-Dolores six pack

Alta Plaza: outdoor porn for the work enslaved
Photo by Caitlin Donohue

The other day, sharing the scrap of blanket space I was able to hustle between 1,000 of my Vitamin D deprived brethren, I spotted:

1. A green parrot. On a man’s shoulder.

2. A green python. Ditto, shoulders.

3. An LED light filled, fixed gear frame.

All in a ten foot radius. Freaky! Unique! Not very relaxing! Conclusion: I need a break from Dolo. 

Luckily, I made a serendipitous discovery: there are other parks in San Francisco! Many, in fact. Here are some green spaces that are sunny, green, and relatively free of studied self imagery:

Alamo Square

Okay, so perhaps this won’t provide much respite from those hip cats and their big snakes -- on a sunny day, Alamo is almost as flush with BBQs and irony as it’s neighbor in the Mission down South. But Alamo’s got the most iconic view in the city (if your icons, as mine, are based on early ‘90s sitcoms) and a really cool shoe garden by the public bathrooms.

Walk in at: Steiner & Hayes


Lafayette Square

One of the most intelligent ideas our city planners had was to put a park on nearly every peak in our city. Head up to Lafayette Square, deep in the heart of tony Pac Heights, and you can see their brillance manifested for yourself -- a panoramic view of urban valleys, green hills. This park is where all the little old rich ladies go with their little old rich dogs, and its pristine lawns is aching for a little more infiltration by the prols.

Walk in at: Sacramento & Laguna, SF

Alta Plaza

One hill over, Alta Plaza is Lafayette’s only slightly less ritzy cousin. Most of the lawn space is on a terraced slant, perfect for when the sun is in the southern end of the sky. And should you get the yen to rise up and do something, Alta’s got superb tennis and basketball courts that are rarely occupied on weekdays.

Walk in at: Clay & Steiner, SF

Ocean Beach

Did you know that the western side of the city is lined by the Pacific Ocean? It’s true! And while Ocean Beach no longer features the amusement parks and boho repurposed streetcar villages, it’s still one of the coolest things about living here. Pick a sunny day (or a tempestuous one if you dig watching storm action in a solid coating of Gore-Tex) and post up between a couple dunes, where you chill in a little wind sheltered, clothing optional cove of your own. [note: nudity not really legal]

Walk in at: Judah & Great Highway, SF

Misson Creek Park

With all the UCSF construction in the neighborhood to the south, who knows how long it’ll stay this way, but for now, Mission Creek Park reminds me the river we used to escape to when I was in high school; a spot where we could swim that was still close enough to the city to be doable on a half day off. Don’t swim in Mission Creek (actually, do it! That’d be hilarious!). But you get what I mean, here’s a place to hang, eat, read, smoke that J -- next to a river. Bliss.

Walk in at: Channel & 4th St.

Fillmore Center

Am I really blowing up the spot on this little oasis? Dang, I’m taking this whole journalism thing seriously.  Consider yourself in on the greenest little patch of lawn in Western Addition -- enter in through the snazzy plaza, and head straight past all the old people on benches to the wall of cascading water in back, which has a tranquil little pool and all the empty lawn space you need. All this solitude does come at a price though: BYO tamales and ganja treats.

Walk in at: Fillmore & O’Farrell

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