San Francisco is home to some of the best parks and gardens in the world, so there’s no shortage of awesome picnic spots for you to enjoy a meal with friends. Whether you want to support a local cafe and get some amazing food to go, or you prefer to pack your own delicious recipe to enjoy out in the sunshine, you’ll love all of these great options. Some are SF staples, and some are a little less well-known.
What would you add to the list?
1. Conservatory of Flowers
The lawn outside of Conservatory of Flowers is in full bloom right now, and it is stunning. This beautiful, lush green space is one of SF’s favorite escapes from city life. Not only is the Conservatory of Flowers a national, state, and local landmark, but if you head inside you’ll find a vast collection of rare and unusual plants that’s been curated since 1879.
2. Old Speedway Meadow
This grassy glen in Golden Gate Park is surrounded by tall trees and is easily accessible via a parking lot between MLK and JFK Drives. There is plenty of space for lawn games like volleyball and soccer, and grills, beer, and wine are permitted, according to SF Recreation and Parks.
3. Pine Lake Park
Pine Lake, one of San Francisco’s few remaining natural lakes, is surrounded by beautiful wetland plants and a walking trail. You can reserve one of their 4 picnic areas (2 with firepits and 2 with grills) here.
4. Salesforce Park
Downtown SF is home to countless modern marvels, but none so impressive as Salesforce Park, a lush rooftop landscape situated atop the Salesforce Transit Center. It’s an incredible, albeit controversial, ode to Big Tech and the future of city infrastructure. Be sure to check it out from 6am to 8pm every day, or until 9pm on Sundays. Salesforce Park is located at 425 Mission Street in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena district.
5. Garden of Shakespeare’s Flowers
The Garden of Shakespeare’s Flowers, better known as the Shakespeare Garden, is a must-see for literature lovers in Golden Gate Park. This romantic garden is home to over 200 unique flowers and plants, all of which are mentioned in Shakespeare’s works. Whether you’re a diehard literature fan, or just looking for a pleasant picnic spot, it’s certainly worth a visit. Bring your favorite play and watch the imagery jump off the page.
6. Mission Dolores Park
We couldn’t make a list of picnic spots without including Dolores Park! This popular, 16-acre green space has hosted countless festivals, concerts, and other events. But it’s also the city’s favorite spot for people watching, catching up with friends, and enjoying amazing views.
7. Crissy Field
This expansive green space, once a military airfield, provides stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a popular spot for walking, jogging, playing volleyball, and much more. Bring a blanket and stretch out while enjoying a great picnic by the ocean.
8. Fort Scott Community Garden
This small green space in the Presidio was used for horticulture since 1915, and is now tended by community residents who cultivate edible plants and flora on more than 40 plots. You’ll find it behind the Kobbe Avenue neighborhood. There’s 2-hour parking from 1-8pm and a bathroom nearby.
9. Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens is a marvel of public space and urban areas, as it provides a community center for children, families, 20-somethings on their lunch break, and more. It serves over 120 cultural events each year, so count on bringing a picnic and encountering an exciting event, concert, or festival.
10. Bernal Heights Park
Bernal Heights has plenty of hidden gems, including these secret 40-foot slides just off the beaten path. But the best part about Bernal Heights Park is these stunning views of the city. Be prepared for some wind and an incline, but if you’re willing to hike to the summit you’ll find a panoramic viewpoint to complement your lunch.
11. Precita Park
Precita Park in Bernal Heights has a spacious green field perfect for throwing a frisbee, playing games, and soaking in the sun (or fog!). The butterfly garden and playground are perfect for kids, and the park often hosts fun events during the year.
12. Buena Vista Park
Here’s a hidden gem where you can marvel at sweeping views of the city. The park was established in 1867, making it the oldest park in San Francisco. Look closely at the gutters and stones lining the paths; many of them are created from headstones taken from the City’s Victorian cemeteries.
13. Stow Lake
Golden Gate Park is full of awesome picnic spots, but if you want a nice view of some park animals, be sure to check out Stow Lake. You can enjoy your lunch while watching the ducks and turtles frolic in the water!
14. Palace of Fine Arts
We’d be remiss not to include this popular picnic spot, which is located right on the edge of the Presidio. The Palace of Fine Arts was famously designed by Bernard Maybeck for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition, and it’s stood as one of the most iconic landmarks in the city ever since. Sprawl out on the grass and do some people watching while you eat your lunch.
15. Cupid’s Span
Here’s a famous San Francisco sculpture right on the water that provides an amazing view for your next picnic! This 60-foot-tall cupid’s bow sculpture was created by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen in 2002.
16. Francisco Park
Francisco Park is the city’s newest and largest public park in decades, covering 4.5 acres in Russian Hill. It has a sprawling central lawn, a fenced-in dog run, a children’s playground and nature exploration area, accessible pathways, a community garden, and fantastic views of the Bay.
17. Lafayette Park
This popular neighborhood park covers 11.5 acres in Pacific Heights. It has both tiered and sloped grassy expanses with plenty of trees and open space, not to mention a children’s playground and an off-leash dog area. The park hosts puppy training classes, so it’s a perfect spot to check out if you have a dog.
18. Alamo Square Park
The Painted Ladies are a collection of colorful Victorian houses that you can view from Alamo Square Park. Take a picnic and enjoy awesome views, especially at sunset. Grab a drink from the vintage Lady Falcon Coffee Club truck while you’re at it.
19. Alta Plaza Park
These broad, magnificent steps are found in Alta Plaza Park and provide a dramatic backdrop for some great photos. Take a seat on one of the benches or go to the top for amazing panoramic views. It also has a children’s playground and an off-leash dog area.
20. Great Meadow Park at Fort Mason
Fort Mason Center’s sweeping grassy meadow has long winding pathways to stroll down as you choose your picnic spot. Visit on a Friday afternoon and grab some food from the Off the Grid food trucks, then take it back for a chill sunset meal.
[Featured Image: @dylanpatrickphaneuf via Instagram]