5 Parks in San Francisco to Have the Best Picnic
Did you manage to hit San Francisco on a sunny day? Good work. Or maybe you’re trying to grab a bit of sun and fresh air before Karl the fog rolls in at 4 p.m. Here are five of our favorite places to have a picnic, plus nearby spots where you can get sandwiches, fresh fruit and other fixin's.
Dolores Park (19th & Dolores Street)
This is one of the sunnier parks in San Francisco (with a great view and prime people watching). There are a couple spots to swing by before staking out your spot on the lawn. Bi-Rite Market is one of the city’s best markets with fantastic cheeses, fruit, bread, rosé (just be sure to keep that low), plus well-made, hearty sandwiches. You can also get a pizza to go from Pizzeria Delfina—just be sure you grab enough napkins.
Washington Square Park (Columbus Avenue & Union Street)
There’s always plenty to watch in this North Beach park, from tai chi to the old Italian guys shooting the breeze on a bench. If you’re craving a sandwich, Molinari Delicatessen is one of the city’s classic delis (check out the Renzo special). If you’re there before noon, try scoring some tomato focaccia from nearby Liguria Bakery. There’s always the option of grabbing a slice of Sicilian-style pizza from Golden Boy Pizza.
Sundays in the Presidio are quite the scene, with a number of picnicking folks visiting the food trucks on the Main Post Lawn from 11 a.m.–4 p.m. at Off the Grid: Picnic at the Presidio (plus there are cocktails!). Another option is to grab a sandwich, hamburger, salad, or pizza from Transit (inside the Presidio Transit Center, 215 Lincoln Blvd. on the Main Post), come by for some wine (the Presidio is one place where you are allowed to have an open container), or a coffee at the end of the day.
Golden Gate Park
The park is vast, but one of the nicer places to visit is the Botanical Garden, full of plants and trees and flowers from around the world (the Shakespeare Garden is another beauty) —just know that out-of-towners have to pay an admission fee (but it’s worth it). South of the park is Arizmendi Bakery, a cooperative that makes a different kind of pizza every day, plus focaccia, breads, cookies and more. A block north of the park on Arguello is Arguello Supermarket, famous for their turkey sandwich. Pro tip: Be sure to order it on Dutch crunch, with white and dark meat and a little skin too.
Since it’s up on a hill, you can take in a beautiful view of the Painted Ladies and downtown. Grab a sandwich and other picnic goodies from nearby Bi-Rite Market. You’ll also see plenty of folks with a cappuccino and thick slices of housemade toast from The Mill (also on Divisadero).
Marcia Gagliardi writes a popular insider weekly e-column, tablehopper, about the SF dining and drinking scene, get all the latest news at www.tablehopper.com. Follow @tablehopper on Twitter and Instagram for more SF finds!