When visitors in other cities swelter in summer's heat and picnic plans are abandoned for air conditioned cafes, San Francisco's typical weather report is an invitation to gather up the picnic basket, blanket and head out.

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May 17, 2019

Best Places to Have a Picnic in San Francisco

Did you manage to hit San Francisco on a sunny day? Good work. Did you bring your appetite? Even better! Here are our top places to have a picnic in San Francisco.

Alamo Square Park (Steiner St. & Hayes St.)

The abundant lawns and flowerbeds make Alamo Square Park a natural place to have a picnic. Since it’s up on a hill, you can take in a beautiful view of the Painted Ladies and downtown. In addition to its picturesque beauty, Alamo Square Park features many things to do after your picnic. A tennis court, walking trails, and a kid's play structure are all open to the public.

Battery East (Lincoln Blvd.)

A grass-covered earthen work fortification built in the 1870s, Battery East offers pristine vistas of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean. The picnic tables located off the parking area from Lincoln Boulevard in the Presidio invites all visitors to linger a while.

Crissy Field West Bluffs (Long Ave. & Marine Dr.)

This quiet stretch of shoreline in the Presidio is the gateway to San Francisco. The West Bluff and East Beach picnic area offer bayside picnic tables. Not only is Crissy Field famed as a windsurfing site, it also offers some of the most remarkable views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Crissy Field is just one of many great places for a picnic in the Presidio.

Dolores Park (18th St. & Dolores St.)

This is one of the sunnier parks in San Francisco, with a great view and prime people-watching opportunities. There are a ton of recreational activities at Dolores Park—and it's 100% dog-friendly. Its 15 acres of land offers an abundance of grassy lawns, a children's playground with an impressive 40-foot slide, tennis courts, a basketball court, and stunning views of downtown San Francisco.

East Fort Baker (601 Murry Cir., Sausalito)

Just below the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge and Vista Point lies East Fort Baker. This secluded recreation area with views of the bay is often sunny when the western park areas are fogged in. The grassy parade grounds and coastal bluffs of East Fort Baker combine to make a protected picnic spot that is out of the wind. While it's a perfect spot to picnic, you can also take advantage of its proximity to the Bay Area Discovery Museum, historical Battery Cavallo, and fishing pier.

Golden Gate Park (Fell St. & Hayes St.)

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—just know that out-of-towners have to pay an admission fee (but it’s worth it). Stow Lake is another lovely picnic spot, especially if you're planning to host a larger group. There's a dedicated picnic area with a set of eight tables and two BBQ pits that can be reserved to make picnicking a breeze. While you're there, you'll want to rent a paddleboat from the boathouse and explore the lake.

Mt. Tamalpais (3801 Panoramic Highway, Mill Valley)

Just 15 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands, Mt. Tamalpais' summit is less than a half-mile high—but the mountain rises almost straight up from sea level and offers 360 degree views of the entire Bay Area and west to the Pacific Ocean. The park has numerous parking areas, trailheads, scenic overlooks and two drive-in picnic areas with day-use facilities.

Ocean Beach (Great Highway)

Ocean Beach is a popular site for picnics and beach activities. The 3.5-mile stretch of white sand makes it perfect for kite-flying or a game of frisbee. Picnics aren't limited to the daytime, though. Fire pits are available along Ocean Beach, making bonfires a fun nighttime activity. With respect to the Ocean Beach Fire Program, fires are only permitted between March 1 and October 31 from 6 a.m.-9:30 p.m, and a permit will need to be obtained for groups of 25 or more.

Palace of Fine Arts (3601 Lyon St.)

There's no more beautiful setting for a picnic than the Palace of Fine Arts. Admire this San Francisco treasure while watching swans drift across the lagoon. While it has open grassy areas for kids to play, it also offers an element of romance for those looking for a charming picnic date spot.

Presidio (Marina Entrance at Lombard St. & Lyon St.)

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. to 4 p.m. at Presidio Picnic with Off the Grid (plus there are cocktails!). While there are tables and chairs set up, visitors are more than welcome to lay down blankets on the large grassy areas. Located on the Presidio's western shoreline is Baker Beach, which offers some of the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands. Enjoy a picnic on the sandy beach near the shore, or at the picnic area equipped with tables and grills in the cypress grove at the east end of the parking lot.

Tilden Regional Park (2501 Grizzly Peak Blvd., Orinda)

Across the bay and atop the Berkeley-Oakland Hills lies Tilden Regional Park. Magnificent views are the reward for ascending the Sea View Trail. Eucalyptus and Monterey pine trees line the trail that runs south from Inspiration Point off Wildcat Canyon Rd. It can be reached by car or AC Transit from the Berkeley BART station.

Washington Square Park (Columbus Ave. & Union St.)

There’s always plenty to watch in this North Beach park, from tai chi to old Italian guys shooting the breeze on a bench. Established in 1847, Washington Square Park is one of the city's first parks. Along with being a fantastic place to picnic, it's also known for hosting free movies nights and is bordered by many cafes and restaurants that are worth exploring.

Yerba Buena Gardens (750 Howard St.)

You can have a picnic right in the middle of the city at Yerba Buena Gardens. It's the perfect place to escape the city's bustle for a lunch break. Many visitors picnic near the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, where you can find a peaceful waterfall and revel in the park's history and culture.

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