Oh, the Places You Will Go! Green Spaces in San Francisco to Satisfy Your Need for Nature

In comparison to other cities, San Francisco is quite small. Surrounded on three sides by water, the City by the Bay has nowhere to grow, which allows for plenty of green spaces to remain more or less untouched. There are the Marin Headlands right across the Golden Gate Bridge, and many state and regional parks dot the peninsula just south of the city. Even with all this natural space nearby, San Francisco is dappled with green spaces within, all of which can be reached without a car.

Written by Pavlína Marek


The waves of the Pacific Ocean wash right up against the western end of the city. Thanks to that, San Francisco has several beaches. Whether it’s a sunny day that’ll make you want to dip your toes in the ocean or a moody one filled with fog, there is always a beach you can go to. Want to cool off your feet after the race while you watch the sunset? Head to China Beach. Is it foggy, the perfect weather for a moody shot of the Golden Gate Bridge? Baker Beach is the place to go.

Choose Your Beach

Golden Gate Park

One of the largest urban parks, the Golden Gate Park offers many attractions as well as hidden gems. Within its green borders, there are several gardens like the Rose Garden or the Japanese Tea Garden with traditional Japanese landscaping features, snacks, and teas. The park is also home to many critters as well as a herd of American bison. It houses the California Academy of Sciences and offers miles of trails and paths to walk, run, and stroll along.

Explore Golden Gate Park

Presidio Tunnel Tops

The Presidio Parkway runs under the newly-open Presidio Tunnel Tops Park. Thanks to the park, people can now easily and safely get from Presidio to Crissy Fields as they walk among native plants and temporary art exhibitions. There’s a play area for kids and adults alike built completely from natural materials and many picnic spaces to kick back and relax. (Also, did you know that there’s a Yoda fountain nearby?)

Explore the Presidio Tunnel Tops

Salesforce Park

The best roof isn’t made of roof tiles but plants. The Salesforce Transit Center proved this when it opened a 5.4-acre rooftop park. Some 600 trees and 16,000 plants now grow four stories off the ground in the Salesforce Park. It has many perks: greenery is proven to regulate the temperature in cities on hot days. On top of that, it also has a positive impact on people’s mental health. Explore a bamboo grove, a fountain, or 13 botanical gardens, representing ecosystems from around the world.

Explore the Salesforce Park

Whale Watching

While the best whale-watching spots aren’t directly in San Francisco, you technically don’t have to leave the city to hop on a whale-watching boat tour. Whales get close to the shore near San Francisco because they migrate along a “highway” that runs right through the Gulf of the Farallones, between Point Reyes and the Farallon Islands. Of course, these tours can get costly and are unsuitable for people who get seasick. In that case, the Point Reyes and Point Bonita lighthouses are your best bet.

Learn More

Do you have exactly three days to explore San Francisco? Follow or get inspired by SF Travel’s Three-Day Outdoor Adventure guide! Travel around the green spaces in San Francisco and enjoy your time in the City by the Bay.

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