Nothing makes Tiny Traveler’s face light up more than the familiar sight of a playground in a new city; they’re often what she remembers most from a trip.
If you can find a playground that adds to your visitor experience with great views, funky equipment or just a super convenient location, so much the better. Our search for playgrounds has taken us into beautiful parks and interesting neighborhood we might not have explored otherwise, a plus to traveling with kids!
Here are 10 playgrounds in the greater Bay Area that are either worth seeking out or near the site seeing you’re likely to be doing. Feel free to add your favorite if we’ve missed it.
10 San Francisco Playgrounds Near Tourist Attractions
What: Julius Kahn Playground
Where: The Presidio’s southern border, along West Pacific Avenue.
Why: The Presidio is a wonderful and historic stretch of green space with ball fields, hiking trails and the Walt Disney Museum. The JK playground is modern and super cool with separate areas for toddlers and older kids.
What: Koret Childrens Quarter
Where: Golden Gate Park (in the Southeast quadrant, near Kezar drive)
Why: This 1888 park got a makeover in 2007 mixing old goodies like a carousel and popular stone slides (parents love them, too) with modern equipment for all ages in a play area with lots of sand.
What: The Yerba Buena Gardens Rooftop
Where: Yerba Buena (Howard Street)
Why: This innovative playground sits atop an underground conference center and offers a giant slide, climbing structures, a sand pit and gardens (roves mean sun; bring hats and sunscreen). YB Gardens is sprawling and there is almost always something going on there. You’ll find ice skating, bowling, a carousel and the Children’s Creativity Museum nearby.
What: Mission Playground
Where: The Mission District (Valencia & Cunningham Streets)
Why: The Mission District is one of San Francisco’s most historically rich neighborhoods. Take a short walking tour to learn about it and then reward your kids for their good behavior with a stop at this brand-spanking new playground that happens to be next to the city’s only public outdoor pool.
What: Alta Plaza Park
Where: Pacific Heights (Washington St. at Scott St)
Why: Pacific Heights is another Storied San Francisco Neighborhood. Let your kids romp in a room, well-kept play space (2006) while you take in awesome views of the city.
What: Seward Slides Mini-Park
Where: Eureka Valley (Seward St & Acme Alley, near 20th St & Douglass)
Why: Why not! The shear novelty of racing down two huge (and I mean huge), fast stone slides, preferably on cardboard if you can find some. Not for tiny tots or the feint of heart. Kids, tweens and even teens and their parents will love them.
What: Adventure Playground
Where: Berkeley (Berkeley Marina)
Why: They do things differently in Berkeley. Prepare to trade swings and slides for hammers and nails and paint. Kids build their own forts or modern take-home art at this playground that could be mistaken for an artful junkyard. Bring exrta clothes; kids get dirty!
What: Frog Park
Why: San Francisco’s sister city isn’t known for its green spaces, but this park’s two whimsical wooden play areas are part of a green way built in 2001.
The 2-to-5 set will like Redondo playground (Redondo Street and Clarke Street near Telegraph and 51st Street) while 5-to-12-year-olds will prefer Hardy Playground (Hardy Circle off of Miles Street, near Claremont Ave.)
What: Giorgi Park
Where: Sonoma (540 University Street, Healdsburg)
Why: This rolling green playground has plenty of opportunities for swinging, swirling and climbing, with different areas for different age groups. They’ll be more likely to let you visit a winery after they’ve gotten some ya-yas out.
What: Pier 39 Playground
Where: Just outside Pier 39 on the Embarcadero (Grant Ave)
Why: It’s not the biggest or most interesting playground you’ll ever visit, but you’re likely to be site-seeing nearby and it’s a good place to let the kids romp after stepping off a boat cruise.