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Play pickleball for free in this iconic San Francisco spot next week

Palace of Fine Arts San Francisco | Getty Images

The pickleball craze has officially accelerated in San Francisco. And now you can play the country’s fastest-growing sport in one of the city’s most iconic settings—for free. 

Beginning July 11, pickleball players will be able to reserve newly minted indoor courts at the Palace of Fine Arts during peak morning hours. Even better, the 90-minute slots will be gratis. 

Colleen Irwin, left, and Steven Gee, right, play pickleball at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco on June 22, 2023. | Isaac Ceja/The Standard

The three courts will be available 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tuesdays through Sundays and can be reserved through the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department’s online reservation system

Rec and Parks owns the Palace of Fine Arts, which has an agreement with the pickleball organization DinkSF to organize paid courts in the Greco-Roman rotunda. The group soft-launched pickleball play at the venue at the end of June, and scores of enthusiastic players showed up. 

Stella Kwak-Johnson extends their arms after hitting a backhand at the new indoor pickleball courts at the Palace of Fine Arts. | Jeremy Chen/The Standard

The number of pickleball courts has been steadily increasing in the city—going from 12 in 2018 to 67 in 2023—and that’s just within the public park system. Still, some say the supply is not enough to meet the rapidly increasing demand. 

The Palace of Fine Arts was originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition as an art gallery. Meant to echo a decaying Roman ruin, it’s the only structure to survive from the exposition in its original location. 

A pickleball doubles match ensues as fellow players spectate at the new indoor pickleball courts at the Palace of Fine Arts. | Jeremy Chen/The Standard

The graceful rotunda, stately colonnades and mirror-like pond attract scores of strolling and picnicking San Franciscans. The space, which today is managed by the company Non Plus Ultra, can now add pickleball enthusiasts to its ranks.