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San Francisco’s Best New Parks

Written by Maryann Jones ThompsonPublished Dec. 25, 2022 • 1:00pm
Visitors at the Presidio Tunnel Tops. | Brian Feulner for The Standard

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It’s been an epic year for park lovers in San Francisco. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area celebrated its 50th birthday as “a park for the people” by opening two new parklands, Tunnel Tops and Battery Bluff.

In fact, nearly 25 acres of official parkland opened in SF during 2022, while another five miles of outdoor car-free play space was preserved—not bad for a 7-by-7-mile city.

Check out the list and map below for San Francisco’s best new parks of 2022.

Visitors at the Presidio Tunnel Tops | Brian Feulner for The Standard

Tunnel Tops, The Presidio

The Presidio had quite a year. After decades of work between multiple public and private agencies, the 14.5-acre Tunnel Tops parkland opened in July. The park reunited Crissy Field’s waterfront with the Main Post area by covering one of the tunnels over the Presidio Parkway. A massive playground and science center, lawns and tables for picnicking, native gardens and vista points cover the bluff. For those who loathe packing a picnic, food trucks park around Tunnel Tops every weekend, and entertainment is usually on tap, as well. 

Battery Bluff picnic area | Maryann Jones Thompson/The Standard

Battery Bluff, The Presidio

Just a bit west along the Presidio Promenade trail, Tunnel Tops’ smaller, more peaceful neighbor opened in April. Named after the four U.S. Army gun batteries Blaney, Baldwin, Slaughter and Sherwood, the new park area is tucked along the hillside just above Chrissy Field. New picnic tables offer breathtaking views of the Golden Gate, Angel Island, Alcatraz and San Francisco Bay.  

Francisco Park just prior to its opening in April 2022 | Courtesy Francisco Park Conservancy

Francisco Park, Russian Hill

Community effort and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department  combined to transform the once-abandoned reservoir site into the newly opened Francisco Park, flourishing in native landscaping and boasting some of the most awe-inspiring views of Alcatraz, Angel Island, Marin County, the Golden Gate Bridge and the bay. In addition to a fenced-in dog park, Francisco Park has a fully Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant pathway beginning at Bay Street that leads to the lawn area and children’s playground. Visitors can enjoy hearing the hum and clanging of the Hyde Street cable cars as they ascend and descend Russian Hill.

The new Helen Diller Playground at Dolores Park | Camille Cohen/The Standard

Dolores Park Playground, The Mission

The renovated Helen Diller Playground at Dolores Park reopened in February and was an instant hit with families who love the return to old-school sand for slide-landing zones. The rest of the park is still as busy and beautiful as ever.

People walk and bike along Great Highway. | Gabrielle Lurie/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

The JFK Promenade and ‘The Great Walkway,’ Golden Gate Park

In November, voters confirmed that JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park and the Great Highway at its west end would stay permanent play areas. No more cars means much more space to ride, skate, walk or run around in the city—miles of it, to be exact. San Francisco’s chilly blue-sky winter days are the perfect time of year to bundle up, head west and take advantage of these new pedestrian-friendly zones.

Find More Park Time Around San Francisco

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Maryann Jones Thompson can be reached at [email protected]


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