Spring is in the air, events are bouncing back, and picnic season is in full swing. Luckily, San Francisco boasts an incredible variety of parks and open spaces, perfect for enjoying al fresco meals this season. Whether you’re planning a casual outing or a grand outdoor feast, the city offers the ideal backdrop for every occasion.

Here are our 13 favorite places to picnic in San Francisco.

1. Mission Dolores Park 

DoLo isn’t just one of the best picnic areas in San Francisco, it’s one of the most sought-after spots in all of California. We hear you, it’s basic. But! It’s basic for a good reason. Dolores Park is the backyard of the Mission District, making it easy to satisfy the wants and needs of multiple palates. There’s an abundance of restaurant choices that boast amazing take-out dishes that you can pick up to pop a super customized picnic. Not to mention the killer city views from the upper lawn!

2. Flower Conservatory in Golden Gate Park

A less conventional choice for a picnic would be the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. While no outside food or drinks are allowed in the Conservatory of Flowers, you are welcome to picnic on the lawns in front of the Conservatory. Their front lawn is adorned with flowers and littered with trees throughout the grass area, leaving you with a variety of sunny or shady spots. It’s a great area to stroll around with many different outdoor exhibits. Take a glance at art installations, bring your favorite burrito, and call it a great day.

3. Palace of Fine Arts

If you’re in need of a more romantic spot for a picnic date, this iconic green space is the answer. Located in the Marina District, the Palace of Fine Arts was constructed to resemble the ruins of Ancient Rome. Surrounding the building is a lagoon that reflects the architecture and often has some neighborhood ducks swimming around. There are narrow strips of grass along the walkway facing the Palace, perfect for a couple of people who are looking to get to know each other. As for food, there are a variety of little delis around the park, or restaurants within walking distance to pick up a meal.

4. Embarcadero 

Get your “Always Be My Maybe” moment with a walk down the Embarcadero. The Embarcadero runs on the Eastern shoreline underneath the Bay Bridge. Though there is a small grassy area under The Cupid’s Bow, the concrete benches along the entire road are better for a sit-down meal. This is perfect for small groups who are looking to walk around after their picnic supper. Saunter through the Ferry Building for local goods (check out our Ferry Building food recommendations here) and head to Pier 7. 

5. West Bluffs at Crissy Fields

Crissy Fields sits in front of the Golden Gate Bridge and expands for almost four miles. There is a walkway that many people use for their running or biking track. The best spot to enjoy the West Bluff picnic area. The space is situated with picnic benches and barbecue grills. If you’re hoping to snag a table, it’s best to go early, as there’s no reservation systems in place. Once you’ve picked your spot, you can enjoy views of Marin Headlands, Alcatraz, and Angel Island.

6. Washington Square 

In the middle of San Francisco’s Little Italy, Washington Square Park (which is not actually shaped like a square) makes for a great go-to to escape from the hustle and bustle of the neighborhood. Pack a Frisbee, put out your picnic blanket, and enjoy basking under the sun with some take-out from Little Italy or Chinatown. 

7.  John Mclaren Park 

Did you know that John Mclaren Park stretches for over 300 acres of San Francisco? Following behind Golden Gate Park and the Presidio, Mclaren is the third largest park and perfect for picnicking. There are picnic tables, grills, and different playgrounds all throughout the park. So no matter which side you start on, you can find a suitable spot for your picnic. We recommend visiting the pond then making your way down the grassy hill where you’ll find a play structure that’s just close enough to keep an eye on the children, but far enough to have time for yourself. 

8. Balboa Park 

The most underrated secret spot would definitely have to be Balboa Park. It’s near one of the biggest transportation hubs of the city, many buses pass through or rest at this stop. You want to picnic in front of the Balboa Park Swimming Pool. There is a large patch of grass where families roam and play catch. There is enough space for you and your bubble of friends to hang out and enjoy each other’s company in safe proximity. Unlike the Sunset or Richmond, the weather here is consistently sunny and warm. On the hottest days, don’t forget to bring some libations to cool down. 

9.  Alamo Square Park

If you’re looking for a place to have the perfect San Francisco Instagram moment, Alamo Square Park is your spot. Abundant green space and blooming flower beds make the scene even better. Up on a hill, it also offers great views of the city and a plethora of activities, including a tennis court, walking trails, and a kid’s playground.

10. Baker Beach

If views of the Golden Gate Bridge are what you’re after, Baker Beach is your spot. This is more of a BYOP (bring your own picnic) situation, as there aren’t any nearby food options. On sunny days, you definitely want to head there early as the parking lots fill up quickly. 

11. Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach stretches for miles, for ultimate privacy. If you’re looking for good food options to bring with you, it’s best to plan your picnic closer to the Outer Sunset around Judah Street. Stay long and enjoy the fire pits (they’re on a first come first serve basis). 

12.  Sutro Heights 

Sutro Heights at the end of Anza and the Aves is a favorite among the Outer Richmond set. The best part about this spot—in addition to amazing views of the ocean—is that not many people know it’s there. Put down your picnic blanket under a redwood tree and revel in the fact that you found the perfect spot to picnic.  

13.  Aquatic Park 

With bleachers, beach, and grass, Aquatic Park is great for people who like plenty of options for seating. With a view of Alcatraz and Angel Island State Park, this iconic Bay Area spot has a plethora of good food options, from dim sum to pizza. And with the Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop nearby, it’s a great place to play tourist for the day.

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