Mission Dolores Park

Dolores St &, 19th St, San Francisco, CA 94114, USA

Mission Dolores Park, aka “Dolo”, is one of the most popular parks in San Francisco, especially when the sun is out, since this neighborhood is known for being one of the sunniest in the city.

On a sunny weekend, you’ll be hard pressed to find a patch of green to plant yourself on, but that’s what makes Dolores Park so much fun. Yes there is a playground for kids, and basketball and tennis courts, too. But the real sport here is people watching.

You’ll hear music booming between dog barks; people toss footballs, tightrope walk, and fling their Frisbees. Bodies slathered in oil glisten in the sun; ice cream melts down the arms of laughing children; the whiff of cut grass (and other questionable varieties) linger in the air. Vendors will also come around to sell a variety of snacks and drinks, and you’ll also encounter people collecting your cans after they’re empty.

The abundant restaurants and markets in the area (Bi-Rite and Tartine are two popular ones on 18th street, just a block from the downhill portion of the park) make make it easy to pack a picnic and fuel your day out. All you need to do is bring a blanket, plop down on a hill where the views reach to downtown, and chill out San Francisco-style.

Dolores Park is named for Miguel Hidalgo, a priest in Dolores, Mexico who urged his countrymen to overthrow their Spanish rulers in 1810, sparking Mexico’s battle for independence. A statue in his tribute stands in the center of the park.

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Experience the Old and the New at Mission Dolores in San Francisco

Looking for the old and the new San Francisco all in one neighborhood? Head to the Mission and visit the Mission Dolores, the oldest intact original mission in California, and the oldest building in San Francisco—it was founded in 1776, and has witnessed the city’s history all the way from the American Indians to the Gold Rush to the 1906 earthquake. The Mission is open daily for visitors, but you’ll need to reserve weeks ahead for a docent-guided tour. After you’re done checking out the Mission, walk to Dolores Park to experience San Francisco today: People of all shapes, sizes, ages, races, sexualities, and genders lie on one lawn, relaxing and overlooking the city. Expect music, frisbee, perhaps some circus skills, the waft of marijuana, and lots and lots of dogs. Bring your own blanket, a six-pack of beer, and all your friends to enjoy a weekend afternoon in the sun.

Fun Before the Fog

Since moving to San Francisco three months ago, I’ve gone to Dolores Park almost every weekend. The vibe there embodies what I’ve come to love about San Francisco. There’s public drinking, yes, but people clean up after themselves, and behave pretty well to boot. But be sure to bring a sweater—when the fog rolls in, there can be sudden drops in temperature!

San Francisco’s Counterculture

San Francisco is a welcoming place for the odd, the offbeat, and the fabulous. Check out the historic fringe with a visit to the Beat Museum and City Lights Bookstore in North Beach. Take a tour of the Castro neighborhood with a stop at the famous theater and Harvey Milk Plaza. For the more daring, visit a leather store on Folsom Street or the smoke shops in Haight Ashbury. Say arggggghhh with fellow pirates at 826 Valencia’s pirate store and the Smuggler’s Cove bar. On any sunny day, head to Dolores Park in the Mission (shown) to watch hundreds of residents gather and enjoy tightrope walking, nude sunbathing, and hacky sack.

Great people-watching

Dolores Park is a local gem, and not to be missed during summer afternoons. Bring a sandwich, stay for the truffle guy’s treats.

Information on this page, including website, location, and opening hours, is subject to have changed since this page was last published. If you would like to report anything that’s inaccurate, let us know at notification@afar.com.

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