I’m typing this from bed on a foggy, gloomy July day (hello summer!) and even my hot cup of coffee can’t completely chase the chill away. SF is infamous for her tempestuous weather but that doesn’t keep the adventurous traveler’s away (as my airbnb calendar daily reminds me) so why should San Franciscans let that keep us indoors? The days are long and the months seem even longer (how are there possibly still three weeks of July left?) so let’s grab some layers and chase after nature’s heart amidst an urban landscape. Golden Gate Park, Alamo Square, Dolores Park, Twin Peaks — these spaces have seen my face so many times and need no introduction. Today I’m exploring new sites, surprises and secrets…
Ever since discovering Grand View it’s been one of my favorite parks in the city. This spot will ask the most of you — the only way to reach it is to climb one of several long, steep set of stairs — but your efforts will well be rewarded with panoramic views from Pacific Beach to the the bay to Sutro Forest. Fun fact — this is one (if not the last) spot within the city that still has SF’s original topography — before this peninsula was covered in houses and its parks were constructed with earth and plants from elsewhere. The soft sand and scrubby plants here are older than anything else left in San Francisco and despite the views connecting me to the city I do feel like I’m somewhere very different when walking these paths.
For my first few years living in the Haight I confused Kite Hill with Tank Hill — they’re both small, open hilltops in the middle of dense neighborhoods and they both have entrances that are hard to stumble upon even when looking. From the East side off Grand View Terrace or 19th St you’ve got half of the city spread out before you with views from Bernal Heights to Downtown; the West side where I’m walking above has a very different vibe. Instead of feeling set back observing at a stunning vista you’re right in the heart of the neighborhood.
TIP: with little shade this is a good spot to get some vitamin D.
This is the steep little hillside park you’ve seen on instagram with a certain tree swing and an amazing SF backdrop. Unfortunately, when I was last there the swing had been cut down by someone who hates joy, but according to recent yelp reviews it might be back up. Regardless, this is a nice spot to retreat to on either cool or warm days to sit in the shade or sun and soak in the views with a bottle of bubbly.
My go to SF summer uniform: sun dress over sweater tights/jeans with a scarf in my bag. In case it’s warm there’s a thousand places in SF where you can duck in and remove said jeans to also stuff in your bag, but if the wind changes you’ll need every inch of that extra fabric.
I’m always trying to time my visit to Corona Heights just right — to get there just as the fog is beginning to build up behind Twin Peaks in the late afternoon. Someday I want to make a time lapse as the fog breaks and pours down into Eureka Valley and Noe Valley — the sight is breathtaking. On this day Karl beat me to the spot and was already streaming past me, but even so the rocky spot has killer views of downtown and the Eastern half of SF.
Despite popular opinion, Lombard is not the ‘crookedest’ street in San Francisco, although it may be the more scenic (I’ll let you be the judge). Vermont St between 20th and 22nd had seven sharp turns on a steeper grade of hill than Lombard, winning it the title of most crooked street of them all. That being said, Vermont is quiet, shady, residential and entirely less exciting than it’s Russian Hill competitor, however, this does happen here.
Have you explored any new nooks of your hometown recently? Do you have a recommendation for an off the beaten path park I should explore next? Leave me a note in the comments or shoot me an email at threadandbones @ gmail. Until next time I’ll be on instagram if you’d like to stay in touch <3
Thank you for reading!