Turns out there are quite a few nicer places to spend your Sunday afternoon than Dolores Park. In fact, the Mission oasis and hipster homeland recently ranked among the worst parks in the city according to a new study.
Last week, the City Controller's Office released its annual report scoring the overall maintenance and appearance of the city's parks, and lo and behold, not all SF parks are created equal. The report took cleanliness of lawns, trees, athletic fields, courts, play areas, and benches into account when ranking San Francisco's greenery – and you may be shocked at what came in first and what came in last.
So which parks earned the top spots?
Photo by Razvan Marescu
Toping the list with a perfect score of 100, the Russian Hill hide away is mostly maintained by volunteers who take responsibility for its aesthetic greenery (and don't leave empty PBR cans laying around). Throw in a lovely white gazebo, and you've supposedly got the best park in the city.
Sunnyside Park Conservatory
Photo by Rigmarole
Coming in at a close second – it scored 99.4 – the historic conservatory has been around since 1900 and was beautifully restored in 2009. While the park is rather small and the conservatory building (and the bathrooms) are only open for private events the space is worth a walk around.
Beideman/O'Farrell Mini Park
Photo by Steve Bowles
I had never even heard of this tiny corner park in the Western Addition before the report named it as the third best park in the city. Still the quaint little park looks like it provides plenty of trees as well as benches and rock walls for seating.
There you have it – those are supposed to be the top three parks in the city. Nestled into some of the most affluent sections of San Francisco, these tiny green patches are well maintained by neighbors who have the time and the money to do so and cater mostly to people within those neighborhoods. Does it surprise anyone then that the worst parks in the city are large, popular, and have smelly bathrooms?
Park Presidio Boulevard
Photos by SF Park Alliance
Nabbing the sad title of worst park in the city, Park Presidio Boulevard, a green strip of Highway 1, scored a pathetic 41.3. Despite recent efforts to restore the area, it was the only park to score below a 70.
Pine Lake Park
Photo by 50-phi
I was shocked to find this meadow, which borders on Stern Grove, among the worst parks in San Francisco. The nearby lake keeps the area pleasantly cool and dogs are allowed to frolic at their leisure. But since the outdoor space can't exactly be called a manicured lawn, I guess it didn't score well with a City Controller's Office that favors artistic shrubbery.
Mission Dolores Park
Photo by Thomas Hawk
Finally, the ever-popular Dolores Park came in third place in the race for worst outdoor hangout. This one made a little sense: Dolores Park is rarely free of litter and the bathrooms are seriously gross. I don't think the Mission playground's new found title will deter anybody from laying out on a sunny day, but after a huge and much needed renovation, it's disheartening to see the popular hotspot so low on the list. I guess the city doesn't hand out points for popularity.
Will you give up your coveted spot in Dolores Park and head for greener pastures?
If you're still curious about the best places to hug a tree or snag a stunning view, read our story on finding a patch of country in the city.