If you happen to be in San Francisco on a sunny day, take the opportunity to walk or lounge around Mission Dolores Park. Located in the Mission Dolores neighborhood on the western edge of the Mission District and just south of Market Street, the grassy park is the setting for many picnic-hounds, music-lovers, sun-bathers, tennis- and soccer-players, and dogs who like to run and catch Frisbees.
For a small park, the history of Dolores Park is unique. Originally the land of the Ohlone tribe, it was settled by the Spanish colonial missionaries in 1776 and has gone through phases as a Jewish cemetery at the end of the 19th century, a refugee camp for families made homeless after the 1906 earthquake, and more recently as a neighborhood center for many types of activities.
Because the park is in the heart of the Mission District's warmer micro-climate, Dolores Park is a center for outdoor relaxation and colorful events, many of which have become annual favorites, like the Cinco de Mayo celebrations, the always entertaining San Francisco Mime Troupe performances, as well as being the starting point for the annual Dyke March.
If you happen to be around on the 2nd Thursday of the month any time between April and October, do yourself a favor and catch the free outdoor Movie Night. The movie starts anywhere from 6 pm to 8:30 pm, depending on the month.
The park has upper and lower sections. As you head up the hill to the south you reach the children's playground where you can catch great views of downtown San Francisco and beyond. In the lower half are several tennis courts, a basketball court, and large soccer fields. A statue of Miguel Hidalgo, the liberator-priest of Mexico, and a replica of a liberty bell ornament the park.
You can get sandwiches, soups, and salads at Dolores Park Café on the corner, which has live music on Friday nights. If it's hot out, enjoy some eco-friendly homemade ice-cream at the popular Bi-Rite Creamery. Also, don't miss the giant color mural on the Women's Building just around the corner on 18th Street.
- Metro Stop:
- Muni streetcar J: exit Church Street, which comes out of the Market street tunnel and runs conveniently right through the western edge of the park
- BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit): exit the 16th Street station
- Location: Church/Dolores & 18th/20th Streets
- Website: www.friendsofdolorespark.org