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Sunniest Neighborhood Spots in San Francisco

Dolores Park

San Francisco is known for a lot of things, like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Summer of Love. But one of the city’s most infamous features, Karl the Fog, means that the City by the Bay is also known as a place where sunshine can be a rarity. When the sun does come out to play though, San Francisco is a glorious place to be, and there are plenty of sweet spots where you can make the most of the warmth and soak in some Vitamin D. Everyone knows that Dolores Park is a prime sunny-day attraction (check it out on the weekly Mission District tour offered at HI San Francisco Hostels), but here are a few other underrated warm-weather havens in the city to check out.  

McKinley Square in Potrero Hill

McKinley Square Park, in Potrero Hill, is in one of San Francisco’s sunniest neighborhoods. The hills here protect the area from the fog coming in from the Pacific Ocean, so even on the chillier days, you’re more likely to catch some sun. A bonus of checking out this neighborhood is that you’ll find San Francisco’s actual most crooked street, which is Vermont Street – yes even more crooked than the famous Lombard Street – with fewer crowds to contend with.

Yerba Buena Gardens in Downtown

Grab lunch to-go on the East end of Market Street to enjoy at the scenic and serene Yerba Buena Gardens. You’ll find locals taking a break from the work day and art aficionados checking out the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (there’s free entry on the first Tuesday of every month), plus a small waterfall that almost washes out the sounds of the city. On the extra hot days, you can take it all in from under the shade of a tall tree. From May-October, the gardens also host the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, with free outdoor music, dance, and theater performances throughout the week. 

Alta Plaza Park in Pacific Heights 

For stunning views of the City and the Bay make your way up the stairs at Alta Plaza Park, where you’ll be able to see the Presidio, Fort Mason and Alcatraz from the top. The park is a favorite of dog lovers and there’s also tennis courts for those who like to keep active. Otherwise, perch yourself somewhere on the large lawn and just soak in the rays and the views in a spot that not too many San Francisco tourists get to. 

Civic Center Plaza in the Tenderloin 

If you’re staying at HI San Francisco City Center Hostel, the closest open space away from the light-stealing tall buildings is the Civic Center Plaza in front of San Francisco’s City Hall. Pick up a bahn-mi sandwich in Little Saigon and head all the way down Larkin Street until you come upon the green patch where there are often people making the most of the sun during their lunch breaks.

fishermans wharf hostel

The Lawns in Front of HI San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf Hostel 

You don’t have to go far to chase the sun when you stay at HI San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf Hostel, which sits at the edge of the Marina with views of the city on one side and the Bay on the other. Whether you’ve just checked in and would like to decompress, or you’re looking for some downtime in between adventuring, the green lawns in front of the hostel are perfect for a lazy lay down under the sky. Grand eucalyptus trees provide shade if it’s needed, and if you’re not really an outside person, plenty of sunshine streams through the windows at Café Franco where you can also cool down with a drink and a sandwich. 

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HI USA Tip: The Mission is one of the sunniest neighborhoods in San Francisco, check out its main street on your own or join the hostel walking tour