Certain San Francisco neighborhoods are filled with parents looking to entertain kids. On any given morning you can find them pushing strollers looking for a place to relax with a latte and a pretty view.
Bernal Heights residents have several kid-friendly parks on the map. Ones that combine both the neighborhood’s chill vibe with lush nature.
For a Bernalise (i.e. long-time resident) the top two choices for family time are Precita Park and Holly Park. Both offer well-kept playgrounds and clean spaces for picnicking and birthday partying. But, not all parks are equal in the eyes of a toddler.
So how does a picky parent pick?
Precita Park is a two-acre green space at the base of Bernal Hill. It’s located near the northern border of the neighborhood. It has a large, rectangular grassy area with a playground and a butterfly garden. Across the street, neighbors can meet up for a hearty meal at the popular Precita Park Cafe.
Precita park’s flat grassy space is ideal for chilling on a blanket while kids play tag or pet-friendly dogs. While not as shady as Holly Park, on a nice day it offers more sun basking opportunities than many other parks.
Holly Park is a unique circular green patch perched at the top of a hill with 360 views of the city. It has tennis courts, baseball fields, and a modern playground. It’s a short walk to the shops and restaurants on Cortland Avenue.
The natural green of the park incorporates a sidewalk path that is less than mile long. The perfect distance for enjoying a brisk stroller walk, tiring out a kiddo or adding cardio to the day. Parents can enjoy amazing sunsets. And also escape the city noise to watch kids play in a safely fenced in area.
Both playgrounds provide ample opportunity to burn energy. While giving parents an Instagram-friendly photo op. But Precita park’s playground is smaller and less modern. It offers a large sand box for tiny tots and the grass area is great for running and playing.
As Holly Park was completely renovated in 2002, it’s playground is bigger and more modern. Kids will love Holly Park’s intricate climbing web. Their parents will love the separate fenced-in areas with the cushy ground to break falls.
Every parent understands how parking, distance, and potty access can make or break an afternoon.
Although Precita Park doesn’t offer a public bathroom, the park is located across from several restaurants and a market. And it’s flat, making it easier to lug the scooter, bag, toys, picnic basket and 35 other essential items for a morning out.
Like many things in San Francisco, a visit to Holly Park involves a steep hill. But the stunning views make this one worth the trouble. And the park offers a public bathroom that is kept clean. But it can be windier than many other parks, so it may not be the best choice on a cold day.
Both parks are great locations for kid’s birthday parties. Selecting the right one will depend on party priorities. Precita Park’s grassy area is ideal for a larger kid-friendly day with a bounce house and enough flat space. But Precita doesn’t allow BBQs or access to public bathrooms. That makes it less than ideal for a longer more adult-friendly party.
Holly Park, offers a fenced-in deck for parties, complete with picnic benches, BBQs and views. It’s is also less frequented by kid’s parties and less crowded on weekends. During the warmer months, Precita park can be lined with party groups with bounce houses.
Overall, both Precita Park and Holly Park reflect the values of the Bernal neighborhood. Both offer a more family-centric, local vibe than Dolores Park or Golden Gate Park.
Either park is a great option for parents looking to enjoy a day out alongside their kids.