In my former life I owned a landscape design business where I created healing gardens for residential clients. While enrolled at the UC Berkeley Extension program we took a class trip throughout downtown San Francisco to tour the urban outdoor spaces. In our hurried days we often pass by these urban oases without much thought.
Daylight Savings has ended and now we swing around an hour to the mornings and steal away an hour from dusk. We lament because the days seem shorter and by the time most of us leave the office the sun has already set. It’s important during the fall and winter months to get outside while we can to soak up the vitamin D and improve our moods. This is especially so for 9-5ers who remain in front of a computer monitor most of the day.
Getting outdoors for a 15 minute break two to three times a day can help create mental clarity and ease physical tension. So in this post I list a few of my favorite urban outdoor spots around the city of San Francisco. I encourage you to take the much needed breaks to unplug from all devices, take a few deep breaths and connect with the earth beneath you.
560 Mission Street Plaza (shown above) is a tranquil spot offering a lush bamboo garden, green grass and a reflecting pool.
Levi Park Plaza the gardens around Levi Plaza were a project of the late Lawrence Halprin whose projects include Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley and the unincorporated community of Sea Ranch in Sonoma County. The gardens offer a zen-like setting with meandering paths waterways and fountains.
Yerba Buena Gardens The cultural heartbeat of the downtown, Yerba Buena Gardens is home to YBCA, outdoor concert series, the Metreon and the famous MLK Memorial Fountain.
Rincon Park Located at the foot of Folsom St and on the Embarcadero waterfront, Rincon Park is two-acre swath of green grass and the celebrated “Cupid’s Span” sculpture by artists, Claes Oldenberg & Coosje van Bruggen. The park along with the waterfront is a great place to take in expansive views, take a walk or just nap in the sun.
Empire Park An alleyway tucked on Commercial St at Kearney in Chinatown, Empire Park is a tranquil getaway from the urban rush. Complete with tables for an outdoor lunch as an overhead trellis bursts with white wisteria in the spring.
Want to find more hidden spots in San Francisco? There’s an app for that!