Best Hidden Parks in San Francisco

Tucked away atop office building rooftops and in secluded plazas in SoMa and the Financial District are a multitude of privately owned, public open spaces. These semi-private areas offer quiet places for those who work in the downtown areas to enjoy lunch, grab a cup of coffee or soak up a few minutes of sun during the work week. They are also popular with tourists and residents alike.

In addition to a peaceful escape, these sanctuaries have amenities like sitting areas, restrooms and some even offer gorgeous Bay views. Knowing how to get to these places can be tricky as many entrances are unmarked and some even have security.

We can thank the San Francisco's 1985 Downtown Plan, which mandated that private developers create and maintain publicly available spaces that equal 1 square foot for every 50 square feet of office space. The Plan's goal was to provide "downtown quality open space in sufficient quantity and variety to meet the needs of downtown workers, residents and visitors." They range from grand roof terraces to what are referred to as snippets or tiny park-like green spaces.

A map of downtown San Francisco's Public Spaces. Green dot = urban garden, red dot = sun terrace

Here is a list of just a few of the City's hidden downtown outdoor sanctuaries.

150 California Street

 Open M-F 9am-6pm, this sun terrace offers views of the surrounding area, seating and sculptures not to mention lots of sunshine.

Open M-F 9am-6pm, this sun terrace offers views of the surrounding area, seating and sculptures not to mention lots of sunshine.

535 Washington Street

 Open at all times, this lovely landscaped urban green space sits at the base of the Transamerica Pyramid and has towering redwoods, a water fountain, sculptures and seating galore. 

Open at all times, this lovely landscaped urban green space sits at the base of the Transamerica Pyramid and has towering redwoods, a water fountain, sculptures and seating galore. 

343 Sansome Street

 This sun terrace is open weekdays 9am to 6pm and has views of the Bay and surrounding area from it's 15th story setting. There's public art, seating, lush landscaping and offers a perfect place to bask in the sun.

This sun terrace is open weekdays 9am to 6pm and has views of the Bay and surrounding area from it's 15th story setting. There's public art, seating, lush landscaping and offers a perfect place to bask in the sun.

55 California Street

 Always open, this urban garden has an intimate feel thanks to the teak benches, and olive trees and bamboo in large planters. There is also open space with public art and landscaping.

Always open, this urban garden has an intimate feel thanks to the teak benches, and olive trees and bamboo in large planters. There is also open space with public art and landscaping.

100 Pine Street

 Accessed via the front entrance of the building or down a narrow walkway on front Street, this urban garden has landscaping, water features and art.

Accessed via the front entrance of the building or down a narrow walkway on front Street, this urban garden has landscaping, water features and art.

303 2nd Street

 Triangular in shape, this always open urban garden space has a water feature, landscaping and seating galore. A deli and restaurant connect to the space, providing food and additional seating.

Triangular in shape, this always open urban garden space has a water feature, landscaping and seating galore. A deli and restaurant connect to the space, providing food and additional seating.

1 Kearney

 Open weekdays 9am to 6pm, this rooftop terrace has views of Market Street, nearby buildings as well as bench seating and well maintained greenery.

Open weekdays 9am to 6pm, this rooftop terrace has views of Market Street, nearby buildings as well as bench seating and well maintained greenery.

65 Sutter Street

 Ample seating, greenery and views are available 9am to 6pm weekdays on this sun terrace. restrooms are available on the 3rd floor. 

Ample seating, greenery and views are available 9am to 6pm weekdays on this sun terrace. restrooms are available on the 3rd floor. 

560 Mission Street

 Spacious and offering a sculpture, seating, cafe, water feature and bamboo grove, this urban garden is open at all times.

Spacious and offering a sculpture, seating, cafe, water feature and bamboo grove, this urban garden is open at all times.

Article excerpt from bizjournals.com. Images by Todd Johnson, San Francisco Business Times.