When news broke last winter of Dolores Park’s impending, albeit temporary, closure, reactions from local residents were heated. There were public outcries, neighborhood meetings and yes, rant-filled blogs. Current estimates suggest the park will be closed in phases, starting in March 2012, to undergo twenty-one months of major renovations. With the schedule for the phased construction still uncertain, perhaps it’s time to start thinking about Dolores Park alternatives?
To do that, one should first examine what people love about Dolores Park, so that viable alternatives can be found. What is it about the park that garners such enthusiastic devotion from San Franciscans?
Here are some features that set Dolores apart as, arguably, one of San Francisco’s favorite parks, along with some viable alternatives.
Dolores Park is easy to get to – Set in the heart of the Mission, a few blocks from BART and serviced by a number of MUNI light rail and bus stops, there are few parks with better access to public transit. Combined with the relatively flat, fixie-bike friendly terrain of the area, Dolores Park becomes the virtual Shangri-La for eco-friendly, hipster road warriors.
An alternative park that’s easy to get to? Duboce Park – Straddling that no-man’s land between the lower Haight, Castro and Mission neighborhoods, Duboce Park is in the center of just about everything. With easy access to the Church Street Muni station, the N Judah line and enjoying some of that same wonderful (yet rare) flat terrain as found in the Mission, Duboce is almost as transit and bike friendly Dolores. You might just start to see throngs of bicycle-wielding Mission hipsters descending on Duboce Park. Just tread lightly around the “dog pies”, young hipsters. Duboce is a dog-run park.
Dolores Park is a great place for a picnic – It’s no secret the Mission is among the city’s top gastronomic centers. With cuisine from every corner of the globe available within a few short blocks’ radius of the park, it’s no surprise that on a sunny day Dolores is packed with picnickers. Plus, with gourmet shops like Bi-Rite Market just down the street, it’s a snap to pick up a healthy free-range couscous salad, or an organically grown and harvested deli sandwich. Not to mention their small batch ice cream from the Bi-Rite Creamery. The line around the block is there for a reason.
An alternative picnic spot? Alamo Square – True, the (sometimes) sunny Western Addition can’t compete with what the Mission can offer, food-wise. But if what you want most out of your picnic experience is open space, nice views and, most important, easy access to healthy prepared foods, then Alamo Square might be just the ticket. Just a few blocks from the Falletti and Delessio markets, Alamo Square is already well stocked for picnickers. But, for those of you who just can’t survive without your Bi-Rite Market and its gourmet (and gourmet priced) selections, then you’re in luck. With plans to open a second location on Divisadero Street near Hayes, the new Bi-Rite will be nicely situated to cater to your Alamo Square picnicking needs. All you need to bring is a blanket…and probably a windbreaker (Alamo Square can get windy). And not to worry, you won’t miss seeing the strange and colorful characters of Dolores Park. With tour busses making the stop at Alamo Square every few minutes or so, there’s no shortage of peculiar and exotic folk to take a gander at. It’s armchair travel at its best.
Dolores Park is sunny and warm – Almost without fail, Dolores Park boasts some of the best weather of any park in the city. Chalk it up to microclimates, the Mission enjoys an unfair advantage over much of the city.
An alternative park that’s just as sunny and warm? There isn’t one – Potrero Del Sol at Potrero and 25th Streets or Garfield Square at Harrison and 25th Streets, might come close, being in the same general area, but they probably won’t quite cut it.
What do you think? Are there any viable park alternatives to Dolores? Where will San Franciscans, and Mission residents in particular, spend their Saturday afternoons once renovations begin?