Forget about the rolling fog, there’s nothing bleak about this fun and funky neighborhood. Yep, it’s true the Inner Sunset is smack in the middle of the fog zone—just three miles from the Pacific Ocean—but with its hip location bordering Golden Gate Park, this ‘hood has the perfect blend of nature and big-city edge. There’s enough here to entertain the kiddos (and their grownups) for days on end. Read on to plan your day in the sun(set!).

Over Inner Sunset
Photo: “Over Inner Sunset” 4johnny5 via Flickr

Play

J.P. Murphy Playground
With a ginormous play structure, this spot is perfect for year-round family fun (there’s a  nice grassy area for the pooch to roam as well). There are three tennis courts plus a basketball court if you want to get a game going, as well as a swinging tire and a nice big circle swing. The a recently remodeled clubhouse is ideal for birthday party rentals, as it contains a fully functional kitchen for food prepand even clean-up.

1960 9th Ave.
San Francisco, Ca
415-242-5647
Online: sfrecpark.org

Koret Children’s Quarter Playground & Carousel
Take a spin on the oldest playground in America! This playground opened in 1888 and is said to have been the nation’s first public playground. Generations of San Franciscans have fond memories of the children’s play area and carousel in Golden Gate Park’s southeast corner. It was recently revamped a few years back and has a new climbing wall and rope climbing feature. The cool carousel’s 62 colorfully painted menagerie of animals include: a dragon, camel, and goat as well as horses, frogs, dogs, roosters, and pigs. Painted panels inside the carousel depict Bay Area landscapes from past to present.

Golden Gate Park
320 Bowling Green Dr.
San Francisco, Ca
415-831-5500
Online: sfrecpark.org

Koret Carousel
Photo: San Francisco Parks & Rec

Sunset Heights Playground
A darling, albeit tiny, neighborhood park with plenty of parking and a dog-friendly atmosphere, too. Swings, a tennis court, and plenty of trails make it a well-rounded place for the local kids to get plenty of action.

89 Rockridge Dr. & 12th Ave.
San Francisco, Ca

Grandview Park
As the aptly-named hilltop implies, from here you can peep unparallelled views of the Golden Gate Bridge, from Pt. Reyes and around to Lake Merced, the Marin Headlands, and a sweet wraparound 360-degree view of San Francisco. It’s a bit of a hike to reach the lookout point, so make sure everyone is wearing a solid pair of shoes for the climb up (and you’ve packed plenty of snacks and water). There’s no play structure, but we promise they won’t be looking for more things to climb once they make it to the top.

Moraga St. & 14th Ave.
San Francisco, Ca
415-831-6331
Online: sfrecpark.org

family-farmers-market

Explore

Inner Sunset Farmer’s Market
Rain or shine, if some outdoor action is on your menu then plan on doing the stroller slalom at this neighborhood farmer’s market. The buzz is: this rivals even the über fancy schmancy Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market so you’re sure to find a treasure trove of all sorts of flowers, live music, nutritious & delicious fresh seafood, and tons and tons of produce. Great on a Sunday stroll before or after you’ve perused all that the neighborhood has to offer.

When: Every Sunday 9 a.m.-1 p.m. year round

Parking Lot btwn 8th & 9th Ave., 10th Ave. btwn Irving & Judah Sts.
San Francisco, Ca
Online: pcfma.com

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San Francisco Botanical Gardens
All year round this is hailed as one of the most diverse gardens in the entire world. The Botanical Garden is an actual “living museum” in GG Park, offering 55 acres of both landscaped gardens and open spaces, and showcasing over 8,000 different kinds of plants from around the world for you and your kiddos to explore. An ongoing event calendar features bi-weekly Sunday morning Children’s Story Time, as well as an extra special Full Moon Walk (bring warm clothing and a flashlight!).

Golden Gate Park
Corner of 9th Ave. & Lincoln Way
San Francisco, Ca
415-661-1316
Online: sfbotanicalgardensociety.org

Paresh Martial Arts
This family martial arts center is nestled in the heart of the neighborhood on bustling Irving Street. One of their most popular signature courses, the ‘Family Classes’ give parents and little ones the unique opportunity to train together in a playful environment. Moms and Dads should be ready to move and sweat: all classes and programs are taught by black belt instructors and designed to keep you on your toes! Good to know: You must register in advance for all classes. 

447 Irving St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-665-5511
Online: sfmartialarts.com

16th Avenue Tiled Steps
Photo: wong_jordan via Flickr

16th Avenue Tiled Steps Project
Since 2003, the tiled steps project has been an Inner Sunset neighborhood effort to design and create a beautiful mosaic up the risers of the 163 steps at 16th Avenue & Moraga. Special City Permits were required and local artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher led the creation of the 163 mosaic panels that were applied to the step risers, and over 300 neighbors joined in making handmade animal, bird and fish name tiles imbedded within the mosaic. This labor of love is a must-see for the family!

Moraga St. btwn 15th & 16th Ave.
San Francisco, Ca
Online: tiledsteps.org

Eats & Treats

Peasant Pies
For a healthy (yep, you read that correctly!) lunchtime choice, head on over to Peasant. Thier handheld selections of warm homespun goodies harken back to the days of 18th-century “fisherman’s pies” and they are perfect for little fingers. We recommend Spinach & Feta, a mouthwatering Sausage, Potatoes & Scrambled Egg, and a spicy Garbanzo Bean & Curry. Fuel up here and then stroll the ‘hood with a full belly.

1039 Irving St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-731-1978
Online: peasantpies.com

New Eritrea Restaurant
In the mood for a walk on the wild side? Look no further than this family-run restaurant specializing in authentic Eritrean and Ethiopian food all served “Family-Style” on a large circular platter. Tender, boneless chicken sauteed in complex spices is a big hit here (there are also 100% vegan dishes on offer) and tangy, fluffy “Injera” bread fills in for silverware—the kiddos will love love eating with their hands. Crispy eggroll-style Sambusas are easy and yummy for tiny tykes to munch.

907 Irving St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-681-1288
Online: neweritrearestaurant.blogspot.com

new eritrea family style
Photo: New Eritrea Restaurant

Arizmendi Bakery Cooperative
Lines form early in the day here for the delicious pastries and breads at this worker-owned bakery. They have all the delightful, ooey gooey cookies and muffins, plus a decadent chocolate fudge cake with salted caramel frosting (!).  Around lunchtime, people come in waves for a slice of whatever type of pizza the creative cooks have crafted (check the website for a list of the daily pizza flavors—or just show up and be surprised). Instead of the usual boring pepperoni for your brood, how about a roasted fresh fennel, arugula, feta cheese, lemon thyme oil, and parsley pizza?

1331 9th Ave.
San Francisco, Ca
415-566-3117
Online: arizmendibakery.com/pizza

Ebisu
Good for the whole family or for a special occasion, this is considered by many to be one of the top sushi restaurants in the Bay Area. It’s been in the ‘hood for 30 years, so it has true staying power. Bring in the entire gang for the full on sushi bar experience in a neighborhood well-known for its Japanese cuisine. Rare red clam sushi and “Rainbow” rolls make this a dynamic and fun experience for your littlest diner on up.

1283 9th Ave.
San Francisco, Ca
415-566-1770
Online: ebisusushi.com

Yummy Yummy
A genial owner who bops around the restaurant makes certain this fun place lives up to its name. Succulent bowls of pho make this the choice for Vietnamese cuisine in the Inner Sunset. The bright dining room is always packed shoulder-to-shoulder with food lovers of all ages. Try the fried rice with a sunny side egg on top.

1015 Irving St.
San Francisco, Ca
415-566-4722
Online: facebook.com

ice-cream-party-birthday-boy

Holy Gelato!
As good as it gets. Marvel at all the luscious flavors including Chocolate Hazelnut and Honey Lavender. This joint works for those with lactose & milk allergies, too, with a dozen vegan options as well as goat’s milk choices. There are special coffee blends to keep moms & dads perky, too, and also some lovely flowering teas great to sip or for gifts as you stroll inside this quirky, cheerful unique neighborhood gem.

1392 9th Avenue
San Francisco, Ca
415-681-3061
Online: holygelato.com

Park Chow
This family-friendly American eatery is always crawling with kids. If your adventurous eater wants to stray from the kids menu, their tasty pastas, pizzas and salads come in three sizes, so there’s a portion for every person in your brood.

1240 9th Ave.
San Francisco, Ca
415-665-9912
Online: chowfoodbar.com

How do you like to take your Sunset stroll? Tell us in the comments below! 

—Mireille Schwartz