Is your playground routine played out? Spice it up by sneaking into one of these schoolyard playgrounds this weekend. OK, you don’t exactly have to sneak, as these top-notch play spaces are open to the public on weekends through the Shared Schoolyards program. Kids can ride bikes, shoot hoops, play on the climbing structures, and, in some cases, wander through the gardens or laze under a tree. We are betting that after finding their favorite, your kids will be begging to go back to school come Saturday morning.

francis scott key

Photo: Francis Scott Key by author

San Francisco

Francis Scott Key School
This well-kept yard in a quiet Outer Sunset neighborhood features an attractive blue surface painted with maps of the world, a charming garden and a playground that’s perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. On weekends, enter through the gates on Kirkham Street.

1530 43rd Ave.
San Francisco, Ca
Online: francisscottkeyschool.org 

sloatPhoto: Commodore Sloat by Amanda Christensen-Boushey

Commodore Sloat School
Near West Portal and Ingleside neighborhoods, surrounded by trees and quiet residential streets, Commodore Sloat offers two yards for riding bikes and playing ball and two climbing structures. Kids will also enjoy walking the brand new painted labyrinth. There’s easy transit access via the K Ingleside, and ample parking. Grab some fresh pastries from Ambrosia Bakery on your way.

50 Darien Way
San Francisco, Ca
Online: sloatparents.org

grattanPhoto credit: Grattan by author

Grattan Elementary
Nestled in adorable Cole Valley, Grattan’s yard is the ultimate in cozy. Most striking is the garden near the entrance on Shrader Street. A path winds through mini-hills planted with natives, and a patio with tables and umbrellas offers a shady place for parents to supervise their kiddos. The smaller lower yard has a play structure and amphitheater steps and seating.

165 Grattan St.
San Francisco, Ca
Online: grattanes-sfusd-ca.schoolloop.com 

webster yardPhoto: Daniel Webster Elementary byRyan Grisso

Daniel Webster Elementary 
Potrero Hill residents have playtime in the bag with this cheerful three-level yard. Unlike the majority of city schools, this one has brand-new turf in an enclosed area, perfect for pick-up games of soccer (there’s even a soccer goal painted on the colorful mural). Other pluses include sweeping vistas and bustling 20th Street just two blocks away, offering loads of eating-out choices (Goat Hill Pizza, we’re looking at you!).

465 Missouri St.
San Francisco, Ca
Online: danielwebster-sf.com

alvaradoPhoto: Alvarado by author

Alvarado School
This yard wins the prize for most awesome play structure, whose many features include a zip rail, climbing wall, criss-cross seesaws, five slides and raised ramps. The picturesque Victorian rooftops of Noe Valley provide a scenic backdrop.

625 Douglass St.
San Francisco, Ca
Online: alvaradoschool.net 

Washington school Berkeley
Photo: Washington Elementary by Joanna Ruthenberg

East Bay

Washington Elementary School
Centrally located in the heart of Berkeley near the UC campus, Washington Elementary shines with a grassy field, large flat yard, basketball hoops, several play structures, small redwood grove, and school garden.

2300 Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr.
Berkeley, Ca
Online: washington.berkeleypta.org 

marin school berkeleyPhoto: Marin Elementary by Shelley Gorham Ruby

Marin Elementary School 
Charming elements like log benches, bright murals, and raised planters create a pleasant place to play in family-friendly Albany. While the blacktop provides lots of space for wide-open play, kids also enjoy running and cycling through the “tunnels” separating the stand-alone classrooms.

1001 Santa Fe Ave.
Albany, CA
Online: marin.ausdk12.org

landels schoolPhoto: Landels by Jennifer Carlson

Peninsula

Landels Elementary
Kids can really stretch their legs in this expansive yard. A big lawn is the main attraction, with the three play structures and many basketball hoops (with intact nets!) playing runners up. Another selling point of Landels is that the yard is situated just at the entrance to the Stevens Creek Trail, making it a good place to start or end a longer walk or bike ride. Parents of smaller tots will appreciate the sand box with diggers and baby swings.

115 West Dana St.
Mountain View, Ca
Online: landels.mvwsd.org

old mill schoolphoto: Old Mill by author

Marin

Old Mill School
In a few years they’ll be able to hike the Dip Sea Trail or mountain bike on Mount Tam, but for now Marin County kids are thrilled with this lovely school yard. Located across from redwood-filled Old Mill Park (where the Dip Sea begins), it features two play structures and a special enclosed ball game pen. One end of the yard has wood chips below and overhanging trees above, giving it an appealing woodsy feel. Don’t forget to stop off at the public library, across the street, on your way home. Enter through the gates on Old Mill Street.

352 Throckmorton Ave.
Mill Valley, Ca
Online: mvschools.org 

Know Before you Go
Not all San Francisco schools participate in the Shared Schoolyard Project. For a complete list, go to sfsharedschoolyard.org.

Also, hit the potty before you go; generally bathrooms remain locked.