San Francisco, CA

Five Small But Great Outdoor Workout Spots in San Francisco

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Is your gym closed or offering only appointments that don’t match your schedule? Has the pandemic hit your wallet hard and you had to cancel your gym membership? Do you have the covid blues and have not done a work out in months? It’s time to pull yourself together.

Herd immunity is ways away, and your turn to get the Covid-19 vaccine may still be months out. But don’t despair. You can start or boost your workout routine today with an outdoor session at any of these great workout spots in neighborhood parks and public spaces open in the southeast quadrant of the city. They’re small and perfect for solo or two-to-three-people group fitness sessions, including weight training, yoga, tai chi, martial arts, dance.

All spots are easily accessible via public transportation, and parking is easy to find around them, so you can carry your gear effortlessly. So gear up, fill up your water bottle, mask up, and head out to one of these small but great outdoor workout spots.

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1. Waller Park (Hayes Valley)

Given its narrow layout and proximity to the residential units on either side of the park, you may feel like you’re intruding on private property, but don’t sweat it. Waller is a public park that runs through a recently built residential community, Alchemy. With more than 100 stair steps of varying grades, flat platforms on four different levels, and an accessibility elevator, this great spot offers many workout options. It’s located right off Market St—with easy access also from Civic Center, Castro and Mission. You can enjoy a post-workout meal at one of the picnic tables or sit by the iconic grand staircase and enjoy the great vista toward downtown and the bay.

Location: Waller St (between Buchanan St and Laguna St)

Open: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

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2. Franklin Square Park (Mission)

Though it’s flanked by two busy streets, its altitude above street level sets this great spot apart and keeps the noise and foot traffic at bay. In the southwest corner of this recently refurbished city park, you can find a hidden gem for a calisthenics workout. It’s outfitted with pristine sets of pull up bars, monkey bars, and parallel bars. Yet there is still room for you and your workout buddy to bring some weights and your mats to do floor exercises.

The workout area is conveniently located next to a gated playground, so if you have a little one who also needs to burn some energy, this is a great dual-purpose spot. And if that was not enough, there is also a large lighted turf soccer field.

Location: Corner of 17th St and Bryant St

Muni access (16th Street and Bryant stop): 22-Fillmore, 27-Bryant, 33-Stanyan

Open: 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.

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3. Decatur Way (SOMA)

A built-in public space at 855 Brannan Apartments, this stunning spot is perfect for those who like to work out later in the afternoon and into the evening. It offers built-in lighting in modern metal trellises that nicely frame and spotlight your workout. When you’re done, grab a protein-rich bowl or burrito next door from El Pipila, a James Beard Award recipient, family-run spot serving fare from Guanajuato, Mexico.

Who knows, if you keep your workout on the quieter side, maybe you’ll even make friends with some of the residents and be invited to their rooftop terrace which offers killer views of downtown.

Location: Decatur Way at 855 Brannan St

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4. Daggett Plaza (Potrero Hill)

Inaugurated only four years ago, this secluded one-acre public space sits on what was once an underused, dead-end street, Daggett. The plaza was built by the developers of the uber modern Potrero 1010 Apartments. It offers play and seating areas, a fenced-off dog run, a public art piece titled "Mission Marsh Bears", and a lawn area.

It’s in the perimeter of the lawn area that you’ll find a great spot for your workout, away from the serene bustle of the small park. The spot’s light color concrete design resembles a miniature Kryptonian landscape out of Superman’s world. It’s even outfitted with a pair of handles embedded in one of the polygonal protrusions, perfect to kick start your journey toward building muscles of steel.

Location: Corner of 16th St and 7th St (1001 16th St)

Open: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

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5. Crane Cove Park (Dogpatch)

Opened in September 2020, the park is an absolutely stellar preservation project in the Union Iron Works National Register Historic District. It is an impressive seven-acre bayfront park in the Port’s Southern Waterfront complete with public restrooms, picnic tables, a wading beach, kayak access to the bay and lawn areas—making it also a perfect destination for a fun day outing.

This is the biggest of the parks listed here, yet there are at least three separate small areas where you can work out under the calm gaze of a heritage shipping crane towering in the middle of the park: in the northern uplands patio next to The Ramp (a San Francisco institution that will be a great place to grab a protein-rich meal after your workout once they reopen), at the edge of the overlook by the crane, or down on the slipway within one of the color ship outlines.

Let the legacy of shipyard iron workers of bygone days be your inspiration as you forge a healthier tomorrow for yourself.

Location: Illinois St and 18th St

Open: 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.

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