Best Place to See a Cross Section of San Franciscans

Dolores Park

Not sure where to bring your friends and family to show off the famed loopiness of the city? New to San Francisco and want a quick rundown of who lives here? A sunny afternoon at Dolores Park can help. The multitiered park is rich with the strata of almost every local stereotype and subdivision you could imagine: among them baton twirlers, drum circle participants, evangelists, purebred dogs with their purebred owners, and loners. The park's top tier (near 20th and Church streets), nicknamed “Dolores Beach,” offers a wistful view not only of downtown San Francisco, but also of toned and tanned gay men, soaking up some vitamin C. Families hang out at the barbecue pits and playground near Dolores and Cumberland, a great place for a birthday party or a swing on the monkey bars. The area near Dolores and 18th streets presents a lovely stretch of grass with a vivid array of folk sleeping off — or on — some controlled substance. (The dealers of said substances can often be found at the bridge near Church and 19th streets — Dolores Park's own retail establishment.) And if you didn't get enough of PE in high school, you can always play a few games of basketball, soccer, or tennis at the courts on the park's lower tier, at 18th and Church streets.

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