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The Very Best Places to Park It While Dolores Is Closed for the Next 14 Months

Ian Eck | March 7, 2014 | Lifestyle Story City Life

A few months overdue and a couple mill over budget, the renovation of the northern half of Dolores Park shall begin at last. The city is closing the north half of the park on March 13 for renovations that are expected to last for seven months, after which the southern half will be closed and renovated for another seven months. Besides the welcome addition of new bathrooms, the renovation plans to change little about how the park looks.

That’s nice, but what does the closing hold for the immediate future? Will the free-wheeling libertines of the north side have to scrunch up next to the more family-oriented south side? Will Gay Beach be overrun by lawn gamers and football tossers? The landscape of Dolores Park has shifted before; perhaps the stage is set for another transformation.

No matter how the ecosystem eventually shakes out, one thing’s for sure: for the next 14 months, all you sun bathers, yoga performers, and tall can sippers are gonna have to either squeeze into the remaining eight acres of grass or head elsewhere for your lazy Sunday fun. Lucky for you, there are more than enough outdoor alternatives in the city. And whatever your flavor of park fun may be, we have a substitute lined up for you:

For the dog-lover: With lax leash laws and a substantial dog park, Duboce Park is where it’s at for a game of fetch and a good roll around in the grass with your best pal. You could also check out other local dog parks at the Eureka Valley Rec Center and the Upper Noe Valley Rec Center.

For the sportsman: Head over to Frat Mason. Sure, the crowd is cleaner-cut, and the color palette gets a bit pastel, but the people like to romp around in the sun all the same. Whether it’s corn-hole, volleyball, or spikeball, these fratstars come ready for anything. Be sure to bring you’re A-game though. Bros don’t play like that.

For the “Looking” crowd: Don’t fret. You’re beloved vantage point at the southwest corner will remain untouched by the construction. For now. But enjoy it while you can, because renovations of the south side of the park will commence once the north side is finished.

For the Instagram-inclined: Aquatic Park, Marina Green, and Fort Point all give stunning views of the North Bay and Golden Gate Bridge (Fort Point, especially, provides some up-close-and personal views of the iconic structure—get creative). If you’re looking for something more inland, sit at the top of Corona Heights. It’s like a more intimate version of Twin Peaks and the perfect spot to cuddle up to that special someone. Let your eyes trace the length of Market Street up to the Bay Bridge. Meditate over the ant-like sprawl at your feet, feeling at once the largeness and smallness of yourself and your place within the whole messy spectrum. Then snapchat that shit.

For the hip at heart: Scout your possible future living situations in the East Bay. Lake Merritt provides ample views of downtown Oakland, and a walk around the lake will have you mingling with a diversity of people that rivals the Dolores you know and love. If you're looking to get even further away from it all, take a hike in the magical realm of Redwood Regional Park.

For the high at heart: Mosey into Golden Gate Park and explore its Tolkien-esque depths. Work your way through the phenomenal Disc Golf Course, take a walk around Lily Pond (Formerly Hobo Lake), or have a picnic on Hippie Hill. If you can weather the scuzz of the scene, it can actually be quite tranquil. Just listen. Floating on that skunky breeze you can still hear echoes of Jerry, Janis, and Jefferson Airplane.

For the beer snob: Stroll into one of the city’s glorious beer gardens. We like Zeitgeist in the Mission and Biergarten in Hayes Valley, but look around and you'll find plenty of outdoor drinking venues in the city. Get outside with some good people, good food, and good beery conversation.

For the Federer fan: Apparently people play tennis at Dolores Park. If that’s your thing, check out local alternatives at the nearby Mission Playground, the Eureka Valley Rec Center, and the Peixotto Tennis Courts.

For the yuppie transplant: Check out one of those delightful new Mission hangouts. You know, the cute, cleaned-up ones. They may be less spicy (and more pricey) than Farolito, but, you know, they’re just...nice. Take El Techo on Mission Street. The rooftop gives you a great view of the city and puts you well above all those unpleasant odors and roving hobos on the sidewalks, allowing you to nod your head and say without irony, "The Mission is cool."

For the entertainer of out-of-towners: Alamo Square gives you some beautiful views of the city, and you can even check out those colorful Painted Ladies.

For the cold water and pot truffle entrepreneur: You probably have a scheme worked out already. But perhaps you’ll find some helado- and truffle-buyers amongst the disc golfers in Golden Gate Park. As for your hand-made wares? We hear Etsy is doing great things these days.

For the people who just want to drink a beer in a park: The Panhandle, though it sees less sun than Dolores, is a great place to lay out with an IPA. Alamo Square and Duboce also tolerate light drinking and smoking, while Lafayette Park provides one of the mellower park scenes in the city.

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