California Food and Dining International Student Life The Bay Area Vocabulary

SF’s Best Parks + English Picnic Vocabulary

May 1, 2017

Have you had a picnic at one of San Francisco’s parks? Today we are inspiring you to explore some of San Francisco’s green spaces and learn some English picnic vocabulary. What foods will you bring for your picnic adventure? And which park will you choose?

San Francisco’s Best Parks

Golden Gate Park

San Francisco’s most famous park was actually built to be the West Coast version of New York’s famous Central Park. It is definitely as impressive! Did you know that 13 million people visit Gold Gate Park each year?

It is impossible to see all of Golden Gate Park in one day: it has gardens, playgrounds, lakes, picnic areas, trails for hiking, monuments, and museums (such as the California Academy of Sciences). You might have to plan two trips!

More information: Visit the Golden Gate Park website for more information about the park (and to learn how to get there). When you arrive, go to the McLaren Lodge for a park map.

Twin Peaks

If you are looking for an Instagram-worthy location, Twin Peaks is it. The peaks provide beautiful views of San Francisco! The Twin Peaks are two hills (peaks) that are very close to the center of San Francisco, which is why visitors have such beautiful views of the city. Each peak has a name: Eureka and Noe.

Unlike spaces such as Golden Gate Park, Twin Peaks is not developed. Instead, it is a natural space that is home to many animals and insects (including the Mission blue butterfly).

More information: To get there, take bus 33 or 37.* The buses will not take you all the way to the top (cars are not allowed at the top). You will have to walk 15-20 minutes for the best view.

For the best view from Twin Peaks, visitors must walk to the very top. Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a jacket (even in July or August: it can be windy at the top)!

*To learn more about public transportation in SF, read our Bay Area Transportation Guide.

Glen Canyon

Beautiful Glen Canyon is an excellent place for hiking, relaxing in nature, or playing sports (it has a recreation center, open field, and tennis courts). The area has beautiful wildflowers in the spring and is home to much wildlife.

Locals love Glen Canyon because it is in the middle of the city (next to the Diamond Heights neighborhood). Glen Canyon is the perfect escape to nature!

More information: Visit the Glen Park webpage for information on the park and how to get there.

Mission Dolores Park

Of all the parks on our list, Mission Dolores Park might be the most perfect for a picnic! This park is where locals go on weekends to people-watch, socialize, and enjoy the view of San Francisco. To be like a real local, stop at B. Rite market first for snacks and ice cream.

Here is a tip for picnicking in Mission Dolores Park: arrive early! The park is usually full after 10 am.

More information: Church, Dolores, 18th, and 20th streets surround Mission Dolores Park. To get there, take the Metro J-Church Line. Visit the Mission Dolores Park website for more information on events and use of its fields and tennis courts.

Alamo Park

Alamo Park is famous because of its neighbor: the Painted Ladies houses on the street next to the park. The park has trails and a picnic area . . . plus an interesting Shoe Garden made of old shoes! (We know, it’s strange. This is why we love SF!)

The park was under construction from 2016 until May of 2017: go see the improvements to the picnic area!

More information: To get to park, take buses 5, 6, or 22 (this website will help you plan your trip and so will the park’s website).

Read a little more about San Francisco’s parks with this article on SF’s hidden parks and green spaces. It includes useful maps!

 English Picnic Vocabulary

Before visiting SF’s parks and having a picnic, learn some English picnic vocabulary. How many of these words do you know? (And how many of these items will you need for the perfect picnic?)

(Picnic) Basket

A container made from different materials (wood, fibers, etc.). Picnic baskets hold all of your picnic items, such as food and drinks and plates.


If you aren’t sitting on a picnic bench, then you will need a blanket to sit on!


A cooler is a plastic container that keeps food and drinks cold.


The word “grounds” is similar to the word “area.” In English, we use the expression often: some examples include “picnic grounds,” “park grounds,” and “playground(s).”

Picnic Benches

A bench is a long piece of furniture; picnic benches are two benches + a table.


A thermos is a drink container that keeps drinks very hot or very cold.


“Cutlery” is the word for forks, knives, and spoons.

Saran wrap

Saran wrap is a sheet of plastic that wraps around foods or containers. This word is the name of the specific brand; in American English, it is also the name for the product (even when we use the product made by another company). Another word is “cling wrap”: some English-speaking countries also use the word “cling film.”


Snacks are delicious foods that you eat between meals or as a side dish. Chips, fruits, vegetables, candies, and cookies are all examples of snacks.


“Tupperware” is the name of the company that makes plastic containers. Like saran wrap, this name is now the common word for all plastic containers.


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