San Franciscans are more likely to be accompanied by a canine companion than by a child, and it’s not uncommon to see dogs in the supermarket, shops and even restaurants. The Mission District is similarly a great place to take your dog. But there are some things to know depending on where you are and what you are doing.
When it comes to shopping and dining, you’ll find that attitudes differ depending on whether you are in the hipster part of the Mission or the sleepy, up-and-coming part. Just as California is divided into northern and southern regions that are distinctly different, San Francisco’s Mission District is one region with two flavors. The border dividing those regions is Mission Street. West of Mission Street – from the burgeoning Valencia corridor up to Dolores Park and into the Castro District – you’ll find dogs are welcome in shops. Many stores will even have a bowl of treats for Fido or Fida. Similarly, ample sidewalk seating at the many restaurants means that you’ll have no trouble finding a quiet place for your pooch under the table. Wait staff will often provide water or a treat for your dog.
However, to the east of Mission Street, particularly along rapidly developing 24th Street, dogs are not generally welcome in the shops. Many venues will keep a water bowl filled outside – where your pup is expected to remain. This sleepier part of the Mission hasn’t developed the outdoor dining experience of its partner to the west, so when it comes to restaurants, Rex will need to stay outside, leashed to a bike rack or parking meter.
If you are looking to take your pooch to a park, the Mission has something for everyone. Most parks do not allow dogs off leash, but if your dog is well-behaved, you can feel comfortable letting her run free. The police write tickets for leash violations, so if you catch sight of some blue polyester and a badge, you might want to discretely snap the leash on.
To the west, Dolores Park (on Dolores Street between 18th and 20th) allows dogs off leash. However, even on the coldest day, Dolores Park will have lots of people laying around, so it’s not a great place for dogs to chase a ball.
On the far east side of the Mission, nearly two miles away, on the corner of Cesar Chavez Street and Portrero Avenue, you’ll find Portrero del Sol Park. There is a lot of open grass for dogs. The park also has a large children’s playground and a fenced skateboard park.
Not far from Portrero del Sol is Precita Park. Dogs are not allowed off leash at this sizable strip of grass just south of Cesar Chavez between Folsom and Harrison, but everyone lets their dogs run free. This park is particularly great in the late afternoon and evenings when locals bring their dogs out so that everyone can play
Precita Park is at the base of Bernal Hill, which, while not truly in the Mission District, is super convenient with a huge off-leash area, ample parking, and miles of unpaved trails for you and your pooch. From the Mission District, Bernal Hill Park is easily accessible via Alabama Street and Folsom Street.