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Alta Plaza Park: A Dog-Friendly Paradise in Pacific Heights

Southwest entrance of Alta Plaza Park, at the corner of Scott and Clay Streets
Southwest entrance of Alta Plaza Park, at the corner of Scott and Clay Streets. [Image: Tim Schulz]

Alta Plaza Park - Pacific Heights, San Francisco

Are you looking for a dog-friendly park in San Francisco? If so, Alta Plaza Park in Pacific Heights may be just the dog-walking spot for you and your pup! With expansive grassy fields, a new fenced-in children's playground, tennis courts and stunning views that overlook San Francisco's Marina, Cow Hollow, Presidio, Fort Mason and Alcatraz districts, Alta Plaza Park is a pooch's paradise.

As admins of the official Pacific Heights Dog Owners Group on Facebook, and owners of a dog walking service here in Pacific Heights, we at Pawsitive Strides are obviously very excited about this park! In this review, we'll cover all the important details about this park, from its pet policies to its amenities. So, if you're looking for a great place for your pup to enjoy some outdoor fun, read on for our full review of Alta Plaza Park!

Alta Plaza Park Photos

[Images by Tim Schulz]

A Dog-Friendly Park with Location, Location, Location!

Alta Plaza Park is located in the beautiful Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. A broad, tiered staircase climbs the terraced southern slope of this steep hillside park; when you reach the top, you will find panoramic views of the city and Bay. Trees and benches crown the summit, while nearby are a children’s playground, a basketball court, and tennis courts.

Alta Plaza Park is bounded by Clay, Jackson, Scott, and Steiner streets; the grand staircase rises midway along its southern edge, from Pierce Street. Wheelchair access is from Scott and Jackson.

History of Alta Plaza Park

Once the site of a quarry, Alta Plaza’s nearly 12 acres were purchased by the city in 1877. Although the park was established in 1888, nothing was done to improve the site for 20 years, when Park Superintendent John McLaren took on its landscaping. Like nearby Lafayette Park, Alta Plaza served as a campsite for refugees from the 1906 earthquake and fire.

In 2006, The Friends of Alta Plaza Park (FOAPP) successfully raised over $1.5 million for the Friedman Family Playground, two tennis courts and multipurpose sports court.

 Sunset view from Alta Plaza Park
Sunset view from Alta Plaza Park [Photographer Unknown]

Fun Fact: the Alta Plaza Park Steps

The steps at Alta Plaza are featured in the 1972 film What's Up, Doc? However, during the filming of the Barbra Streisand-Ryan O’Neal movie, they were used without permission and were severely damaged during the signature chase scene in which five cars (a 1969 Plymouth Belvedere Yellow Cab, a Volkswagen Beetle, a black Cadillac Fleetwood limousine and a 1969 Cadillac DeVille Convertible) all drove down the steps, breaking off chunks of concrete. Even today, you can still see the damage caused by the several cars used to stage the scene.

[Photographer Unknown]

Is Alta Plaza Park Dog Friendly?

In short, yes! Alta Plaza Park -- home of the original "Pug Sunday" -- where 50+ pugs and their humans meet on the first Sunday of every month -- is a treat for you & your dog. In fact, we counted over 30 dogs there just yesterday during one of our scheduled group-dog walks in Pacific Heights. At nearly 12 acres (11.9 acres, to be exact), Alta Plaza Park is a dream come true for dogs and their owners alike. From frolicking fetch sessions to leisurely strolls against some of the most scenic views of San Francisco, this park truly encapsulates a paw-some experience.

Lisa, a proud owner of a playful Golden Retriever named Sunny, shares, "As a local resident and dog owner, Alta Plaza Park has been an absolute blessing. Sunny loves the lush grass running areas area, and I've made friends with many fellow dog owners. It's a wonderful community to be a part of.” Lisa is one of many owners in Pacific Heights whose dogs we feature weekly on our Pawsitive Strides SF Instagram Page.

The park is well-manicured and beautifully landscaped, although we recommend bringing your own doggie bags and extra water for your dog. The park is open from 5:00 AM to Midnight daily, but the bathrooms are only open from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. The bathrooms are handicapped accessible and wheelchairs can access the park from the corner of Scott and Jackson. Please keep this in mind if you or your dog are mobility impaired.

'As a local resident and dog owner, Alta Plaza Park has been an absolute blessing' – Lisa R.

While city ordinance now prohibits dogs to run off-leash dogs, many dogs safely run free across myriad dog-friendly zones around the park, including the former off-leash dog-play area located in the park’s southeast corner. We recommend the northwest corner though, as the grass is more well kept, the ocean winds are slowed by large trees and the views are much nicer as you have views of the Bay and the Marina district to the north.

The park's famous steps are located in the center of the south-facing side. On that side are three paved tiers running east to west. The second tier is the location of the former off-leash play area and you'll meet many dog owners at it's western side. Although off-leash walks are now prohibited, and our dog walkers adhere to that ordinance, we see many dog owners letting their pups run free.

At Alta Plaza, there's something for every pup - from (now unofficial) open, off-leash play areas in the southeast corner to the wide, manicured lawns and fun playgrounds where dogs should be leashed. Remember to bring bags to clean up after your furry friend to help keep our beloved park clean for all to enjoy.

Conclusion: Alta Plaza is a Great Place to Walk Your Dog in San Francisco!

Whether you're living in Pacific Heights or just visiting, Alta Plaza Park promises a tail-waggingly good time. Its dog-friendly zones, breathtaking views, and welcoming community spirit make it an unmissable spot for every dog parent.

Can't wait to explore Alta Plaza Park with your four-legged friend? At Pawsitive Strides, we'd love to be a part of your adventure. Schedule a walk with one of our professional dog walkers today and let's create some pawsitive memories together!

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