Reset Rating: C (7 out of 15)

By: Katie Short

Looking for the perfect dog park in San Francisco? With on-site parking? And restrooms? Near Whole Foods so you can also snag that last minute addition for your picnic? The San Francisco Rec and Park Department offers an online tool to narrow down the list of nearly 220 San Francisco parks to the manageable few which fit your needs.

Great idea… in theory. You might be better off calling the department and picking the brain of the person who answers the phone.

    Accessibility: 2.5 out of 3

Zero translation features. English only.

But other than that, it’s not terribly difficult to access.

    Ease of Use: 0.5 out of 3

There is a complete lack of guidance for some of the features (reviewed in The Guide, below), which makes it difficult to fully exploit the extent of the service.

Also, when you choose destinations like “Children’s Play Area” in conjunction with “Swimming,” you are not getting locations with both features. Instead, you are populating the map with both swimming options and playgrounds, and you have to search around to find where the two might coincide.

There are “Destination Features,” which you can use to narrow the list of parks. However, you might get a map with options that includes one or more of the features you chose; selecting features does not limit your map to parks with all of the chosen features. You have to hunt around, again, for the park that still fits the bill.

    Design: 1.5 of 3

So the page starts out looking pretty, but if you go to select one of the destination types, like “Children’s Play Area,” and then you want to select “Swimming,” the zoomed out image of the Bay Area prevents you from discerning the individual icons. You have to zoom in and move the window around to find each individual park.

    The Guide: 0.5 out of 3

There’s no Help or FAQ feature for this mapping service, which wouldn’t be as problematic if some of the options were more intuitive. From the “Destination Type” menu, it is unclear what a “Natural Area” is compared to a “Park.” And how does a “Rec Center” differ from a “Sport Complex”? Or is “GGP Facility” really Golden Gate Park facilities?

    User Feedback: 2 out of 3

So, as mentioned in the previous review of the Recreation and Parks site, there is a feedback mechanism for the department, but not specifically for their online presence. This feedback mechanism isn’t clearly presented (it is hidden within the Rec & Parks About Us page, under the “Comments & Feedback” link).

And while they appear to aggregate feedback and publicly display it, they seem to only display praise, not criticism. Really? Is that accurate?

A Perfect Park in San Francisco?! How do I find this website?

Begin at and from there, select “Parks and Open Spaces” from the main menu.

Once on the “Parks and Open Spaces” page, select “Parks Map” from the right-hand side of the double-columned menu, and you’re there.