Tenderloin National Forest

Downtown, Civic Center & SoMa

Urban blight is interrupted by bucolic splendor on one of the Tenderloin's grittiest blocks. Once littered with hypodermic needles and garbage, dead-end Cohen Alley has been transformed by a nonprofit artists' collective. A grove of trees is taking root, concrete walls are covered with murals by local artists, and asphalt has been replaced with mosaic pathways and koi ponds. If you feel so inspired – and, really, who wouldn't? – garden tools are available to help maintain SF's scrappiest natural wonder.

This forest is a project of the nonprofit Luggage Store gallery in cooperation with the city of San Francisco, which allows the nonprofit to lease the alley for $1 a year. See the Luggage Store's website for upcoming events in the Tenderloin National Forest, including free clothes mending on the 15th of each month and occasional community pizza-making in the garden-patio pizza oven.

To visit the forest, get in contact at least two hours in advance, and someone will show up to open the door.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Downtown, Civic Center & SoMa attractions

3. SF Camerawork


Since 1974, this nonprofit art organization has championed experimental photo-based imagery beyond classic B&W prints and casual digital snapshots. Since…

4. Luggage Store Gallery


Like a dandelion pushing through sidewalk cracks, this plucky nonprofit gallery has brought signs of life to one of the Tenderloin's toughest blocks for…

5. Bohemian Club

0.31 MILES

San Francisco's infamous, secretive men's club was originally founded by bonafide bohemians – but they couldn't afford the upkeep and allowed the ultra…

6. Asian Art Museum

0.32 MILES

Imaginations race from subtle Chinese ink paintings to seductive Hindu temple carvings and from elegant Islamic calligraphy to cutting-edge Japanese…

7. United Nations Plaza

0.32 MILES

This brick-paved triangle with an often-dry fountain awkwardly commemorates the signing of the UN charter in San Francisco. Most days, UN Plaza offers…

8. San Francisco Main Library

0.35 MILES

A grand light well illuminates SF's favorite subjects: poetry in the Robert Frost Collection, civil rights in the Hormel LGBTQIA Center, SF music zines in…