Stairs to tennis courts and basketball court in Sterling Park.

George Sterling Park

San Francisco

'Homeward into the sunset/Still unwearied we go/Till the northern hills are misty/With the amber of afterglow.' Poet George Sterling's poem 'City by the Sea' seems impossibly romantic – but when you watch the sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge from his namesake hilltop park, you'll see his point of view. This is the ideal vantage point to appreciate the town Sterling called 'the cool grey city of love.'

Sterling was a great romancer of all San Francisco offered – nature, idealism, free love, and opium – and was frequently broke. A genuine SF eccentric, he carried a lethal dose of cyanide as a reminder of life's transience – and he became the toast of Nob Hill's secretive, elite Bohemian Club, where he often caroused and crashed. Broken by his ex-wife's suicide and the loss of his best friend, novelist Jack London, the 'King of Bohemia' apparently took his bitter dose in 1926 inside his Bohemian Club apartment. Influential friends honored him by dedicating this park to his memory, with its meandering paths and stirring, Sterling views.

If you're not breathless from these hilltop vistas, play tennis on the adjacent public court named after San Francisco's 1930s tennis champ Alice Marble, who recovered from tuberculosis to win Wimbledon – and serve during WWII as a US secret agent among Nazis. Sure puts a little post-tennis panting into perspective.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby San Francisco attractions

1. Lombard Street

0.11 MILES

You’ve seen the eight switchbacks of Lombard St's 900 block in a thousand photographs. The tourist board has dubbed it ‘the world’s crookedest street,’…

2. Filbert Street Hill

0.14 MILES

With a 31.5% grade, the honor of steepest street in San Francisco is shared by Filbert St and 22nd St in the Castro. Filbert is shorter, but wins top…

3. Jack Kerouac's Love Shack


This tiny cottage on a quiet alley was the source of major drama from 1951 to 1952, when Jack Kerouac shacked up with Neal and Carolyn Cassady and their…

4. Lombard Financial Center Mosaics


A couple years ago, blighted trees in front of this bank were cut down and a treasure hidden for almost half a century was revealed: mosaics by California…

5. Diego Rivera Gallery

0.25 MILES

Diego Rivera's 1931 The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City is a trompe l'oeil fresco within a fresco, showing the artist himself pausing to…

6. San Francisco Art Institute

0.25 MILES

Since the 1870s, SFAI has been at the vanguard of Bay Area art movements – including 1960s Bay Area abstraction, 1970s conceptual art and 1990s new-media…

7. Macondray Lane

0.28 MILES

The scenic route down from Ina Coolbrith Park – via steep stairs, past gravity-defying wooden cottages – is so charming, it looks like something from a…

8. Ghirardelli Square

0.33 MILES

Willy Wonka would tip his hat to Domingo Ghirardelli (gear-ar-deli), whose business became the West’s largest chocolate factory in 1893. After the company…