Yerba Buena Gardens covers 2 blks. between Third and Fourth sts. and Mission and Folsom sts. This is one of downtown San Francisco's loveliest green retreats. The 5-acre Esplanade is graced with a grassy lawn, shade trees and bench-lined walkways landscaped with ornamental plants and flowers, while the Upper Terrace Garden, planted with evergreen shrubs, features a large reflecting pool with a view of lofty office buildings as a backdrop. The setting is perfect for strolling, relaxing or grabbing a bite to eat from one of the adjacent casual eateries (this is a fave spot for office workers to have lunch and enjoy a bit of fresh air).
The design of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial incorporates a 10-foot-high, 50-foot-wide waterfall. It cascades in front of glass panels that are set in granite and inscribed with quotations from King's speeches and poems. Artist Terry Allen's whimsical “Shaking Man” greets passers-by on the Esplanade's terrace level with three sets of hands and feet that give this sculpture a multidimensional appearance.
On select days from May to October, the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival presents free outdoor programs on three different stages. The schedule includes music, theater and dance performances, children's programs and cultural events.