Hard Times Handbook - Page 8

Our guide to living better, for less, in the recession


Geared more toward artists than athletes, this recently reopened center in Duboce Park is a dream-come-true for creative-leaning folks on a budget. With dark room, dance studio, costume room, meeting spaces, and variety of other opportunities, HMAC is a fantastic and affordable alternative to adult education courses, expensive dance studios, and booked-up theater spaces.

50 Scott. (415) 554-9523


This hidden gem, often overlooked by athletes headed to Mission Cliffs, offers everything your K-12 schools did — without the homework or early call-time. Mission Rec provides a weight area, ping pong tables, squash courts, a dance studio (complete with floor-to-ceiling mirrors and enclosed storage space), basketball court, outdoor playground area, and a full auditorium with stage and curtains (and food prep area).

2450 Harrison. (415) 695-5014


Most people notice the baseball fields first — a full-block expanse of green, grassy oasis in the center of what's still mostly an industrial area. But this city property also offers a well-maintained indoor basketball court, recently revamped playground, decent tennis courts (though lights rarely work), and a dog-friendly area that notoriously extends to the rest of the park when games aren't in session. Not feeling sporty? Check out the infamous mural of O.J. Simpson (who apparently used to frequent the park as a kid) or the fantastic view of the city and the bridge from the south/southeast end of the park.

801 Arkansas. (415) 695-5009


Catering primarily to the very young and the very old, people in the middle can certainly appreciate this classic neighborhood meeting spot. Play badminton, volleyball, or take advantage of the dance studio (where many city dance programs are held). Or just people-watch: weekdays are great for spying toddlers in the big indoor play area or quieter play-and-craft spot; weekends are when older Asian ping pong masters take over.

251 18th Ave. (415) 666-7020


Newish, bright, and clean, this well-loved and well-funded facility also is one of the few with its own Web site (hosted by friends of the Noe Valley Recreation Center). The bright, shiny spot offers indoor and outdoor basketball courts, a playground, baseball field, tennis court, dog park, and (according to parents-in-the-know), an inordinately nice sandbox. Indeed, this spot is known for being especially good for babies and toddlers. Another bonus? A multipurpose room that can be rented for small events features an A/V system, stage area with upgraded theater curtains, and a large movie screen with a projector.

30th Sreet, west of Church. (415) 695-5011. www.noevalleyreccenter.com