San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is getting a Ferris wheel for its birthday. April 4, 2020, marks the 150th anniversary of the park’s founding, and the city is set to celebrate with a year’s worth of activities and events. Most exciting for locals and travelers alike? The 150-foot, illuminated observation wheel that will spin in the Music Concourse pavilion in the middle of the park near such popular attractions as the California Academy of Sciences and the Japanese Tea Garden.
The wheel’s 36 cars can accommodate six people each and are climate controlled—in this notoriously foggy part of the City by the Bay, we’re betting people will be just as excited about a heated escape as they will be about the views, which will stretch from the ocean to downtown San Francisco.
This isn’t the first time the park has hosted a giant Ferris wheel. Over a century ago, the 120-foot Firth Wheel was a major attraction during the 1894 Midwinter International Exposition. The fair actually influenced the development of Golden Gate Park—its footprint evolved into what is now the Music Concourse, which is the focal point of the park and (bringing things full circle, so to speak) the location of the new, temporary wheel.
It’s a fitting addition—albeit a temporary one—to vibrant Golden Gate Park. Besides well-known art and cultural institutions such as the Academy of Sciences, the de Young Museum, and the Conservatory of Flowers, the park’s 1,017 acres are also home to a host of quirky, charming, and nostalgic attractions. Visitors can take a spin on a 1914 carousel, which appeared at the 1939 World’s Fair; marvel at two full-size (though no longer operational) Dutch windmills; watch members of the oldest model yacht club in the country (founded in 1898) race their creations; see a tiny herd of huge bison roam in their paddock; or stumble on all manner of hidden gardens, gazebos, groves, and lakes while wandering the many walking paths.
What you’ll be able to see from the Ferris wheel
When the fog cooperates, visitors will be able to see the Pacific Ocean to the west, the mouth of San Francisco Bay in the north, all the way out to downtown San Francisco in the east, and sprawling views of Golden Gate Park all around. Keep your eyes peeled for the pyramidal Transamerica building poking up from the dense downtown and the Point Bonita lighthouse in the Marin Headlands on the other side of the bay. You may even be able to see the top of the Golden Gate Bridge over the cluster of trees that marks the Presidio.
The Ferris wheel will launch during an anniversary party on April 4, 2020, and operate through March 1, 2021. The 12-minute ride will be $18, or $12 for seniors and children under 13. Rides will be free during the April 4 celebration.
Not going to make it while the wheel is spinning? The structure is roughly as tall as the nearby de Young Museum’s observation deck, so you can still take in the same sights—just in a more stationary way.