Golden Gate Park was formed out of an expanse of sand dunes to the west of the city in the nineteenth century—a history that is still discernible in the rolling topography of much of the park’s more than 1,000 acres. Over 13 million people visit the array of gardens, lakes, trails, museums, and monuments each year. Some of the most popular attractions are clustered to the east, including the de Young art museum, the California Academy of Sciences, and the Japanese Tea Garden. A little farther on is Stow Lake, the largest body of water in the park and a good spot for boating and strolling. Just past Spreckels Lake is a bizarre sight: a herd of American bison. Generations of these iconic beasts have been kept in the park since 1892; they mostly stand around the paddock like idling, hairy bulldozers. Children enjoy seeing the Dutch Windmill at the west edge; they may not be so fussed about the nearby Tulip Garden, but they’ll like the waterfowl pond in the Botanical Garden and the carnivorous plants in the Conservatory of Flowers. There are three playgrounds, too; the Koret contains a colorful working carousel from 1914. Active visitors can tour the park by Segway or check out the golf course, the disc golf course, or the archery field. Festivals take place throughout the year, and the Music Concourse hosts free concerts on Sundays in the summer.
SF Rose Society
The San Francisco Rose Society puts on some beautiful shows in Golden Gate Park. It’s great if you’re interested in gardening, want to take some photos, or are just looking for a relaxing activity in the park.
Get Lost in Golden Gate Park
You could spend days in Golden Gate Park and still find gems to discover. The 1,107-acre space offers everything from top-notch museums and a botanical garden to Dutch windmills and a bison paddock. When it comes to exploring, the options are as varied as the sites: cruise on a bike, join the locals for a jog, rent a rowboat at Stow Lake, or hop on a free shuttle bus. Be sure to check out the Japanese tea garden, the oldest in the U.S.; the California Academy of Sciences, home to a four-story rain forest and an albino alligator; and the Conservatory of Flowers, a stunning, all-white Victorian building. No matter how you traverse the park or what you visit, you’ll leave with an appreciation for its natural bounty and cultural offerings.
Spend an Afternoon in Golden Gate Park
In the center and western part of San Francisco is Golden Gate Park, 1,017 acres of natural beauty within the city. Along with miles of trails for running, biking, and walking, you’ll find lakes, botanical gardens, museums, windmills, and dozens of picnic areas within the park. You could spend an entire day here without getting bored—check out the Conservatory of Flowers, the California Academy of Sciences and the de Young Museum, the two Dutch windmills, Strawberry Hill, the buffalo pen, and, of course, the Pacific Ocean at the park’s western edge. Rent bikes at the main entrance to the park on Haight and Stanyan Streets to make sure you can cover all the ground you need to. Visit the website or stop by McLaren Lodge—San Francisco’s Recreation & Parks Department headquarters located at the eastern edge of Golden Gate Park—for more information.
The Bison of Golden Gate Park
The bison in Golden Gate Park don’t exactly shout “Wild West,” but they are huge animals with a very historical reputation right in the center of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Whether you walk, bike, or drive past, stop by and watch these American animal legends. (Oh and check that, bison don’t typically shout at all, they are quiet grunters. )
Windmill in Golden Gate Park
If you have time just walk around Golden Gate Park. It’s a great way to spend the weekend in SF, and there are so many great trails!
A beautiful place to walk in the spring
In the many times I have been to San Francisco I had never made it to Golden Gate park. I remedied that last spring when it was in full bloom. What a glorious afternoon
Another part of the park
Follow the Light in Golden Gate Park
If you’re looking for the best way to experience the largest urban park in the United States, lace up those shoes and head out for a long walk or jog through the magical Golden Gate Park of San Francisco. There are so many trails to choose from that there isn’t enough room to explain. Just know that you have endless ways to soak up this majestic park by foot. My favorite route includes hitting the path from The Panhandle and following the dirt jogging track along John F. Kennedy drive past the Conservatory of Flowers, De Young Museum, and disc golf course, and finishing up near Spreckels Lake (just before the buffaloes). See SF at her best on the trails of Golden Gate Park.
Spring in the park
is an amazing time to go. Rent a bike and meander around. You can be in there for hours, there is just so much to do and see.
Golden Gate Bridge