Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate ParkGolden 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
Get Lost in Golden Gate Park
Spend an Afternoon in Golden Gate Park
The Bison of Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park
This huge urban park includes some 412 hectares (1,017 acres) of landscaped grounds, as well as some of the city's leading museums and a botanical garden. While Frederick Law Olmsted, responsible for New York's Central Park, believed that the arid landscape here would never support a park of this scale or size, his ideas influenced William Hammond Hall, who was selected to design the park. Hall embraced the mix of carefully crafted "natural" areas along with the more-formal gardens that characterize Olmsted's creations. Today, Golden Gate is one of the United States' most popular urban parks, though even with 13 million visitors arriving each year, there's plenty of green space, and pastoral peace and serenity, to go around.