Of the 220 parks and green spaces that San Francisco boasts, Golden Gate Park is perhaps the most well-known: 13 million people visit each year! Music theaters, museums, botanical gardens, lakes, tennis courts, bird watching areas . . . there is something for everyone in San Francisco’s most famous park. Following are suggestions for a beautiful day at Golden Gate Park. Enjoy!
A Day at Golden Gate Park
Morning: Stroll around the Japanese Tea Garden
Created for the 1894 California Exposition, Golden Gate’s Japanese Tea Garden is the oldest tea garden in the United States. It offers visitors five acres of beautifully manicured Japanese maples, bamboo, wisteria, bonsai, and cherry trees. Stroll through the grounds and enjoy the Zen garden, koi ponds, the beautifully carved wooden gates, stone lanterns, and five-story pagoda from 1915.
The Japanese Tea Garden is located at 7 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, at the northwestern edge of the Music Concourse, near Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Visit the website for more information.
Lunch: Picnic at the Chain of Lakes
Before there was Golden Gate Park, there were 14 lakes in this area; today, five of these lakes remain, making up the “Chain of Lakes.” This beautiful, quiet area is the perfect place to escape and have a picnic during your day at Golden Gate Park.
It is hard to believe that such a peaceful place exists in the middle of a busy city. Wildlife fills the area, and local birds provide beautiful music for joggers. Birdwatchers flock to the area to see these birds, including tanagers, warblers, and vireos. The North Lake is home to larger birds, including the beautiful heron and migrating ducks.
The Chain of Lakes stretch along Chain of Lakes Drive from Martin Luther King Jr. Drive at the park’s southern end to Fulton Street, at its northern edge. For more information, visit its website.
Afternoon: Visit the California Academy of Sciences
After a walk through the Japanese Tea Garden and a peaceful picnic at the Chain of Lakes, learn a little about the natural world with a trip to the California Academy of Sciences. The oldest scientific institution in the western United States, the California Academy of Sciences was founded in San Francisco in 1853. The Academy is home to many natural exhibits, including an aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum. Additionally, it is a groundbreaking research and educational institution: Academy scientists conduct research in 11 fields of study, and the Academy boasts a collection of over 26 million specimens!
The mission of Golden Gate Park is to “explore, explain, and protect the natural world,” so it comes as no surprise that the building itself was also designed with “nature” in mind. Inspired by “green” architecture, architect Renzo Piano created the Rainforests of the World dome, the world’s largest all-digital planetarium, the Philippine Coral Reef, Water Planet, and a “living” roof garden of native plants.
The California Academy of Sciences is located on the southern edge of the Music Concourse, in the eastern section of Golden Gate Park. Visit its website for more info.
Enjoy your trip to one of the most beautiful places in San Francisco!
Cover photo source.