Golden Gate Park is a favorite San Francisco destination for visitors and locals alike. Covering over 1,000 acres, Golden Gate Park is 20% larger than New York’s Central Park. Events large and small are hosted here year-round and 13 million people visit annually! In a park that sprawls for miles, it can be difficult to decide what to see during your visit. Below are some of our top picks for your first visit to Golden Gate Park.
San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers
The San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers is about a quarter mile from the east entrance of Golden Gate Park. As you make your way down JFK Drive, you’ll suddenly see beautifully planted flower beds reminiscent of Boston Garden, and a beautiful early-1900s white building behind them. Simply seeing the outside of the Conservatory and the dahlia garden nearby are enough reason to visit, but it is well worth the modest admission cost to go inside and see some incredible exotic plants.
de Young Museum & California Academy of Sciences
As you continue down JFK Drive (about a quarter of a mile), you’ll see the de Young Museum’s view tower winding above you. Both the permanent and traveling exhibits are a treat to peruse and the 360 degree views from the tower above are fantastic.
Across the plaza, the California Academy of Sciences is another sight to see. From their aquarium underground to their living roof, every aspect of this museum is worth the visit. It’s a true San Francisco gem.
Take a stroll around Stow Lake to see the wildlife and then rent a paddle boat or row boat! Beautiful and off the beaten path, Stow Lake is a wonderful place to spend the afternoon.
As you continue down JFK Drive, you’ll eventually come upon a fenced-in field of bison. They may seem out of place in urban San Francisco, but bison have called the area home since the 1890s, and people come from miles around to see them.
What are your favorite places to visit in Golden Gate Park? Join the conversation in the comments section below!