Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

4.5 out of 5 stars 105 Reviews

501 Stanyan St, San Francisco, CA 94117 (415) 831-2700

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  • Tulip Gardens During August
    Tulip Gardens During August
    by TooTallFinn24
  • Golden Gate Park
    by TooTallFinn24
  • Golden Gate Park
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  • solopes's Profile Photo

    Beautiful park

    by solopes Updated Oct 29, 2014

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    If "our" August was not so cold, and if Fernanda was not so indisposed, we would have appreciated more this paradisiacal park.

    It must be nice for locals to have such a relaxing area (in hot days...).

    Marriage - San Francisco - USA San Francisco - USA San Francisco - USA
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    San Francisco's Windmills in Golden Gate Park

    by TooTallFinn24 Updated Aug 30, 2014

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    As a child growing up in nearby South San Francisco and San Bruno I often wondered why there were two windmills so near Golden Gate Park. The windmills themselves had missing vanes and the grounds were in disrepair. It wasn't until years later I learned their history.

    History

    The landscape comprising Golden Gate Park in the was far different than it is today. The area at the time had significant sand dunes and little vegetation. So when the City began to lay out Golden Gate Park there was a concern as to how to provide the water to irrigate the area.

    The Dutch Windmill was immensely successful. So successful, in fact, that by 1905 preparation for a second, larger mill was underway. This second mill became know as the 'Murphy Windmill', after Samual G. Murphy, a wealthy banker who donated $20,000 towards its construction. Golden Gate Park flourished with this water source for nearly ten years,

    With the advance of electric motorized pumps the windmills fell into non use. Water could now be pumped faster and in larger quantities to Golden Gate Park. The windmills fell into disrepair. In the 1930's one of the windmills was heavily damaged. During World War 2 a good portion of the metal in the windmill was salvaged for the war effort. Vandals were a continual problem and the Dutch cottage adjacent to the one wind mill fell into complete disrepair.

    A Citizens Commission restoration effort led by Eleanor Rossi Crabtree in 1964 was formed for the Dutch Mill. It took her nearly seventeen years to restore the first windmill. The Dutch Mill was restored in 1981. The Queen Wilhelmina Tullip Garden is located next to the Dutch Mill.and declared a San Francisco landmark. if you are in San Francisco during March or April the tulip garden and the windmill makes for some great pictures.

    The adjacent Murphy Windmill lay neglected for years after the rehabilitation of the first windmill. Plans for the Murphy Mill restoration began in 2002 with a reopening in 2012

    Today both windmills continue to draw tourists both as an attraction and a place to have lunch during a visit to Golden Gate Park. Just a short walk up John F. Kennedy Drive is the Bison herd that has been housed in the park for many years. Kids will enjoy watching the buffaloes.

    Directions from Union Square;

    Assuming everyone will take public transporation;

    For easiest directions plug in 511.org for transit directions and exact times of buses

    1. Follow the Barbary Coast Trail with a few zags down to Geary and Stockton Street
    2. Take the 38 L Muni Bus toward 48th Street
    3. Get off at 48th Street and Point Lobos about 40 mins.
    4. Walk down Point Lobos to Balboa Street
    5. Turn night then left on Balboa and go west toward the ocean
    6. Turn right on the Great Highway
    7 Turn left on John F . Kennedy

    Will take you about 50-55 mins. cost $2.50 or less

    Windmills of Golden Gate Park Tulip Gardens During August

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    Best Free Thing #7: Kid stuff

    by goodfish Updated Nov 4, 2013

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    Looking at backsides from a stroller all day gets old in a hurry so give the wee folk (and yourself) a break at the Koret Children's Quarter. This awesome kid's heaven has been a park fixture since 1887 and is said to be the nation's very first public playground. The equipment is thankfully not original - it's been recently updated with everything a tot could desire: swings, slides, stuff to climb on, jungle gyms, playhouses, sand piles and water-play area. Large parts are also covered with a soft, cushioned surface to reduce skinned knees. Restrooms are nearby - nice for the recently potty-trained set. Most of the activities are geared for kids 3 and up but there's enough to keep the toddlers busy too.

    There's a small concession stand for drinks and snacks, and a fabulous carousel; not free but only $1 for kids 6-12, and $2 for a grownup with a little one under 5 and under.

    Bring a picnic for lunch on the lawn, bandaids, wet wipes and a dry, clean change of clothes for after enthusiastic play in the puddles. And do keep a sharp eye on them - this is not a secured (fenced) area so make sure they don't wander away or are approached by strangers.

    See the park map for location:
    http://www.sfgov.org/site/recpark_page.asp?id=17796

    See the website below for parking (if driving), hours and operating times for the carousel. Wish I had more pix but parents are understandably nervous with shutter bugs around their kids so just a quick shot from a distance here.

    Part of the playground Giddiyup
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    Bison and Turtles and Ducks, Oh My!

    by Rixie Updated Dec 29, 2012

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    Golden Gate Park is a bus ride from downtown, but well-worth the effort. It's a long, narrow park with more acreage than New York's Central Park; it offers something for everyone. Just a few of the things you can do in the Park:

    ·Take a ride on one of the few remaining wooden carousels in the country.

    ·Visit San Francisco's herd of bison in the buffalo paddock.

    ·Sip a cup of green tea in the Japanese Tea Garden.

    ·Whiz through the Park on rented roller blades, bikes, or Segways.

    ·Walk through a huge greenhouse, the Conservatory of Flowers, that contains waterfalls and 2,000 types of plants.

    ·Rent a pedal boat on Stow Lake for a closeup look at the turtles and ducks.
    ·See a real Dutch windmill.

    ·Buy a ticket to the Academy of Sciences and see the planetarium, rainforest exhibit, and the Steinhart Aquarium.

    Be sure to download a map of the park before you go. It's a large park, and you could wander around all day if you don't know where you're going.

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    Queen Wilhemina Tulip Garden

    by machomikemd Updated Mar 17, 2012

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    the Queen Wilhemina Tulip Garden is located just Beside the famous Dutch Windmill and together, they are one of the most popular areas of the Sprawling Golden Gate Park and the site of many Instant Weddings (see my off the beaten path tips). The Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden, planted just below the Dutch Windmill, features thousands of tulips interspersed with Icelandic poppies, which burst into full bloom during the spring season in March and April. Without Queen Wilhelmina (grandmother of the existing Dutch queen, Beatrix), the Dutch Windmill would not exist in Golden Gate Park because it was she who donated the structure to the city in 1902. Admission is free.

    parking is available at Ocean Beach at John F. Kennedy Dr. and the Great Highway or at the UCSF Medical Center Garage at Irving St. near 3rd Ave. Parking at Ocean Beach is free and you would just walk across the great highway to the Park. It's a must see in the Golden Gate Park.

    the garden popular for weddings too hehehehe to the garden pose
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    Big, Big Park!

    by machomikemd Updated May 29, 2011

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    The Ginourmous Golden Gate Park is over 45 city blocks of area with various themes within it's sprawling environs. It is even larger then New York City's Famed Central park! (it is 1017 acres as compared to 843 acres of Central park). In the late 1800s, a Scotsman named John McLaren (he has a separate park named after him in the edge of San Francisco) transformed more than 1,000 acres of sand dunes into a wondrous haven in the midst of busy city life. Stretching from Stanyan Street to the Pacific Ocean, the lush landscaping features ever-changing settings at every turn. There are trails for walking, jogging, biking, horseback riding, as well as a golf course, lawn bowling greens, soccer fields and a baseball diamond.

    The things to see and activities to participate in are so extensive, it would be hard to take it all in with one day-trip.

    along the golden gate park Eco Tripping Old Picture at conservatory of Flowers pics Not Much a Fan of Parks the famous dutch windmill
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    Dutch Windmill

    by machomikemd Updated May 29, 2011

    the dutch windmill is the most photographed part of the sprawling Golden Gate Park and it recently renovated due to the deteriorating conditions of this Landmark in The Golden Gate Park. The Dutch Windmill was built in 1902, at a cost of $16,000, together with a Dutch Cottage alongside which was occupied by the mill's caretaker. 75 feet high, and 33 feet in diameter at the base, is sails had a span of 102 feet and meant it was capable of pumping 30,000 gallons of fresh water per hour from underground to a reservoir on Strawberry Hill. Walking or Jogging along the Great Highway and Ocean Beach and one will see this cultural icon. Just beside this cultural icon of the Golden Gate Park is the Queen Wilhelmina Garden where many couples have their wedding vows (see my off the beaten path tips).

    the dutch windmill renovation a tribute me at windmill cruising at great highway
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    Strybing Arboretum

    by mydreamquest Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    I fell in love with this free display of plants, flowers, trees from all over the world. If you are a horticulturalist, collect flowers, love trees, or just love to walk in nature away from the traffic of Lincoln Way, then enter into Golden Gate Park from 9th Avenue and Lincoln. To your right will be softball fields, to your left will be the arboretum.

    The are many pathways leading to different themes from California plants/trees to Australian, to Asian, and even Chilean. I loved the Chile section the most. There is a map that you can refer to from the Martin Luther King Drive Entrance as shown here.

    I loved the Japanese Maples, they were incredible. If you can, study the trees and the leaves, types of flowers they produce, type of wood, and shapes of the branches.

    Now that I've been working on my backyard, I found this quite interesting. In the California Section, the idle lonely throngs of orange flowers is the state flower: the california poppy.

    There are over 7,500 species of plants, trees, and shrubs from all over the world.

    Admission: Free
    Hours: 8AM to 4:30Pm Weekdays; 10AM to 5pm on Weekends.

    Entrance to Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park
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    Golden Gate Park

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The park is one of AAA's starred attractions in San Francisco. Many of the features in the park also merit a star. Golden Gate park was one of the places I visited with my parents and my two girls in 1966.

    The park was created by John McLaren, a Scotsman, out of waste land. He arrived in San Francisco in the 1870s, and by 1890 he had established grass, trees and numerous plants in an environment most thought too barren for lush foliage.

    From the website: "The Free Golden Gate Park Shuttle is expected to resume permanently in Spring 2003. Route description: Starting at McLaren Lodge on the eastern edge of Golden Gate Park and traveling to Ocean Beach and returning, the Park Shuttle picks up passengers at 15-minute intervals at 15 locations throughout the Park, many of which conveniently connect with MUNI bus stops. Well-marked Park Shuttle stops are located near all major Park attractions, including the Conservatory of Flowers, Academy of Sciences, National AIDS Memorial Grove, Japanese Tea Garden, Strybing Arboretum, Stow Lake, Buffalo Paddock, the Polo Fields, and the Beach Chalet. Rides are free, and visitors may embark/disembark at any Shuttle stop location. During the program, service is available on weekends and holidays 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. "

    The park is open 24 hours. Certain roads are closed to automobiles on Sunday. There are free guided tours of various parts of the park. We took advantage of some of the tours.

    Gardens from the Greenhouse 1966 Postcard from the past
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    Wander through Golden Gate Park

    by vichatherly Updated Jul 15, 2010

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    I suppose you could compare Golden Gate Park in San Francisco with Central Park in New York, although Golden Gate Park is larger.

    It is a lovely green park, where you can get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and just relax in the numerous gardens and watery groves. We didn't have time to go into any of the museums that are here, but spent an enjoyable few hours wandering through to find the visitor centre, where we hoped to by our US National Park pass. Unfortunately, as we were there on a Saturday, the visitor centre was closed.

    Not to worry...we still enjoyed the walk.

    Golden Gate Park Golden Gate Park Golden Gate Park Golden Gate Park Golden Gate Park
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    Rehydrate at Beach Chalet

    by goodfish Updated Jul 8, 2010

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    We'd plodded the entire stretch of the park (and then some) so were good and thirsty by the time we reached Ocean Beach. What's this?? Nirvana! A microbrewery with an outdoor oasis, live band and heaps of happy humans lounging in the sunshine! OK, we're in.

    The chalet is a 1920's-era structure which once offered changing rooms for beach-goers and later served a short stint as a barracks. Today it contains a second-floor eatery with sweeping views of the ocean (Beach Chalet Brewery and Restaurant), a more casual bar/cafe with outdoor seating on the first floor (Park Chalet Garden Restaurant), and a visitor center for Golden Gate Park. It also retains some great murals, mosaics and carvings produced in 1930's under the WPA program.

    Give it a go to see the artwork and swill a couple of their microbrews on the lawn. Can't vouch for the food 'cause we didn't eat but the place was packed so it must be good. See the website for brew list, hours, events, weekend music schedule, happy hours, menus and other stuff.

    Sunning on Sunday - Park Chalet garden Swimwear has changed since the '30s? Another mural Ocean side of the Chalet
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    Best Free thing #6: Shake your tail feathers

    by goodfish Updated Jun 1, 2010

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    We stumbled upon this by accident- what a hoot! Every Sunday (well, almost every Sunday) you can cut a rug at Lindy In The Park: a 15-year, outdoor swing-dance tradition that requires nothing more than showing up in your boogie shoes. They provide music ranging from big band to jazz combos and even a free lesson for beginners. Heck, they'll even match you with a partner, if traveling solo. Yup, we put last year's ballroom dance class to the test, ditched the backpacks and took a few turns with the crowd of enthusiastic hoppers. Great fun - all ages welcome.

    The event runs from 11:00 - 2:00 with novice lessons from 12:00 - 12:30.
    Cancelled only for rain or a very large park event.

    See the website for location, pictures and other details.

    Everybody dance! A one and a two and a....
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    Flower Power

    by goodfish Updated May 20, 2010

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    The park is cleverly planted so that there's something interesting to look at whatever the season. If you're seriously into botanicals, you'll go nuts here. I couldn't tell you the names of most of the blooming flora along our springtime walk but it didn't really matter; the eye candy was enough.

    Below is a webpage that tells you what blossoms/foliage you'll see in any given month.

    Calla lilies, Golden Gate Park Bunch of purple somethings Orange stuff Tiny white bell-thingies Fuzzy lilac whatchacallits
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    Pea soup paddle

    by goodfish Written May 19, 2010

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    You can rent motor, paddle or rowboats by the hour on Stow Lake. It's not a swimming lake and the water looked pretty thick and nasty anyway so being ON rather than IN it is preferable. The boathouse is on the southwest side of the of the lake and they rent bikes and blades too. Best information I can get is that watercraft rent for around $20 - $25 an hour, depending on the type, with a maximum of 4 allowed in each boat - including infants. The rental office is open daily from 9:00 - 5:00 (last rentals at 4:00) weather permitting, and they don't take credit cards - cash only.

    If San Francisco's hills have trashed your knees, go for the rowboat - then you can trash your shoulders too and even things out.

    See the park map for location:

    http://www.parks.sfgov.org/wcm_recpark/GGP/GGPMap.pdf

    Gently down the sludge
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    Best Free thing #5

    by goodfish Updated May 17, 2010

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    Like Central Park in NYC (which, incidentally, was the inspiration for GGP's master plan), Golden Gate Park could be a California destination all by itself: over one thousand acres in area, four miles long, and enough fun stuff to keep the active visitor busy for days.

    I'd seen bits and pieces of the Mother of San Francisco Parks in the past and decided it was time to trot the thing from end to end. Trot we did: through gardens and plazas; past lakes and sunny playgrounds; through shaded groves and grassy meadows. It took the better part of a day and we STILL didn't see it all.

    So, what to do in the park? If watching your pennies, take the kids to the playground, sunbathe on Ocean Beach, wander seasonal gardens of tulips, roses, rhododendrons and other botanical varieties, picnic, catch a Sunday swing dance lesson and occasional summer concert, or play Frisbee golf (bring your own) for free. If you have a bit more to spend, rent a bike or roller blades, paddle a boat on Stow Lake, play 9 holes of golf, brave the bus-tour hordes at the Japanese Tea Garden or cruise the art at the de Young Museum.

    I'll cover some of this stuff in separate tips but the website (below) will give you the complete list of activities, directions and some helpful links.

    Because it's so big, summer weekends are a great time to visit so you can grab a shuttle to various points in the park. It only runs on Saturdays, Sundays and major holidays and costs $2.00 for an all-day pass. See the website here:

    http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/recpark/summershuttle.pdf

    And here is a nice map of the park:

    http://www.sfgov.org/site/recpark_page.asp?id=17796

    One note: The main visitor center at McLaren Lodge is only open during the week. Weird.

    One of the entrances, near Ocean Beach Botanical Garden Botanical Garden Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden A walk in the woods
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Comments (1)

  • Aug 9, 2014 at 11:52 AM

    Can I visit the Botanical Gardens at Strybing Arboretum during music festivals at Golden Gate Park without having to go to or pay for the music festival (I have no interest in going to the music festival).

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      Aug 9, 2014 at 12:59 PM

      Welcome to VT. Very few people will see your question here. If you re-post it in the VT San Francisco travel forum you will get some helpful replies. Either use the 'Instant Answers' box directly above your post or go straight to the forum by clicking this link:

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