Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

4.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars - 118 Reviews

Area bounded by Lincoln, Fulton, Stanyan.

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Best Free Thing #7: Kid stuff

    by goodfish Updated Nov 4, 2013

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Part of the playground
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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.

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  • Rixie's Profile Photo

    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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  • solopes's Profile Photo

    Beautiful park

    by solopes Updated Sep 26, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Marriage - San Francisco - USA
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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...).

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  • machomikemd's Profile Photo

    Queen Wilhemina Tulip Garden

    by machomikemd Updated Mar 17, 2012

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    the garden
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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.

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  • machomikemd's Profile Photo

    Big, Big Park!

    by machomikemd Updated May 29, 2011

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    along the golden gate park
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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.

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  • machomikemd's Profile Photo

    Dutch Windmill

    by machomikemd Updated May 29, 2011
    the dutch windmill
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    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).

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    Steinhart Aquarium

    by Tom_Fields Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Coral reef at the Aquarium
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    Located inside the California Academy of Sciences, this is an excellent aquarium. It compares well with the one at Monterey. This is a great place to learn about sealife. It has both salt- and fresh-water animals and plants.

    And since my visit, they've added a bigger and better coral reef. While visiting Golden Gate Park, take a couple hours to see this.

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    Strybing Arboretum

    by mydreamquest Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Entrance to Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park

    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.

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    Conservatory of Flowers

    by Callavetta Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Conservatory of Flowers

    Recently opened after years of extensive storm damage and earthquake retrofitting, the Conservatory of Flowers, in Golden Gate Park, is one of the most beautiful of its kind. Originally constructed in 1879, the wood and glass structure houses more than 10,000 plants from arround the world.

    Open Tuesday - Sunday, 9:00 to 4:30
    Admission $1.50 - $5.00

    Favorite thing: Giant water lilies that can hold a small child. (but don't try it!)

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    Steinhart Aquarium

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 4, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Dolphin fountain and Francis Scott Key memorial

    We visited Golden Gate Park in the mid 60s with my mom and dad, and I took this picture outside the aquarium. It showes the Francis Scott Key Memorial also. I don't know whether we visited the aquarium or not. It is a part of the California Academy of Sciences complex which includes Morrison Planetarium. Admission to the Planetarium is separate from the Aquarium and Natural History Museum.

    Open daily 10 am-5 pm (winter); 9 am-6 pm (Memorial Day to Labor Day). Admission prices (per person, to the Steinhart Aquarium and Natural History Museum): adults $8.50, youth, students w/ID (12-17) and seniors (65 and over) $5.50, children (4-11) $2, children 3 and under free. Admission is free for all on the first Wednesday of each month

    Visitors who arrive by bus or bicycle will receive $2.50 off adult admission. Children under 12 years of age using alternative forms of transportation will be admitted free of charge. Public transit users only need to show their transfer or their Fast Pass at the Admissions cashier to receive the discount. Bicyclists may bring their bikes to the front door security guard for free, indoor bike parking. They will receive a claim check that they can show to the admissions cashier to receive the discount.

    The Aquarium features a fish roundabout - a room surrounded by a 100,000 tank with open ocean fishes. Sharks are fed daily every 2 hours 10:30 to 4:30.

    About Steinhart Aquarium from their website:
    "Steinhart Aquarium is an aquatic world of 165 individual tanks exhibiting the interactions of more than 6,000 representatives of diverse underwater environments. Visitors come face to face with nearly 600 species of fishes, large invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians and even black-footed penguins" The penguins are fed at 11:30 and 4.

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  • grandmaR's Profile Photo

    Conservatory of Flowers

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    My children in front of the Conservatory

    It is a glass and redwood replica of London's Kew Gardens conservatory, and was built between 1876 and 1883. When open, it houses huge palm trees under its soaring dome, plus exotic orchids, water lilies and microclimates from around the world. The conservatory, badly damaged in a fierce wind storm that blew in off the Pacific is currently under reconstruction and is not open.

    The conservatory was one of the places I remember visiting in 1996.

    It has been in the past open daily 9-5. There was an admission charge of $1.50 with over 62 and ages 6-12 being 75 cents

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  • grandmaR's Profile Photo

    Golden Gate Park

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Gardens from the Greenhouse 1966
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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.

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  • vichatherly's Profile Photo

    Wander through Golden Gate Park

    by vichatherly Updated Jul 15, 2010

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    Golden Gate Park
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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.

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    Rehydrate at Beach Chalet

    by goodfish Updated Jul 8, 2010

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    Sunning on Sunday - Park Chalet garden
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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.

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    Best Free thing #6: Shake your tail feathers

    by goodfish Updated Jun 1, 2010

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    Everybody dance!
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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.

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