If you drive through Golden Gate Park down JFK Drive towards the beach, at around 37th Ave. you'll see an enclosed grassy field on your right. And, if you're lucky, you'll see SF's resident herd of buffalo!
This herd has been here for over 100 years, and, though it's nice to think that there are bison roaming the park, most of the time they just hang out in their pen. Some folks call their enclosure inhumane, but at the time the paddock was started, it was needed to keep them from becoming extinct. I'll try to do some research and find out what time of year they are the most frisky.
Please don't feed or spook them.
Slightly away from the tourist concentration of the Music concourse area, on the backside of the De Young on JFK Drive, is the Rose Garden. Almost as long as a football field and packed full of hundreds of different varieties, it's a beautiful sight in full bloom. If you've come this way to check out the museums or the conservatory, you might as well stop here, too.
Oh, yeah... it's FREE!
Outside the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park is the most amazing garden full of more beautiful Peonies than can even be imagined. The best time to see these flowers is in the Summer. These flowers are worth the trip.
Go see the buffalo (or American Bison, as they are officially called) in the Buffalo Paddock in Golden Gate Park.
They can be found on John F. Kennedy Drive in the north/west corner of the park- basically between 41st Ave and Sunset Blvd/36th Ave.
The Sutro Baths are a one-of-a-kind ruins not found in other American cities. Sitting along the Pacific Ocean, the baths are scenic and peaceful, especially on a clear, sunny day. You can enjoy a few hours strolling around the crumbling walls, the pools of standing water now favored by birds, and the cliffs and caves.
Sutro Baths officially opened in 1896 and could hold some 8,000 people in its massive pools and viewing areas. The baths burned in 1966 leaving the ruins you see today. The National Park Service bought the bath ruins in 1980 and they became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
The baths are located in Golden Gate Park next to Ocean Beach and Lincoln Park. From downtown or Hwy 101 take Geary Ave (which becomes Point Lobos Ave) to the park entrance.
this is the place to come on warm, sunny SF afternoons (yeah, right!) to have a picnic, listen the drummers, and by the way, you will smell that familiar smell of pot curling your way, especially if you are on the hill
sit on the hill or on the flat area and snooze...you are steps away from the children's playground and carousel. You're about a five-minute walk from the Inner Sunset nieghborhood (9th and Irving has tons of bars, restaurants, shops, and grocers to check out)
This is a tiny garden well hidden in the Golden Gate park (close to the Academy of Sciences)!
It holds the different species of plants mentionned in Shakespeare's litterature.
The relevant quotes are written on plaques at the back of the garden.
Nothing really exceptional but if you are in the area, try to find this charming place...
Bronze statue "The Apple Cider Press" created by American artist Thomas Shields-Clarke in 1892, was exhibited at the Midwinter International Exposition in 1894. Before it was packed up, M.H. De Young purchased it for display in front of the museum, where it remains even today. Interestingly, this statue resembles somewhat a larger newer statue located on a knoll off Hwy 12 near Napa, appropriately called "The Wine Press", as it memorializes the industry there, except that wine press figure wears a brimmed western style hat. The Apple Cider Bronze also bears some resemblance to the much more revered Mechanics Monument located at the three way of Battery, Bush, and Market streets in that it bears tribute to the value of hard work. However, this purchase and contribution by DeYoung was apparently inspired by art rather than memorial, since the only cider industry of note in the San Francisco Bay Area is Martinelli's (1868) located in relatively remote Watsonville. This bronze remains located on a base overlooking the Music Concourse, and so photography of it proves difficult on bright sunny days.
On one of the highest points in Golden Gate Park, and yet almost forgotten, is the 1894 tribute to the first English language sermon and use of the Book of Common Prayer in California. The 57 foot tall cross (one of the tallest in the city), created by Ernest Coxhead, was originally planned to be placed in Marin county close to where Sir Francis Drake was supposed to have landed his vessel in 1579, before he waded ashore with the ships chaplain to claim California for the British Queen. At the time of it's dedication, it was a big ceremonial event in the city, such that the New York Times included an article about the memorial. On a somewhat dilapidated base, the venerable sandstone celtic style cross is now shrouded by park trees and not visible from the ocean as had been originally planned. Just below the cross, helping to locate the foot trail off JFK drive, is the artifical falls.
In 1885, wealthy San Francisco benefactor James Lick, commissioned artisit William Story to create the enormous 51 foot tall travertine and bronze monument that now sits on the east end of the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park. Interestingly, although there are several bridges, boats, and other civic projects named in honor of the national anthem songwriter, this monument is the most significant monument of its kind in the USA. The monument includes a bronze figure of a seated Francis Scott Key, and above him, over an arch, a figure of America with an unfolded flag. The words to the Star Spangled Banner are chiseled into the base. The monument was recently renovated by the city due to risk of further environmental degradation. This monument is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it also listed as San Francisco Landmark #96.
Prolific local artistic talent Douglas Tilden was commissioned to create a statue of Father Serra by Mayor Phelan, in the same year as the Great Earthquake and Fire. It was dedicated in November of 1907 with 3,000 people in attendance Senator Belshaw read the dedication letter written by Phelan who could not be present for the ceremonies. The larger than life size statue shows Father Serra in action as the heroic founder of civilization in California. The statue is located at the entrance to the museum drive at the east end of the Music Concourse. It is surrounded by thick flowers in springtime as my photo shows. This is but one of many dozens of Father Serra statues in California but maybe be one of the largest and most inspiring.
The DeYoung Museum is oldest museum in San Francisco, making it possibly the oldest museum on the west coast. The original museum building was actually built for the International Californian Exposition, held in Golden Gate Park in 1894. The Egyptian revival building was replaced in 1921, and two sphinxes continued to remain at the front entrance until the recent reconstruction of the entire DeYoung building and complex. I recall climbing on them as a child. Actually, these painted reinforced concrete sculptures were duplicates created by Arthur Putman in 1905 to replace the original circa 1894 sculputures made by CC McDougal. This summer King Tut returns to the DeYoung after a 30 year absence. I recall going to the exhibit many years ago, although, of course, I have also seen King Tut and other Egyptian artifacts at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and at the Valley of the Kings in Luxor. Bay Area landscape architect, Walter Hood, sought to preserve iconic elements of the old museum, and so in addition to the Sphinxes, is the nearby Pool of Enchantment and the historic 100 year old palm trees. I'm still trying to track down the origins of the fabulous gigantic bronze urn that has small humans climbing all over it....Can anyone help me?