Conservatory Of Flowers: Psychedelic Photosynthesis
This colorful illuminated projection on the Conservatory of Flowers harkens back to San Franciscos infamous Summer of Love. Stop by to see this joyous, psychedelic installation complimenting the endless parade of rare and unusual flowers on display inside the Conservatory of Flowers. Enjoy the lights each night, and arrive early for a visit to this historic institution!
Facilities Available At This Park
There is one four-lane cement surface boat launch at the south end of Alouette Lake. There is overnight parking available for vehicles and trailers in the boat launch parking lot. There is no nearby marina to moor boats overnight. Waterskiing is permitted. It is not recommended to leave your boat overnight in the water due to theft. The park also offers boat accessible camping along the lake see the .
During months outside the summer season, the water level in Alouette Lake may vary considerably due to water management by BC Hydro. Boaters should be especially wary during low-water conditions, as submerged stumps and other obstacles may be hazardous to navigation.
Campfires are not permitted in the backcountry and marine sites of Golden Ears Park. Use a portable fuel stove for cooking!
do not gather firewood
Cold water taps are located throughout the park. Drinking water from taps is tested on a regular basis. Water taps are shut off in the winter season. For water testing information, please contact the Park Operator at 604 466-8325.
All backcountry drinking water should be filtered, boiled and/or otherwise treated before consumption. Wash all dishes and conduct personal hygiene at least 30 metres from any water source.
Please Note: There is no permanent source of water past Alder Flats. Depending on the season, water can be melted from the snowfield that may remain in the northern shadow of the peak.
Koret Children’s Quarter & Carousel
One of the most popular city playgrounds is in the eastern end of Golden Gate Park. It recently got a complete makeover, and has lots of fun play structures and fanciful elements.
Fortunately, they kept the best feature of the old playground: the cement slides. Sized for kids, they aren’t as steep and fast as the primo cement slides of Seward Street, but they are nice and long, and sufficiently fast for the little ones.
There is a wonderful carousel next to the playground, built in 1914, with beautifully-restored animals. Hop on a frog, a dragon, or maybe a rooster, for a turn on the merry-go-round, and check out the local scenes decorating the carousel.
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Golden Gate Park Loop
Golden Gate Park, located south of the Golden Gate Bridge in western San Francisco, is an urban treasure. The 1,017 acre park stretches three miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, unfurling with eucalyptus, pine, and cypress, lakes and waterfalls, and, of course, museums, playgrounds, and gardens. This 7.5-mile clockwise loop begins at Ocean Beach, winds east on JFK Drive into the heart of the park, and swings back west to the beach via MLK Drive. Highlights include eight lakes, two waterfalls, the Bison Paddock, Golden Gate Pavilion, Arch of Colonial Trees, and Rose Garden.
Once known as Outside Lands, Golden Gate Park was miles of sand dunes in the 1870s when work on the park began. William Hammond Hall, a field engineer who completed the first survey of the land on February 15, 1871, intentionally designed a natural looking park visitors could enjoy year-round. To further his mission, he added winding roads to shelter park visitors from wind, encourage trees to grow, and discourage fast driving. Today the park is 1,017 acres, 18% larger than Central Park in New York City, and host to 13 million visitors each year.
Cross Great Highway to the western edge of the park, marked with a stone entrance. Turn left to cross John F. Kennedy Drive, then make a right, heading east to the Dutch Windmill and Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden.
Two hundred feet past the Prayerbook Cross sign, turn right to cross JFK Drive, then make a left to continue east towards Stow Lake.
Accessing Golden Gate Park
The Golden Gate Park is open every day. Some areas may be closed for various reasons, so check the website for announcements. Entrance to the park is free, but some attractions may charge a fee. The park can be accessed through the north entrance and south entrance. Visitors can park at the Music Concourse Garage, which has about 4,700 parking spaces total. The Golden Gate Park Shuttle operates on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays for free from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
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Festivals In Golden Gate Park
Ohhhh, is San Francisco known for its festivals or what?! Some of SFs largest festivals and events are held right here in Golden Gate Park every year. Heres some of the most popular:
Dance the day away at Outside Lands: If you happen to be in the city during August, dancing until your feet are tired at this lively music festival is one of the best things to do in Golden Gate Park. Stars such as Childish Gambino, Twenty One Pilots, Hozier, Blink-182, and Kacey Musgraves have previously taken the stage and sent crowds wild.
So slap on your most eccentric clothing, sling on a bum bag , and fully immerse yourself in San Francisco festival culture featuring a wide-ranging musical line-up, world-class art, mouth-watering food, and an intoxicating selection of wine.
Run the Bay to Breakers : Be sure to throw on some sneakers , sport your zaniest costume, and get ready to run . Shield your eyes if youre scared of a little skin, as many runners do their thang in their birthday suit .
The official race takes place once a year at the end of May, but even standing on the sidelines is one for the San Francisco bucket list, as youll see decked out unicorns, Elvis impersonators, giant dinosaurs, and every other embezzled costume item you can think of just float on by. The route goes directly through Golden Gate Park, so if youre not expecting it, youll get a surprise dash of true SF culture.
Golden Gate Bridge Parking North Side: More Options
1. Vista Point
If you want to visit the northern end, you will find a Golden Gate Bridge parking lot at Vista Point. You will find this by driving over the bridge and watch for the signs. There is just one way into this lot. This one is a little bigger but is really busy.
Be careful as you drive through this lot looking for a spot because people are excited to see the bridge and aren’t paying attention as much as they should. This one has about 120 spots with about 10 handicap only spaces.
When Vista Point gets too full, they will shut it down to new cars entering on busier days. You will see a sign that says, “Buses Only.”
If this one is full, you can find a second lot on the northern side of the bridge just across Highway 101.
This lot often closes for all cars on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day through Labor Day Weekend.
2. Moore Road Pier
This is a small little Golden Gate Bridge parking area with about 9 spots and a couple more along the road. The thing I love about this spot is that you can walk out along the Moore Road Pier for some fantastic views of the bridge.
The downside is its size. You won’t often find a spot here during the busier times, but it’s free and worth a shot. You can always check this one out first as it isn’t too far away from #6 on my list above. It’s a closer walk to get to the bridge though so might be worth an extra few minutes to see if a spot is open.
3. Point Cavallo/Marina Road
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Tours In/of Golden Gate Park
Segway Tour of Golden Gate Park: Ever wanted to roll around the park on a segway?! We did this tour with segway-loving friends once , and had the best time! We got to see so many highlights of the park in a short amount of time, including the Japanese Tea Garden, the Music Concourse, the National Aids Memorial, the De Young Museum, Historic Carousel, and the Academy of Sciences.
Never ridden a segway before? Dont fret its super easy! Youll get hands-on training with an instructor, go on a short test ride, and do a skills review. Honestly? Its all very easy once you get the hang of it. SO much faster than walking everywhere, and youll get lots of interesting info about the park from your guide!
Golden Gate Park Bike & Skate: Dont feel like walking? Rent a bike, in-line skates, or fun, old fashioned skates and roll around the park instead! Safety gear is also provided. You can even rent a super-fun surrey bike , or go on a self-guided bike tour!
The Park’s Hidden Treasures
While there are a number of top attractions that should be on your list to see inside Golden Gate Park, visitors will be surprised to find other hidden treasures in the park. For a different perspective of the park, make your way to Stow Lake, where you can rent a boat. The surrounding views are also gorgeous atop Strawberry Hill, the highest point in the park, situated in the middle of Stow Lake. And dont forget to meditate at the Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion, a Chinese temple-like structure that was a gift from the city of Taipei to commemorate early Chinese settlers.
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Golden Gate Park Weather
The great thing about Golden Gate Park San Francisco is that it’s open and accessible, offering great events and activities all year round. However, you should be aware that the weather on this side of town is always about 5 to 10 degrees cooler than downtown and other parts of the city. That’s because the park sits right on the Pacific Ocean, receiving the cool sea breeze and lots of fog throughout much of the year.
When SF temperatures in the summer are around 60 to 65 degrees, you can expect it to be in the mid-50s to 60s in the park. In the winter, the city cools down to the mid- to lower 50s, meaning it will be in the upper 40s to lower 50s during our rainy winters.
You can get specific details on the weather for each month below. I always recommend bringing a jacket when you visit the park.
The Golden Gate Park Windmills
When Golden Gate Park was being created, two windmills were built on the western edge to pump water for irrigation. These windmills provided water for the plants in the western half of the park for its early years, until 1935, when electric pumps took over.
The windmills pumped water up to the reservoir on top of Strawberry Hill at Stow Lake, and that water was used to irrigate the eastern side of the park. Excess water was released into Stow Lake via the waterfall by the Chinese Pavilion.
Both windmills had fallen into serious disrepair by the 1950’s, They stood at the edges of the park for many years in a raggedly condition, but were recently restored and are quite impressive to see now.
The Dutch Windmill
The northern windmill was built in 1902 and was donated to the city by Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands.
A beautiful garden has been planted at the base of the windmill, which displays masses of tulips in the early spring , and other flowers the rest of the year.
See more info on the Dutch Windmill and the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden.
The southern windmill was built in 1908 and is now decorative only. It’s the largest windmill of its kind in the world.
Murphy Windmill is the scene of the annual Dutch festival, King’s Day, where you can join the Dutch community, wear orange , eat and drink, play games and celebrate all things Dutch. Held at the end of April every year. See King’s Day for the schedule.
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Places To Eat Near Golden Gate Park
If you’ve worked up an appetite after venturing through Golden Gate Park, there are a number of places to eat nearby. Depending on which end of the park you’re exploring, there are plenty of culinary options to choose from.
Located in the Inner Sunset neighborhood, Pacific Catch Restaurant offers fresh seafood just within walking distance of the San Francisco Botanical Garden and California Academy of Sciences. You can also explore the many restaurants found along Irving St., which is just a block away from the Park’s entrance.
If you’re in the western side of Golden Gate Park nearest Ocean Beach, Beach Chalet serves not just a variety of delicious meats and seafood, but also some of the best ocean views.
On the eastern side of the park near the Conservatory of Flowers, you can walk to Velo Rouge Cafe , best known for their sweet and savory bites and sandwiches.
Find more restaurants near Golden Gate Park here.
The Conservatory Of Flowers
The Conservatory of Flowers is going to be the first major attraction you will see when entering from the east side of the park, and how could you miss it? Just look for a giant clock made of flowers and the glorious glass greenhouse from a time gone by. Not only is it one of the most striking buildings you will see, its also the oldest building in the park, completed in 1879, now a designated landmark by the National Register of Historic Places.
The Victorian architecture of this building is magnificent to take in on its own, but I recommend taking time to walk through. It boasts 4 different rooms, each showcasing different types of exotic plants. There is also a special exhibit that changes throughout the year.
The Conservatory of Flowers is open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. . Visit their website for pricing and other details.
Guide tip: Admission is free on the first Tuesday of every month.
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San Francisco Botanical Garden
Stroll through New Zealand, the Mediterranean or Central American rain forestsall in one San Francisco attraction. This garden is a beautiful, calm oasis. Open Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.4:30 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and holidays, 10 a.m.5 p.m. Tours available MondayFriday at 1:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Getting To And Around The Park
Golden Gate Park is located on the far West Side of the city. Its about a 20-minute drive from downtown, but you can get there through Muni buses and train lines as well.
The park has miles of walking trails and biking trails that are easy to get completely lost in. A network of roads makes it easy to get from attraction to attraction if youre driving. However, I always suggest renting a bike or roller skates if youre able. Theres nothing like a bike ride through the park on a clear day, not to mention the advantage of not having to worry about parking. There are multiple places to rent bikes throughout the park and in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Guide tip: If youre planning on biking, try to go on a Sunday. JFK Drive, the main road through the park, is shut down to automobile traffic and it makes biking a lot more carefree.
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Where To Park Nearchinatown
Chinatown is a cultural landmark and neighborhood in San Francisco. Venture into this area for world-class, authentic Chinese food and culture. Because Chinatown is a neighborhood, youll be able to find a good amount of street parking near your destination.
If youre lucky, you might be able to snag a free 2 hour spot at Waverly Place, but only if youre one of those people who happens to always be in the right place at the right time. Most of the other the streets are metered and limited for 2 hours, you can find ample parking along Clay Street and for a few dollars more on Stockton Street . For visits longer than 2 hours, your best option is the city garage located at the intersection of Kearny and Clay streets unless youre one of those lucky ones there are a handful of metered spots with a 4 hour limit on Washington and Stockton streets .
Where To Eat Nearby
There are plenty of places to eat both close to and inside Golden Gate Park San Francisco. Here are some of the options available.
Museum Cafes: Both the California Academy of Sciences and the de Young Museum have cafes with great fresh, local food. There a couple of places to eat at the California Academy of Sciences. All options are inside this museum and only accessible for those holding a ticket to the museum. The de Young Museum has a cafe that is open to the public, so you don’t need a museum ticket to eat at their cafe.
Food Trucks: What would San Francisco be without its amazing variety of gourmet food trucks? You will find these tasty quick bites behind the pavilion between the California Academy of Sciences and the de Young Museum.
9th & Irving Streets: Just to the south of the park is the Inner Sunset neighborhood. Here you will find several great restaurants and bars that are less than a block from the 9th Avenue park gate. Almost all restaurants in San Francisco have their menu posted in the front window, so you can quickly browse to find a restaurant that you will enjoy.
Beach Chalet: On the park’s western side, you will find the popular Beach Chalet restaurant. It’s a right across the highway from the Pacific Ocean and offers both great food and beautiful views of the ocean. In the same building, you will also find the Park Chalet. This restaurant is a little more casual than the Beach Chalet and offers both outdoor seating and views of the park.
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