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Golden Gate Park [walking & cycling]

  • San Francisco, California, United States of America (USA)

Last updated: 29 June, 2024

First of all: the Golden Gate Park is not adjacent to the Golden Gate Bridge. Rather, this rectangular, 1017-acre urban park lies on the city’s west side – San Francisco’s equivalent of Central Park but 20% bigger.

It’s home to some pretty stellar attractions, among them the world-class DeYoung Art Museum, the California Academy of Sciences, the Japanese Tea Garden, and the Conservatory of Flowers – not to mention acre upon acre of green goodness.

You can hire bikes or rollerskates to explore, and rowboats or waterbikes from the boathouse on the northwest side to float on Stow Lake, one of the park’s loveliest spots.

Who to go with: tour operators

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Japanese Tea Garden

  • San Francisco, California, United States of America (USA)

lake, trees and temples in Japanese Tea Garden

Experience

Escape the city mayhem in the immaculate, contemplative Japanese Tea Garden, which was first developed in 1894 to showcase a traditional Japanese village for the California International Exposition (World’s Fair). An additional tea house and pavilions were built and the garden became a permanent fixture of the Golden Gate Park.

Adult price: £5

Good for age: 18+

  • San Francisco, California, United States of America (USA)

Sculpture and paintings in the De Young Museum of Fine Arts, San francisco

Bucket List Experience

De Young Museum

Set in a striking new building clad entirely in copper (designed to oxidise so that it eventually blends in with the surrounding eucalyptus trees), De Young’s highly regarded collection showcases American art from the 17th-21st centuries, as well as international contemporary art, costumes and textiles.

Together with SF’s Legion of Honor, which focuses more on ancient artworks, the two make up the largest public arts institution in the city.

Look for works by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly, Surrealist painter Salvador Dali, and fabric sculptor, Nick Cave.

Adult price: £12

Good for age: 18+

Conservatory of Flowers

  • San Francisco, California, United States of America (USA)

Conservatory of Flowers interior, a giant glasshouse

Experience

The elaborate Victorian greenhouse at the Conservatory of Flowers is the oldest building in the park, constructed in 1878 and rising 60ft (18m). Plants and flowers from around the world are housed in a variety of climate-controlled galleries, including Highland Tropics and Lowland Tropics. Closed on Mondays.

Adult price: £11

Good for age: 4+

  • San Francisco, California, United States of America (USA)

Tyrannosaur Rex skeleton in the California Academy of Sciences, a natural history museum in San Francisco, California. It was established in 1853

Bucket List Experience

California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences has a lot going for it: it’s the world’s greenest museum, it’s one of the largest natural history museums, it’s overflowing with innovative, interactive learning spaces, it has a planetarium, aquarium, and four-storey rainforest under its roof – and it’s hands-down one of San Francisco’s best attractions.

Outside it’s just as spectacular: the glass-and-steel building was designed by Renzo Piano, and has a 2.5-acre garden roof covered with 1.7 million native plants.

Adult price: £35

Good for age: 4+

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 4+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

San Francisco’s public transit systems will get you to the park. It’ll also help you get around the recreational area that stretches almost three miles from east to west, thanks to the free shuttle service that picks up from various spots in the park daily. You can hire bikes and skates at Unlimited Biking on Haight Street on Fulton.

A number of local companies also offer guided bike tours of the park, exclusively or as part of a wider itinerary (see our recommendations).

When to do it

The park is always open, but the attractions have varying open times. Check the website before you go. Go early to enjoy the park and its attractions with fewer people. Locals love the park, and weekends bring the biggest crowds.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

  • San Francisco

It's the most exhilarating, entertaining and enlightening way to see San Francisco - the first-ever GPS-guided storytelling car! The clever talking car navigates for you to places tour buses can'r go and points out the sights that bring San Francisco to life. Experience what the press is buzzing about, what visitors rave about and what Time Magazine has nominated "as one of the coolest inventions of the year".

Price $228

Min age 0

Rating 4.25 / 5 [16 ratings]

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