Golden Gate Park
Inside of Golden Gate Park’s 1,017 acres explore and discover gardens, playgrounds, lakes, picnic groves, trails, and monuments, plus an array of world class museums and cultural attractions
Golden Gate Park is one of San Francisco's most beloved and visited attractions. Spanning over 1,017 acres, it is larger than New York's Central Park and offers a wide variety of activities for visitors of all ages and interests. From exploring the city's history and culture to enjoying the great outdoors, there's something for everyone in this sprawling urban oasis.
The history of Golden Gate Park is a fascinating one. In the mid-19th century, the land that would become the park was nothing but barren sand dunes. But with the vision and determination of William Hammond Hall and John McLaren, these inhospitable dunes were transformed into a lush, green public park. Construction began in 1870, and after years of hard work, the park was officially opened to the public in 1887.
Today, Golden Gate Park is a veritable playground for visitors. Whether you're looking for a leisurely stroll, an active adventure, or a chance to learn something new, there's something for everyone.
Here are just a few of the top things to do in Golden Gate Park:
Watch a polo match at the Polo Field. Golden Gate Park is home to one of the oldest polo clubs in the United States, and visitors can watch matches on Sundays between May and October.
Rent a surrey or paddleboat and explore Stow Lake. This picturesque lake is surrounded by beautiful gardens and is a popular spot for boating, fishing, and picnicking.
Take a free dance lesson and dance the Lindy Hop on Sundays. This popular event takes place at the Music Concourse and is a great way to learn a new dance and meet new people.
Explore the Children's Playground and Carousel. This fun, interactive playground is a favorite among families with young children and features a variety of play structures and a beautiful carousel.
Take a free concert in the park. Golden Gate Park is home to several venues that host free concerts throughout the year, including the Music Concourse, the Spreckels Temple of Music, and the Bandshell.
Explore the gardens and waterfalls in Golden Gate Park. The park is home to several beautiful gardens, including the Rose Garden, the Dahlia Garden, and the Tulip Garden. Visitors can also explore the park's many waterfalls, including the Japanese Tea Garden Waterfall and the Elk Glen Waterfall.
Visit the Golden Gate Park Museums. Golden Gate Park is home to several world-class museums, including the de Young Museum of Fine Art, the California Academy of Sciences, the Conservatory of Flowers, and the Japanese Tea Garden.
If you're planning to visit San Francisco, be sure to add Golden Gate Park to your itinerary. With so much to see and do, you'll want to spend at least a day exploring this beautiful urban oasis. And for locals, Golden Gate Park is a perfect place to spend a relaxing afternoon, enjoying all the beauty and culture this amazing park has to offer.
17 Fun Facts about Golden Gate Park
- Golden Gate Park was originally a sand dune.
- The park's Japanese Tea Garden is the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States.
- The park's Conservatory of Flowers is the oldest public conservatory in the western hemisphere.
- The park's de Young Museum was originally built as a temporary structure for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition.
- The park's buffalo herd, which roamed the park until the early 20th century, was once the largest herd of American bison in captivity.
- The park's Stow Lake was created by damming a natural spring in the late 19th century.
- The park's Dutch Windmill, built in 1902, was originally used to pump water for irrigation.
- The park's Shakespeare Garden features plants mentioned in the works of Shakespeare.
- The park's Conservatory of Flowers is home to a "corpse flower" named "Morticia" that can emit a rotting flesh odor when in bloom.
- The park's Murphy Windmill was built in the 19th century and was used to pump water for irrigation until the early 20th century.
- The park's Music Concourse was originally built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
- The park's Spreckels Temple of Music was originally built for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition.
- The park's de Young Museum was once home to the largest collection of American Indian artifacts in the world.
- The park's Japanese Tea Garden was built by Japanese immigrants as part of the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition.
- The park's AIDS Memorial Grove, which was established in 1991, is one of the first memorials dedicated to honoring those affected by the AIDS epidemic.
- The park's Academy of Sciences is home to a live colony of African penguins and the world's largest indoor rainforest exhibit.
- The park's "Chain of Lakes" includes Stow Lake, Spreckels Lake, and Lloyd Lake and is a popular spot for boating and fishing.
Golden Gate Park Attractions
Golden Gate Park offers a wide variety of activities to suit a broad range of interests. Visitors will find all of the following things to do and see within the park, and more:
- Lawn Bowling
- Surrey Rentals
- Paddle boats
- Sunday, Lindy in the Park (free lesson and dancing afterward)
- Children’s playground and carousel
- Free concerts
- Waterfalls and trails
- Rose, dahlia, and tulip gardens
- Dutch and Murphy Windmills
- Herd of Buffalo
- de Young Museum
- California Academy of Sciences
- Conservatory of Flowers
- Japanese Tea Garden
- Strybing Arboretum and Botanical Garden
Popular Things to Do
Segway Tours: San Francisco Electric Tour Company offers fully narrated and guided 2.5 hour tours of all of Golden Gate Park. Riding a Segway is easy to learn and the tour is a blast!