Il Golden Gate Park is a large rectangular park in San Francisco that is visited by more than 10 million people every year. From the air it may recall Central Park due to its shape and size, but Golden Gate Park exceeds it by 70 hectares and turns out to be the fifth most visited city park in the United States. In its length (4,5 kilometers), it offers cycle paths, museums, ponds, gardens and wide open spaces to relax after a tiring day among the climbs of San Francisco.
- Golden Gate Park walking tour: the stops and the map of the attractions
- Conservatory of Flowers
- California Academy of Sciences & Steinhart Aquarium
- Shakespeare garden
- Music Concourse
- DeYoung Museum
- Japanese Tea Garden
- Stow Lake & Strawberry Hill/Huntington Falls
- Rainbow Falls
- Bison Paddock
- Dutch Windmills
- Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant
- How to get to Golden Gate Park
- Getting around the park
Golden Gate Park walking tour: the stops and the map of the attractions
The park is located in the northwestern part of San Francisco, close to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. We can therefore consider this an excellent starting point to explore it on foot starting from John F Kennedy Drive at the intersection with Stanyan Street.
Conservatory of Flowers
The first stop on our walking itinerary is the Golden Gate Park greenhouse, located on John F Kennedy Drive. It is the oldest wooden city greenhouse in the United States and offers its visitors nearly 2.000 different plant species from all over the world and from different ecosystems.
Tickets cost between $ 10 to $ 12 for adults (depending on the day of your visit), $ 7 for kids (12-17) and $ 3 for children (5-11). To find out more, you can read our article on Conservatory of Flowers.
California Academy of Sciences & Steinhart Aquarium
(10 minutes from the previous stage)
This park attraction also has a primacy: it is the only place in the world to have, in the same building, an aquarium, a planetarium and a natural history museum. The latter, the Kimball Natural History Museum, explores evolution and life on Earth and has an earthquake simulator, definitely worth trying.
The animals present in the Steinhart Aquarium are more than 38.000, while the planetarium gives the possibility to learn a lot about distant galaxies and our planet.
Tickets, which include entry to all areas, can be purchased here and are priced at $ 38,25 per adult, $ 29,75 for teenagers (3-17) and $ 33,25 for over 65s. children under 3 years enter for free.
Read our guide to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.
(outside the California Academy of Sciences)
After leaving the museum, you will surely want to relax: here you will be surrounded by quotes from Shakespeare and more than 200 flowers and plants. Don't be surprised if you see couples getting married: it's a very popular and romantic location.
(3 minutes from the previous stage)
This area full of trees and monuments dating back to 1894 has seen numerous changes over the years. Today it includes three fountains in the center of the square and another one at the top of the staircase. There are also statues, such as those of Giuseppe Verdi and Beethoven. It is the ideal setting to attend the many free concerts held in the summer.
This museum is located opposite the Academy of Sciences and within walking distance of the Music Concourse. It houses works of art from America, Africa, Oceania and the Americas (Mesoamerica, Central and South America). There is no shortage of contemporary art and textile exhibitions.
Admission costs $ 15 for adults, free for teens and children under 17. To find out more, read our guide to the De Young Museum.
Japanese Tea Garden
Within walking distance of the De Young Museum, is one of Golden Gate Park's most beloved points of interest, the Japanese Tea Garden. It is the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States and contains ponds, paths and a Japanese tea room with different types of tea, sweet and savory food.
It's free on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; on other days, admission is $ 10 for adults, $ 7 for children (12-17) and $ 3 for children (5-11).
To find out more, read our guide to the Japanese Tea Garden.
Stow Lake & Strawberry Hill/Huntington Falls
(5 minutes from the previous stage)
Stow Lake surrounds what is called Strawberry Hill, an islet that is home to 130-meter-high artificial waterfalls, the Huntington Falls.
It is also possible to take a rowboat ride ($ 21,50 an hour) or a pedal boat ($ 27 an hour).
(a few minutes from the previous stage)
Another waterfall, smaller, but no less fascinating.
(15 minutes walk from the previous stage)
Wondering what bison are doing in San Francisco? It's a long history, dating back to 1890, when the first 2 specimens were brought here from Wyoming and Kansas. Over the years other bison have come from Yellowstone and as a gift to Dianne Feinstein, mayor of the city, from his wife. The fact is that now you will have the opportunity to admire these animals without necessarily having to travel to the regions of the Rocky Mountains, where bison thrive.
(15 minutes on foot)
We are not in Holland, but still in Golden Gate Park: the two mills, Dutch and Murphy, are about 20 meters high and were actually used in the early 900s. Nearby there are tulips that bloom between February and March.
Take the 5R from Fulton St & 22nd Ave.
Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant
After the long walks, a lunch (or dinner) at the Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant is a must. Enjoy a set menu ($ 25 lunch, $ 40 dinner) overlooking the sea, choose a craft beer or have brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 14pm. To secure a table with a view, we recommend that you book.
It is located opposite the mills.
How to get to Golden Gate Park
Despite the name, the park has little to do with the Golden Gate Bridge, which is about 5 km away. Here are all the ways to achieve it:
- In metro (MUNI Light Rail)
The nearest tube station to the Haight-Ashbury front entrance is Carl St & Stanyan St, on the N line towards Ocean Beach. From Union Square start at the Montgomery stop.
- By bus
By bus, if you are starting from Union Square for example, you can take the number 21 from Market St. & Grant Ave towards Stanyan Street and get off at Hayes St & Stanyan St; otherwise, still from the same point, number 5 towards Fulton St & 8th Ave and get off at Fulton St & Stanyan StW.
- In the car
Reaching the park with a rental car means having to deal with the parking problem which, in San Francisco, is no small feat. There are some parking spaces inside, you can find all the information just below.
For more information on the city's public transport system, I refer you to our article on how to get around in San Francisco.
Getting around the park
To move around the park it is possible to use the free shuttle service which runs through from McLaren Lodge (west entrance near Haight-Ashbury) to Murphy Windmill. The shuttle is active from 9 to 18 on Saturdays and Sundays. You can also choose to rent a bike at one of the many rentals around the park such as Stow Lake Bike & Boat Rentals on Stow Lake Drive and Golden Gate Park Bike and Skate at 3038 Fulton Street.
If you are driving, you will have the option to park outside or enter directly. In this case, leave your car at the Music Concourse Garage (open every day from 7:30 to 22) for $ 2.50 per hour during the week and $ 3 on weekends. The car park entrance is located between 10th Avenue and Fulton Street. In this regard, I also remind you of our advice on how rent a car in San Francisco.