Golden Gate Park, one of the most visited parks in the United States

From bonsai trees to events, from bison to free concerts, from redwoods to frisbees...: you'll find everything San Franciscans love about their city. With hundreds of points of interest, you could easily wander around for a whole week without seeing everything. Its many assets make it a highly popular tourist destination and the 3rd most visited park in the United States, with over 24 million visitors a year.

The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

- © I and S Walker / Shutterstock

Déjà vu all over again...

Created in the 1960s, Golden Gate Park bears a striking resemblance to New York's Central Park. This is perfectly normal, since the latter served as a model, and its design was entrusted to the landscape architect who designed Central Park: Frederick Law Olmsted. It's a 5km-long ribbon of greenery right in the middle of the city. Slightly larger than its New York counterpart, the resemblance between it and the Californian park is even more striking from the air.

Aerial view of Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

- © Xavier Hoenner / Shutterstock

A day in the park

Conservatory of Flowers

Undoubtedly one of the park's most emblematic landmarks, the Conservatory of Flowers is a botanical garden specialising in the conservation of rare and exotic plants. Built in 1878, it was the very first building in the park and has been listed as a historic monument since 1971. The greenhouse, one of the largest in the world, is home to over1,700 species of plant. Get ready for a unique journey, from the tropical forests of Ecuador to the jungles of Sumatra!

Practical info

⏰ O pening times: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 4.30pm

👛 Price: $10 per person ($7 for 12-17 year olds, $3 for 5-11 year olds), free for children up to 4 years old and on the first Tuesday of the month.

Interior view of the large greenhouse at the Conservatory of Flowers, San Francisco

- © Willowtreehouse / Shutterstock

Japanese Tea Garden

Another of the park's highlights is the Japanese Tea Garden. Inaugurated in 1894, it was created for the California Midwinter International Exhibition and is now the oldest Japanese garden in the United States. A true haven of peace, this 2-hectare garden has several points of interest, starting with the Tea House, where you can enjoy an excellent jasmine tea in the traditional way. You can't leave without seeing the Treasure Tower, a 5-storey pagoda, the Drum Bridge and Karesansui, the dry garden.

Practical info

The best time to visit the Japanese Tea Garden is in March and April to enjoy the Japanese cherry blossom.

⏰ O pening times: 9am to 6pm from March to October and 9am to 4.45pm from November to February.

👛 Price: $13 per person ($7 for 12-17 year olds, $3 for 5-11 year olds). It's free up to 4 years old and on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday if you arrive before 10am.

The Drum Bridge, Japanese Tea Garden, San Francisco

- © Christian Colista / Shutterstock

De Young Museum

Located in the heart of the park, the De Young Museum is the oldest fine arts museum in San Francisco. Open since 1895, it was destroyed by earthquakes and rebuilt in 2005 in a futuristic design. The museum features collections from all over the world, with a total of 27,000 objects. Focusing mainly on South America, Africa and Oceania, it takes you on a journey from the 17th century to the present day. Don't miss the Hamon Tower Observation Level, open Tuesday to Sunday from 9.30am to 4.30pm (even if you don't have a ticket for the museum!), from where you can enjoy a superb view of Golden Gate Park and San Francisco.

Practical info

⏰ O pening times: Tuesday to Sunday, 9.30am to 5.15pm

👛 Price: $15 per person, $12 for senior citizens, $6 for students on presentation of proof. For under-17s and members, entry is free. Access is included in the City Pass

De Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

- © Checubus / Shutterstock

The California Academy of Sciences

Founded in 1853, the California Academy of Sciences is a veritable paradise for science lovers, but that's not all! The site also houses one of the finest natural history museums in the country. The Academy covers almost 9,870 square metres and features an aquarium with a coral reef and over 3,000 exotic fish, an earthquake simulator, a planetarium 27 metres in diameter, a 3D cinema and almost 38,000 live animals. There's something for everyone, and an afternoon of fun guaranteed!

Practical info

⏰ O pening times: Monday to Saturday 9.30am to 5pm and Sunday 11am to 5pm

👛 Admission: Full admission is $44 per adult, but if you book online you may be able to make a small saving. Access is included in the City Pass

Skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco

- © Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock

Bison Paddock

The last not-to-be-missed stopover in Golden Gate Park is the park's paddock, home to a herd of bison since the 1890s. One of the few ways of seeing these animals so easily that systematic hunting and the industrial revolution have decimated them. By the end of the 19th century, there were just 800 animals left in the whole of the United States. To ensure the conservation of the species, a male and a female were introduced into the park, followed by other individuals from Yellowstone. Since then, they have adapted to their environment and are living peacefully.

Adult American bison, Bison Paddock, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

- © yhelfman / Shutterstock

Practical information for visiting the park

⏰ O pening times: daily from 5am to midnight

A popular spot for tourists and locals alike, the park is always busy, but that's part of its charm. Visiting the park on a Sunday is preferable, as there is more activity and cars are not allowed. To make it easier to get around the park, a shuttle bus runs every day to 15 stops. You can also visit the park by bike, as there are almost 10 km of cycle paths. Depending on the activities planned, Golden Gate Park will take you between half a day and a full day... or even longer if you include a visit to the museums.

🚌 Getting there

The park is accessible by bus on lines 5** and 44**, and by *subway* at the 9th Avenue stop

🕑 S huttle timetable:

  • Weekends and public holidays, from 9am to 6pm, a shuttle every 15 minutes.
  • Monday to Friday from 12:00 to 18:00, a shuttle every 20/25 minutes.

🗺️ Park map

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by Editorial Team
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