Francisco Sights to See
Golden Gate Park
At over 1,000 acres Golden Gate Park, a must-see place
in San Francisco, is larger than Central
Park in Manhattan. And, no less impressive too!
In what is undoubtedly one of the busiest cities anywhere, visitors can
enjoy the pleasures of archery, basketball, biking, skating and a host of other activities. There are
tennis courts, a golf course, and even flycasting pools.
Or you can simply take a well-earned break from all the hustle and bustle and simply relax and enjoy viewing the many sculptures, bridges and flowers and let the dogs do all the running around.
Since the end of the 19th century, where once were only barren
sand dunes, the site has been cultivated by a succession of creative
entrepreneurs. Beginning even before horticulturist John McLaren (1846-1943) who shaped the first gardens, the park has offered both natural and man-made art of dizzying
variety. A park bearing his name can be found in the southern part of San
Francisco, as is McLaren Lodge in Golden Gate Park itself,
where he lived until his death.
Since 1879 the Victorian Conservatory of Flowers has provided visitors
with a refreshing walk through what are now over 10,000 plants from
around the world. Enjoying a recent $25 million restoration after
damage from a 1995 storm, the
greenhouse is one of the oldest extant in the Western Hemisphere.
Arboretum continues the theme with 70 acres
housing more than 600 species. The enclosed Shakespeare
Garden - a popular theme with botanical garden designers - has on display over 200 flowers and
plants mentioned in the works of the Immortal Bard.
For a more minimalist
style, visit the Japanese
Tea Garden. The curving paths and low arching bridges pass around and over small pools and
precisely kept flower beds in traditional Japanese style. Enjoy a cup
of tea and rest a while as you view the beauty all around you.
Nearby, the Asian
Art Museum (200 Larkin St. Ph: 415-581-3500)
offers an ever changing selection of over
10,000 paintings, sculptures and pottery from throughout Asia. Those
visitors who prefer Western art may wish to spend some time at
the M.H. de Young
Memorial Museum (50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
Ph: 415-750-3600) Here you'll find a large collection of
American art ranging
from America's colonial times to the present.
in the center of the park is a wonderful place to take a
mid-tour rest and watch as paddleboats glide by or just enjoy a
picnic. Just a little further west, at Spreckels Lake,
watch the locals as they demonstrate varying degrees of expertise with
model motorboats and sailboats.
However, when all is said and done, no visit to Golden Gate Park is
complete without spending at least
a little time checking out the live
buffalo that wander around the
meadow. Long a fixture in the park, these amazing animals would
probably be unexpected
residents of any park anywhere else but in San Francisco.
Finding Golden Gate Park is easy. It is located at 9th Ave at Lincoln Way
there are numerous car and bus routes. Admission to most museums is no
more than a few dollars and many
are free. Incidentally, despite the
similarity in names, Golden Gate
Park has no connection to the Golden Gate Bridge.
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