San Francisco Sights to See
Golden Gate Park
No visit to San Francisco is complete without seeing 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.

The Strybing 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.

Stow Lake 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 noontime picnic. Just a little further west, at Spreckels Lake, visitors can watch the locals as they demonstrate varying degrees of expertise with radio-controlled 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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San Francisco - Golden Gate Park - M.H. de Young Memorial Museum - Asian Art Museum - Japanese Tea Garden

Page Updated 4:16 PM Sunday 9/15/2013