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You have walked the Golden Gate Bridge, been to Chinatown, gone to the Mission District and Haight & Ashbury, hung out the side of a Cable Car, seen Fisherman’s Wharf, enjoyed the views from Coit Tower, looked at the Painted Ladies, visited Alcatraz AND still have some time left? Why not spend the day at Golden Gate Park and escape the flocks of tourists? The park apparently has over 1 million trees, there are 10 lakes, waterfalls, and even a herd of bisons! Golden Gate Park has just about as much to do within it as the rest of San Fran’s tourist attractions combined.
Though its name sounds otherwise, it is not located by the Golden Gate Bridge (although you’ll find two huge parks there too: the Golden Gate Recreation Area on both sides of the bridge and the Presidio just South of the bridge). Instead, Golden Gate Park stretches for 47 blocks from Stanyan Street to the Pacific Ocean, bordered by Lincoln Way in the south and Fulton St in the north – both top-notch addresses if you are looking to rent condos in San Fran. The park is more than 3 miles long and half a mile wide, which makes it even bigger than New York’s Central Park and its 4.12 km2 (1.589 sq mi) makes it one of the largest urban parks on the planet. You can easily spend an entire day just exploring the broad parkways and the variety of activities the park offers.
So what’s there to do? Not only joggers will enjoy the countless paths and meadows of the park, there’s something for anybody who likes to be active: on Stow Lake you can rent paddle and row boats, it’s the perfect place for a bicycle tour (bikes and even segways can be rented), there are great paths for inline skating, the park has a polo field which can be used for football or other sports and there is even a golf course.
Flower lovers will admire the Botanical Garden (free!), the Conservatory of Flowers, the Rose Garden and the Japanese Tea Garden; art lovers get their fix at the De Young Museum of Art and the California Academy of Sciences is one of the world’s largest natural history museums. Every Sunday between May and October, the Spreckels Temple of Music offers free concerts at 1pm.
In order to see as much of the park as possible, we took a long jog through it and still only managed to see a fraction of the park. Our favorite part of the jog was through the Botanical Garden which even has Redwoods! We also caught an awesome spontaneous bongo-drum jam while having a post-run picnic in the park.If you want to enjoy some good food with a view, there are two restaurants with view over Ocean Beach: Cliff House Restaurant & The Beach Chalet.
Tip: The Observation Deck in the De Yong Museum offers fantastic views of the park and the bay and is free of charge.
How to get there:
Take the Muni (light railway) line N-Judah from Powell and Market and get off at Irving Street & 9th Ave.
On the weekends, there are also inter-park shuttles. If you have a car, there are various parking options throughout the park.