Things to Do in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco

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There are so many things to Do in Golden Gate Park. This San Francisco park is massive. A quick visit soon turns into a long visit as you follow a new pathway and get distracted by the rollerbladers and borders in the skate park, or the pretty rows of neat flower beds.

There’s also the magical Japanese Tea Garden to discover, as well as the California Academy of Sciences, and de Young Museum. And that’s not even including everything else in the park.

Golden Gate Park in San Francisco spans an impressive 1,037 acres and attracts over 13 million visitors every year, so it really is a big chunk of greenery.

Golden Gate Park Things to Do

Golden Gate Park Things to Do
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1. Explore the Japanese Tea Garden

The Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Garden is tranquil and calming. Narrow, winding paths curve past manicured shrubs and sweep underneath tall pagodas that are painted in deep shades of ruby red.

Fish follow you as you tip toe across the stepping stones and dance with excitement as you stop to pause and admire the reflection.

Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Garden
Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Garden
Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Garden
Fish at the Japanese Tea Garden
Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Garden
Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Garden

The most unusual sight is the arched bridge near the exit. It’s a tiny, steep wooden bridge that almost mimics a dainty Japanese lady doing yoga or tai chi.

Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Garden
The Japanese Tea Garden
Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Garden
Statues in the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco

Although entry to the Golden Gate Park is free, you’ll need to pay a modest fee to enter the Japanese Tea Gardens.

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2. Visit the Conservatory of Flowers

An impressive conservatory is the star of the show in this traditional part of the park. It’s the oldest building here and considered a treasured landmark.

It’s home to over 1,000 species of plants, including a famous collection of orchids, a 100-year-old plant and lots more. Even if you don’t step inside, the building is pretty enough on its own.

Conservatory of Flowers
Conservatory of Flowers

Tip: This park is deceivingly big. Allow at least half a day to see a schmidgen of what it has to offer.

3. People Watch

Near the conservatory you’ll find lots of open space. Grab a seat on one of the benches and watch the world go by. It’s a great spot for people watching, particularly as San Fran is full of so many characters.

Golden Gate Park
The Park
Golden Gate Park
Flowers in the park

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4. Visit De Young Museum

50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118

This art museum showcases cool art in spacious, quirky exhibitions and installations. Wander the multiple floors and rooms, checking out collections from all over the world and throughout the ages.

Adult entry costs $15USD. Concessions are available. Opening hours are Tuesdays – Sundays at 9:30 am–5:15 pm.

De Young Museum in San Francisco
De Young Museum
De Young Museum in San Francisco
De Young Museum

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5. Visit Young’s Hamon Tower Observatory

If it’s available (sometimes it’s booked out for events) head straight up to Young’s Hamon Tower Observatory (accessed via De Young Museum). From here you’ll see views of the park and get a different perspective of the area.

Young's Hamon Tower Observatory
The view from Young’s Hamon Tower Observatory

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6. Explore the California Academy of Sciences

55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118

Opposite de Young Museum, you’ll find the California Academy of Sciences. It’s home to a four-story Rainforests of the World dome, an aquarium, the world’s largest all-digital planetarium and more. It’s huge and exciting for both big un’s and little un’s.

The rainforest at California Academy of Sciences
The rainforest at California Academy of Sciences

Tip: Make sure you head to the rooftop to see the funny grass domes.

You’ll need to pay to get in unless you have a cityPASS. Adult tickets cost around $30USD. Concessions are available.

Opening hours are Monday – Saturday: 9:30 am – 5 pm, Sunday: 11 am – 5 pm and Thursday NightLife (21+): 6 – 10 pm.

 California Academy of Sciences
California Academy of Sciences

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7. Cycle the Park

Given the size of the park is much easier to cycle round it. For a quirkier visit you could segway, skate or scoot round the park.

Cycle hire in San Francisco
Cycle Hire

Map of Golden Gate Park

If you’re short on time I’d recommend working out what you want to do in Golden Gate Park, or at least what you hope to see. This map pinpoints all the sights and activities in the park.

Map of Golden Gate Park San Francisco
Map of the park

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things to do in Golden Gate Park
Things to do in Golden Gate Park
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