Golden Gate Park Turns 143

Golden Gate Park turns 143!

In celebration of Golden Gate Park’s 143rd Birthday on April 4, rediscover what this 1,017-acre city jewel has in store for you.  From gardens, special attractions, museums, sports fields and facilities and an array of recreation and dining options provided by our partners, Golden Gate Park is the perfect destination for visitors and city residents alike. Here’s a sample of what you’ll find:

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Gardens

The park includes a variety of specialty gardens, including the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden, Shakespeare Garden, Rhododendron Dell, Dahlia Dell, the National AIDS Memorial Grove and the Rose Garden, which features hundreds of varieties of roses.

Recreation
There’s never a shortage of recreational options in Golden Gate Park, which includes sports facilities for archery, soccer, fly casting, golf, lawn bowling, tennis and disc golf.  There are 7.5 miles of designated paved trails for biking, and on Sundays, holidays and Saturdays between April and September, portions of JFK Drive are closed to vehicular traffic for walkers, runners, bikers and skaters. Children’s Playground at the Koret Children’s Quarter is the nation’s oldest children’s playground in a public park.  The Stow Lake Boathouse rents a variety of boats for a leisurely tour around the lake; rent a bike, or, tour the entire park on a Segway!

Feel like a picnic?  Our Permits and Reservations Division can help assist you in finding the perfect spot for your family or company picnic of 25 or more people.

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Attractions
The park is home to a bison paddock, a number of lakes and world-renowned institutions like the California Academy of Sciences and the de Young Museum, as well as the San Francisco Botanical Garden, the Japanese Tea Garden, the Sharon Art Studio and the Conservatory of Flowers.

Special Events
Every year, Golden Gate Park hosts a variety of large and small permitted events, including Outside Lands, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and dozens of charity walks and runs. Each March, Rec and Park hosts its own Spring Eggstravaganza family event, and our annual Holiday Tree Lighting in December is a popular event for the young and young-at-heart.

Food and Drink
Hungry? Get your nosh on at Off the Grid every Thursday evening, or stop by the Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant, Japanese Tea Garden, Annakoot, the Stow Lake Boathouse, Annie’s Hot Dogs or Sam’s Chowdermobile.

Fun Facts

  • Golden Gate Park is a man-made urban oasis, created in the 1870s from 1,017 acres of wind-swept dunes on San Francisco’s west side.
  • A casino existed in Golden Gate Park from 1881 to 1896.
  • The California Midwinter International Exposition was held in the Park in 1894, attracting over a million visitors from around the world, including every state in the Union and over 37 foreign countries.
  • When a huge earthquake hit San Francisco in 1906, more than 40,000 citizens who suddenly found themselves homeless camped in temporary tent shelters built throughout the park while the City rebuilt from the devastating earthquake and fires.
  • Golden Gate Park is home to several unique gardens, including the Shakespeare Garden, Rose Garden, Japanese Tea Garden, Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden, Redwood Memorial Grove, AIDS Memorial Grove, San Francisco Botanical Gardens at Strybing Arboretum, and Conservatory Valley.
  • The Shakespeare Garden, dedicated in 1928, features plants and flowers mentioned in William Shakespeare’s works, an old brick wall with bronze plaques, and a bust of Shakespeare himself.
  • The Conservatory Valley gardens are home to the oldest building in the Park and the oldest conservatory in the country.  The beautiful Conservatory of Flowers, renovated in 2003, is modeled after similar conservatories in London’s Kew Gardens.
  • The San Francisco Botanical Gardens at Strybing Arboretum is a 55-acre garden area housing more than 7,500 plant and flower varieties from around the world.
  • Golden Gate Park is the country’s fourth oldest major urban public park.
  • Park officers patrol the park today as they have for 136 years, beginning in 1874.
  • Golden Gate Park is home to 680 acres of forest, 130 acres of meadows, 15 miles of drives and 33 acres of lakes.