Gardens, Groves, Lakes and Meadows

Whether you're looking for a nice quiet spot to read a book or in search of some awe-inspiring nature, Golden Gate Park features a wide array of gardens, groves, lakes and meadows for you to enjoy, each with its own distinct character and charm.

  1. Gardens
  2. Groves
  3. Lakes
  4. Meadows
  5. Blooming Calendar

Gardens of Golden Gate Park Opens in new window

Pink camellia flowerCamellia Garden
Conservatory Drive East off of JFK Drive |  Map It

Golden Gate Park never stops blooming, and its gardeners never stop working. The entire park is a garden created out of sand dunes by gardeners’ hands in the 1870s, and generations of gardeners since then have planted many rare and exotic plants throughout the park. And because San Francisco has very little frost and ample winter rain, there is always something growing, flowering, going to seed, or changing color here. Although Golden Gate Park has beautiful destination gardens, it was designed for folks to “get lost.” Wander any trail and you will find interesting features, surprising plants, magnificent tree groves, and sunny glades, including this delightful little garden of camellias.

Plant boxes at community gardenCommUNITY Garden
780 Frederick Street |  Map It

The .66-acre Golden Gate Park CommUNITY Garden features 67 raised bed community garden plots for budding gardeners to enjoy. The Recreation and Park Department has also made available common landscape materials (mulch, chips and fines) stocked in holding bins and a gardening-tool lending library, demonstration gardens and educational programming. Environmentally sustainable practices are emphasized here, both in the garden’s design and in its programmatic and operating features, including a native plant nursery as part of the materials distribution component.

People enjoying the gardens at the Conservatory of Flowers

Conservatory of Flowers 
100 John F. Kennedy Drive |  Map It

A Victorian confection of wood and glass, the Conservatory of Flowers, which opened in 1879, is the oldest building in Golden Gate Park and one of San Francisco’s most beloved landmarks. It houses some 1,700 species of aquatic and tropical plants, many of them rare, including a 100-year-old giant Imperial philodendron, a world-renowned collection of orchids, giant water lilies, and carnivorous plants. Special exhibits have included such popular favorites as the Butterfly Zone and the miniature garden railroad. Admission to the Conservatory of Flowers is free to San Francisco residents and all veterans. 

White Dahlia flowersDahlia Garden
Pompeii Circle off of JFK Drive |  Map It

Plans to build the Dahlia Garden were introduced in 1940 by Interstate Commerce Commission Director Richard T. Eddy and Park Superintendent John McLaren. Their intent was to cultivate dahlia species from all over the world and create an international garden. Located inside the oval of the Conservatory driveway turnaround, the kidney-shaped garden is tended by the Dahlia Society of California, whose members nurture its some 1,000 plants into full bloom by late August.   

Fuchsia Dell signFuchsia Dell
Conservatory Drive East off of JFK Drive |  Map It

This secluded hillside spot was developed in 1940 to showcase fuchsias. Originally called the Golden Gate Fuchsia Grove, the hillside garden was created by the Park Department. Little is known of its early history, but the original fuchsia plants most likely came from the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition (GGIE), noted for the fuchsias featured in some of its landscaping. Park Superintendent John McLaren was a special adviser to the GGIE fair commission and was known to have recycled many plantings from the Panama-Pacific International Exposition to the park many years earlier. In the middle of the dell there is a brass sundial on top of a square masonry pedestal that was placed in 1983.

Pagoda rising above the trees

Japanese Tea Garden 
75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive |  Map It

The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park is the oldest in the United States, created for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition as the fair’s Japanese Village exhibit. The garden’s lush, harmonious landscaping pays homage to the traditional Japanese art of the garden. Paths wind through its 3.5 acres of carefully chosen and manicured plants, including graceful Japanese maples, twisting pines, clipped azaleas, and cherry trees that put on a spectacular flowering display in March and April. Admission to the Conservatory of Flowers is free to San Francisco residents and all veterans. 

Tea Garden MapTea Garden Ticketing Website

Tulip garden in front of stone windmillQueen Wilhelmina Garden
1690 John F. Kennedy Drive |  Map It

Below the towering Dutch Windmill is the Queen Wilhelmina Garden, where some 10,000 tulip bulbs planted each fall blossom the following March; interspersed with Iceland poppies, the tulips seem even more glorious and colorful. The bowl-shaped garden was designed by Roy L. Hudson and named in 1962 to honor the long-reigning queen of the Netherlands, who had died that same year. Tulips, the emblem of perfect love, originate from central Asia and Turkey, from where they were introduced into Europe and the Americas in the 17th century.


John McLaren Rhododendron Dell
John F. Kennedy Drive, near the Music Concourse |  Map It

The Rhododendron Dell is a 20-acre site, located in the heart of Golden Gate Park along Kennedy Drive near the Music Concourse. It was designed to honor John McLaren, the father of Golden Gate Park, with over 850 varieties of his favorite flower. The area includes a pathway system by which a visitor can view the collection. The Dell dates back to the early 1950s. Rhododendrons in Golden Gate Park are truly a labor of love because growing conditions have made it difficult to sustain healthy, long-lasting plants in the past. However, recent renovations and advanced gardening techniques have ensured the existence of the blooms – which provide a visual delight in the springtime.

Yellow rosesRose Garden
John F. Kennedy Drive near 14th Avenue |  Map It

Until January 8, 1961, San Francisco had no municipal rose garden, although a two-acre informal one had existed in the park on Stanyan Street between Oak and Page Streets early in the century. Today, the park’s Rose Garden contains examples ranging from a simple single five-petal configuration of the wild rose to hybridized elegant blooms in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and fragrances. These delicately perfumed blossoms are a universal symbol of love and romance and offer the perfect backdrop for a budding relationship. For events happening at the Golden Gate Park Rose Garden, visit

People walking in the San Francisco Botanical Garden

San Francisco Botanical Garden 
1199 Ninth Avenue |  Map It

The San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum grows and conserves plants from around the world — more than 8,000 varieties in 55 acres of landscaped gardens and open spaces. Stroll through a grove of coast redwoods and a Mediterranean garden, explore cloud forests from meso-America and southeast Asia, and wander gardens of flora from Chile, Australia, Japan, California, and more. The garden’s special collections include rhododendrons, camellias, magnolias, and succulents. Admission to the Conservatory of Flowers is free to San Francisco residents and all veterans.

Brick courtyard lined with flowers and treesShakespeare Garden
335 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive |  Map It

The California Spring Blossom and Wild Flower Association established the half-acre intimate formal garden in July 1928 to showcase the plants and trees mentioned in William Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. Today, this charming, secluded garden is the perfect urban getaway spot to enjoy a good read or have a romantic lunch. Of course, with love and Shakespeare in the air, this garden has become one of the city’s most popular wedding venues.