Golden Gate Park - East end

Golden Gate Park - East end, San Francisco, California (A)

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park hosts many sites and events. This is a place to visit museums or to go to a concert; to climb a four story-rainforest or to see a white alligator; to see fine art, folk art, street art, or sidewalk art; to discover exotic plants, flowers and trees; to ride a boat, a bike or the carousel, to play tennis or golf, to rollerblade or to meditate. On a sunny day, you will want to stay all day.
This article is featured in the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" on iTunes App Store and Google Play. You can download the app to your mobile device to read the article offline and create a self-guided walking tour to visit the attractions featured in this article. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Walk Route

Guide Name: Golden Gate Park - East end
Guide Location: USA » San Francisco
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2.0 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Author: Francoise Herrmann
Author Bio: Born in Paris, France. Lost my heart in San Francisco more than 20 years ago! Live next to the GG Park. Love to share San Francisco treasures.
Author Website:
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • De Young Museum
  • Japanese Tea Garden
  • Music Concourse & Spreckles Temple of Music
  • Academy of Sciences
  • Shakespeare Garden
  • Botanical Gardens (former Strybing Arboretum)
  • National AIDS Memorial Grove
  • The Conservatory of Flowers
  • Children's (historic) Carousel & Playground
De Young Museum

1) De Young Museum

The De Young Museum, since 1895, is the oldest museum of San Francisco. Completely rebuilt, the new De Young museum re-opened in 2005, and in the process doubled its footprint, and now includes a 144 foot, 360 degree, Observation Tower. The museum façade is entirely made of copper (950,000 pounds with 1.5 million embossings). The De Young Museum is home to several permanent collections of American Painting, American Decorative Art, African Art, Oceanic Art, Art of the Americas and Textile Arts. The De Young also hosts an active program of world class exhibits each year, highlighted in 2011 with the colossal masterpieces of Mexico’s OLMEC art (till May 8, 2011) and in the summer with a PICASSO exhibit from the National Picasso Museum of Paris (till Oct. 9, 2011).

Friday nights, (from Jan through to Nov.) the Museum is open till 8:45 pm with live music, and cocktails on the ground floor. The museum also boasts spectacular landscaping, both inside and out.
Image Courtesy of Gaurav1146.
Japanese Tea Garden

2) Japanese Tea Garden

The Japanese Tea Garden is the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States. It is the original garden, built as the Japanese Village, in 1894, for the California Midwinter International Expo. After the Fair, a Japanese gardener and immigrant named Makoto Hagiwara approached city officials to convert the exhibit into a permanent park. Hagiwara thus engineered the transition, and was named Official Caretaker of the garden. He and his family lived there maintaining the garden until they were relocated to internment camps during World War II. In the early 1950s the garden was re-opened, a Zen garden and 9000-lb Lantern of Peace were added. At the entrance there is an elaborately carved gate. Inside you will find a beautiful 5-story Pagoda temple, a high arching wooden Drum bridge, koi (goldfish) ponds, sculptures and native Chinese and Japanese plants. In Spring every year (March & April), there are spectacular flowering cherry and plum blossom trees. There is a tea house and a gift shop.
Image Courtesy of Joe Mabel.
Music Concourse & Spreckles Temple of Music

3) Music Concourse & Spreckles Temple of Music

Sandwiched between the De Young Museum and the Academy of Sciences, the Music Concourse is an open-air plaza, landscaped with poplars. The plaza was originally excavated for the California Midwinter International Expo in 1894, and then it became a place for music venues. The Spreckles Music Temple, or “Bandshell”, at one end of the Concourse, was designed in 1899 by the Reid Brothers, and the first concert was held there in 1900. Since then the Bandshell was twice severely damaged during the 1906 and 1989 Loma Prieta earthquakes. Such famous musicians as the Italian opera singer Luciano Pavarotti and the famed rock band The Grateful Dead have given concerts there. Free concerts are held there every summer, on Sundays.
Image Courtesy of Joe Mabel.
Academy of Sciences

4) Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences, since 1853, re-opened in 2008, completely rebuilt as a spectacular museum, research and education center, and possibly the greenest museum on earth. The Academy of Sciences hosts the Steinhart Aquarium with 38,000 animals including penguins, stingrays, piranhas and “Claude” the albino alligator; the Morrison Planetarium with the largest existing all-digital dome and a 75-foot diameter projection screen; a 4-story rain-forest contained within a 90-ft diameter glass dome, teeming with 250 species of free-flying butterflies and birds; and the Kimball Natural History Museum informed by 150 years of research into the evolution of life on earth and more than 20 million specimens. The building, designed by Renzo Piano, is an award-winning masterpiece of sustainability with a 2.5 acre live roof, home to 1.7 million different native California plants; a canopy of solar panels with 60,000 photovoltaic cells; a water recycling system, radiant-floor heating and walls insulated with recycled blue jeans.
Image Courtesy of BrokenSphere.
Shakespeare Garden

5) Shakespeare Garden

Shakespeare Garden, originally called The Garden of Shakespeare’s Flowers, is a themed garden, home to more than 200 plants and flowers mentioned in the Great Bard’s plays and sonnets. The brainchild of Alice Eastwood, Director of Botany at the Academy of Sciences, the garden was created in 1928. Entrance to the garden on a wooded pathway leads you through an arched iron-wrought gate to a brick path covered with a canopy of cherry blossom trees. Midway on the path there is a sundial; and opposite the gate, at the end of the path, there is a small brick-walled enclosure where there are bronze panels with flower quotes. For example, one of the panels quotes for roses: “I have seen roses damask’d, red and white, But no such roses see I in her cheeks...” Sonnet 130. Between the panels, in the center of the wall, there is a wood lock box containing a bronze bust of Shakespeare.

The Shakespeare Garden is a tranquil and comforting place, tucked away from the street and traffic. There are benches throughout the garden. It is often rented for weddings.
Image Courtesy of Lorenzarius.
Botanical Gardens (former Strybing Arboretum)

6) Botanical Gardens (former Strybing Arboretum)

The San Francisco Botanical Gardens spread across 55 acres, where more than 7000 varieties of plants from around the world are grown and conserved. The garden is divided into several areas: Mediterranean with native plants from California and other parts of the world; Mid-tropic which includes a Japanese moon garden, Montane tropic with Mesoamerican and Southeast Asian Cloud Forest varieties and Specialty collections, which include the Zellerbach Garden of Perennials, the Garden of Fragrance, dwarf conifers, succulents and Dry Mexico collections. You will also find a Redwood Grove, and flowering Magnolias and Rhododendrons throughout the gardens in Spring.

There is a bookstore, and the Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture (since 1972), which organizes a Children’s Story time (for ages 4 to 8), at 10 am, followed by a walk at 11 am, every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month. There are also free guided tours (for adults) at 1:30 pm on week days and at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm on week-ends, departing from the bookstore. There are also Saturday plant sales from 10 am to 1 pm at the nursery, Southwest of the gardens.
National AIDS Memorial Grove

7) National AIDS Memorial Grove

The AIDS Memorial Grove was created as a place to honor and to grieve all victims of the AIDS epidemic. In 1996 the Congress and the President of the United States approved the “National AIDS Memorial Grove Act” recognizing the AIDS Memorial Grove, in Golden Gate Park, as a National site dedicated to all victims of the illness and to ease the pain of all who are left behind. Covering 7 acres of land, the grove contains many areas of meditation and contemplation, where circles emerge, symbolizing the warmth of an embrace: Crossroads Circle honoring all women and children victims of AIDS; Redwood Circle where you will find Angel Rock honoring the Angels of the Grove; Circle of Friends with the inscription of those touched by AIDS who have endowed the Grove; Pine Crescent a place of gathering; Fern Grotto on each side of winding stairs leading to the Circle of Peace with a dedication to all the unidentified victims of AIDS in a poem by Thomas Gunn. Each year, thousands of volunteers maintain the Grove on monthly Workdays. And many more come to grieve and to attend healing circles.
Image Courtesy of Luis Villa del Campo.
The Conservatory of Flowers

8) The Conservatory of Flowers

The Conservatory of Flowers offers both magnificent Victorian architecture, and a fabulous collection of close to 2000 exotic tropical plants. The building, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, was one of the first erected in the Golden Gate Park, in 1879, and it is the oldest remaining wood and glass conservatory in the United States. Closed for several years after a devastating storm in 1995, the Conservatory reopened in 2003 after major renovations. There are five galleries: Aquatic plants, home to plants from rivers, lakes and swamps in Borneo, Brazil and India, the largest water lilies on earth and carnivorous plants; Lowland Tropics with luxuriant rainforest jungles and a waterfall, home to plants from Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, South East Asia and Central Africa, and many food specimens such as coffee, vanilla, cashew nuts and cocoa; Highland Tropics with misty humidity, home to plants from cloud forests in Columbia, Peru, Venezuela and Vietnam and a remarkable orchid collection; Potted plants with a collection of containers and ever changing plants; Special Exhibits to ensure that every time you visit, there is something new to discover.
Image Courtesy of WolfmanSF.
Children's (historic) Carousel & Playground

9) Children's (historic) Carousel & Playground

The Golden Gate Carousel was built in 1912 by the Herschell-Spillman Company. It was used at amusement parks in Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon, and at the 1939 World Fair on Treasure Island, before it was installed at the Golden Gate Park in 1940. Initially powered by steam, the carousel then switched to an electric motor. The carousel was shut down in 1977, restored and repaired, and re-opened in 1984. The carousel boasts 62 elaborately carved, and vibrantly painted animals, including a dragon, a camel, a goat, horses, frogs, dogs and pigs. There is a Gebrueder-Bruder Band Organ to accompany rides. Rides cost $1.50 for adults, .50 cts for children 6 to 10, and are free for children under 5 with a paying adult.

The Children’s Playground – Sharon Quarters for Children when it opened in 1888 as the first public area reserved for children- was completely renovated, and re-opened in 2007 as the Koret Children’s Quarter. It is the largest of four playgrounds at the Golden Gate Park, and a design flagship for all San Francisco playgrounds, complete with a Treehouse Village, Adventure Play Yard, Hidden Hollow, and climbing wavewalls.

Walking Tours in San Francisco, California

Create Your Own Walk in San Francisco

Create Your Own Walk in San Francisco

Creating your own self-guided walk in San Francisco is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Chinatown Walking Tour

Chinatown Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles
San Francisco Introduction Walking Tour

San Francisco Introduction Walking Tour

A commercial and cultural hub of northern California, San Francisco is a popular tourist destination, known for its steep rolling hills and eclectic mix of world-famous landmarks. The iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the teeth-rattling cable cars carrying riders up and down the Nob Hill, the Alcatraz Island, and the oldest Chinatown in North America are just some of the city's prominent...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.3 Km or 3.3 Miles
North Beach Walking Tour

North Beach Walking Tour

North Beach is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, known as San Francisco's Little Italy. This fun area features a great mix of architecture, museums, restaurants and old shops. Take this tour to explore the beauties that North Beach has to offer.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 Km or 1.2 Miles
Famous Architecture Walking Tour

Famous Architecture Walking Tour

San Francisco is one of the world's top travel destinations, being famous for spectacular tourist attractions like Alcatraz Island, Fisherman's Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge. But besides that, this city also features a large variety of world-known architecture, like Transamerica Pyramid, Grace Cathedral and others. Take this walking tour to explore the most famous architectural...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Castro District Walking Tour

Castro District Walking Tour

It is well known that San Francisco is the place where gay and lesbian culture flourished. Castro District, where LGBT flag is flying high, houses many of the city's gay-owned businesses and households – and is where the LGBT culture is considered a distinct part of local identity. This self guided tour leads you to the best known landmarks and most visited LGBT attractions in the Castro...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 Km or 0.9 Miles
Union Square Walking Tour

Union Square Walking Tour

Union Square is known as San Francisco's most popular shopping destination and the third largest shopping area in the United States. In addition to that, Union Square features many amazing restaurants, theaters and a wonderful concentration of fine art galleries. Take this walking tour to explore Union Square's main tourist attractions.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles

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