Golden Gate Park is a 1,017-acre sanctuary stretching from the Haight to the Pacific Ocean. It houses a multitude of attractions, from museums to botanical gardens and recreation facilities. Here are the top picks for the park:
With its living roof – seven undulating hillocks—housing a tapestry of native plant species, this stunning modern structure designed by Renzo Piano blends seamlessly into the landscape. This state-of-the-art museum, built with sustainability in mind, features an aquarium, a self-contained four-story rainforest, a planetarium, and two outstanding restaurants.
The Tea Garden was originally developed in 1854 as a Japanese Village for the California Midwinter International Exposition. Wend your way through the bridges, pools, and statuary and take in the lush plantings of trees and flowers before stopping in the tea house for refreshment. The garden is especially pretty in April when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.
5. Stowe LakeThis is the largest lake in the park; come here to rent paddle boats, row boats or bicycles. Within Stow Lake is the artificial island called Strawberry Hill, with its cascading Huntington Falls and picturesque Chinese pavilion. Located on Stowe Lake Drive between Martin Luther King and JFK Drives; call 415-752-0347 for details.
This is the country’s first public children’s playground; the site was completely overhauled in 2007 and now includes tree houses, a tide pool, and a canal for water play. The gloriously restored carousel, built in 1912 and housed in a Greek temple, is reason enough to visit if you are traveling with kids.
With its dramatic ocean views, this restaurant is a great place to linger over brunch or sunset cocktails. Built in 1925 and restored in 1996, the Beach Chalet has its own visitors’ center with stunning Art Deco murals. The house made beers, brewed onsite, have names like Riptide Ale and West End Wheat.