With museums and other attractions sprinkled among the park’s wooded network of trails, gardens, and lakes, you just might get lost in its verdant expanse- as you should.
History: To reclaim San Francisco’s “outside lands” from the sand dunes and create a park, city officials planted more than 150,000 trees on some 1,000 acres throughout the 1870s. At the project’s outset, locals were skeptical that the sandy soil on the city’s west end could grow anything. Initial attempts were foiled when the seeds and sprouts blew away in coastal winds, but a breakthrough came when barley from an engineer’s horse’s nosebag spilled and, amazingly, sprouted. City officials quickly sowed the parkland with wild barley, which protected the more fragile plants as they rook root, and the park was born. Today, Golden Gate Park is one of the largest urban parks in the United States, stretching more than three miles from the Panhandle to the sea.
Don’t Miss: the copper-colored de Young Museum, the kid-favorite California Academy of Sciences, and the serene Japanese Tea Garden border the Music Concourse, the cultural center of the park. Frim there, it’s only a short walk south to the always lovely San Francisco Botanical Garden, with more than 7,000 species of plants, or northeast to the Conservatory of Flowers. If you get lost, just head to Stow Lake and climb to the top of Strawberry Hill, from which you can orient yourself with views of downtown.