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The Most Beautiful Gardens in Golden Gate Park
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The Most Beautiful Gardens in Golden Gate Park

Here are the most beautiful gardens in Golden Gate Park to explore, relax, and have a picnic.

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5 min read

February 01, 2022

The rumors are true; Golden Gate Park in San Francisco is as amazing as they say. But figuring out how to spend a day here is no easy feat. Sprawling over a thousand acres, this incredible oasis has all sorts of groves, lakes, and meadows for you to discover. However, out of all the wonderful features Golden Gate Park has, its gardens shine the brightest. 

Whether you're looking for a tranquil spot to read a book or in search of a romantic destination to plan a beautiful picnic date, you’ll find a garden in Golden Gate Park that fits the bill. 

These are the Most Beautiful Gardens to Visit in Golden Gate Park

The Conservatory of Flowers is a California Historical Landmark and a San Francisco Designated Landmark.

Conservatory of Flowers

Whether you’re a San Franciscan, tourist, or budding botanist, the Conservatory of Flowers is a pin on the Golden Gate Park map that needs to be on your radar. Not only is this gorgeous garden a pretty place to escape to in Golden Gate Park, but it also makes it into the list of historical sites in California—it’s the oldest formal structure erected in the park back in 1879. 

The Conservatory of Flowers features almost 1,700 species of aquatic and tropical plants, including a 100-plus-year-old giant imperial philodendron, a world-renowned collection of orchids, carnivorous plants, and gorgeous giant water lilies. Offering an experience with rare and endangered plants like no other, this gorgeous garden in Golden Gate Park is an internationally renowned landmark in its own right that’s worthy of a spot on your San Francisco bucket list.

John McLaren Memorial Rhododendron Dell

The Rhododendron Dell is a sweet tribute to the father of Golden Gate Park, John McLaren. Paying homage to him with his favorite flower, this pretty garden in San Francisco is a colorful space that’ll put a smile on the face of anyone who wanders through. 

Thriving during springtime, the 850 varieties of rhododendrons in this Golden Gate Park garden are an absolute visual delight. If you find yourself amidst the clusters of rhododendrons, don’t forget to say hi to the statue of John McLaren before you leave.

The Dahlia Garden celebrates the official flower of S.F. with a diverse spread of colors that grow in a thick, fenced-in treasure trove of blooms.

Dahlia Garden

Did you know the official flower of S.F. is the dahlia? Celebrating the fact with a diverse bloom of colors is the Dahlia Garden in Golden Gate Park. Located just about a minute walk away from the Conservatory of Flowers, this bright and beautiful locale is as breathtaking as you’d expect it to be. 

While the Dahlia Garden in Golden Gate Park is breathtaking to witness year-round, visit in late August and September to find it at its peak. But don’t worry if you can’t make it during that specific timeframe—the dahlias start to bloom in June and the radiance usually lasts all the way into October.

The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park began as the Japanese Village and Tea Garden at the 1894 World's Fair.

Japanese Tea Garden

The azalea-laden waterfall, sights of regal lanterns, and intoxicating scent of sweet magical blooms greet you as you step into the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. Heralded as the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States, this lovely locale provides five acres of excellence for you to explore. Sip delicious tea from the rustic tea house, greet the fishes in the koi pond, find a quiet corner to meditate, and take lots of pictures. If the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park doesn’t inspire you with its enticing sights and unique attractions, we don’t know what else might.

San Francisco Botanical Garden

The San Francisco Botanical Garden offers a spectacular display of colors, scents, and vibrant visions. Across its different collections, Golden Gate Park’s Botanical Garden boasts more than 7,500 varieties of flora from across the globe. 

In the Mediterranean section of the botanical garden, you’ll find native California plants, as well as specimens from Southwestern Chile, Australia, and South Africa. This section of the garden also provides access points to the John Muir and Redwood Trails. Plants from Eastern Australia and New Zealand are in the Mid-Temperate Climate section of this beautiful botanical garden. Specimens from the Mesoamerican Cloud Forest and the Southeast Asian Cloud Forest are found in the Montane Tropic section. Smaller collections of primitive plants, succulents, dwarf conifers, and more specific plant families make up the Specialty Collection at Golden Gate Park’s Botanical Garden.

Once you’re done exploring the different pathways and groves, don’t forget to pop into Golden Gate Park’s Botanical Garden bookstore for a cute little souvenir to take home.

The Queen Wilhelmina Garden is closed every year the entire months of May and October for annual re-planting, so plan your visit accordingly.

Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden

If the Japanese Tea Garden immediately transports you to East Asia, then the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden will make you feel like you’ve suddenly stumbled into the Netherlands. Located at the west end of Golden Gate Park, the Queen Wilhelmina Garden, with its beautiful colorful blooms, has been delighting visitors since the 1900s. 

Around 10,000 tulips are planted here each fall; they fully blossom the following spring season in March. But don’t let the extravaganza of colors distract you too much when visiting this garden in Golden Gate Park—the authentic Dutch windmill donated by the former Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands is a one-of-a-kind sight in town you won’t want to miss. 

The Garden of Shakespeare’s Flowers transports visitors into the pages of historic comedies, tragedies, and sonnets.

Garden of Shakespeare’s Flowers

Shakespear gardens foster the 175 plants mentioned in William Shakespeare’s works. There are more than 30 of them in the world (and two in California), but the Garden of Shakespear’s Flower in Golden Gate Park is perhaps one of the most popular of them all. Teleporting visitors straight to the pages of the author's famous comedies, tragedies, and sonnets, this historically significant garden in Golden Gate Park is quite the adventure to discover. Keep an eye out for bronze plaques engraved with notable quotations accompanying the floral arrangements to pinpoint exactly which line Shakespeare attributed with the flowers. 

Unsurprisingly, with Shakespeare and love in the air, this beautiful Golden Gate Park garden has also become one of the city’s most popular wedding destinations and proposal spots. So, don’t be surprised if you see a couple taking their wedding photos while you’re reading a book in this cozy corner of Golden Gate Park.

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