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The Most Beautiful San Francisco Gardens That'll Blow Your Mind
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The Most Beautiful San Francisco Gardens That'll Blow Your Mind

These arboretums and botanical gardens represent the rich horticulture tradition and history of the area. Check out San Francisco's gardens.

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5 min read

November 17, 2021

Gardens are the perfect places to escape when the hustle and bustle of the city gets overwhelming, and San Francisco’s gardens are the best of them all. As pockets of beautiful and peaceful oases scattered all around town, these arboretums and botanical gardens represent the rich horticulture tradition and history of the area. Whether you’re looking for a spot where you can take your lunch break, read a book, or just simply admire the beauty and relax, the San Francisco gardens will meet your expectations and exceed them.

Breathtaking San Francisco Gardens That Are Out of this World

Tended by world-class experts in plant care and landscape design, San Francisco’s gardens remain as otherworldly havens of tranquility and beautiful nature amidst the city’s seemingly ever-changing hodgepodge of chaos and commotion. 

The Japanese Tea Garden features many elements of water and rocks to create a calming landscape designed to slow people down.

1. Japanese Tea Garden San Francisco

The Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco is the oldest of its kind in the United States. One of the most popular features of the Golden Gate Park, this gorgeous garden gives locals and visitors the chance to experience the natural beauty and tranquility of a traditional Japanese garden in the heart of San Francisco.

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This San Francisco garden is decorated with pagodas, bridges, koi ponds, and Buddha statues, as well as a host of native Japanese plants such as bonsai trees and cherry blossoms, making it a picture of serenity. Craving a healthy snack? There’s also a teahouse on-site, which offers varieties of authentic green tea and light snacks. A hot cup of green tea, the smell of cherry blossoms in the air, and beautiful koi ponds and greenery all around? Sounds like a great outdoor date idea in San Francisco!

The Garden of Shakespeare's Flowers is a romantic picnic spot in Golden Gate Park, with many plants commonly mentioned in The Bard's works.

2. Shakespeare Garden S.F.

Also called the Garden of Shakespeare’s Flowers, this beautiful San Francisco garden is another feature of Golden Gate Park you must check out. A quiet section that’s often devoid of tourists, this hidden gem is a perfect spot to start reading that new book on your TBR list.

Not only is the Shakespeare Garden in S.F. home to more than 200 flowers and plants, but every single kind has been mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. Read the chart within the garden to identify the varieties that are in bloom and allow yourself to be transported to the worlds of the playwright’s historic comedies, tragedies, and sonnets—this San Francisco garden is too beautiful to miss. 

Seasonal blooms of colorful tulips in serene surrounds with views of the historic Dutch windmill at the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden.

3. Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden San Francisco

You’ve most definitely already seen pictures of this super scenic San Francisco garden, so it’s time you actually get up and go visit it yourself. While it’s beautiful to see year-round, the Tulip Garden in San Francisco truly comes alive during the springtime when the flowers are in full bloom.

Bearing the name of the late queen of the Netherlands, the scenic Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden in San Francisco transports you to another world as you take a walk through the brightly colored extravaganza of colors. Stop by the authentic Dutch windmill for a one-of-a-kind sighting in town, and if you get hungry, you’ll find an al fresco restaurant nearby to grab a bite at.

The Rose Garden is a scenic and serene spot within Golden Gate Park featuring a diverse and colorful array of rosebushes.

4. Rose Garden San Francisco

A three-minute walk away from the famous Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco is yet another beautiful but lesser-known haven of flowers: the Rose Garden. Situated between John F. Kennedy Drive and Park Presidio Drive, this garden is where you’ll come across a beautiful bloom of shy blushes and pinks, as well as fiery reds and oranges.

Many different types of roses spread their petals year-round at the Rose Garden in San Francisco, but the peak time to visit is at the height of summer. To this date, there are more than 60 rose beds planted on the premises of this San Francisco garden. Among them, you’ll find traditional lavender lassies, pretty sally holmes, bright sweet briars, eye-catching eglantines, and more fragrant roses that fill the air with a scent of romance and elegance.

The San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum is located in Golden Gate Park. Photo courtesy of San Francisco Botanical Garden.

5. San Francisco Botanical Garden

Formerly known as the Strybing Arboretum, the San Francisco Botanical Garden is a 55-acre carnival of colors, scents, and vibrant vistas like no other. You can easily spend an entire afternoon at this heavenly spot. With more than 7,500 varieties of flowers, trees, shrubs, and bushes from across the world, the San Francisco Botanical Garden is the largest on the West Coast.

Four main collections make up the garden: Mediterranean, Mid-Temperate Climate, Montane Tropic, and Specialty Collections. After you’re done exploring, smelling, and photographing all the blooming buds and beauties in the gardens, don’t forget to pop into the Garden Bookstore. Here, you’ll find a variety of interesting books, as well as calendars, posters, notecards, and a bunch of other knick knacks you can take home as a souvenir from an exceptionally beautiful San Francisco garden.

Yerba Buena Gardens is the name for two blocks of public parks located between Third and Fourth, Mission and Folsom Streets in Downtown San Francisco.

6. Yerba Buena Gardens San Francisco

Amidst the chaos of the Financial District of San Francisco is a beautiful public park offering a moment of relative calm. Stretching for two blocks and hosting an interesting rotation of public art pieces, the Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco is truly extraordinary. The sound of the water, the scent of flowers and greenery, and the warmth of the sunlight against the backdrop of buildings create a unique atmosphere, subduing the bustle of the downtown with the serenity of the park.

Have a picnic on the Esplanade, take a moment for yourself in the Reflection Garden, and admire the dramatic views of the city as you stroll along the Upper Terrace Garden. If you go to the Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco with children, stop by the Tot Lot and Children’s Gardens and they’ll have a blast in the great outdoors.

As for unique artificial features to check out, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the Children's Creativity Museum are all within the vicinity and make for cool arts and cultural excursions to conclude your San Francisco garden tour.

What’s your favorite San Francisco garden to visit? If you know of a worthy spot we left out, we’d love to hear all about it from you!

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