Extending from the Western shoreline and into the Eastern neighborhoods of the city, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is one of the largest urban parks in the country. Encompassing over 1,000 acres, Golden Gate Park is laid out in a rectangle, similar to New York’s Central Park. And like its East Coast sibling, Golden Gate Park offers much more than a simple arboreal refuge from the constant activity of the city.
One of Golden Gate Park’s main and most famous areas is the Music Concourse. The Concourse itself is a large plaza area that contains the Bandshell, where the park hosts musical performances. The Bandshell was fashioned after a Greco-Roman temple, complete with arches and columns. Sprawling out in front of the Temple is large oval bowl that is home to three fountains and statues, including one of a Roman gladiator (appropriately).
In addition to the Music Concourse, the park is also home to the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Given the city’s mild climate, the Botanical Gardens are ideal for plants from many parts of the world, housing over 50,000 species. One of the highlights is the Redwood Trail, which recreates what a redwood forest community would look like in the wild, and houses some of the oldest plants in the Garden. All of these plants are organized into four distinct collections, and is jointly maintained by the city and the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society.
After taking in the sights, sounds, and overall natural beauty of Golden Gate Park, head to the far East end and take a stroll through the adjoining Panhandle. The Panhandle is a narrow park about as wide as city block. It serves as a bit of a bridge from the park back into the city, as well as the northernmost boundary of one of San Francisco’s most famous neighborhoods.
“The Haight,” as the district is also known, is known for being the epicenter of the hippie counterculture movement of the 1960s. The Haight and the counterculture are uniquely tied to Golden Gate Park, using it to host the 1967 Human Be-In, which preceded the Summer of Love. While Haight-Ashbury still maintains the bohemian personality that made it famous, it currently plays host to a number of independent shops, restaurants, and cultural landmarks like the Red Victorian (a historic hotel), as well as the famous Painted Ladies style Victorian houses.
Taking in the personality of the city you’re visiting is an important and special part of any trip. In the process of doing so, don’t forget to also seek out and absorb some of the unique, natural beauty that each city has to offer.
Do you have any special spots, natural or otherwise, that have made an impression on you on your travels?
This post was provided by Dan Patterson who works for CityPASS. With the San Francisco CityPASS you can see the top attractions in San Francisco for a significant discount. Visit citypass.com for more details.