So you want to know what to do in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco? Well, the most important thing to know is that you need to spend all day in this park. Between the museums, the bison, and the hippies, there’s simply not enough time to pack everything in in less than one day.
The second most important thing to know is that even though the term Golden Gate is in the Park, you will not be exploring the Golden Gate Bridge during this itinerary. That is because, weirdly enough, Golden Gate Bridge is not in Golden Gate Park. Get used to disappointment, Internet Stranger!
Morning: De Young Museum
Address: 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr
Hours: 9:30-5:15 Every Day Except Closed Monday. Open Late on Fridays April-November
Price: 10 Dollars
There are so many fabulous museums in San Francisco, but the De Young is possibly my favorite. The museum offers regular free guided tours throughout the day, and free guided museum tours are possibly my favorite things on this earth after food and mystery novels.
Travelerette Tip: The De Young has excellent temporary exhibitions, but I suggest skipping them if this is your first time at the museum. The regular collection is large enough that you should concentrate on those works. Also, this will save you money because you won’t have to pay the extra charge for the temporary exhibition.
Travelerette Treasure: My favorite tour was the docent tour of the American Art collection, which is offered most days at noon. I loved this tour because we got to learn about the history of the depiction of California in painting. Our docent started by explaining that in the early 19th century, most painters did landscapes of the East Coast:
He next took us to a later landscape of San Francisco and its infamous fog.
And we finished with this work by contemporary California artist Wayne Thiebaud, who is famous for his somber colors and serious subject matter.
Just kidding! Thiebaud is known for his brightly colored paintings of sweets. There is something stereotypically Californian about the almost superficially cheerful nature of his work, but I like this painting anyway. What’s wrong with a work of art that puts a smile on your face?
Lunch: De Young Cafe
I recommend spending three hours in the De Young, which gives you enough time to take two guided tours and explore a little of the museum on your own. At this point you will be hungry for some lunch. The De Young Museum has a good and not too expensive cafe on the ground floor. The walls are glass so you can look out on the Golden Gate Park while you eat. I had some fresh soba noodles and tea, and then I was ready to head out into nature!
Afternoon: Explore Golden Gate Park
This park has everything: palm trees, a Japanese tea garden, lakes, a Bison Paddock that is actually a paddock that contains real bison, something called a Hippie Hill, which of course it does because this is San Francisco, and an Archery Range. No matter what you are in the mood to do, just check out one of the many clear maps you will find posted around the park and head off! The Park is your oyster, even though oysters may be the only thing you cannot find in this park.
Travelerette Tip: There is literally always an event in this park. I wasn’t even looking for something, and I came across an unidentifiable (at least by me) concert with a whole bunch of people in attendance dressed as fairies. I’m not trying to be offensive; they were literally wearing glitter and little gauze wings on their backs. If you want to be better prepared than I was, just check this calendar for details.
Other than looking out for concerts or festivals, I think it’s much more properly San Francisco to explore Golden Gate Park randomly rather than go in with a set list of to-dos like some kind of New Yorker. To get you in the proper Spirit of Adventure, I share with you…
A Random Collection of Photos I Took While Wandering Around…Golden Gate Park
Address: 5800 Geary Boulevard
Reservations: Book on Opentable
After spending a whole afternoon exploring the wonders of Golden Gate Park, you need to relax, and what better place to do that than at a Michelin-starred Moroccan restaurant? If that is what you are in the mood for, look no further than Aziza, which is a medium-length walk away from the park.
Aziza has a delicious looking and fairly affordable tasting menu, but I decided since this was my first visit that I should try the regular menu. It was all delicious, but the next time I go I am definitely getting my mitts on that chef’s tasting!
But you don’t want to know about what I didn’t eat! You want to know about what I did eat! Allow me to present my review in the form of a menu:
That’s How to Have a Perfect Day in Golden Gate Park!
What are your favorite activities in Golden Gate Park? Do you know what that concert with the fairies was about? Has anyone found Tony Bennett’s heart? I hear he left it in the coat check of the De Young Museum. Please leave your thoughts below!
I am here to provide perfect travel itineraries with 24 hours, 3 fun facts, and 1,000,000 laughs! I hope that I can motivate you to get out there, see the world, learn something, and have a sense of humor about it all.