Top 20 San Francisco attractions

San Francisco Botanical Garden

The beautiful San Francisco Botanical Garden is located inside the Golden Gate Park.

10 best things to do at San Francisco Botanical Garden

The 55-acre San Francisco Botanical Garden has an incredible diversity of global plant collections, featuring 9,000 different species.

The Bay Area’s mild climate and famous coastal fog supports plants from a wide spectrum of climactic conditions around the world, including plants from Australia, NZ, Chile, South Africa, Southeast Asia, the Mediterranean and California. 

There’s also a book store, plant arbor, and library at the San Francisco Botanical Garden, but no cafe or restaurants.   

Here's the 10 best things to do:

  1. Enjoy a picnic at the Great Meadow with expansive lawns popular for just hanging out. The lawns are flanked by Monterey Pines and Monterey Cyprus, with an ornate fountain as it’s centerpiece.

  2. Take part in the Autumn Moon Festivities in September at the Moon Viewing Garden. This is held during the Autumn Equinox when the moon is brightest, with the ceremony taking place on an L-shaped deck overlooking the pond.

  3. Roam through a prehistoric garden in the Ancient Plants Garden. This garden has a prehistoric feel, with exotic plants from the dinosaur age, like giant tree ferns, cyads and nikau palms.  The garden is divided into different geologic periods, including Early Devonian, Pennsylvanian, Jurassic, Cretaceous and Eocene.

  4. Inhale gorgeous scents in The Garden of Fragrance. This beautiful garden has scented plants for the visually impaired to touch and smell.  It has an enchanting setting with winding paths, quaint stone walls, and a St Francis of Assisi statue overlooking a stream. The stone in the rustic walls was brought to America by famous industrialist William Hearst from a 12th century Spanish monastery.

  5. Wander through an 100 year old Redwood Grove with a peaceful stand of towering redwoods, once common on the Central Californian coast.  There are plenty of benches for rest and contemplation.  

  6. Stop by the Bookstore with a great selection of books on garden design, shrubs and trees, ferns, bonsai, and so much more!  This is also an awesome place to pick up a garden-themed gift, like a tote bag, poster or card.

  7. Buy a plant at the arbor next to the Bookstore, on the Main Gate Esplanade.  Get expert advice on plant species from San Francisco Botanical Garden staff.

  8. Check out the Library of Horticulture established in 1972, with the widest selection of horticulture books in California, and a collection of  27,000 volumes!  There's even a 2,000 volume kid's horticulture library.

  9. Take part in Children's Storytime and Family Walk departing from the Library, suitable for kids aged 4 to 8.  Check times.

  10. Participate in a docent-led garden tour.  The tours are 60-90 minutes long, and leave from the Main Gate Kiosk each day.  No registration is required, and the cost of the tour is included in the San Francisco Botanical Garden entrance fee. Check times.

Where are the entrance gates?

  • Main Gate near the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Lincoln Way.
  • North Gate on Martin Luther King Boulevard, near the California Academy of Sciences.

Know before you go

  • Address: 1199 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122
  • Hours & Admission:  here.
  • Just for kids:  The library has kid’s books and story times.
  • Parking:  Along JFK Drive, or Martin Luther King Jr Drive.
  • Restrooms:  At the North Gate, Great Meadow, and inside the library.

Other things to do at the Golden Gate Park

Other things to do at the Golden Gate Park include the De Young MuseumCalifornia Academy of Sciences, and Japanese Tea Garden.

More Gardens in San Francisco

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