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San Francisco Botanical Garden

San Francisco Botanical Garden
San Francisco Botanical Garden

© Harvey Barrison

Enjoy strolling along paths through year-round mosaic of plants from around the world. There is no shortage of great things to see and do in Golden Gate Park, and the San Francisco Botanical Garden is one of the most relaxing among them. Enjoy a serene picnic in the Great Meadow or a meander along paths through verdant forests to appreciate the unique varieties of plants, over 7500 in all scattered across 55 acres. You also can get your duck and turtle-viewing quota filled at the ponds throughout the park.

It is hard to imagine that this lush botanical refuge was mere sand dunes and brush a little over a hundred years ago. Organized by climate type and variety, the Botanical Garden showcases mild temperate climate vegetation similar to that of the Bay Area. The Mediterranean Gardens feature South African aloes and silver trees, the colorful Australian myrtle family, Chilean mayten trees and Peruvian lilies, and of course California lilac, orange poppies, blue iris, and coastal redwoods. The Temperate Gardens include hundreds of species from China, Japan, and New Zealand including Japanese maples, water iris, magnolias, New Zealand flax, purple-flowering hebes, and red-flowering New Zealand Christmas trees. The Meso-American Cloud Forest and the Southeast Asian Cloud Forest add species such as colorful passion vines, fuchsias, tree dahlias and other large-leafed specimens.

In addition, several specialized collections are scattered throughout, including the Garden of Fragrance boasting rosemary, lavender, salvia and lemon verbena, a Rhododendron Garden, a terraced Succulent Garden, an Ancient Plant Garden with ferns and ginkgo trees, and a Magnolias & Camellias Garden.

Planting was begun in 1937 with funding from the Works Project Administration, and the park officially opened in May 1940. The park also features a Rock Garden, a Horticulture Library, a bookstore, and plant sales. Look forward soon to a new Center for Sustainable Gardening.

Take-away trivia: the Botanical Garden was the finish line on Season 11 of the popular CBS reality show the Amazing Race.

Attraction Information

  • Hours:
  • Monday through Friday: 8am to 4:30pm
  • Saturday and Sunday: 10am to 5pm
  • Admission:
  • Free
  • Tours:
  • Free guided walks are given everyday at 1:30
  • Metro Stop:
  • Muni train N: exit at Irving St. & 9th Ave
  • Contact:
  • Location: 1199 9th Avenue, San Francisco, CA.
  • Enter the park at 9th Ave. at Lincoln Way, Golden Gate Park
  • Phone: 415-661-1316
  • Website:
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