When thinking of the Golden Gate, most people envision a towering red bridge hanging over the sparkling water of the bay. On sunny days, bright white sailboats and the greens, reds and purples of the wind surfers’ sails stand out against its blue surface. People line the beach as they soak up the rays and the breezy bay air. Other times, the fog wraps itself around the bridge so you can only see pieces of it peeking out through the haze. It is the biggest landmark in the city but San Francisco has another Golden Gate that kids will fall in love with—Golden Gate Park.
Playtime in the park
It is always nice to get out and enjoy nature, and few parks can compare to Golden Gate Park. The Koret Children’s Quarter has an intricate playground that features a variety of ways for your kids to play. For those that love to climb, there is a layered rope climbing area and a wave-shaped climbing wall (complete with a sea turtle!). Have your little one grab a piece of cardboard and climb to the top of a giant concrete slide. Nearby is a timeless classic—a merry-go-round. Kids will love riding the horses or dragons while an old-fashioned tune fills the air. This part of the park is always busy on a sunny day, and children can make friends with other little ones as they explore.
Exotic plants and flowers
The Conservatory of Flowers is another great attraction to visit at Golden Gate Park. The walkways that lead up to the massive white building are lined with brightly colored red, orange and yellow flowers that have been organized into geometric shapes and patterns. You will almost always findsomeone sprawled out on the grass, or running along the paths if the weather is nice.
Once you enter the building, you can feel the sticky warmth on your skin as you take in the exotic, plant-filled lobby. The conservatory is filled with rare plants from many different regions; you will walk through the lowland tropics, highland tropics, potted plants and aquatic plants galleries during your visit. Each room showcases something different with water running in streams and miniature waterfalls throughout. The last room to the left houses the special exhibits, such as a butterfly room or a recycled model of the city. These change throughout the year so be sure to check their website to learn about the current exhibit.
Trekking through nature
Nature is plentiful throughout Golden Gate Park. Everywhere you turn, you can find flowers, lakes, waterfalls and extremely green grass. The best course of action is to just explore it and see what you can find. Have a picnic next to a waterfall or toss a ball in an empty field. Kids will love to watch for gophers who will inevitably pop their heads up out of the ground for a peak of San Francisco. Just look for the mounds of dirt that pile up where they dig their holes near trails or athletic fields. Although the locals dislike them, their chirping noises will delight children.
If your kids are interested in bigger animals, swing by the buffalo paddock. You will find it next to Spreckels Lake. Even though the buffalo are not very active, little ones will enjoy watching them graze on grass and lay in the sun.
Since Golden Gate Park is one of the biggest city parks in the nation—bigger even than New York’s famous Central Park—this is just a glimpse into the vast amount of things you can find in this spacious part of the city. Check out the website below for a full list of waterfalls, lakes, museums and more.