Covering over 1,000 acres, Golden Gate Park includes multiple specialty garden areas as well the San Francisco Botanical Garden together with recreation fields, playgrounds, lakes, museums, waterfalls, and a boating pond. An entry fee applies to the Japanese Tea Garden and the Botanical Garden. All other areas are free.
The father of American landscape architecture Frederick Law Olmsted advised William Hammond Hill, the first Superintendent of Golden Gate Park in 1866, that “It would not be wise nor safe to undertake to form a park upon a plan which assumes as a certainty that trees that would delight the eye can be made to grow near San Francisco”. Undeterred, in 1871 Hill proceeded with his plan to create a park “that would delight the eye”. His successor John McLaren worked for over 50 years to complete one of the nation’s finest urban parks.
Specialty planting areas include the: Fuchsia and Camellia Gardens; Dahlia Dell featuring San Francisco’s official flower; formal annual floral beds in Conservatory Valley; Lily Pond surrounded by Australian Tree Ferns; John McLaren Rhododendron Dell; Rose Garden; and Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden in the shadow of a restored Dutch Windmill.
Forested De Laveaga Dell shelters the National AIDS Memorial Grove. Erected in 1878, and recently restored, the great glass Conservatory of Flowers houses tropical plants, including palms, orchids, bromeliads, and aquatic species.