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Top Parks and Gardens in San Francisco


The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on a sunny day
Hi, I'm Nicole!

Nicole R. Zimmerman, born in São Paulo, Brazil and raised (mostly) in Northern California, is a queer Bay Area–based travel journalist, copywriter, and essayist. Nicole has written for Viator/Tripadvisor, Hipcamp, TripSavvy, Grove Collaborative, Insider, and the Los Angeles Times. Her work appears in anthologies such as The Best Women’s Travel Writing and in numerous literary journals including Creative Nonfiction and The Rumpus.

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Hi, I'm Nicole!

Nicole R. Zimmerman, born in São Paulo, Brazil and raised (mostly) in Northern California, is a queer Bay Area–based travel journalist, copywriter, and essayist. Nicole has written for Viator/Tripadvisor, Hipcamp, TripSavvy, Grove Collaborative, Insider, and the Los Angeles Times. Her work appears in anthologies such as The Best Women’s Travel Writing and in numerous literary journals including Creative Nonfiction and The Rumpus.

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From San Francisco’s waterfront to the bird’s-eye views of Twin Peaks, this urban landscape is coupled with an amazing array of gardens and public parks. Residents and travelers to the worldwide destination can find respite from city life among the many natural wonders and historical sites. See below for our top picks.

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

Boats to explore at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. | Photo Credit: Alfred Sonsalla

Located at Fisherman's Wharf, the park specializes in the maritime history of San Francisco and the Pacific Coast. Be welcomed aboard several vessels on the Hyde Street Pier and see exhibits at the Maritime Museum, located inside the Aquatic Park Bathhouse building—the art deco construction was built to resemble an ocean liner. Hop on a Segway for a fun way to explore.

Golden Gate Park

A Zen spot in Golden Gate Park. | Photo Credit: Irina Kosareva / Shutterstock

Comparable to New York City’s Central Park in size and popularity, this 3-mile-long (4.8-kilometer-long) urban park spans some 40 city blocks to its western edge at Ocean Beach. Visitors can rent a boat at Stow Lake, observe tropical plants at the Conservatory of Flowers, stroll the Japanese Tea Garden, or visit the de Young Museum or California Academy of Sciences. Combine a sightseeing tour with an attraction pass for easy access.

Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks and the city beyond. | Photo Credit: ESB PROFESSIONAL

Panoramic vistas plus diverse plant and animal life make this site a hot spot for tourists and locals alike. Get there on a GoCar or double-decker bus, and be sure to leave enough time to explore. Nature lovers may spot endangered butterflies among the native lupine and nesting birds in the grasslands and coastal scrub. 

Waves coming in at Golden Gate National Recreation Area. | Photo Credit: Jon Bilous / Shutterstock

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Spanning beyond the city to include Alcatraz Island, Muir Woods, and more, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. An urban hike takes you from Crissy Field in the Presidio to the Palace of Fine Arts, or you can follow dedicated trails all the way to the Lands End Lookout. Hop-on hop-off buses, motorized cable cars, and rental bikes offer alternative ways to explore.

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737 tours & tickets
Things to do in San Francisco
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Sightseeing on a Budget in San Francisco
Sightseeing on a Budget in San Francisco