Golden Gate Park - Part 1
San Francisco Travel Blog› entry 5 of 7 › view all entries
April 12th, 2008 – by: trhoades
I entered the park from the east, fresh off brunch at Kezar Pub, which I also reviewed on this blog.
Anyway, as you pass the soccer fields you'll see the drum circle. This is a free for all of anyone fancying themselves as a percussionist. The beat goes on and on with no clear starting or end point. There may also be a reefer or two passed between the performers in mid-song. Across the path from the drum circle is an open expanse that is ideal for sunbathing if you don't mind the noise. Further along you'll also find a carousel for children and a dozen or so public tennis courts.
Beyond that you will find a beautiful building called the Conservatory of Flowers. I took my sister here last year as a nice change of pace from the city. We really enjoyed the tropical plants including an almost serpentine Brazilian plant that snake throughout an entire room.
The most touristy part of the park and perhaps the focal point is where the Japanese Tea Garden, de Young Museum, and California Academy of Sciences all meet. The de Young, or Death Star as I like to call it, is an imposing modern structure that sharply contrasts with the natural surroundings and Victorian neighborhoods visible beyond the park's fences. The museum was recently rebuilt to accommodate a larger collection and repair damage from the 1989 earthquake. The result is one of the ugliest buildings in San Francisco. It's rust colored, with a tubular, wrought iron features on the outside. It has an observation tower, evoking images of Darth Vader tracking down the Millennium Falcon.
The collection inside the museum does make up for the eyeball-searing exterior. It's an eclectic mix of art from all over the world. The permanent collection includes works from early US history as well as ancient ones from places as far away as Papau New Guinea. Possibly the most famous piece is the painting "Boatmen on the Missouri" by George Caleb Bingham. The outdoor sculpture garden is also a nice feature which brings the collection out into the park. Star Wars jokes aside, the observation deck provides unparalleled views of the park.
The Japanese Tea Garden is immediately adjacent to the museum.
A walk through the botanical gardens gives you a chance to see plant life from all over the world. I really enjoy the desert cactus and unusual plants from Australia. I spent quite a while in the gardens taking shots for my photography class and enjoying the weather. When I hit 19th Avenue (which divides the park in half) I decided to take a break. More on the rest of the park in my next entry.
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