Golden Gate Park - Part 1

San Francisco Travel Blog

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Future captains of Team USA
An absolutely perfect day of weather in San Francisco motivated me to spend a few hours exploring Golden Gate Park. Situated on the western edge of the city, Golden Gate Park extends from the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood all the way to the ocean. It's also just one of the many locations that encompass the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, officially a national park controlled and protected by Uncle Sam. Other locations include the Marin Headlands, Ocean Beach, Muir Woods, Alcatraz, and The Presidio. It's an example of government planning gone right, a really great feature to the city of San Francisco.

I entered the park from the east, fresh off brunch at Kezar Pub, which I also reviewed on this blog.
The drum circle
The eastern edge of the park is my least favorite due to the large number of unscrupulous characters selling drugs as you enter. Drugs are illegal in San Francisco (wink, wink) but the police haven't seemed to catchup with illusive dudes with dreadlocks selling sacks of weed in one of the most obvious places in the city. I'm a little offended as a tax-payer that we can find five thousand cops to protect the Olympic torch but not one to stand at the entrance of a very public place with blatant illegal activitiy going on. This really wouldn't bother me, except for the fact that there are children's soccer fields not even 50 yards away from where these scum-bags are dealing. That's where I draw the line. Kids shouldn't be exposed to that at such a young age. They should be learning to read, write, sing patriotic songs, and play with matches.
Another look at the conservatory of flowers


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.
view of the Death Star
The orchids, butterflies, and bamboo are also quite impressive. The gardens outside the conservatory are equally well-maintained.

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.
Don't get me wrong. They hired one of the most famous and expensive architecture firms in the world to design the place. Should've hired Frank Gehry, Frank Lloyd Wright, or anybody named Frank for that matter.

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.
This garden was originally an exhibit from the Expo of 1894 and has been a San Francisco institution ever since. Inside you will find manicured gardens, waterfalls, bonsai trees, and of course Japanese tea to drink in a calming environment. Personally, I love bonsai trees. I've wanted one ever since Mr. Miyagi taught Daniel-san to wax on, wax off. This is a very popular spot to take wedding photos as well and you're likely to see a bride and groom posing no matter what day you stop by.

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.
sybil says:
gg park is great! glad you guys had nice weather up there.... for once! ;)
Posted on: Apr 15, 2008
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Future captains of Team USA
Future captains of Team USA
The drum circle
The drum circle
Another look at the conservatory o…
Another look at the conservatory …
view of the Death Star
view of the Death Star
Conservatory of Flowers
Conservatory of Flowers
Palm trees flown in from So Cal
Palm trees flown in from So Cal
conservatory peeking over the hedge
conservatory peeking over the hedge
Its actually a glass building pai…
It's actually a glass building pa…
A closer look
A closer look
Through the window panes
Through the window panes
Typical trail in GG Park
Typical trail in GG Park
So clear you could see the moon
So clear you could see the moon
Very clear day
Very clear day
Goal!
Goal!
more of the drum circle
more of the drum circle
The lawn beyond the drummers
The lawn beyond the drummers
Tennis courts
Tennis courts
Entrance to the conservatory
Entrance to the conservatory
entrance to the conservatory
entrance to the conservatory
closer look at the flowers
closer look at the flowers
blossoms it he garden
blossoms it he garden
Irish patrio
Irish patrio
Help, im caught in the tractor bu…
Help, i'm caught in the tractor b…
Shakespeare state
Shakespeare state
There are no words
There are no words
Gift from German Americans
Gift from German Americans