Golden Gate Park - Part 2 + Ocean Beach

San Francisco Travel Blog

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Ocean beach

To understand the layout of Golden Gate Park, you first have to understand Ocean Beach.  At the far western part of San Francisco, Ocean Beach is a rugged, cold stretch of sand dunes stretching from Daly City up to Sea Cliff.  Golden Gate Park ends at the beach and the park's design is closely related to the weather conditions the coast brings.  It can be cold, windy, and foggy any time of year on Ocean Beach.  And it's usually at least one of those things at all times, if not all three.  This is not Cancun folks, it's freakin' Scotland West. 

 

They had this weather in mind when they built Golden Gate Park, building up huge dunes with rugged vegetation and trees to block the harsh cold and wind blowing in from the ocean.

"I won't let you out of my sight!!!"
  It is a beautiful stretch of land to walk or jog down, just bring a coat, any time of year.  Don't expect Pamela Anderson running in slow motion down the beach either, this isn't LA. 

 

The beach gets its fair share of surfers, and the swells looked to be about 7-8 feet.  I saw countless people picnicking, sunbathing, swimming in the icy surf, and enjoying the weather.  I walked up for a mile or so snapping photos and looking for decent sea shells.  I turned right into Golden Gate Park right behind the Beach Chalet and near the Dutch windmill.  The Chalet has an exhibit on the history of Golden Gate Park which I found to be quite interesting.  It also has one of the only restaurants with open ocean views in SF. 

 

The City of San Francisco originally commissioned Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York's Central Park, to design it.

Western entrance to GG park
  He took one look at the cold, windy, foggy, sandy stretch of wasteland that it was back in the 1860s and told them to find an alternative site.  The city promptly told him to get lost, hired someone else, and built it anyway.  The brought in the toughest, most rugged type of plants and grasses they could find to not only withstand the conditions, but actually block them from the park. 

 

Well, it worked.  Temps in the park are at least ten degrees warmer at all times than down on the beach and it's easy to forget that the place is right on the ocean.  The park, despite being nearly identical in size and shape to Central Park, looks quite different.  It's more dense, more wooded, more rugged, and doesn't have any tall buildings surrounding it.  You can easily get lost on its paths and end up turned the opposite direction of what you thought.

anyone know the name of this flower? me neither
  The vegetation is gorgeous, Northern California all the way.  There are cypress trees, tall grasses, flowers and large buildups of sand and rock.

There are soccer fields, and a former polo grounds which they also use for sports.  Additionally, there are several small lakes and a golf course on the western edge of the park.

 

 

I saw some policeman on horseback writing out parking tickets to hardened criminals taking their kids to soccer practice (while ignoring the revelry on the eastern end of the park).  They block off the main roads on the weekends to the bikers and runner don't have to worry about any cars.  It's a great place to spend a lazy day with a group of friends.  My goal one year is to do Thanksgiving dinner in the park if the weather cooperates.

sybil says:
great blog. is the sutro bath part of ocean beach?
Posted on: Apr 16, 2008
sybil says:
i know, i had to turn my laptop sideways....
Posted on: Apr 15, 2008
alicegourmet says:
Okay...I'll wait patiently, like a good student!
Posted on: Apr 15, 2008
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Ocean beach
Ocean beach
I wont let you out of my sight!!…
"I won't let you out of my sight!…
Western entrance to GG park
Western entrance to GG park
anyone know the name of this flowe…
anyone know the name of this flow…
could be Holland?
could be Holland?
the only cop i saw in the park.  t…
the only cop i saw in the park. …
a dedicated surfer
a dedicated surfer
super fast running bird.  like roa…
super fast running bird. like ro…
ok - this was actually a decently …
ok - this was actually a decently…
signs are by the artist Michael Sc…
signs are by the artist Michael S…
surfs up dudes
surf's up dudes
having a picnic
having a picnic
Quite misty on Ocean Beach
Quite misty on Ocean Beach
Airwolf
Airwolf
flowers among the dunes
flowers among the dunes
Ocean beach looking north
Ocean beach looking north
more of those quick baby birds
more of those quick baby birds
super quick baby road runner birds
super quick baby road runner birds
lunch
lunch
mama bird
mama bird
seven foot swells.  Anyone see A…
"seven foot swells". Anyone see …
nice break
nice break
rugged flowers for rugged terrain
rugged flowers for rugged terrain
purple  spores
purple spores
murals inside the beach chalet
murals inside the beach chalet
different part of the mural
different part of the mural
old staircase at the beach chalet
old staircase at the beach chalet
reminds me of something in Don Qui…
reminds me of something in Don Qu…
Dutch ingenuity
Dutch ingenuity
a closeup
a closeup
dutch windmill
dutch windmill
nice colors
nice colors
rugged vegetation
rugged vegetation
intersection across from the beach
intersection across from the beach
nice sign
nice sign
like the cypress
like the cypress
more of those purple
more of those purple
underexposed pic.  trying to show …
underexposed pic. trying to show…
strange looking tree.  wish they h…
strange looking tree. wish they …
smae thing
smae thing
ducks swimming away from me
ducks swimming away from me
on the scenic route
on the scenic route
former polo grounds, now soccer fi…
former polo grounds, now soccer f…
blue skies
blue skies
love the rugged feel of the park
love the rugged feel of the park
quack
quack
nice flowers
nice flowers
sea cliff neighborhood in the back…
sea cliff neighborhood in the bac…
more blue skies
more blue skies
how blue?
how blue?
come here ducky
come here ducky
rapids in the park
rapids in the park
fast water
fast water
too slow a shutter speed
too slow a shutter speed
got it
got it
could be in SE asia
could be in SE asia
could be central America
could be central America
not quite sure what this house is
not quite sure what this house is
nice mallard duck
nice mallard duck
cya
cya
coming back for more
coming back for more
likes thecamera
likes thecamera
showing off
showing off
wife is checking on him
wife is checking on him
the happy couple
the happy couple
staring at me
staring at me