Golden Gate Park
The spectacular Golden Gate Park, located in the heart of San Francisco, California, is one of the largest urban parks in the world with over 1,000 acres. It is a masterpiece of landscape gardening considering it began in the early 1870's as a sandy wasteland on the Pacific Ocean coast. Everything in the park was meticulously planned and careful thought was given to the type of plants and trees that would survive against harsh prevailing westerly winds off the rough Pacific Ocean that frequently bring cool moist fog. From the onset it was designed to have flowering plants and shrubs for every month of the year, no matter the weather.
This urban oasis hosts an amazing assortment of smaller specific parks, gardens, meandering paths, sport facilities, fountains, statuary, museums, monuments, playgrounds, that provide enjoyment for thousands of visitors from around the San Francisco Bay Area and the world.
The two major museums, the California Academy of Sciences (one of the world's largest natural history museums) and M. H. de Young Memorial Museum (housing one of the finest collections of American Art) are both incredible structures that impress visitors both young and old, inside and out. The historic Conservatory of Flowers, an elegant Victorian Greenhouse, has a tropical environment for specialized collections since 1878. The music concourse with its ornate shell, built in 1900 and called the Spreckels Temple of Music is flanked by the two museums and full of fountains and beautiful plane trees. Adjacent to the concourse is the incomparable Japanese Tea Garden created for the Midwinter International Exposition of 1894. Stow Lake has a small island in its center and on warm days one can rent a paddle boat and circle the island. The children’s playground, founded in 1888, is the nation's oldest playground in a public park and has a wonderful carrousel.
Strybing Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is an enclosed manicured garden museum of 79 acres with vegetation from around the world, including a Coastal Redwood Grove. There is a Buffalo Paddock with live buffalos who are descended from an original herd acquired in Wyoming in 1894. A garden, Shakespeare's Garden, grows plants and flowers mentioned in all his famous plays and sonnets. Rhododendron Dell blooms in spring, the famous Rose Garden is in flower year round and the Dahlia Dell with its 1,000 plants, is in bloom in the fall. A Tulip Garden surrounding a restored, working Dutch Windmill, built in 1902, is dedicated to Queen Wilhelmina of Holland. The National Aids Memorial Grove, celebrating its 30th Anniversary in 2011, and declared a National Memorial was created to be a place for remembrance, hope and renewal.