Family Travel: Golden Gate Park, Flickr: mrfraley

 ‘Park it’ in the Park!

 

Covering more than 50 city blocks in San Francisco’s downtown landscape, Golden Gate Park is a massive retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life.  Although the park boasts obvious activities like exceptional hiking, themed events, and plenty of open green spaces, there are also numerous permanent activities and attractions located within the park’s grounds.  Every time I visit the City, I take a trip to Golden Gate Park– there is so much to do, I have almost never repeated an activity.
Koret Children’s Quarter
A hub for all things kid-centered, be sure to visit the Koret Children’s Quarter with your little ones.  Not only does this section offer swings, balance beams, and a massive play structure for kid-sized adventuring, but it also boasts Golden Gate Park Carousel, which is open weekends year round (and daily during summer months).  A ride on this 1914 classic costs only $2 for adults and $1 for kids 6-12.  Parking- a moderate walk, located east of Bowling Green Drive, near the lawn bowling building.
California Academy of Sciences
Explore natural sciences, a stunning aquarium, a planetarium, hands-on exhibits, and an incredible living roof at the California Academy of Sciences.  A favorite of my family, we love the stellar rotating exhibits section and the incredible indoor rainforest.  Admission is $29.95/adults, $24.95/ages 12-17, and $19.95/ages 4-11.  Parking- located in underground (fee based) garage or take public transportation to receive a discount on admission.
deYoung Museum
If you are looking for a good museum to introduce your kids to the wonder of modern art, head to deYoung.  Although it houses art from numerous time periods, the modern art and rotating exhibits are exceptional.  Admission is $10/adult; kids under 13 are free.  Parking- Golden Gate Park’s Music Concourse Garage (fee based) and limited four-hour street parking on John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Drives.
Gardens
Numerous noteworthy gardens fill the landscape.  Notably, kids love a visit to the Japanese Tea Gardens, and the rotating exhibits and features at the Conservatory of Flowers are just right for inquisitive little ones.  The San Francisco Botanical Garden features children’s story time every 1st and 3rd Saturday at 10 a.m.- the guided walk through garden caps off a great morning outdoors.  Parking- various.
Nature
Rent a boat and head across Stow Lake to Strawberry Hill, where you will be rewarded with an impressive view of the park and a beautiful man-made waterfall to boot.  Enjoy the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean as you tour the park’s two old-fashioned windmills and their beautiful tulips.  Looking for something a bit more wild?  You can actually visit American bison which call the Buffalo Paddock on the west side of the park home. Parking-various.  
Now you know what to do on your next San Francisco family vacation!

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photo: mrfraley

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