This guest post was written by Berkeley mom of two daughters, Alison King.
We recently spent a long morning with the kids at Golden Gate Park — and we didn’t even make it to the carousel. There are easily days’ worth of activities at this old-school San Francisco destination. Here’s what we did with our one busy morning:
Japanese Tea Garden:
Over a century old and still an enchanting spot, my kids are just as enthusiastic as I was when I was little. They love climbing the moon bridge, hopping over stepping stones (keep a close eye on toddlers, not every path has rails) and checking out the fish ponds. The tea house has hot chocolate and other kid-friendly treats like fortune cookies, noodles and edamame. Adults can enjoy a brief moment of zen with a cup of green tea.
Open daily 9am – 4:45pm during the winter, with free admission M, W, F if you get there before 10am. Kids 4 and under get in for free. The Japanese Tea Garden and House is located on the corner of Tea Garden at Martin Luther King, Jr. within the Golden Gate Park.
See http://www.golden-gate-park.com/japanese-tea-garden.html or http://japaneseteagardensf.com for more details.
Conservatory of Flowers:
A Victorian greenhouse, hot and steamy inside, full of exotic plants (orchids, carnivorous plants) with one large featured exhibit. I thought this place might be a miss, but it turned out to be much more engaging for kids than I’d guessed — have you ever seen a cocoa plant? Water lily roots? We hadn’t. Right now the featured exhibit pays tribute to the original Playland-At-The-Beach, with a model train village of Playland on display. Train enthusiasts, don’t miss this one before it closes in April. The Conservatory of Flowers can be found on JFK Drive at the Golden Gate Park. See http://www.conservatoryofflowers.org/atconservatory for more details.
A small kid’s playground is tucked away next to the de Young Museum close to Fulton Street. My monkey bar expert rates their bars a 9 out of 10.
Bike rental and lunch tip:
Behind the grandstand at the Music Concourse, you can rent bicycles and surreys by the hour and pedal around the park. At lunchtime, a few gourmet food trucks were stationed there– a fun alternative to the park hot dog stands. Although my kids wanted hot dogs anyway.
Where to park:
Park underground at the 10th & Fulton lot for easy GG park access or you can try your luck at street parking if you’re visiting on a weekday.
Thanks so much to Alison and her children for exploring Golden Gate Park for us! She also shared her insider tips for the Cal Academy of Sciences.
[Photo of children from Alison King; photo of Amazon water lily from Conservatory of Flowers]