So we’ve trekked through Golden Gate Park several times and we still haven’t seen half of it. There’s lots to do, especially if you’re a photographer in search of great shots. Some of my favorite spots include the Conservatory of Flowers and the Japanese Tea Garden. Some other cool sites in the park are the Strybing Arboretum and Strawberry Hill.
The weather in this area of SF is totally unpredictable because it’s so close to the Pacific Ocean. Dense pockets of fog can materialize quickly so you won’t want to forget your jacket (at all times of the year). You may want to wear hiking boots as the park is very spread out (it covers over 1000 acres). It’s also important to bring along a map of the park because, for some unknown reason, a lot of the streets are not labeled in any clear fashion.
The Conservatory of Flowers (floorplan) is one of the largest wooden and glass conservatories in the world and well worth visiting. It contains thousands of exotic plants from all over the world and its rotating exhibits are fun and interesting (like butterflies and carnivorous plants). The only downside to visiting the conservatory to take pictures is the children. A couple of times I’ve gone there have been hundreds of young children on field trips so it makes composing shots a little difficult (because of narrow walkways).
One more thing of note is that there is a highland tropical plants section that requires high humidity at all times. I usually work quickly in this area and move on (or not at all when they have the sprayers on). The grounds of the Conservatory boast a beautiful Dahlia garden with hundreds of colorful blooms in the summer and fall. Hours could be spent taking macro shots here. They even have candy cane striped flowers with blooms 6 inches across!
The Japanese Tea Garden is a 5-acre landscape full of waterfalls, ponds, statues and pagodas. It has a beautiful Buddha statue and a nearly vertical “humpback” bridge that forms a perfect circle with its reflection. They also have a well-known tea house that blends well with the surrounding landscape. The best time of year to visit is the spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.
More from Golden Gate Park soon…