Experience many acres of green lawns, tranquil lakes, beautiful paths, and stunning flowers amid thousands of towering trees, and 7,000 different kinds of plants nestled in the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Enjoy many exciting attractions from gorgeous gardens to amazing events like the Outside Lands. Sunday is probably the best time to visit the park, as cars are prohibited on certain roads within the park on this day. Some of the great ways to discover this site is with a bike, strolling, or with a guided tour in San Francisco.
Founded in 1871, this 1,017-acre park attracts around 13 million visitors every year, making it the 5th most visited park in USA! The park in general is open to public every day, but opening hours for certain attractions vary. The cost for visiting the Golden Gate Park is free, though some attractions may charge a certain fee.
The park’s top attractions include: The de Young Museum, California Academy of Sciences, Conservatory of Flowers, Japanese Tea Garden, and the San Francisco Botanical Garden.
The de Young Museum showcases an astonishing collection of American art from the 17th century to the 21st century. It also features modern art; global costumes and textiles; photography; as well as African, American, and Oceania art. In the 9th floor of the Hamon Tower, you’ll get to experience astounding 360-degree views of the beautiful Pacific Ocean and also the city of San Francisco.
In the California Academy of Sciences, you’ll get to explore a natural history museum, planetarium, and an aquarium all in one roof! The four-story rainforest, breathtaking coral reef, as well as the planetarium will definitely amaze you! Daily exciting programs in the Academy include coral reef dives and penguin feedings.
The Conservatory of Flowers boasts its rare, beautiful tropical plants and flowers from around the globe! It’s an architectural treasure with five awesome galleries. The Japanese Tea Garden is adorned with fabulous pagodas, gates, a stunning moon bridge, and grand 1.5-ton Buddha!
Strolling through the San Francisco Botanical Garden is like taking a tour through the Central American, Mediterranean, or New Zealand rain forests! It’s a gorgeous, tranquil refuge.
The top places to visit in the Golden Gate Park which you shouldn’t miss include: the Stow Lake, National Aids Memorial Grove, Buffalo Paddock, Beach Chalet, Dutch and Murphy Windmills, Spreckels Lake, Speedway and Lindley Meadows, Rainbow Falls, Strawberry Hill, Music Concourse, and the Hippie Hill!
There are countless things to do in the Golden Gate Park! You can bike, jog, skate, play tennis, disc golf, soccer, or archery! There are also so many great things to see, from beautiful fauna and flora, arts and culture, to architecture! You can even see a real buffalo roaming in the park! So if you’re looking for a unique adventure in one place, contact Private Tours San Francisco to inquire about guided tours in San Francisco!
The Cable Car Museum is a free museum in the Nob Hill neighborhood Located at 1201 Mason Street, the San Francisco Cable Car Museum is the perfect place to learn how San Francisco's favorite means of transportation works. The museum has been operating since 1974, contains historical and explanatory exhibits on the San Francisco cable car system, which can itself be regarded as a working museum. The museum's main exhibition explains the history and operation of the Cable Car. On learning how it functions you will understand the great expense that is involved in maintaining the system alive.
In the ground floor you will see the enormous machinery on which the cables that make the trolleys circulate throughout San Francisco rotate.
In the Cable Car Museum you will also be able to see some old trolley cars and some photographs of its evolution over the years as well as learning how it was affected by the great earthquake which destroyed a large part of the system.
The museum contains several examples of old cable cars, together with smaller exhibits and a shop. The cable cars displayed include:
Sutter Street Railway - grip car 46 and trailer 54 dating from the 1870s
Clay Street Hill Railroad - grip car 8, the only surviving car from the first cable car company
Exterior of the Ferries and Cliff House Railway Co. Building Constructed in 1887. Houses both the cable car winding station, engines, and museum. The smoke stack in the rear was damaged in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, restored then soon decommissioned when steam power was replaced with electrical power at the winding station.
The museum is part of the complex that also houses the cable car power house, which drives the cables, and the car depot ("barn"). The car depot is not accessible, but two overlook galleries allow the visitor to view the power house, and to descend below the junction of Washington and Mason streets in order to view the large cavern where the haulage cables are routed via large sheaves out to the street.
The cable car is part of the charm of San Francisco; everyone wants to travel in it and to photograph it climbing the steep hills. The best way to get to know it is in its own museum and, better yet, its free admission.
The San Francisco Zoo is a 100-acre (40 ha) zoo located in the southwestern corner of San Francisco, between Lake Merced and the Pacific Ocean along the Great Highway. The zoo's main entrance, once located on the north side across Sloat Boulevard and one block south of the Muni Metro L Taraval line, is now to the west on the ocean side of the zoo off of the Great Highway.
This zoo is the birthplace of Koko the gorilla, and since 1974, It houses more than 1000 individual animals representing over 250 species, as of 2016.
The Insect Zoo opened in 1979 and features terrariums containing live arthropods, including millipedes, centipedes, hissing cockroaches, tarantulas, scorpions, velvet ants, termites, walkingsticks and bees. Visitors can examine specimens under microscopes, and there are insect-themed books, videos, puppets and games.
The San Francisco Zoo participates in Species Survival Plans, conservation programs sponsored by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The program began in 1981 for selected species in North American zoos and aquarium where the breeding of a species done to maintain healthy, self-sustaining, genetically diverse and demographically stable populations. The zoo participates in more than 30 SSP programs, working to conserve species ranging from Madagascan radiated tortoises and reticulated giraffes to black rhinos and gorillas.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located in Monterey, California. The aquarium was founded in 1984 and is located on the site of a former sardine cannery on Cannery Row. It has an annual attendance of around two million visitors. It holds thousands of plants and animals, representing more than 600 species on display.
The centerpiece of the Ocean's Edge Wing, is a 28-foot-high (8.5 m), 333,000-US-gallon (1,260,000 l; 277,000 imp gal) exhibit for viewing California coastal marine life. In this exhibit, the aquarium was the first in the world to grow live California Giant Kelp. The 28-foot-tall 333,000 gallon Kelp Forest was the first exhibit in the world to include a living kelp forest. In addition to the bay water provided to all tanks, a surge machine at the top of this exhibit provides the constant water motion that kelp requires. Visitors are able to inspect the creatures of the kelp forest at several levels in the building. The largest exhibit in the aquarium is a 1,200,000 gallon the Open Sea exhibit (formerly the Outer Bay), which features one of the world's largest single-paned windows. It is one of the few aquariums to successfully care for the ocean sunfish in captivity.
The top of the tank is open, and was situated to maximize its exposure to sunlight during the day, thus further mimicking the bay. Eighty species of seaweeds grow in this exhibit, some of which have also entered the aquarium through the water from the bay rather than being deliberately planted. The kelp in this exhibit grows about 4 inches (100 mm) per day, and requires divers to trim it once a week.
Sea life on exhibit includes stingrays, jellyfish, sea otters, sea horses, and numerous other native marine species, which can be viewed above and below the waterline. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of very few in the world to exhibit both bluefin and yellowfin tuna. For displaying jellyfish, it uses a Kreisel tank, which creates a circular flow to support and suspend the jellies. The aquarium does not house mammals other than sea otters that were rescued through its Sea Otter Program.
In January 1996, the aquarium opened the Outer Bay wing to provide exhibits covering the open-water ecology of Monterey's Outer Bay. The main 1,200,000 tank in this area is the largest in the aquarium, and features one of the world's largest single-pane windows, the acrylic window is actually five panes seamlessly glued together through a proprietary process.
This area was extensively renovated starting in August 2010, and re-opened July 2, 2011, as the Open Sea galleries. Another exhibit created at this time includes a school of 3000 sardines (a fish that was once the foundation of Monterey's economy), swimming against the endless current of a toroidal tank. As part of the Open Sea renovation, the aquarium also added a puffin exhibit, juvenile sea turtle exhibit, and multimedia experiences highlighting microscopic plankton.
The de Young, a fine arts museum located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, is one of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco along with the Legion of Honor.
The de Young showcases American art from the 17th through the 21st centuries, international contemporary art, textiles, and costumes, and art from the Americas, the Pacific and Africa.
The American art collection consists of over 1,000 paintings, 800 sculptures, and 3,000 decorative arts objects, with works ranging from 1670 to the present day, this collection represents the most comprehensive museum survey of American art in the American West and is among the top ten collections nationally that encompass the entire history of non-indigenous American art. Since its inception in the Fine Arts Building at the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894 in Golden Gate Park, its subsequent institutionalization in the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum in 1924, and its reinstallation in the new de Young in 2005, the permanent collection has evolved exponentially.
Adore its striking copper facade, while others just hope that the green patina of age will mellow the effect. Most maligned is the 144-foot tower, but the view from its ninth-story observation room, ringed by floor-to-ceiling windows and free to the public, is worth a trip here by itself. The building almost overshadows the de Young's respected collection of American, African, and Oceanic art. The museum also plays host to major international exhibits, such as 100 works from Paris's Musée National Picasso and a collection of the work of Jean Paul Gaultier from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; there's often an extra admission charge for these. The annual Bouquet des Art is a fanciful tribute to the museum's collection by notable Bay Area floral designers. On many Friday evenings, the museum hosts fun, free, family-centered events, with live music, art projects for children, and a wine and beer bar (the café stays open late, too).
Bring your kids to the museum. We suggest approaching your visit as an expedition and letting your child or children take the lead. Children often have the ability to see things in artworks that adults may miss. When your children express wonder about a particular object, ask them to take a moment and look carefully at the work. Ask what they think is happening in the work of art and have them identify details that support their ideas. Any answer they provide is correct, as long as they can provide visual evidence!
The California Academy of Sciences is a natural history museum that is among the largest museums of natural history in the world, housing over 26 million specimens. The Academy began in 1853 as a learned society and still carries out a large amount of original research, It is one of the most prestigious institutions in the US, and one of the few institutes of natural sciences in which public experience and scientific research occur at the same location.
Completely rebuilt in 2008, the building covers 400,000 square feet and is among the newest natural history museums in the United States. The primary building in Golden Gate Park reopened on September 27, 2008
Combining exhibition space, education, conservation and research beneath one roof, the Academy also comprises natural history museum, aquarium and planetarium. The varied shapes of these different elements are expressed in the building’s roofline, which follows the form of its components.
With its native plant–covered living roof, retractable ceiling, three-story rain forest, gigantic planetarium, living coral reef, and frolicking penguins, the California Academy of Sciences is one of the city's most spectacular treasures. It's an eco-friendly, energy-efficient adventure in biodiversity and green architecture. The roof's large mounds and hills mirror the local topography, and Piano's audacious design completes the dramatic transformation of the park's Music Concourse. Moving away from a restrictive role as a museum that catalogued natural history, the academy these days is all about sustainability and the future. The locally beloved dioramas in African Hall have survived the transition, however.
By the time you arrive, hopefully you've decided which shows and programs to attend, looked at the academy's floor plan, and designed a plan to cover it all in the time you have. And if not, here's the quick version: Head left from the entrance to the wooden walkway over otherworldly rays in the Philippine Coral Reef, then continue to the Swamp to see Claude, the famous albino alligator. Swing through African Hall and gander at the penguins, take the elevator up to the living roof, then return to the main floor and get in line to explore the Rainforests of the World, ducking free-flying butterflies and watching for other live surprises. You'll end up below ground in the Amazonian Flooded Rainforest, where you can explore the academy's other aquarium exhibits.
With over 600 indoor and outdoor experimental art and science exhibits where you can play with, tinker, and touch, the The Exploratorium in San Francisco is considered to be the most interactive museum in the world! It’s a huge, unique playground for your mind!
If you are looking for an activity on a rainy day, something that both adult and children will enjoy - The Exploratorium is an excellent choice! This learning laboratory will spark your interest, make you think and marvel at different subjects like the human body, outer space, science, and arts.
You will be thrilled by the Tactile Dome, one of the most visited places inside the museum. Here you can let your sense of feeling discover a pitch-black sphere. The shadow room is another exciting and fun place to explore, where light projects people’s shadow onto a wall. You will also be amazed at a diorama of San Francisco created with just toothpicks and glue! It took the artist 37 long years to build this piece of art which includes ramps that allow ping-pong balls visit each of the city’s popular destinations.
The exhibits’ interactive nature will definitely entertain you the whole time you’re there! There will never be a dull moment at The Exploratorium! And even if you’re not that interested about sciences, you’ll definitely be surprised that you’re already enjoying. This is because the designers of this museum did an excellent job to make sure that each exhibit is fun and will trigger curiosity.
This world-class establishment situated on Pier 15 is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 in the morning to five in the afternoon. On Thursday, hours are extended until 10 in the evening for 18 years old and above. For adults, tickets are sold at $25, $19 for senior citizens as well as for kids six to 17 years old. Five-year old children and below are accommodated in The Exploratorium free of charge!
The museum after dark is as exquisite as in day time! But there is something extra special, something extra exciting, fun, and magnificent about the place at night. The Adult Happy Hour starts at 6 pm and ends at 10 pm. Join the fun and discover the place with the help of our expert tour guides in San Francisco.
So what are you waiting for? Let your mind play and immerse yourself in the wild wonder of science and the art. The Exploratorium will change the way you learn! Contact Private Tours San Francisco for a one-of-a-kind private guided tour in San Francisco.
Cable cars in San Francisco are a unique historic symbol and offer exciting way to travel around and up and down the steep hills of the city. Getting on one of these fancy, colorful cable cars may be the most unique and fun ride you’ll have as you visit the city in a private tour in San Francisco, especially if it’s your first time.
The cable cars operate from 6:00 am to past midnight; and you can expect them to run every 10 minutes. The single-fare rate for riding these cable cars is $7.00. Discounted fares are available for senior citizens but only during non-peak riding times. If you would like to explore San Francisco via these fascinating rides, it’s best to get a day pass or ticket at $17.00. This is an excellent option if you anticipate transfers from one cable car to another or to a mini bus, since these rides are all one way.
You can buy a one-way ticket or an all-day pass directly from the person operating the cable car. Be sure to bring smaller bills because the operator can only give change for $20 and below. You also have the option to get cable car passports at the ticket booths that can be found at San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau, Powell or Market cable car turnaround, or at the Hyde & Beach cable car turnaround.
These cable cars can take you to a number of popular tourist destinations in San Francisco: Chinatown, Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, and the Ghirardelli Square.
But how can you get the most out of your cable car ride and how can you best enjoy every moment of this one-of-a-kind experience? Well, we have some great tips for you!
Aim to be seated on the side that faces the bay, so you can get the best views as well as the most stunning photographs! This position is the right hand side for vehicles coming from downtown and the left hand side for those coming from the Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 area.
It’s best to bring your jacket or sweatshirt with you even on a sunny day, as it can get cold and/or windy on cable cars when they move up and down the hills. And even if you’re riding cable cars to experience the thrill and fun that comes with it, keep in mind that safety still comes first always, especially when you’re riding with children.
If you’re feeling brave, you can choose to ride on the outside, standing on the running board while holding tight on a pole outside the cable car. It’s a fun, exciting feeling, but it can be hazardous especially if you get too excited. It pays to be careful and watchful at all times while enjoying the whole experience. This iconic vehicle is also a classic, romantic site for a prenup or wedding photo shot! Why not?!
Some people think that cable cars are a cheesy tourist attraction, but for those who appreciate beauty in all things even the small ones, this experience is more than just going from one point to another. It’s fun, thrilling, fascinating, and romantic in many ways.
Experience the iconic cable cars of San Francisco with the help of our expert tour guides from Private Tours San Francisco.
Things to do in SF!