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Golden Gate Park - tours and what to see

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Dublin
posts: 178
Golden Gate Park - tours and what to see

Hi,

I will be in San Francisco from the 19th June to 23rd June for 4 nights. We, a family of four 2 adults and 2 children both aged 15, intend to do Golden Gate Park on the Thurs. 20th along with Alamo Square, Haight & Ashbury and a Giants match at AT & T park that evening.

I understand the park is quit vast and spread out like Central Park. What would people recommend to get a good overview of the park? Can you get richshaw tours of the park like Central Park in NY or other tours? What are the must see sights? We intend to go to the California Academy of Science and what ever else there is to see. It would be great if people could help me out on this.

Thanks.

14 replies to this topic
Dublin
posts: 178
1. Re: Golden Gate Park - tours and what to see

How does my itinerary for San Fran sound?

19th June: Arrive into SFO at 5:35pm and get taxi from airport. Check into Handlery for 4 nights until the 23/06. Walk around Union Square and get bearings.

20th June: Alamo Square, Haight & Ashbury, Golden Gate Park, California Academy of Science, Embarcadero - Ferry Building Marketplace. SF Giants match at AT&T park that night.

21st June: Alcatraz Early Bird, Pier 39, Fishermans Wharf, Lunch at Rain Forest Café, Ghirardelli Square, Lombard Street, Chinatown

22nd June: Early Start: Rent bikes, ride along the Bay across the Golden Gate Bridge, explore Sausalito and take ferry back to Pier 39. Late afternoon: North Beach, Coit Tower & Filbert Steps.

What is this itinerary like? is it too packed, are we missing anything or should we be doing things other ways

Bloomington, Indiana
Destination Expert
for Bloomington
posts: 5,423
reviews: 20
2. Re: Golden Gate Park - tours and what to see

Sounds like a pretty good plan (and thanks for having it thought out instead of just saying, "what should we do?"). I don't think it's too packed, remember SF is a very compact city (the whole city is only about 7 miles x 7 miles); if you wanted to you could *walk* from the farthest two points in a few hours.

I'll now throw out a few comments/observations:

1. Consider getting MUNI Passports, they'll give you unlimited rides on all of MUNI (including the Cable Cars which are otherwise $6 every time you board). They come in 1, 3 & 7 day durations ($14, $22 & $28) and I'd say the 3 day might work best for you; although maybe not. Otherwise (non-cable car) fares are $2 and come with a transfer good for 2 hours (90 minutes?). Even when they don't make complete sense from a pure dollar & cents standpoint, there are many intangible benefits (faster boarding, no worry about exact fare or transfers running out, ability to hop on/off on a whim, etc.).

2. I didn't see the Cable Cars on your list and you also might want to do the Cable Car Museum (it's free). You get some history see how they work, etc. It's not that big so it's not like it takes a ton of time.

3. If you want to try & compress things (get more done), you might make checking out Chinatown (and perhaps even North Beach) as part of your first night. The Chinatown Gate (nearest portion of Chinatown) is only about a 10 minute walk from your hotel. A straight walk from there to Washington Square (using it as the proxy for North Beach) is maybe another 15 minutes or so from the Chinatown gate. (See I told you SF is compact.)

4. I'd say you've probably got too much time for Fisherman's Wharf/Pier 39 area. I do think it's worth a walk through - see the sea lions, the views, gawk at stuff etc. - but I think maybe an hour or two is generally plenty; I mean how many shops with tacky tourist trinkets do you want to see (and you'll see them in Chinatown too). Also, you might want to add the Maritime Museum (at the west end of the FW area, Hyde Street Pier); some old ships, WW2 submarine, etc. In my opinion it is about the only thing around FW worth significant time.

5. It's true the GG Park is a large urban park (in fact, bigger than Central Park), but it is still only about 3 miles from end to end (on the long side). You could walk it in an hour or so. If you're inclined you could do this, you could add Ocean Beach & the Pacific Ocean. Its worth noting that the N Judah streetcar runs the entire length of the park a block or two south of the southern edge of the park (which you could use if you got tired, wanted to "speed up" and/or stop & head back to downtown).

Also, there's a commercial cluster in the Inner Sunset around 9th & Irving (a block south of the park near the museums) which has a good selection of restaurants, etc, maybe pick up a picnic lunch & eat in the park? (I recommend Gordo's for burritos, less than a block from the park on 9th Ave.)

On this note, I notice your itinerary doesn't hit on a frequent forum topic, eating! Got any particular desires re: cuisines, budget, ambiance, etc? We can make suggestions.

6. You might be able to squeeze some of the "smaller" things (like the Ferry Building) in as quick side trips from your hotel or on the way back (it's an easy quick MUNI trip from Powell to the Ferry Building either via the metro (subway) or the F Market (above ground, antique streetcars).

That's my $.02 - hope it helps,

hlo

San Francisco CA
posts: 2,357
3. Re: Golden Gate Park - tours and what to see

For the park, take the N Judah from downtown to 9th and Irving. You are 2 blocks from the park, but there are restaurants around there. Then you can easily walk in the park and be near the Academy, the deYoung (go to the free observation tower even if you do not tour the museum) and the Conservatory of Flowers.

Bloomington, Indiana
Destination Expert
for Bloomington
posts: 5,423
reviews: 20
4. Re: Golden Gate Park - tours and what to see

Good point about the deYoung observation tower! I'd say definitely do it since you'll be "right across the street" from it at the Academy of Sciences.

hlo

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Borrego Springs, San Francisco, Solana Beach
posts: 26,079
reviews: 26
5. Re: Golden Gate Park - tours and what to see

<<You are 2 blocks from the park,>>

Splitting hairs, but it's only one block to the park from Irving.

On June 20 there is no large special exhibition at the de Young. Opening day of "Richard Diebenkorn: the Berkeley Years" opens June 22. (No, I will not be running out to see it either.)

"Impressionists On the Water" will be on at the Legion. If you're interested it's a timed ticket and it will be well attended (just shout "Impressionists" and a line will form).

Santa Clara...
posts: 3,998
reviews: 13
6. Re: Golden Gate Park - tours and what to see

The Japanese Tea Garden makes for a good photo opportunity. http://japaneseteagardensf.com/about-us.php

I am a Gordo's fan too.

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Macau, Holiday Travel
posts: 14,479
reviews: 2,592
7. Re: Golden Gate Park - tours and what to see

>>>I understand the park is quit vast and spread out like Central Park. What would people recommend to get a good overview of the park?<<<<

See the Golden Gate Park section of the following trip list.

San Francisco Top Attractions (Our Favorites)

tripadvisor.com/GoListDetail-i32104-San_Fran…

Have a nice trip to San Francisco.

Dublin
posts: 178
8. Re: Golden Gate Park - tours and what to see

Hi everyone,

Thanks for all your help, ideas and suggestions. I am happy with the itinerary and have a fair idea of what I want to do and see we can play it by ear. I will make sure to go to the observatory tower and thanks for the help on golden gate park. Sense it is so compact would you recommend to just stroll around it or would it be nice to get a tour ie Segway tour or walking tour, is it needed?

For getting around San Fran I really do like the idea of the MUNI with the unlimited rides on cable cars etc, but I am looking at the hop on hop off buses - big bus tours. I feel they will be more informative and give you a faster sense of the city. With the offer I can get a 48 hour ticket which includes walking tours of Chinatown, north beach and also a night tour. A friend of mine that lives in the SF Bay Area recommended them to me for our time in San Fran and feels it would be best for us. What do you think? I do like the idea but if I am doing diff set neighbourhoods each day would I not like/be better to just go to where i want to beside going on a bus somewhere else. I look the muni but would prefer the live commentary. I would get a cable car down to fishermans wharf on the fri for Alcatraz as we have the early bird and buses don't start till 9. What do you think?

Thanks.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Borrego Springs, San Francisco, Solana Beach
posts: 26,079
reviews: 26
9. Re: Golden Gate Park - tours and what to see

I would not call Golden Gate Park compact. It's larger than NYC's Central Park -- 20% larger as a matter of fact. It is rather long and narrow but I believe it's at least 3 miles long and nearly a mile wide.

There is a Segway tour that some people have said they enjoyed.

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Macau, Holiday Travel
posts: 14,479
reviews: 2,592
10. Re: Golden Gate Park - tours and what to see

A nice comparison between GGP and Central Park for those interested.

http://www.sfpix.com/central_park/

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