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The 3 Gardens at GG Park

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Bombay, India
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The 3 Gardens at GG Park

Hello. We will have limited time at GG Park, after we finish with the Academy of Science. We hope to rent a boat at Stow Lake, if time permits. It seems like the cheesy, family thing one tends to remember many years later : )

Given that we will have limited time, how would you rate the following three paid gardens?

1.Japanese Tea Garden

2.Conservatory of Flowers

3.Botanical Gardens / Arboretum

I have read several reviews of all 3 on TA. I’m aware that the Conservatory closes the earliest, at 4.30pm. Just wondering how to manage our time after we are done at the Academy by about 2pm or so. How would you rate the 3 gardens in order of preference? Thank you.

San Francisco
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1. Re: The 3 Gardens at GG Park

Working just with this list I would pick the Botanical Gardens. I was rather disappointed with the Japanese Tea Garden last time I went. It's small (they were doing a lot of maintenance when I visited and that may have clouded my opinion) but the price had gone up substantially.

The Conservatory of Flowers is futher away from Stow Lake and so a longer walk. It's also rather small and indoors.

The Botanical Gardens is quite large and lovely to walk through.

All these have an entrance fee. There is a lot to enjoy in the Park just walking around. There is an island in the middle of Stow which is enjoyable (and the peddle boats on Stow are great fun). Not far from Stow on JFK Drive is Prayerbook Waterfall. Then continue down JFK to Lloyd Lake and "Portals of the Past." There is the doorway of a home which was destroyed in the 1906 EQ there. It's quite pleasant to walk around this small lake as well.

Further down JFK you'll come to Spreckels Lake with the Model Yacht Club. There may be some people out sailing their model yachts. Just a bit further along is the buffalo paddock. Just past that is Chain of Lakes Drive and there are three lakes along on this road.

So, unless you are really intersted in horticulture, I think you can get a lovely park experience just by wandering along JFK Drive and without having to shell out any further entrance fees. (Believe me, after paying the entrance at the Academy you'll be looking for a freebie or two.)

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2. Re: The 3 Gardens at GG Park

Are you also going to the Landsend area and Sutro baths outside of one of these gardens? I personally would just walk around the gardens and then head west towards the beach and see that area Stow lake is relaxing. Personally what is cheesy are the shops at Fishermans wharf compared to that, the boats are fun.

By the way I must commend you for your thorough research before visiting a place. Most don't do much and I think it was you who found those personal drivers as well. Not sure, as on a mobile device, it is hard to check poster history

Also don't forget to go to the top of the deYoung lookout point which is free and you don't need ton get a ticket to the deYoung

Edited: 10:34 am, March 02, 2013
San Francisco, Ca
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3. Re: The 3 Gardens at GG Park

How old are the young ones in your family? If they are children or teens, I don't think any of these 3 will be of any particular interest. I agree with Sal and Belo, just walk west through the park to the beach. That way you don't have to worry about closing times or schedules.

(Edited to add: GG Park is pretty much one big garden... these 3 happen to have specific themes and admission charges. There will be many beautiful things to see regardless.)

Edited: 12:48 pm, March 02, 2013
Bombay, India
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4. Re: The 3 Gardens at GG Park

Thank you, RamblinSal. That’s a great plan you’ve outlined. I think we’re leaning towards the Botanical Gardens, followed by the Conservatory of Flowers. I expect we shall make it to the Conservatory by 3.30 – 3.45pm, last entry is at 4pm. We aren’t specifically interested in horticulture.... although I’ve always wanted to see a carnivorous plant, which I believe is in the Conservatory. And I’m told that the Dahlia Garden is just outside, free & very beautiful? We hope to purchase our Academy tickets online, so perhaps it won’t pinch so much on that day... if only notionally.

Hello, Belomiser. Yes, I’m the car girl. We aren’t planning Lands End or the Sutro Baths on this trip. Fisherman’s Wharf, with all its tourist-y trappings, seems almost rite of passage on a holiday to SF, but we’ll make it a quick trip. I do have the De Young Tower lookout in my notes... yes, I have holiday ‘notes’... admittedly, very nerdy. Although, the research is half the fun, really. Made possible & enjoyable by people like you, who are so generous with their information. : )

Thank you, SFSusan. There are no children or teens in my group. I agree that just wandering around may be very pleasant.

So now I have two more questions please.

1.Within the GG Park, where am I likely to see the largest variety & concentration of flowers. We ‘re there the first week of May, so a lot shall be in bloom, I expect.

2.Would you recommend touring the GG Park Gardens etc on a separate day from the Academy of Science, even though both are some distance from Union Square, where we’re staying? Perhaps if we do GG Park on a Sunday, we can make use of the free shuttles. Then come back to the Academy on a Tuesday, which shall be less crowded than a weekend. This way we're not rushing through either. What do you think?

As always, I am grateful for your help & suggestions.

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5. Re: The 3 Gardens at GG Park

What plans do you have for the rest of your time in SF? There is so much to do and see in the city. Personally I think a whole weekday may be better than a weekend day just due to crowds and one day would be enough

Check out the Rose garden. My DW loves it and we go there when we can

I forget. Do you have your car in SF or you driving around ? Will your seniors be ok for a segway tour. One is never too old for a segway tour.

San Francisco, Ca
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6. Re: The 3 Gardens at GG Park

>>1.Within the GG Park, where am I likely to see the largest variety & concentration of flowers. <<

I would expect the Botanical Gardens or the Conservatory to give you this, especially in a small area.

>>2.Would you recommend touring the GG Park Gardens etc on a separate day from the Academy of Science, <<

I personally would do it all the same day, but you make good reasons to split it up. It would also be less tiring to split it up.

>>yes, I have holiday ‘notes’... admittedly, very nerdy<<

Join the club... I suspect most of us posting on a site like this enjoy the research "almost" as much as the actual trip!

Bombay, India
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7. Re: The 3 Gardens at GG Park

Hello. Thank you for posting. We shall be in SF for 6 nights, so 5 full days. I’m travelling with my parents, who aren’t quite as ‘go-go-go’ on a holiday as I am. I have limited sightseeing lined up, so that it doesn’t feel like boot camp to them. Dylan’s Tour on our first day, a private, 3 hour, city tour since its only marginally more expensive than joining his 2 hour, group tour. Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 & Ghirardelli on another day. Chinatown Walk with SF City Guides on one of the days. The Academy of Science. GG Park. That’s mainly it... plus some shopping around Union Square, maybe Union Street also. I think Dylan’s Tour will cover a lot of ground, taking us to some nice neighbourhoods, City Hall, Twin Peaks, driving over GG Bridge etc.

>> Join the club... I suspect most of us posting on a site like this enjoy the research "almost" as much as the actual trip!<<

: ) SFSusan, spontaneous vacationing?... overrated!

So, GG Park & Academy same weekday? Seperate days, with more breathing room? Thanks, guys.

Bombay, India
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8. Re: The 3 Gardens at GG Park

And I forgot to mention... On a Saturday, we shall be eating our way through the Farmer's Market & the Ferry Building...

Belomiser, the Rose Garden sounds like something we would enjoy too. I'll make sure we visit.

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9. Re: The 3 Gardens at GG Park

Are you seeing different things between the Dylan's half day and the second private tour. given your planning, I hope so. LOL and they will take you to Pier 39. Most can do that in a couple of hours more if you do the Maritime Museum and Musee Mechanique. Any boat rides ? Dyan's can drop you at Sausalito and you can take the ferry back if you like

Your call if you want to do the museums and the rest of the park on separate days to make it a more relaxed vacation

So what sort of food are you looking to eat ?

San Francisco
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10. Re: The 3 Gardens at GG Park

<<And I’m told that the Dahlia Garden is just outside, free & very beautiful>>

The Dahlias are indeed beautiful but they bloom in late summer/early fall so I think you will miss them in May. However, outside/in front of the Conservatory is usually a large display of seasonal blooming plants. Sometimes arranged in the SF Giants logo!

The Rose Garden too is lovely. Entrance on JFK just a bit west of the de Young.

While the Botanical Garden has some gorgeous blooming treets, they're not as into bedding plants.