Gardens, fields, peaceful ponds - Golden Gate Park is the emerald center of San Francisco, a traditional public park in which everyone, from beginners to locals, can discover and do something wonderful. The park's social center is situated in its northeast corner, encircling a wide lobby with fountains and a shell for an orchestra. On the northern part of the park is the de Young Museum, which features a collection of the best world-class classical art from across the globe. Get to the roof of the museum's skewed tower by taking the elevator (entrance to the tower is free), which provides a breathtaking overview of the entire park, along with the city, bay and Pacific Ocean.
Just opposite de Young is the no less spectacular California Academy of Sciences, where under a wavy live roof there is a planetarium, aquarium, living four-story tropical forest and a natural history museum. It is a fast walk to the Japanese Tea Garden, always wonderful, but particularly fascinating in spring, as cherry trees and azaleas blossom. Other precious things are plentiful and easy accessible by bike (you can rent them along Stanyan and Hight streets on the east side of the park; don't forget to take the lock). Walk through the colorful plantations in front of the huge greenhouse, which houses the Flower Conservatory, discover the botanical gardens, and search for an amazing herd of American bison in the northwest side of the park.
If you don't like to ride a bike or walk, the park has a free shuttle service at weekends and on public holidays with stops all over the park; if you arrive by car, there are a few places where there is parking. No matter how you travel, you will find natives all around the park - they play tennis, have picnics, jog, paddle on a small Stowe Lake, and ride horses on wide tracks. San Franciscan people really like their park.
Tip from the inside: are you heading to the park with the intention to engage in some particular activity? A collection of park maps shows you where to picnic, watch flowers or enjoy a game with your dog.