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San Francisco Botanical Gardens

What to Expect During Your Visit to the Botanical Gardens in SF

The beautifully designed San Francisco Botanical Gardens are in Golden Gate Park. This 55 acre gem houses over 50,000 plants from around the world.

With a large variety of plants and blooming schedules, you can enjoy this SF attraction anytime of year. The gardens are also well laid out with plenty of signs, so it's easy to get around.

The other thing that's great about the Botanical Garden in San Francisco is that the walking trails are large and mostly flat.

san francisco botanical gardens

It's also quiet and serene - and another place that I love to visit in Golden Gate Park.

Visiting the Gardens

Because of the size of the gardens and the number of plants to see, I recommend picking up a map when you first enter. The map calls out the highlights for each season - so you know exactly what part of the garden is the most beautiful at the time of your visit.

Here is an overview of those seasonal highlights so you know what to expect when you visit the the San Francisco Botanical Gardens.

Winter Months: December to February

If you visit during the winter, the areas that are the most interesting are the South African and the Rhododendron Gardens. They are both in full bloom during this time.

The Magnolias are also really beautiful during these months (they bloom from mid-January to mid-to late March). You can find several of them throughout the Moon Viewing and Temperate Asia areas.

sf botanical gardens
This is a large Aloe plant found in the South African Gardens

pink magnolias
Pink blossoms near the top of this Magnolia Tree

Spring Months: March to May

In the spring, the San Francisco Botanical Gardens come to life. This is when the California Poppies, Irises and other wildflowers are in bloom.

The Rhododendrons and some of the plants in the South African garden are also still in bloom during this time.

Here are a few pictures from my visit in March.

red flowers

sf botanical gardens

fire blossoms

lilies sf botanical gardens

Summer Months: June to August

This is another beautiful time to visit. This is when the Garden of Fragrance is bursting with color. Lavender, Salvias, and Pelargoniums live here and bloom during this time.

This is also when you'll see quite a bit of color in the Andean Cloud Forest. The Fuchsias and Brugmansias are both bright and colorful during this time.

Fall Months: September to November

You can also see a gorgeous display during the fall. This is when you'll want to visit the Ancient Plant Garden. Here is just one example of what you can see in this part of the garden.

ancient gardens in the SF botanical garden
A Chilean Gunnera in the Ancient Plant Garden

The Fuchsias in both the Andean and the Mesoamerican Cloud Forests are also still in bloom. Make sure you also stop by and see the beautiful tree daisies in the Mesoamerican Cloud Forest if you visit during this time.

Other Highlights in the Garden

No matter what time of year you visit, you'll want to stop by and see the Magnolia collection. It's recognized as the most important collection of Magnolia outside of China.

Another highlight of the San Francisco Botanical Gardens is the Redwood Grove. Here you can see several century old redwoods that tower high above the gardens.

You should also stop by Fountain Plaza. It's a beautiful, open plaza with plenty of places to sit and relax for a few minutes.

botanical gardens in san francisco

Hours, Tickets, and Tours

The San Francisco Botanical Gardens open every day at 7:30am. Closing hours vary by season.

  • Second Sunday in March through September: Last entry at 6 PM
  • October through early November: Last entry at 5 PM
  • First Sunday in November through January: Last entry at 4 PM
  • February through early March: Last entry at 5 PM

The Botanical Gardens are FREE for all visitors each morning between 7:30am to 9am. Admission is also free on the second Tuesday of each month, and on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.

Tickets

  • Adults: $8
  • Youth (12 -17), seniors age 65+, and college students with current valid ID: $6
  • Kids (5 - 11): $2
  • Kids under 4: Free
  • Families (2 adults and all children under 17 residing in same household): $17

Free Tours

One of the best ways to learn even more about the San Francisco Botanical Gardens is to take one of the daily free tours. The tour leaves the main gate at 1:30 PM.

There is also a second free tour during high season - the Spring and Summer months through September. This tour leaves the Friend/North Gate at 2 PM on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons.

In addition there is also a special bird walk the first Sunday of every month. This free walk leaves the main gate at 8 AM.

Tips for Getting to the Gardens

The easiest way to get to the San Francisco Botanical Gardens is by entering Golden Gate Park from the south via 9th Avenue. The fastest way to this entrance from downtown San Francisco is by taking the N-Judah light rail train.

You can pick up the train at any underground Muni stop along Market Street. Take the train to the 9th Avenue and Irving Street stop. This stop is just a block from this entrance into Golden Gate Park.

Here's a map showing both the train stop and the San Francisco Botanical Gardens.

map to sf botanical gardens

Another option is to drive. There is usually plenty of parking in Golden Gate Park near the gardens.

Other Top Golden Gate Park Attractions

san francisco science museum
conservatory of flowers
japanese tea garden
California Academy
of Sciences
Conservatory
of Flowers
Japanese
Tea Garden

Great Places to Stay in San Francisco

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