Off the Beaten Tourist Path in San Francisco: Golden Gate Park

Most visitors to San Francisco flock to Union Square, or Fisherman’s Wharf. I get why people spend their first visit to San Francisco riding a cable car or cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge or walking from Ghiradelli Square to Pier 39, or shopping at Union Square. In San Francisco, there is so much to do if you are willing to spend a little more time and go off the crowded tourist path. (And please do not call it “Frisco”; if you must shorten “San Fran” is okay. “The City” is what locals call this beautiful place.)

San Francisco Golden Gate Park Map

One frustration is finding parking. My Plan A to participate with my Brompton on a locally organized “Tweed Ride” was derailed by my inability to find parking. So I rerouted to Golden Gate Park. Over the years I have visited the San Francisco Botanical Garden, the DeYoung Art Museum multiple times and the Japanese Tea Garden and Conservatory of Flowers at least once. I parked my car and unpacked my bike and set out to find some new-to-me areas of the park.

Children's playground at Golden Gate Park

Parking at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday was not easy to find–luckily Ivy is compact. The first place I cycled  to was the Lawn Bowling Club of San Francisco. I turned to investigate and discovered a complex of tennis courts and then a children’s area. There is an extensive playground, a carousel and a hot dog stand with ice cream. Perfect for an outing with your kids or a first date.


I continued pedaling around and enjoyed the car free streets on Sunday. I especially liked watching the dads teaching their kids to ride bikes. I just gave a grown-up friend a lesson in riding a bike so I watched with curiosity. How is the learning process different for children? The main thing I noticed is that adults feel foolish using training wheels, so we compensate by lowering the seat so the learner can touch the ground easily with their feet and scoot along until their sense of balance allows them to begin pedaling. Both kids and adults need a lot of encouragement.

Youngster learning to ride a bike

Autumn and spring are the best times of year to visit San Francisco. The weather is usually beautiful. On this Sunday, there were many people jogging, and even more people riding their road bikes. Or push your kids in a stroller on the car-free interior streets and spend a day at the playground and carousel.

2 Replies to “Off the Beaten Tourist Path in San Francisco: Golden Gate Park”

  1. I love Golden Gate Park – we seem to find something new everytime we go. Did you know that kids learn to ride bikes more like adults now? No more training wheels! My nieces and nephew all learned with a bike that had no pedals – they just touch the ground and push off. My nephew started when he was only 18 months! Oh, how things have changed.

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