As the sun ascends in the Northern California sky, the last strands of San Francisco’s signature fog lift to reveal a city of verdant gardens, threaded with meandering walkways and brimming with floral pageantry.
Once a rather desolate stretch of sandy dunes, Golden Gate Park was transformed into a lush urban oasis in the late nineteenth century, due largely to the dedication of John McLaren, the horticulturist who served as its superintendent for more than five decades.
Within the park’s more than 1,000 acres, tourists discover a medley of gardens and natural features, as well as the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum, which opened in 1940. Among other spots of interest are the Japanese Tea Garden and the Conservatory of Flowers, both offering tranquil spots to refresh one’s senses.
Beyond the park gates, the quaint Russian Hill area is home to both Ina Coolbrith Park and the cobble-stoned Macondray Lane, where a hidden garden lies behind a vine-draped trellis. Visitors will find the Palace of Fine Arts, with its captivating architecture, in the Marina District, while the Ferry Building Marketplace, near the fame Fisherman’s Wharf, holds a panoply of gourmet food shops, restaurants, and cafés.
For more than a century, the Ferry Building’s prominent clock tower has been standing tall as one of San Francisco’s most enduring landmarks. The edifice’s arciform façade and skylights now welcome patrons as the Ferry Building Marketplace, where farmers, vendors, and restauranteurs present a varied and taste-tempting array of fresh-grown and gourmet goods.
Text Karen Callaway
Photography Laurey Glenn