Beautiful and Peaceful Gardens To Escape to in San Francisco

The Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park is a tropical wonderland
The Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park is a tropical wonderland | © Glenn Nagel / Alamy Stock Photo
Adriana Jones

The hustle and bustle of the city can be overwhelming at times, so finding somewhere quiet is a must. Fortunately, there are a number of beautiful and peaceful gardens to escape to in San Francisco where you can take your lunch break, read a book or just simply relax.

Find your inner zen in the Japanese Tea Garden

Botanical Garden, Bridge, Park

Head over to the west side of the city and visit Golden Gate Park for a chance to explore the Japanese Tea Garden. Decorated with bridges, pagodas, koi ponds, bonsai trees, cherry blossom, Buddha statues and native Japanese plants, this spot is the picture of tranquility. There’s also a teahouse on-site offering authentic green tea and light snacks so you can refuel after a visit.

The Conservatory of Flowers showcases ecosystems from around the world

Botanical Garden, Natural Feature, Park

Beautiful plants inside the greenhouse of the Conservatory of Flowers, San Francisco
© Chon Kit Leong / Alamy Stock Photo
The Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park is a tropical wonderland that has captivated thousands of guests from all over the world since its opening in 1878. The opulent Victorian building has a rich history and is one of the oldest public wood and glass conservatories in North America. Comprising five individual galleries, each one showcasing unique ecosystems from across the globe, the conservatory provides an experience that feels like a brief jaunt to the tropics, without leaving home.

Take a springtime walk around the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden

Botanical Garden, Park

The Dutch Windmill and Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden at the Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
© Greg Gard / Alamy Stock Photo
If you’ve always wanted to see tulip season in the Netherlands, an alternative is to schedule a visit to the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden during spring. The garden, which is situated in the Golden Gate Park beneath an authentic Dutch windmill (once used to pump water to plants in the park), features flowers that bloom in red, pink, orange and yellow clusters. Grab a spot at Park Chalet Garden Restaurant for an al fresco meal with a view.

Sign up to an educational tour of the San Francisco Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden, Park

The San Francisco Botanical Garden contains over 9,000 plant varieties
© McPhoto / Lovell / Alamy Stock Photo
More than 9,000 plant varieties are flourishing at the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park. The large, sprawling space includes the Succulent Garden, the Moon Viewing Garden, the Ancient Plant Garden and the Garden of Fragrance, which contains only heavily scented flowers. Its Walk on the WILD Flower Side, a monthly educational guided tour of the seasonal flowers in the garden, kicks off in April and is worth joining.

Read a sonnet or two in the Shakespeare Garden


This quiet section of Golden Gate Park is typically devoid of tourists and is the perfect place to have an afternoon read (when it isn’t being used as a wedding location). The flowers in the area are all mentioned in Shakespeare plays, and the chart within the garden will allow you to identify the varieties that are in bloom.

Take a break from sightseeing in the Yerba Buena Gardens


This place is beautiful amid the chaos of the Financial District. As you walk into the park, the soothing sound of the waterfall smothers all distractions and the air seems so much cleaner and fresher. Grab a Beard Papa pastry puff from across the street and nibble it as you wander through the hedge maze, or have a lazy morning drinking Blue Bottle Coffee and soaking up some sun on the grass. It is the perfect pit stop to catch some rest before continuing your tour of the city and its surroundings.

For first-class views of San Francisco Bay, head to Fay Park


Fay Park in San Francisco, California
© photravel_ru / Shutterstock
Only a block from the most crooked street in the world, Fay Park is an inconspicuous gem in Russian Hill. The park has three small terraces connected by stone-lined paths, and at the focal point are wooden gazebos, creating a fairytale aesthetic in the middle of San Francisco. Its gently sloping location provides unparalleled views of the bay and a retreat from the busy city.

Ascend the elevator to 1 Kearny Street


1 Kearny Street
© Brixton Key
A hidden jewel in the Financial District, 1 Kearny Street is a privately owned public space that is open to the general population during business hours. If you take the elevator to the 11th floor you will reach a deck that not only serves as a garden but also provides stunning views over the city. The building boasts some striking architectural features and is a fantastic lunchtime spot.

Relax among tall, graceful trees in the Transamerica Redwood Park


The Transamerica Redwood Park is often filled with office workers
© Sundry Photography / Shutterstock
The Redwood Park at the Transamerica Pyramid Center is wholly unexpected and instantly relaxing. From the fountain in the center of the park to the tall, graceful redwoods straight from the Santa Cruz area, this peaceful nook will help you channel serenity any time you need it.

Esme Benjamin contributed additional reporting to this article.

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