San Francisco Botanical Gardens: Everything You Need to Know

Table of Contents

In San Francisco, you can travel the world in only 55 acres at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. The Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, this magical place, hosts different garden programs to events throughout the year.

In addition, you can stroll along the garden’s pathways to explore the indoor plants displayed. Whether you are an adult or have a child, you can get involved at this place with its seasonal highlights.

Things To Know Before Going To Golden Gate Park

golden gate park

Before visiting any of the Golden Gate Park gardens, there are a few things you need to know to plan your trip. The best part is you need not travel by car as there is a lot of public transportation available around the two entrances.

Hours and Days of Operation

The San Francisco Botanical Gardens open daily at 7:30 amp, and during fall/winter, it closes at 4 pm. It closes from 5 pm in February to the 2nd Saturday in March. In spring/summer, the garden closes at 6 pm.

The Garden Bookstore and Plant Shop opens from 10 am to 4 pm and is closed on Federal Holidays. The Helen Crocker Russell Library is open every day except Thursday from 10 am to 4 pm. It is also closed on Federal Holidays.

Admission Fees

Admission to the San Francisco Botanical Garden has free admission for members, veterans, school groups, and SF residents country residents all non-residents visiting need to pay as follows:

  • Gardens of Golden Gate Park Pass $9 – $25

  • Adults (February – October) $13

  • Adults (November – January) $10

  • Youth & Seniors (Ages 12-17 and 65+) $7

  • Children (Ages 5-11) $3

  • Toddler (Ages 4 and under) Free

  • Families (2 adults and all children under 17 residing in the same household) $21

On free days entrance fee is free at the main gate daily from 7:30 to 9 amp and applies monthly on the 2nd Tuesday of every month. Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day are holiday-free days.

Parking

You will find the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park on the corner of Ninth Avenue and Lincoln Way. You have two entrances available, with the main entrance at 9th Avenue and the other at the north gate on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

You can park at the Music Concourse Garage entering from Martin Luther King Drive for vehicle and bicycle parking. Still, the parking is limited, but additional parking is available at both entrances.

Garage Hourly Rates:

  • $5.25 weekdays, $29.00 maximum

  • $6.25 weekends, $33.00 maximum

  • Monthly parking: $240 per month

Rules and Regulations

  • No Wheeled Vehicles (Except for Wheelchairs and Strollers)

  • No Littering, Pets, Smoking, Picking or Stepping on Plants

  • No Tree Climbing or Playing Sports

  • No Camping

Collections At San Francisco Botanical Garden

While you can find many nearby attractions, the garden design with collections of plants to buildings within the botanical garden will mesmerize you. Here are some standout outdoor plants collections you can look forward to:

Camellias

Camellias at san francisco botanical garden @flickr

Camellias are famous in Asian countries, but you can see them growing in the botanical garden. The Camellias were named after a Jesuit priest named George Kamel, that discovered the plant in the 17th century.

Magnolias

magnolia flower at san francisco botanical garden @flickr

If you want to see the world’s fourth-largest Magnolia Collection, pay a visit to the botanical garden in San Francisco. The best time to see these bloomers are from December to the end of March.

Rhododendron Gardens

Rhododendron Gardens

Rhododendrons you find mainly growing in China in colors of white, pink, red, and yellow. But you need not visit China as you can find them in the Rhododendron garden in San Francisco.

Palms

palms at san francisco botanical garden @flickr

With Golden Gate Park’s moderate temperatures and high humidity, you can see some exciting palm species. Some of the palm cultivars found in the botanical garden are even endangered.

Things To See Inside San Francisco Botanical Garden

While San Francisco has loads to offer, nothing is more peaceful than walking through the botanical gardens. With the gardens open daily, you can take your time to explore them all.

Children’s Garden

Get away from the San Francisco city bustle with the kids to enjoy playing outside in the Children’s Garden. The kids can participate in crafts and bug hunting, and story times. So, keep checking the events calendar to see what is happening now.

Ancient Plants

Plants that used to be old are brought back to life, creating something new. Here you can gaze at the exotic plants to see dinosaurs grazing in your eyes view on fern fronds. A few living fossils are found in this part of the botanical gardens. ​

Moon Viewing Gardens

Imagine visiting the Moon Viewing Garden, filled with stone pagodas and plants from Japan, in the heart of San Francisco, CA. Enjoy a Zen feeling at the Japanese tea garden to smell flowers and work on your well-being.

Succulent Gardens

Enjoy bold blooms with stunning views at the Succulent Garden tucked into a hillside behind Redwood Grove, a stone terrace. You can get up close to admire the vegetation from around the world.

Conifer Lawn

You find a conifer lawn collection on the western side of the botanical gardens between Redwood Grove and New Zealand. There are over 30 species found here.

Celebration Garden

celebration garden at san francisco botanical garden

As you enter through the main gate, you see a vast space known as the Celebration Garden welcoming visitors. Here you can find programs, events, to exhibitions takings place.

Immediately inside the Main Gate, this nearly 2-acre space has recently undergone a $1.7 million-dollar renovation. It is now ready to welcome Garden visitors as along with additional programs, exhibitions, and events, including rentals for weddings and other celebrations! 

Fountain Plaza

For tranquility and serenity, the Fountain Plaza is the place to visit. It is found off the Great Meadow, where you can sit in the sun to mark any momentous occasion celebrating life.

Garden of Fragrance

Garden of Fragrance @flickr

Please all your senses in the Fragrance Garden with unique smelling plants from around the world.

Great Meadow

Here, you can come to lay and relax while enjoying a picnic. You can enjoy the iconic silhouettes along the skyline.

Other Gardens

Furthermore, the gardens are also placed in geographical spaces where you can find flora growing from those specific locations:

  • Zellerbach Garden

  • Andean Cloud Forest

  • Australian Garden

  • California Garden

  • Mediterranean Garden

  • Chile Garden

  • Mesoamerican Cloud Forest

  • Temperate Asia

  • New Zealand Garden

  • South African Gardens

  • Southeast Asia Cloud Forest

Events Taking Place at The San Francisco Botanical Gardens

Throughout the year, you find different events at the park with free tours.

Flower Piano

flower piano

The Flower Piano festival has passed but will return next year. Throughout the gardens, you find up to 12 grand pianos to listen to the sound while enjoying the flora. The event takes place in September yearly.

Garden Feast

The Gardens Feast is new and will also return in May next year. This year even hosted a luncheon with youth education programs and much more.

Plant Sale

Another highlight is the plant shop opening daily to buy plants for your gardens.

Event Rentals

No matter the occasion, you can host your wedding, birthday, anniversary, or business conference at the San Francisco Botanical Garden, with trees to give you shade.

Celebration Garden

celebration garden at san francisco botanical garden

It is a versatile section that includes vegetation from different parts of the world. It can seat up to 400 people and 600 people standing. The best is near the main entrance with an intimate ceremony place, the Thomas Church Pavilion.

Garden of Fragrance

You can host a wedding or other ceremony for smaller events of up to 100 people. It is a romantic setting that will touch all your smelling senses.

Moon Viewing Garden

japanese tea garden at sfbg

Here you can exchange your vows in Zen park, a beautiful place to take wedding photos.

Redwood Grove

This part of the SFBG is only for weekend rentals as construction takes place. There are fixed wooden benches with trees lined along the pathways, with trees circling the venue.

Zellerbach Garden of Perennials

Zellerbach Garden of Perennials @flickr

Enjoy the perennial section’s pink blossoms and other flowering colors with stone columns and wooden arbors. It is ideal for intimate ceremonies or cocktail receptions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, there are a few places you can rent within the gardens, and best to contact the SFBG through the contact pages available.

Appreciating the SFBG helps to spend at least four hours, not an hour.

You can bring outside food to non-alcoholic beverages into the SFBG.

No pets are allowed except for service animals trained to help the disabled.

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