You know how in movies, if a person needs to get away from it all and runs off, another person just happens to know that one spot they’ve disappeared too? And the next scene is the friend-who-pays-attention-to-things sitting down next to the escapee character on a significant bench at train station, or on a pier, etc? If you ever need to find me, the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park is most likely where I’ve ended up—I’ll just be standing quietly on a path somewhere, staring at a canopy of leaves rustling gently in the breeze, thinking of nothing except how pretty the green looks when the sun shines through them like that…

I only visited the Gardens for the first time shortly before this blog started (I can’t believe it either), and having had the place blow any of my expectations completely out of the water, I’ve wanted very much to go back ever since! I finally made time today. I grabbed a book and some other necessities and started off.

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First through Duboce Triangle, where I came across this building—I’ve been this way before dozens of times, but I don’t recall the greenery having taken over! These breaks in the urban landscape where people have stepped back and let nature return always catch my eye. Perhaps it was the theme of the day…

flowering vine covered building, Duboce Triangle, July 24 2015

flowering vine covered building, Duboce Triangle, July 24 2015

flowering vine covered building, Duboce Triangle, July 24 2015

flowering vine covered building, Duboce Triangle, July 24 2015

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Through the center of Duboce Park…

tree in Duboce Park, July 24th 2015

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…where this sweet snoozing pooch was giving a demonstration on how taking the afternoon off is done… Do pibbles dream of electric treats?? Zzzz…

dog sleeping in Duboce Park, July 24th 2015

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And through to Pierce Street…rocking chair on Pierce Street next to Duboce Park

Pierce Street next to Duboce Park

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And on to Haight Street…

No front yard? No problem!

pink flamingos on a fire escape balcony on Haight Street

victorian houses on Haight Street

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Passing by Buena Vista Park…

Buena Vista Park from Haight Street

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Upper Haight… I’ve been to many a San Francisco street fair, but somehow never made it to a Haight-Ashbury Street Fair—too late this year, but on The List…Haight Street Fair poster in shop window

Haight Street window

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Because of course a Haight-Ashbury shop would be painted in rainbow colors and have a ceiling covered in tie-dye…shop on Haight Street

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The Piedmont! If you’ve never been inside, you have to check it out at least once. Or, if you need a custom sequined feathered (faux) furry fabulous anything, they’ve got you covered. Piedmont shop on Haight

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To find the Piedmont, you need only look for these killer gams…

Piedmont shop on Haight

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So many great vintage shops!

(Keep walking, keep walking… Deny the siren calls…)

vintage shop on Haight Street

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It is a good day when the Bladerunners shop guardian is stationed outside to greet customers. He is a gentle sweetheart, and soooo incredibly handsome…

Bladerunners' bulldog

Bladerunners' bulldog

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Golden Gate Park!

This guy and his canine companion seemed rather iconic…

Man and man's best friend, Golden Gate Park

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Bees at work around Alvord Lake…

bees at work on flowers, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

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I always like passing through the cool of this tunnel on bright days (and, do we ever really outgrow associations of tunnels with magical means of transportation? nope!) Alvord Lake Bridge under Kezar Drive, leading to Sharon Meadow

Alvord Lake Bridge, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

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Sharon Meadow…

Sharon Meadows, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

(click me to expand and zoom and scroll)

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Ahhhhhh…. THIS right here (below) was the moment I felt myself exhale and really expand into the idea of taking the afternoon off. I’ve been swamped with work and stressed out, and didn’t really feel like I “had time” to go for a big walk, but I knew I needed it. Especially if you are also a workaholic, trust me—make the time! This trail is a little alternate path I didn’t know was there and had  never been down before; it runs from Sharon Meadow to the Botanical Gardens entrance, parallel between MLK Drive and Lincoln:

Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

neat view of the Academy of Sciences from the frontage path

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And finally to the Botanical Garden… I almost can’t believe the Gardens are a free, open, public space, just there being “a unique, 55-acre urban oasis of extraordinary beauty” for all to come and spend time in. (Free if you are an SF resident, only seven bucks if you’re not.) It made me really happy to notice how the only people you’ll find within are visitors and gardeners, and the only signage there describes the plants and trees (and reminds you to stay on the paths)—it’s like everyone respects the place when they are there, and so it remains unrestricted and relaxed. So lovely…

Botanical Gardens, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

Botanical Gardens, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

(click me to expand and zoom and scroll)

Botanical Gardens, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

Botanical Gardens, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

(click me to expand and zoom and scroll)

Botanical Gardens, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

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Resident geese having a snack around the Waterfowl Pond…

Botanical Gardens, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

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Waterfowl Pond. There are benches and green grassy spaces surrounding the pond, and it’s an idyllic spot to sit or spread out a blanket, and watch the geese, ducks, and turtles while you have lunch or read a book…

Botanical Gardens, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

Botanical Gardens, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

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I am not good at sitting, and, I wanted to be in the green shade of the paths, so I walked around with my lunch. “How To Have the Perfect Lunch: 1. get a box of veggies and hummus (or whatever you like), 2. Munch while wandering through 55 acres of gorgeous stuff.”

Botanical Gardens, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

Botanical Gardens, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

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After spotting a hummingbird, I spotted the moon hanging out with the Sutro Tower…

Botanical Gardens, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

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I don’t think this is part of the exhibits, but I think dandelions are so pretty before they’ve been used for wishing…

Botanical Gardens, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

Botanical Gardens, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

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I feel kind of silly when I start tossing around superlatives, but this place is incredibly beautiful, peaceful, inspiring, and diverse, and the layout of the space makes it easy to have a sphere of it to yourself as you make your way around. It is truly stunning, and especially the first time I visited, I felt overwhelmed with gratitude that this was all here, right in my backyard. I love the cacophony of city life, and am usually on the move, spinning my gears on a project and/or in my head, but being in the Gardens is like a glorious off-switch. Shhhhhh…… the only sounds I wanna hear from you are your heartbeat and your breath… breathe in, breath out; just look… It’s like instant meditation. You can’t help but have a quiet mind when you are here.

San Francisco Botanical Garden, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

(click me to expand and zoom and scroll)

San Francisco Botanical Garden, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

San Francisco Botanical Garden, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

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I also love how the Gardens are kind of like the Louvre for botany—you can’t really see everything in one visit—I had missed this whole bamboo forest section the first time through. The sound of the plants knocking together is unexpected! It’s like a creaky house settling in for the night…

San Francisco Botanical Garden, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

San Francisco Botanical Garden, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

San Francisco Botanical Garden, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

San Francisco Botanical Garden, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, July 24, 2015

* * *

It’s tempting to just find a nook and take a nap, but I needed to get back to my desk.

Through the park back home… I like passing through the Music Concourse, where the Academy of Sciences and the deYoung live…

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park

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And this path, headed back towards Haight with these amazing ferns (trees?) that make me think “I’m in Jurassic Park!”

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park

(click me to expand and zoom and scroll)

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Back down Haight.

Ha, of course I’m drawn in by the window full of maps! And explorer’s gear…

I need a pith helmet… do they come in black? 😉

Haight Street shop window

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Such a lovely day…Haight Street

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I told myself no more photos, but then I came across this apartment building with really great, chiseled signage… Mmmm, kerning… and the shapes of the 1’s and 6’s are gorgeous (it’s my job, I can’t help it!)

07-24-15-BotanicalGardens52

apartment sign

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And last one… Golden Hour light makes everything look pretty…

Haight Street

Where should I go tomorrow?


  • MILES WALKED: about 8.5
  • NEIGHBORHOODS: Mission District, Duboce Triangle, Haight-Ashbury, Golden Gate Park
  • DESIGNATED LANDMARKS: Golden Gate Park Music Concourse (no. 249)

map of July 24 2015 walk