This park is huge and something you need more than just a morning to explore fully. We got completely lost and didn't get the opportunity to see half the stuff we wanted to. The japanese tea garden however was really impressive.
The entrance to the park can be a little intimidating. Quite a few homeless people with trolleys were sat at the entrance, almost blocking it and we had to walk around. They didn't bother us at all and caused us no problems but it was the first time I felt slightly worried on the trip. Please do not let this put you off though, it really is something you must go and do.
The lakes, playing fields, flowers and carousel that we managed to see were very lovely and with the walk being all flat you get to enjoy the park without the many San Francisco hills. We did however really want to see the windmill and bison paddock and as we got so lost and were under a time constraint we didn't get to it.
My advice would be to pay attention to where you are going and give yourself a whole day to see it properly.
At three miles long and almost half a mile wide, the Golden Gate Park is one of the largest man made parks in the world and it is a lovely place to while away a sunny afternoon.
There are lots of things to see here, not least the amazing gardens which include the Japanese Tea garden (where the fortune cookie is said to be invented), a rose garden and a rhododendron dell which are all very pretty. If you want to be more active, you can join the thousands of cyclists and skaters who always fill the parks pathways. The Japanese Tea Gardens are particularly fun to walk around because there are lots of cute little crooked paths and stone bridges to explore. You really do feel like you are at one with nature and it's a bit like being in a childhood story wandering around.
For those who enjoy flora, there is also the Conservatory of Flowers which costs around $5 to get in and is actually apparently the oldest glass and wood Victorian greenhouse in the western hemisphere - an obscure title to hold, but an fairly impressive building none the less. There are over 2000 types of plant and flower in the conservatory, but the biggest crowd pleaser has got to be the butterfly area in which there are so many butterflies flying freely around the zone.
The park is also home to the massive California Academy of Sciences complex which is home to a living rainforest containing, amongst other things, a 210,000 gallon aquarium, an alligator swamp and 38,000 animals from around the globe. The design of the building itself is something else; the roof is a 197,000 square foot area of 'living greenery' that is designed to look like rolling hills and it is made up of over a million and a half plants. It serves a purpose as well (as you would expect from a science based building) in that it absorbs 2 million litres of water a year and keeps the building tend degrees cooler than a normal roof and so saves untold amounts of energy. Fascinating stuff indeed.
A few points to consider when planning your visit:
-Most of the things to see are in the Eastern side of the park
-On Sundays, the JFK Drive is closed to traffic in certain parts
-You can get free guided tours of some parts of the park - just ask!
-It's not recommended that you visit the park at night
So, needless to say there is a lot of fun to be had at the Golden Gate Park and you will surely enjoy a visit there especially on a nice San Francisco afternoon.