The Botanical Garden
of San Francisco

The Strybing Arboretum


The Botanical Garden in San Francisco is a wonderfully serene place to explore, located in the heart of Golden Gate Park.

COVID note: the Botanical Garden is open again, and it's a great place to de-stress and be out in nature just now, especially since so many other places closed on Dec 6, 2020.

Visitors are required to wear face masks while visiting the gardens, and maintain social distancing. The number of visitors is limited to facilitate spacing.

Reservations are suggested, though not required. There may be a line to get in on busier days (not so much on weekdays) and people with reservations go in first. SF residents and others with free admission can also get online reservations.

See tickets for reservations.

botanical garden san francisco, shady path

The gardens, often referred to by locals as the Arboretum, focus on plants that are adapted to climates similar to San Francisco's: a quasi-Mediterranean climate with a heavy dash of cool fog.

There are 55 acres of greenery to explore, including around 8,000 species of plants from all over the world.

botanical garden san francisco, waterfowl pond
The Waterfowl Pond

Travel Around the World

The botanical gardens are organized by geographical region.

Areas of the world that have Mediterranean-ish climates, or cool foggy climates, crop up on many continents, and are represented here by the following:

  • Mesoamerican Cloud Forest
  • Southeast Asian Cloud Forest
  • Andean Cloud Forest
  • Australia and New Zealand
  • South Africa
  • Temperate Asia
  • The Mediterranean
  • California

More cool areas:
  • Moon Viewing Garden
  • Fragrance Garden
  • Rhododendron and Camellia Gardens
  • Ancient Plant Garden
  • Succulent Garden
  • Redwood Grove

How to Explore the Gardens

There are two entrances to the garden: the Main Entrance and the North Entrance (see maps below).

At either entrance, you can pick up a map of the gardens and some brochures about the features.

Early entry (7:30-9:00 am) is at the Main Entrance only.

Get a map: Botanical Garden Map

Once you have your map, you can decide which of the areas you want to see, or just ramble around and be surprised.

Highlights of the Garden

In addition to checking out the huge variety of trees and plants, and finding the areas that have flowers in bloom, there are a few areas that are always fun to visit:

The Moon Viewing Garden

This is a mysterious spot with a wooden platform suspended over a pond, surrounded by gnarled tree trunks.

botanical garden san francisco, moon viewing garden

This garden was inspired by the Japanese custom of tsukimi, or viewing the moon, where during the warm months of August and September, friends and family would gather in a garden after dark to eat, hear music, perform tea ceremonies, and recite poems to the moon. Charming!

The Moon Viewing Garden is also available for weddings.

The Waterfall Garden

A waterfall cascades over stones to join the pool at the Moon Viewing Garden.

botanical garden san francisco, waterfall

The Succulent Garden

Large collection of succulents in all sizes.

botanical garden san francisco, succulent garden

The Redwood Grove

Peaceful and shady grove of redwoods that have been growing here since around 1900.

botanical garden san francisco, redwood grove

The Fragrance Garden

Sniff your way around the collection. Lavender, Salvia, Pelargoniums, and more.

botanical garden san francisco, fragrance garden

The Ancient Plants Garden

Start in the Early Devonian period, 416 million years ago, and work your way to the plants of the Eocene epoch, 56 million years ago.

botanical garden san francisco, ancient plants walkway
Entering the Past

One of the things that I like to do is to explore the little paths and stairways leading off the main paths; it feels rather magical to come upon a waterfall or stone structure that you weren't expecting. There are lots of little offshoots that beckon!

botanical garden san francisco, stone pathway

Tips for the Traveler

Bathrooms. There are only two restrooms, and the gardens are large; they are located near the two entrances.

The no-no's: no pets (except guide dogs), no camping, no smoking, no bikes, roller skates or skateboards.

Docent tours: daily at 1:30, main gate. Friday, Saturday, Sunday at 2:00, north gate. Bird walk: first Sunday every month at 8:00 a.m.

Picnics: visitors are welcome to bring food and enjoy the garden, but be sure to clean up after.

Coyotes. As you may have heard, coyotes have moved into the parks in San Francisco, and Golden Gate Park is one of their favorite spots. I asked a couple of the gardeners here about them and they told me there are coyotes in the botanical garden, but they've only seen them in the early morning hours, around 6:30 a.m. They apparently get in by digging under the fences; the staff have seen their paw prints, as well as the coyotes themselves, one or two at a time. The experts say they don't represent a danger to people, but don't approach them, in the unlikely event that you see one.

Seasonal Highlights

At any particular time, some things are blooming and others aren't. Fortunately, because of the variety, there is usually something blooming at any time of year. Here is a general guide for seasonal hotspots, either flowers, or interesting color:

Spring (April-May): California Native Garden, Rhododendron Garden, South African Garden.

Summer (June-September): Zellerbach Garden perennials, Garden of Fragrance, Redwood Grove.

Fall (October-December): Mesoamerican Cloud Forest, Andean Cloud Forest, Moon Viewing Garden.

Winter (January-March): Magnolias, Camellia and Rhododendron Gardens, Succulent and South African Gardens.

Of course, spring is the best time to see the flowers here.

Hours and Fees

Fees

Entrance fees: adults $9 ($12 on weekends), 12-17 years and 65+ $7, 5-11 years $3. Families (including 2 adults and their kids $20)

San Francisco residents (with ID) and garden members: free.

Free days for everyone: second Tuesday of each month, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day.

Always free entry from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m.

Hours

Opens at 7:30 a.m.

Closing is seasonal: closes one hour after last entry.

Spring and Summer (second Sunday in March through September): last entry at 6 p.m.
Fall and Winter (first Sunday in November through January):last entry at 4 p.m.
October: last entry at 5:00 p.m.

Getting There and Parking

The Main Entrance to the Arboretum is on Martin Luther King Drive, just inside Golden Gate Park at 9th Avenue. The North Entrance is also on Martin Luther King Drive, a little farther into the park.

The best parking opportunities are on Martin Luther King Drive between the North Entrance and Stow Lake (see map).

botanical garden san francisco, map of entrances and parking
Map data (c) OpenStreetMap and contributors, CC-BY-SA

Taking Public Transportation

It's easy to get there on the street car. The N-Judah stops on 9th Avenue and Irving Street, a block from the park entrance; you can catch it downtown along Market Street (underground- it's a subway downtown).

map of muni stops at golden gate park
Map data (c) OpenStreetMap and contributors, CC-BY-SA
Muni to Golden Gate Park

Find out all the things to do and see in Golden Gate Park: museums, lakes, windmills, bike rentals, and more.

More flowers? Visit the Conservatory of Flowers not far away.

Golden Gate Park has lots of other gardens, as well. Explore the Rose Garden, Shakespeare Garden, Rhododendron Dell and more at Gardens in Golden Gate Park. Plus a map of all the garden locations.


Nearby attractions...



  1. Home
  2. >
  3. Golden Gate Park
  4. >
  5. Botanical Gardens


Scroll down for COVID updates.



COVID-19 Status: at midnight on Monday, March 16, San Francisco was placed under a "shelter-in-place order.

All residents were ordered to stay home, except for necessary trips to grocery stores and essential medical visits, and solo outdoor activities like hiking.

The city had been gradually reopening of many businesses and activities, but in December, 2020, came under a strict, stay-at-home directive, due to a sudden increase in infection and hospitalization rates.

Since then, Covid numbers dropped significantly, but rose again when Omicron hit, then dropped again. They are fairly low now.

Big changes coming June 15 California was "fully reopened", meaning all business sectors reopened to full or almost full capacity, including concerts, stadium sports and festivals. SF since then has been basically open, though somewhat more cautious in some regards than other locations.

Vaccine requirements: as of March 9, 2022. SF no longer requires that restaurants, bars, theaters and gyms check for proof of vaccination, but they can choose to require it, so check each venue individually.

Documents accepted: paper or digital vaccination records.

Mask rules: as of February 28, 2022, no one is now required to wear a mask indoors in SF, whether vaccinated or not. Hospitals, nursing homes and public transit, still require masks.

As of March 28, 2022, over 88% of SF residents have been fully vaccinated.

Public transportation options have been cut back, but are expanding again. See SF transit for more info. Masks are still required of everyone on public transit (federal law), but not vaccination or test results.

The cable cars are running again.

What is open? Muir Woods, the Botanic Gardens, Golden Gate Park, Japanese Tea Garden, Pier 39, SF beaches, Golden Gate Bridge, most museums, and Twin Peaks (car access on Portola) are all open.

Parking lots for SF beaches, Twin Peaks, and the Golden Gate Bridge are open, including the Welcome Center lot.

Restaurants can now be open to full capacity for indoor as well as outdoor dining, and many restaurants are open for take-out or delivery. /p>

Bars that serve food can serve customers indoors.

Businesses can allow customers inside, up to full capacity. Malls are open.

The SF Zoo is open again.

Alcatraz is open.The Day Tours, Night Tours and Behind the Scene Tours are running now. The Cell Block is open also.

No proof of vaccination is required for the Alcatraz tours. Masking only for the boat over, the dock area and indoor areas. See Alcatraz.

Hair salons, and open air tour buses, outdoor walking tours, and boat cruises can now operate.

Indoor museums are open, including the CA Academy of Sciences.

Travel to SF: There are no quarantine requirements for travelers to SF.

Hotels are accepting reservations, but travelers are urged to limit contact with others in the hotel.

Masks are required inside the SF airport.

Exploratorium: open.

Playgrounds: open.

Indoor swimming pools are open to full capacity.

Schools: public and private schools are open. SF public schools started in-person learning for all students last fall (2021). Masks are no longer required for students in SF public or private schools.

Indoor gyms and indoor movie theaters are open to full capacity..

Indoor concerts, live theater, and sporting events, may open at full capacity. For indoor gatherings of >1,000, proof of vaccination or negative Covid test will be required.

Outdoor events for >10,000: may require proof of vaccination or negative test, but aren't required to.

Check individual events for requirements.

Napa and Sonoma county wineries are open.

See Covid rules for current SF status (April 2022).

For a handy list of what's open or closed in SF, plus info on what's open in other cities and counties of California, see California reopening schedules.

See coronavirus news in the SF Chronicle for details and updates.

Also see site closures for the National Park Service (Alcatraz, Muir Woods, etc.)

And to check the air quality (fires) in SF and the Bay Area, see airnow.gov.




Fog City Mail logo

Get the latest tips on visiting San Francisco.




SF Bus, BART, & Cable Car routes.

thumbnail of SF muni bus map
Muni Route Map


Al Capone and the Alcatraz prison yard, how to get sold-out Alcatraz tickets.
Get Alcatraz tickets.