Nate Tellis and Sarah Gilman sat on a bench on a mid-July afternoon talking and drinking coffee outside the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.
Gilman, who was visiting from Los Angeles, said the park has similarities to New York City’s Central Park, but with a more untouched, organic feel.
Tellis grew up in San Francisco and remembers taking the 43-Masonic bus to Golden Gate Park as a high school student.
“What I always liked about it is that you can feel like you're in nature in the middle of the city,” Tellis said.
Tourists and locals have filled Golden Gate Park on most weekday afternoons so far this summer. While some people hope to have a laid-back picnic, others try to spend time doing as many activities—including museum visits—as possible.
The visitors owe this recreational space to the vision of a San Francisco official.
Surveyor, designer and park advocate William Hammond Hall battled with sand dunes in the late 1800s to turn an unincorporated part of the city called the Outside Lands into the cherished park.
Today, the 1,107-acre park is home to much more than the de Young. Visitors flock to the Conservatory of Flowers, the Bison Paddock, the Japanese Tea Garden, Strawberry Hill, Waller Street Skate Park and many more gardens and spaces for recreational activities ranging from archery to gardening.
Mayor London Breed passed an ordinance last year to make all three of Golden Gate Park’s specialty gardens free to veterans and San Francisco residents. Each garden provides its own unique experience, and some gardens even have wild animals roaming around, including turtles, koi fish and Canada geese.
Every corner of the park has something visually impressive to offer, but the Bison Paddock is one of the park’s most unique sections. In 1891, Park Superintendent John McLaren brought bison to live at Golden Gate Park because the species was close to extinction in the United States at the time.
Just outside the Conservatory of Flowers, Kamran Akhenaton and Jill Clavette sat by a patch of flowers and admired the bees.
The two parkgoers said they appreciated riding bikes free of vehicle traffic on John F. Kennedy Promenade between Transverse and Kezar drives. Clavette often finds herself rediscovering the beauty of different sections of the park.
“Every time I come here, I see something new, and then I forget about it,” Clavette said. “And then I come again, and I'm like, ‘Oh my God, what is that?’”
Isaac Ceja can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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