It is late August and we were just skating by with mild heat and then boom! Hit with triple digits with no relief in sight. So we decided to check a couple of items off our San Francisco bucket list and escaped to the city hoping for Karl the Fog to keep us cool! There was no fog but the temps at the SF Botanical Garden were 20 degrees lower than home so we enjoyed it nonetheless!
The SF Botanical Garden is 55 acres of wonder and beauty! We really didn’t know what to expect so we gladly took a copy of the map and headed off to Australia. Crazy tropical trees in here! Tons of shad and plants we have never seen. Then we walked on to the Andean Cloud Forest and down to the succulent garden where we spent most of our time taking photos! Next time I would like to take the free docent-led tour. Would love to know more about these gorgeous plants we were seeing!
We followed the path along to the Redwood Grove and were shocked to see what looks like albino redwood sprouts. The ones we saw in Humboldt were higher up off the ground so we couldn’t touch them. The needles don’t feel any different just a crazy creamy white color! Strolling through a redwood grove is one of our favorite things in Northern California and this one did not disappoint.
The plants in the California Native Garden were easy for us to identify since most of them have been found on our hikes and cities we’ve explored. The Fountain Plaza was great to see. The layout of the gardens is so perfect for such a small space.
After walking through the Mediterranean Garden we found the Ancient Plant Garden. This was my favorite area!! We love learning about history and this was a history of plants way before us humans showed up! The boardwalk through here had some great signs to read about the different eras and how the plants evolved. The favorite plant here was the tree fern. Loved the patterns on the trunk!
Had I known I could take a picnic inside SF Botanical Garden we would have planned better and grabbed the backpack and blanket! Note to self, get there early for good free parking, take a picnic, go on an afternoon docent-led tour, and go back again!
Since we had no picnic we strolled over to the park in the middle of the SF Botanical Garden, California Academy of Science, DeYoung, and the Japanese Tea Garden and grabbed some food off the food truck. There are benches and shade there so we still sort of had our picnic! After enjoying some good people watching we walked over to the Japanese Tea Garden just in time to tag along on a free tour.
You are greeted with amazingly manicured grounds and a sense of calm within all the chaos of the city. To the left, we reached a small pond with some really great stone steps that felt like they were floating on the water. Look down to see the koi fish swimming! We bumped into the free tour here and listened a little then stayed back to get some good shots of this crazy cool wood arch bridge. There are ponds with fish and beautiful trees everywhere here!
Everywhere we looked we were in awe of how peaceful the grounds are and the beauty around us. The tall Japanese Pavilion looked like a miniature of something I imagine I will see when we go to Japan one day. The details, the colors, everything so perfect. To the right of this, you will see a Ginko tree that changed from a male to a female. Not to worry, the groundskeeper picks up the fruit before it starts to smell!
Behind the pavilion is a Zen Garden under a canopy of trees. Enjoy the bench and the peace here. Ideas for our dream yard! Follow the path through the trees and you’ll end the tour at the giant Buddha. Something always makes the bosslady smile when she sees a Buddha. From here you can choose to go into the Tea House for snacks and tea or like we did, go into the gift shop. The bosslady has Japanese roots which means the hubs has to restrain her shopping in these gift shops! We made it out with just a chime. It has a beautiful tune and will be so nice to hear while enjoying wine on the patio.
Exploring both parks is definitely easy to do in 1 day and feel like you experienced everything. We do recommend getting there early for the free parking and to save a little money and take advantage of the SF Botanical Gardens pack a picnic. SF Botanical Garden entry fee is $8, the Japanese Tea Garden entrance fee is $9, we hiked about 3.5 miles and enjoyed every bit of it! Check out their websites for information on free days and discounts.
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