Golden Gate Park is hands-down one of the best places to ride in San Francisco. The park offers so many places to see, from museums, to gardens, to Dutch windmills, to a herd of lazy buffalo. Scroll down to learn how to get there from either of our shops.
When to Go
Any day is a great day to ride Golden Gate Park, however, on Sundays, many of the roads on the eastern half of the park are closed to car traffic, making Sundays extra enjoyable.
What to See on a Bike
The park is about 3.5-miles long and 1/2-mile wide. On its east end sits the infamous Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. To the park’s west is Ocean Beach.
Golden Gate park – End to End
You can easily ride the length of the park, from east to west (toward the ocean) or vice-versa (from the ocean).
When traversing the length of the park we advise riding on John F. Kennedy drive. If you do, you can see the following (listed from east to west):
- Conservatory of Flowers: Originally constructed in 1879, this Victorian-era greenhouse is stunning inside and out. $8 admission. Free public bathrooms at the building’s west end.
- de Young Museum & Its Free Tower: From its critically-acclaimed architecture to its free sculpture garden, the de Young is one of the most famous museums in the city. What many don’t know is that you can go up into its tower for FREE and get 360-degree views, high above the park’s towering eucalyptus trees. This an absolute must-do.
- Academy of Sciences: South of JFK drive and across from the de Young, the Academy of Sciences is housed in an impressive, LEED-Certified building with a living roof (which you can see from the de Young tower). We don’t recommend going in while on a bike ride – admission is $35 and you’ll want to spend a lot of time in there. Instead, go on Thursday nights for Nightlife (6pm-10pm, 21+, $12 admission), so you can drink a cocktail while making faces at the penguins.
- Japanese Tea Garden: Next to the de Young Museum, it’s here you can get a little closer to zen while enjoying some tea and absolutely delightful landscaping. Free admission before 10am on Mon., Wed., and Fri.
- Stow Lake: Just west of the De Young Museum. Cycle around the lake, checking out the ducks, geese, Chinese pagoda, and waterfall. Hike to the top of Strawberry Hill, in the middle of the lake, or rent a paddle boat for some extra exercise.
- Buffalo: Golden Gate Park has been the home to buffalo, or more specifically, American Bison, since the 1890’s. Keep an eye out for the bison paddock as you cruise down JFK Drive, just past Spreckels Lake, where you might see tiny model yachts puttering about.
- Dutch Windmill: Once used to pump water, this windmill is now just nice to look at, especially when the tulips surrounding it are in full bloom (Feb.-Mar.). Also a dandy picnic spot.
- Ocean Beach: You made it to the Pacific. OK, Ocean Beach isn’t a part of Golden Gate Park, but it’s next to it, and a ride through the park to Ocean Beach is one of the best rides in the city. Now treat yourself to a drink and food at Beach Chalet, across from Ocean Beach at the very west-end of Golden Gate Park.
Other Park Highlights
There are plenty of other great things to see off of John F. Kennedy Drive. Here are our a few (listed from east to west:
- Hippy Hill: A place to enjoy the rhythms a of drum circle as wafts of reefer smoke pass by. Or a great spot to lay in the sun and have a picnic. South of JFK Dr., just west of the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, across from Sharon Art Studio.
- National AIDS Memorial Grove: A living memorial to those lost to the AIDS epidemic. A place to remember, reflect, and hope. South of the Conservatory of Flowers, across Bowling Green Dr. from the tennis courts.
- SF Botanical Garden: 55 acres of trees and plants from around the world, with plenty of local ones, too, including some relatively young 100-year-old redwoods. On Martin Luther King Dr. behind the Academy of Sciences. $8 admission.
How to Get There
From Hayes Valley: Golden Gate Park is a short ride from our Hayes Valley location. If you want to get to the park as quickly as possible, and see some cool Victorian architecture along the way, rent from our Hayes Valley shop. On your way, stop by Haight Street Market near the corner of Haight and Ashbury for picnic supplies.
From Fisherman’s Wharf: It’s a longer ride from Fisherman’s wharf, but from here you can stop by the Golden Gate Bridge on your way to Golden Gate Park. We’ve listed two options here: the first option more scenic, hugging San Francisco’s rugged Pacific coastline, and hillier. It takes you to Ocean Beach and the west end of the park (Hybrid bike recommended). The second option is less hilly, puts you near the east end of Golden Gate Park, and is still pretty darn scenic.