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  • Writer's pictureMariko

Hidden Gems of Golden Gate Park

Updated: Jan 25, 2021

I recently moved to the Inner Sunset neighborhood in San Francisco, which is walking distance from the Golden Gate Park. Prior to moving to the city, I only knew Golden Gate Park for the museums and the Outside Lands Music Festival. Over the past couple of months I've discovered that the park has lots of hidden treasures, each more unique and beautiful than the next.

I've picked out a few of my favorite Hidden Gems, all which can be seen on an easy 3 mile walking loop.

Start: AIDS Memorial Grove

The AIDS Memorial Grove is a hidden oasis within the park. I walked by it for months before realizing how expansive and serene the grove was. The Grove was the first AIDS memorial established in the US, dedicated in 1996. I recommend entering from the "Main Portal" which is at the intersection of Nancy Pelosi Dr and Bowling Green Dr. Once inside the Grove make sure you follow the dirt path all the way to the end to get the full experience.

Lily Pond

I love this pond. It's beautiful, and it always reminds me of Shrek's swamp (in the best way). There are so many cool and unique plants that you feel like you've been transported to prehistoric times. Since it is off the beaten path, it remains pretty quiet, even on the busiest days in the park.

Prayerbook Cross

You wouldn't think so, but it is very easy to miss this 60 ft cross if you aren't looking out for it. Tucked away in the trees of Golden Gate Park, the Prayer Book Cross is located right behind Rainbow Falls. The cross was erected in 1894 is thought to be a gift from the Church of England to commemorate the first English language sermon.

Stow Lake/ Huntington Falls

Stow Lake is one of the most romantic places in the city. On a sunny day, you'll see beautiful cranes, turtles and other wildlife as well as couples and families cruising around the lake on paddleboats. I recommend walking through the inner loop of the lake to Huntington Falls. To get the best view, take the stairs directly next to the waterfall and walk across the bridge that crosses over the top. Once you've taken in the waterfall, make sure to continue along the loop to see the Golden Gate Pavilion and the Stow Lake Bridge.

Finish: 9th Avenue

I always love ending my walks in the park at 9th Avenue. There are lots great independent retail shops and restaurants. My favorite places to grab a bite to eat are Gordo's Taqueria, Underdogs Tres, and San Francisco's Hometown Creamery.

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