Navigating San Francisco: A Golden Gate Park Survival Guide

Practical tips for parking, transportation and finding your way around one of the country's most visited parks

Navigating San Francisco's 1,000-acre Golden Gate Park, which receives 13 million visitors annually, doesn't have to be daunting. Here's insider info that will make your visit a breeze.

Practical Tips

San Francisco Botanical Garden

1. Parking in the park is free and available along many of the main streets, but always check signs for specific time limits. Paid parking is also available at the museums and San Francisco Botanical Garden.

2. The free Golden Gate Park Shuttle runs among 15 locations, including a parking lot at Ocean Beach, on weekends and holidays between 10 am-6 pm.

3. Bike rentals are available around the park including Golden Gate Park Bike and Skate on Fulton Street and American Cyclery, with locations on Frederick and Stanyan streets. You can also rent boats in the park at Stow Lake Boathouse.

Golden Gate Park Segway Tour

4. The Electric Tour Company offers segway tours of the park, costing $70 per person and running two and a half hours. Reserve ahead.

5. You’ll find that the park is well labeled in most GPS map apps, which will help when planning your route.

Living Roof at California Academy of Sciences

6. The California Academy of Sciences maintains two helpful apps for exploring and engaging with the park. The Golden Gate Park Field Guide offers a map, species directory and weather for the park.

7. With the iNaturalist app, you can be become a citizen scientist, tracking species you spot and recording any relevant data.

8. Most visitors aren't surprised to come across the park's tennis courts, golf course and basketball courts but would never guess that it's also full of courts for oddball sports. You can try your hand at lawn bowling, practice your toss in the horseshoe pits, aim high at the archery field, work up a sweat at the handball courts, perfect your casting technique at the fly-fishing pools or throw caution to the wind on the disc golf course.