With a temperate climate and a plethora of gardens, the San Francisco area is one of the best flower destinations around the world. Whether you’re hoping to take a peaceful stroll amidst California wildflowers or delight in manicured gardens, you can find a location that will fulfill your desires.
When you’re visiting these gardens and wild spaces, make sure to practice flower-lovers etiquette! Leave the blooms where they are – remember, you can always order a San Francisco flower delivery when you want to bring flowers into your home.
Golden Gate Park
Address: San Francisco, CA
Hours: Open 24/7, but some gardens and exhibits have limited hours
With over 1,000 acres of space, Golden Gate Park tops the list of gardens to visit in the San Francisco area. Since the park is massive and changes with the seasons, you can visit over and over and still not experience all it has to offer.
Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden
Combine thousands of tulips with a grand windmill, and you end up with a garden that feels like it’s a slice of the Netherlands. While the garden is picturesque year-round, visit in March or early April for the best tulip display.
While this area doesn’t offer many of those sweet, red berries, it does provide excellent views of the San Francisco area. This highpoint contains a manmade waterfall, opportunities to pedal boat on Stow Lake, and flowers like Dutchman’s pipevine, seaside daisy, and Hooker’s evening primrose.
California Native Plant Garden
Part of the greater San Francisco Botanical Garden, this garden gives you a glimpse into the native plants of California. The garden features many of the native sages as well as wildflowers such as marsh lupine, common yarrow, and California fuchsia. Since native flowers often attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, this is also a great location to watch for flying friends.
Another segment in the botanical garden is the succulent garden. This area is filled with drought-tolerant plants including varieties of agave, stonecrop, cacti, and aloe. While the vegetation itself is worth a visit, you may be able to plan a visit when the limited edition flowers are in bloom!
Redwood Grove Garden
If you’re looking for a forested escape in the middle of the city, head to the Redwood Grove. Along with the towering coast redwoods, the garden also features plants such as the flowering currant, huckleberry, and western azalea. Since the area is shaded, it’s an especially nice place to visit on a warm day.
Japanese Tea Garden
This garden is not only mesmerizing, but it’s also the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States. Although it’s now a public garden, it was originally created as an exhibit for the 1894 World’s Fair. Stroll through the modern garden and you may catch hints of wisteria and cherry blossom as well as the sight of vibrant azaleas, regal statues, and peaceful koi ponds.
Conservatory of Flowers
Situated near the entrance to the Golden Gate Park, the Conservatory of Flowers holds collections of tropical plants from around the world. Visitors can enjoy orchids, palms, ferns, and even coffee plants!
Garden of Fragrance
While flowers are beautiful, this garden reminds us about one of their other interesting aspects: fragrance! Along with fragrant blooms, the garden also contains scented herbs such as mint and lemon verbena.
If you’re looking to be surrounded by hundreds of rose blooms, this is the garden for you. Although summer is the best time to visit, different varieties bloom throughout the year.
Situated near the Conservatory of Flowers, this garden comes alive in summer when hundreds of dahlias begin to bloom. The plants continue to flower until fall, so you’ll have a few months to make a visit to this garden.
San Francisco Botanical Garden
Covering 55 acres, the San Francisco Botanical Garden is home to more than 7,500 varieties of plants! The gardens are divided into various categories, including the Mediterranean, dwarf conifers, and mild-temperate climate. While you’re welcome to wander the grounds on your own, you can also opt to take part in a guided tour.
Lake Merritt Golden State Bonsai Federation
Address: 650 Bellevue Ave, Oakland, CA 94610
Hours: Tuesday-Friday 11AM – 2:30PM, Saturday 10AM – 3:30PM, Sunday 12PM – 3:30PM
While this garden isn’t the best place to view flowers in Oakland, it’s certainly worth visiting. The volunteer-managed garden displays a rotating collection of close to 200 bonsai trees, so it’s worth making more than one visit. Admission is free and volunteer docents can help answer any questions.
Ruth Bancroft Garden
Address: 1552 Bancroft Rd, Walnut Creek, CA 94598
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 9 AM – 4 PM
While many gardens on this list rely on irrigation to keep plants looking lush, the Ruth Bancroft Garden leans into Northern California’s natural climate. The water-conserving gardens contain plenty of drought-tolerant plants like succulents and cacti. There is a small admission fee to help cover garden upkeep. If you’re looking for Walnut Creek flowers, this is a great local option.
UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley
Address: 200 Centennial Dr, Berkeley, CA 94720
Hours: 10 AM – 5 PM, closed the first and third Tuesday each month
This 34-acre property features numerous gardens containing over 10,000 different plant species. Plants are grouped by native location, human use, or plant taxonomy. That means you can tour plant collections including California native plants, Chinese medicinal herbs, and an arid house. Since non-member visitors need an online ticket, make sure to plan your visit in advance.
Filoli Historic House and Garden
Address: 86 Cañada Rd, Woodside, CA 94062
Hours: 10 AM – 5 PM, advance reservations required
The Filoli Estate boasts 654 acres, including 16 acres of homes and gardens. The property features a seasonally rotating collection of in-ground flowers as well as potted plants and bonsai trees. Some of the plants to look out for include wisteria, roses, magnolias, and camellias.
Gardens at Heather Farm
Address: 1540 Marchbanks Dr, Walnut Creek, CA 94598
Hours: Daylight hours, closed for private events
The Gardens at Heather Farm is a nonprofit organization that is free to the public. You can stroll the themed gardens, browse the plant shop, and sign up for an educational event. Members of the public can also book the gardens for private events – the hundreds of rose plants make an especially romantic backdrop for a wedding. Pair this venue with a Walnut Creek flower delivery, and you’ll be on the way to the floral wedding of your dreams.
Gardens at Alcatraz
Address: Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, CA
Hours: Daylight hours
While beauty may not be the first thing you think of when you hear the word Alcatraz, these gardens prove you should look beyond the island’s notorious history. The gardens give a glimpse into the lives of past island residents, both prisoners and military families alike. Although the gardens are free to the public, you’ll need to take a ferry to the island.
Grace Marchant Garden at Filbert Steps
Address: 202 Filbert St, San Francisco, CA 94133
Hours: Daylight hours
Located on Telegraph Hill’s Filbert Steps, the Grace Marchant Garden continues the work of its late creator. Although Grace Marchant passed in 1982, volunteers maintain the collection of roses, datura, azaleas, and other plants.
Wilder Ranch State Park, Santa Cruz
Address: 1401 Coast Rd, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Hours: 8 AM – sunset
Covering over 7,000 coastal acres, Wilder Ranch State Park provides plenty of space to explore. Along with strolling along trails and looking at native plants, visitors can also tour historical homes, barns, and other buildings.
Dry Creek Valley Trail, Napa and Sonoma Wine Country
Address: Dry Creek Valley AVA, California 95448
Hours: Always open, but vineyard hours vary
If you want to explore the Dry Creek Wine Region by bike, this 25-mile route is one of the best ways to do so. Along with weaving through small vineyards and wineries, the route passes by small produce farms and wildflower fields.
Montara State Beach
Address: Montara State Beach, Montara, CA 94019
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Located south of San Francisco, this beach offers opportunities for surfing, fishing, and taking in the waves. Depending on the season you can spot flowers like the non-native but stunning rosa ice plant as well as native flowers including Wight’s paintbrush, seaside daisy, and gumweed. The area also offers trails open to hikers, horseback riders, and bikers.
Other Things to Do Around San Francisco
If gardens aren’t your thing or you’re looking for another activity, you’ll have no shortage of options. Here are some other destinations and activities to check out.
- San Francisco Big Wheel Race: Every Easter Sunday, children and adults alike gather at 20th and Vermont Streets to race on big wheels and plastic trikes. Whether you participate or spectate, don’t miss this hilarious event!
- Experience the 90s Museum: If you’re feeling nostalgic for the 90s or want to let your kids know what they’ve missed out on, take a stroll through this space filled with 90s music, exhibits, and memorabilia.
- The Wave Organ: Located near the Marina Green and the Golden Gate Yacht Club, this collection of stone sculptures makes music as each wave hits.