The Best Places in San Francisco to See Flowers in Bloom
San Francisco has mild weather year-round, but spring fever doesn’t escape those who live in the city. Get out and see some of the prettiest plants in the city at these gardens and flower shows.
Your favorite green-thumb will find inspiration in the many gardens that dot Golden Gate Park, which spans an impressive 1,017 acres across the city's west side.
The park's Conservatory of Flowers, which celebrates its 140th anniversary this year, is popular with visitors. From carnivorous pods to zen water lilies, the variety of plants under the glass domes of the conservatory offer a close encounter with rare and endangered species from around the globe.
Nearby, the San Francisco Botanical Garden also offers up-close experiences with a variety of plants from around the world.
Spring is an ideal time to visit the park's Japanese Tea Garden, especially when the cherry blossom trees come into bloom during March and April. Likewise, fans of tulips should seek out the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden and Dutch Windmill on the west side of the park that peak at the same time.
Macy’s Flower Show (170 O'Farrell St.)
See Macy’s Union Square transform into a floral space odyssey during its annual flower show, a tradition that’s lasted for more than 70 years. This year’s theme, “Journey to Paradisios,” promises an extraterrestrial escape from and runs from Mar. 24 to Apr. 7.
San Francisco Zoo & Gardens (Sloat Blvd. & Great Highway)
The San Francisco Zoo & Gardens has several themed gardens, such as the whimsical sensory garden, where guests are encouraged to smell and touch plants, or the “fried-egg poppy” garden.They're great for family outings. Several of the animals rely on the gardens to create the food and environment that mimic their habitats in the wild. For example, it’s not unusual to find koalas browsing through the eucalyptus grove, much like they would in Australia.
Potrero Hill Community Garden (20th St. and San Bruno Ave.)
Get sweeping views of the Mission District, Twin Peaks, and downtown from the Potrero Hill Community Garden, a collection of 51 plots that are cared for by members of the community using organic-only methods.
Fay Park (2366 Leavenworth St.)
Once you’ve seen the famously crooked Lombard St., make a quick stop at Fay Park. Here, you’ll find two gazebos and a plethora a flowers in a tiny park that adds some charm to Leavenworth St. You’re close to attractions such as Fisherman’s Wharf, Washington Park, and North Beach.
University of California Berkeley Botanical Garden (200 Centennial Dr., Berkeley)
Take a detour to Berkeley and see the impressive University of California Botanical Garden, a 34-acre conservation space that houses plants from around the world. The ethnobotanical collections here demonstrate the relationship between people and the earth, resulting in unusual but useful plants to discover in the Chinese medicinal garden, Crops of the World garden, and the tropical garden. If the Redwood Grove is open, make sure to wander through California’s native giant trees.
Alcatraz National Park
While the name evokes a dark history of prisoners and protest, visitors to Alcatraz might be surprised by the flora that beautifies the island. Despite the barren landscape and poor soil, inmates, officers, and personnel successfully maintained gardens on The Rock when it functioned as an infamous penitentiary. Today, the National Parks Service employs gardeners and volunteers to upkeep the blossoming grounds in a sustainable manner. They provide garden tours year-round, but the prime time to see them is from January to September.