There are plenty of hidden treasures and little known secrets all over Golden Gate Park. We challenge you to visit and discover these fun and interesting facts about the park.

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March 9, 2020
Photo by San Francisco Chronicle

Golden Gate Park Fun Facts and Amazing Stories

Golden Gate Park celebrates its 150th year in 2020. There are hidden treasures and little known secrets all over the park. We challenge you to visit and discover your own. In the meantime, here are few fun and interesting facts about Golden Gate Park.

  1. Golden Gate Park was originally created on 1,013 acres of windswept sand dunes in an unincorporated area of the peninsula known as the Outside Lands. 
  2. Golden Gate Park is 20% larger than New York's Central Park and is one of the most visited parks in America with 25 million visits annually.
  3. The park's landscape is home to 680 forested acres, 130 acres of meadows, 15 miles of drives, and 33 acres of lakes.
  4. The Conservatory of Flowers opened in 1879 and was the park's first formal structure. A gigantic specimen of philodendron, known as Phil and thought to be more than 100 years old, continues to climb into the center dome.
  5. The very first tweet was made in Golden Gate Park in front of its herd of bison.
  6. The park played the role of sanctuary after the devastating 1906 earthquake and fire, when 200,000 homeless residents took to shelter in the park.
  7. The Sharon Quarters for Children, known today as the Koret Playground, is the first public playground in the U.S.
  8. The San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum consists of 55 acres with 9,000 kinds of plants from around the world.
  9. 69 couples wed in Golden Gate Park in 2019. Lovers tied the knot at the Shakespeare Garden, the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden, the Fuchsia Dell, the San Francisco Botanical Garden, Chain of Lakes and Portals of the Past at Lloyd Lake.
  10. Tennis was first played in Golden Gate Park in 1894. Hall of Famers such as Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals, Brad Gilbert, and others have honed their skills on the Golden Gate Park tennis courts. The tennis courts are currently undergoing a $27 million renovation, which will feature 17 new and lighted USTA regulation courts, a dedicated pickleball court, and a new clubhouse.
  11. There are a wide range of dedicated athletic courses, fields, and courts, including soccer, baseball, tennis, football, running, horseshoe pitching, golf, lawn bowling, petanque, archery, and disc golf.
  12. The Disc Golf Course (nestled between Marx Meadow and Lindley Meadow) is truly a hidden gem for both avid disc golfers and curious beginners. Founded in 1997, the Professional Disc Golf Association-sanctioned San Francisco Safari draws players from all over the country to play at the course.
  13. Before 1929, when the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens was born, visitors to Golden Gate Park could find elephant, zebra, bear, kangaroo, emu and ostrich on display. Today, coyotes, owls, horses, bison, and even the occasional mountain lion can be found in the park.
  14. In 1982, Byron Preiss secretly buried a dozen ceramic vases ("casque") encased in Plexiglas in parks across North America. Each casque contains a key that could be redeemed for one of twelve jewels Preiss kept in a safe deposit box in New York. It's believed that Golden Gate Park holds one of the casques. More than 100 hopeful hunters have tried their luck at the 37-year-old riddle, but the answer may lie buried in Golden Gate Park forever.


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