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Springtime Blooms in San Francisco

Call it a gift from El Nino or just Mother Nature doing her annual thing, but springtime is returning to San Francisco in a big way.


Here are some fragrant favorites: 

March 16-20, 2016
San Francisco Flower & Garden Show
San Mateo Event Center, 2495 South Delaware St., San Mateo
The San Francisco Flower & Garden Show is a public exhibition held each spring at the San Mateo Event Center just south of San Francisco International Airport (SFO). As one of the top exhibitions of its kind in the United States, the show covers more than five acres and includes full-sized designer showcase gardens, hundreds of flowers and floral design exhibits with tens of thousands of wonderful plants and garden-related products to buy.  Demonstrations include ways to grow, prepare, and preserve your own fresh, organic food,

March 20-April 3, 2016
Macy’s Flower Show
Macy’s Union Square, San Francisco
Macy’s Union Square welcomes spring with its milestone 70th Macy’s Flower Show®, a gift to the city of San Francisco and surrounding Bay Area, March 20-April 3, 2016. “America the Beautiful,” this year’s floral extravaganza, will take visitors on a road trip through America’s vast and varied landscapes, from the beauty of Martha’s Vineyard to the bright hues of the Southeast’s tropical blooms, and from the cactus-filled deserts of the Southwest to the stunning Pacific Northwest coastline.  Macy’s Union Square’s Flower Show will also showcase two weeks of in-store special events with music, fashion, cooking and DIY demonstrations that will delight floral fans while celebrating the rejuvenating power of Spring. Visitors can enjoy guided tours, live music, children’s activities, and festive shopping parties, featuring the vibrant colors of the incredible exhibits. Also on display are exclusive exhibits including the Bouquet of the Day series, which features locally renowned floral designers, and a special art gallery celebrating iconic Americans by students from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM).

April 5–10, 2016
Bouquets to Art
de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr.
Peonies and Picasso, hydrangeas and Hockney. Art and nature come together to spectacular effect during the annual “Bouquets to Art.” See arrangements by some of the most innovative floral designers in the Bay Area and beyond, inspired by works from the permanent collection and the architecture of the de Young in this annual fundraiser, now in its 32nd year.   

April 9-10 and April 16-17, 2016
Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival
Japantown, San Francisco
San Francisco’s colorful Japantown will burst into full bloom when members of Northern California’s Japanese American community gather to celebrate their 49th annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Each year, more than 200,000 people attend this dazzling tribute to the color and grace of the Japanese culture and the diversity of the Japanese American community. Leave time to explore the oldest Japantown in the United States, roam the food bazaar, and enjoy traditional arts and crafts and the children’s village. Entertainment stages feature Japanese dancers, martial artists and taiko drummers.   


No matter what the season, Golden Gate Park is a playground for garden devotees from the profusion of tulips in the Queen Wilhelmina Gardens to the serene tranquility of the Japanese Tea Garden. Also of note are the National AIDS Memorial Grove, the Garden of the Humanitarians, San Francisco Botanical Garden and the Conservatory of Flowers. At the California Academy of Sciences, visitors can explore a living roof planted with 1.7 million native plants. Four perennial and five wildflower species were chosen for their ability to thrive in Golden Gate Park. 

Conservatory of Flowers  
100 John F. Kennedy Dr., Golden Gate Park
The oldest structure in Golden Gate Park and the oldest wooden framed conservatory in the nation is a spectacular museum of living plants.  Immersive displays in five galleries engage visitors physically, intellectually and emotionally. Known for its extensive collection of orchids, the Conservatory is one of only four institutions in the U.S. to house a highlands tropics display featuring a large and diverse group of high-altitude beauties.   

San Francisco Botanical Garden
Ninth Avenue at Lincoln Way, Golden Gate Park
After four dry years, some very wild flowers are getting ready to put on a particularly vibrant show this spring and summer at San Francisco Botanical Garden (SFBG). A spectacular variety of protea will bristle with huge, fiery flowers in the South African Garden. The magic dogwood is set to dazzle with its spiraling, white flowers that perch on its limbs like exotic lanterns. The monkey’s hand tree will explode with what seems like hundreds of small, open hands extending from its crimson flowers. The season will also bring vivid profusions of flowers in the Garden of California Native Plants, the Mediterranean Garden, and the Zellerbach Garden of Perennials. The garden is a unique home to a huge variety of remarkable and rare plants, including many no longer found in their native habitats. Fantastical flora from the farthest reaches of the globe can be found in 55 acres of geographically specific gardens from South Africa to Chile. Many of the more than 8,000 kinds of plants in the Garden’s collections are native to Mediterranean habitats worldwide, flowering brilliantly after a wet winter soaks ground parched during the rainless summer. Starting in April and extending through August, the largest portion of the Garden’s collections comes into bloom, drawing a huge host of pollinators to its bounty of remarkable and rare plants. Hummingbirds, butterflies and bees will put on a spectacular show, lured by the abundance of flowers and the food they offer.

San Francisco Flower Market
Sixth Street between Brannan and Bryant Streets
The San Francisco Flower Market is one of only five grower-owned wholesale flower markets in the U.S.   While largely the purview of florists and professional landscapers, the market is open to the public Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; wholesalers have access starting at 2 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and they “sleep in” on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday when the market opens to the trade at 5 a.m. Recent reconnaissance of the market has yielded branches of forsythia, tulips just at the peak of perfection and lilacs cascading from tin buckets.   

Grace Marchant Garden
Telegraph Hill, off Filbert Street
Tumbling, tumbling down the eastern slope of Telegraph Hill, the Grace Marchant Garden is one of the most beautiful spots in the city. Marchant, who embarked on her labor of love when she was 63 years old, groomed this hillside retreat for 33 years. Offering views of the bay, the two-acre plot is cared for by a cadre of neighbors and volunteers. The climb is sweetened by fragrant wisteria vines, hydrangeas, roses, masses of foliage and a bench to catch one’s breath along the way. Settle in with a good book. Perhaps David Bittner’s “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill,” which documents his “love story … with wings,” or David Goodis’ thriller, “Dark Passage” which featured Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart taking refuge in a nearby home in the movie version of the book. 

Yerba Buena Gardens
Between Mission and Folsom Streets and Third and Fourth Streets
Located in the heart of San Francisco, Yerba Buena Gardens is not only a cultural hothouse but also the site of several gardens including the "butterfly garden" in the northeast corner; the Sister Cities Garden, home to a diverse collection of flowering plants from San Francisco's 13 sister cities, and a secluded rooftop garden above Moscone South at Howard and Third streets. 

San Francisco Community Gardens
Almost 40 community gardens throughout San Francisco are supported and managed by the Recreation and Park Department. Each garden is maintained by volunteers who grow ornamental plants and produce for personal use.  Visit the website for a list of the locations and open garden days. 

Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Beginning where the Pacific Ocean meets San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area has grown to more than 75,000 acres since it was established in 1972. For 60 minutes or a half-day excursion, it offers access to everything from a stroll through a restored coastal habitat or a wildflower walk at Fort Funston in the spring.   

Alcatraz Historic Gardens Project
In 2003 the Garden Conservancy and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy formed a partnership with the National Park Service to restore and maintain key gardens on Alcatraz. Through the Alcatraz Historic Gardens Project, the partner organizations preserve, rebuild, and maintain the gardens created by those who lived on the island during its military and prison eras, and interpret their history, horticulture, and cultural significance for visitors. For more than a century, gardens were an important part of everyday life for officers, families and prisoners on Alcatraz. Many of the plants selected by these unheralded gardeners proved to be excellent choices for the harsh and barren environment, flourishing through the four decades of neglect that followed the prison’s closing. Visitors can now experience an island that is alive with colorful plants gathered decades ago from around the world, and complemented by newly introduced plants. Docent-led tours of the island gardens are offered twice a week on Friday and Sunday mornings at 9:45 a.m. starting at the Alcatraz dock. Alcatraz Cruises serves the island; because tickets sell out quickly, advance reservations are strongly recommended.  Purchase tickets at

San Francisco City Guides and  
While the free San Francisco City Guides tours are known for their architectural detail, rich historic footnotes, legends and lore several have more natural inclinations including City Scapes and Public Places, Fort Mason to Aquatic Park and SOMA/Yerba Buena Gardens (year-round).   

Friends of the Urban Forest
Friends of the Urban Forest arranges walking and bicycling tours of the beautiful trees, parks, and natural spaces of San Francisco.  Their Tree Tours happen rain or shine. They recommend bringing comfortable shoes that can get dirty, water to stay hydrated, sunblock and a camera. 

The San Francisco Travel Association is the official destination marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. For information on reservations, activities and more, visit, read the Visitors Planning Guide or call 415-391-2000.  San Francisco Travel also operates Visitor Information Centers at Hallidie Plaza, 900 Market Street at the corner of Powell and Market streets and on the lower level of Macy’s Union Square.  For more information, visit 

American Express® is the official Card partner of the San Francisco Travel Association. 

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) offers non-stop flights to more than 40 international cities on 34 international carriers. The Bay Area's largest airport connects non-stop with 77 cities in the U.S. on 13 domestic airlines. SFO offers free upgraded Wi-Fi with no advertising. For up-to-the-minute departure and arrival information, airport maps and details on shopping, dining, cultural exhibitions, ground transportation and more, visit Follow SFO on and 

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