Yerba Buena Gardens

#4 in Best Things To Do in San Francisco
Yerba Buena Gardens picture
APlights/Getty Images

Key Info

750 Howard St

Price & Hours

Free
6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily

Details

Parks and Gardens, Free Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
4.5

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

After a day of hasty sightseeing, the Yerba Buena Gardens provide travelers with an opportunity to wind down and enjoy San Francisco's weather and unique culture. The gardens proper include 5 acres of landscaped lawns complete with flowers, trees, water and art. The Cho-En Butterfly Garden attracts native San Francisco butterflies with plants (also native) that encourage butterfly growth from eggs to adults. Meanwhile, the Reflection Garden serves as a tribute to the Ohlone Indians as well as a performance area for various oral traditions. The Upper Terrace Garden and the Sister City Gardens, which include plants from San Francisco's 18 Sister Cities from around the world, are where visitors will find the area's cafes and most of its seating. Additionally, the East Garden houses a variety of sculptures and water features. Lastly, three of the Yerba Buena Gardens' lawns boast designs meant to appeal specifically to children.

What's more, attractions like the Children's Creativity Museum and the Yerba Buena Ice Skating + Bowling Center flank the Yerba Buena Gardens, so travelers could feasibly spend an entire day exploring this area of San Francisco. Due to the number of restaurants that also surround the gardens, many past travelers recommend stopping by the Yerba Buena Gardens after grabbing lunch nearby. Recent visitors recommend checking out the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial as well.

Plus, the attraction's location in the SoMa neighborhood makes it easy to reach from many tourist hot spots. The Powell Street Station of the BART public transit system will put travelers a short walk from the center of the park. The attraction is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Be sure to check the Yerba Buena Gardens website before your visit for information on public performances and other events.

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California Academy of Sciences1 of 26
Golden Gate Bridge2 of 26
Type
Time to Spend
#1 California Academy of Sciences

Attention all traveling families: recent visitors said this is the perfect place to bring kids in San Francisco. The California Academy of Sciences brims with plenty of things to see, including an aquarium, a planetarium, a natural history museum and even a rainforest. 

The Steinhart Aquarium is home to about 40,000 animals representing more than 900 different species, including a penguin colony from Africa, a swamp with an albino alligator, a shark lagoon and a separate 100,000-gallon tank that mirrors the ecosystem of the California coast. Meanwhile, the Osher Rainforest houses 1,600 animals, including 250 free-flying birds and about 100 reptiles and amphibians in its four-story complex. The Morrison Planetarium is known for its 75-foot-diameter screen, which screens "Tour of the Universe" shows daily. And the Kimball Natural History Museum boasts dinosaur fossils, an interactive science exhibit and a unique earthquake simulator. 

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