Did you know that this year Golden Gate Park celebrates its 150th anniversary? We are so excited to have things opening up in GGP so that we can finally celebrate what a treasure this 1,000+ acre park is to the Bay Area. The observation wheel is finally opening up, the museums are ready for visitors and there are tons of things to do with the kids in Golden Gate Park!

The SkyStar Observation Wheel Is FINALLY Open!


If you've visited Golden Gate Park this summer, you've likely seen the building of the massive SkyStar Observation Wheel on the lawn near the Conservatory of Flowers. This Ferris wheel was brought to GGP as part of the 150th anniversary celebration and is finally opening on October 21. 

Standing 150 feet in the Music Concourse, the state-of-the-art SkyStar Observation Wheel features 36  enclosed temperature-controlled gondolas, boasting unparalleled views from downtown San Francisco  to the Pacific Ocean. Health and safety modifications to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will be  maintained including thorough sanitizing of all gondolas between each use; a limit of one household per gondola; social distancing in queues; onsite handwashing; and temperature testing for staff.

Tickets are $18/adults and $12/seniors (65+) and kids 12 and under. A VIP ride experience in a specially designed gondola, offering a longer ride and more amenities, is available at $50/person. The real benefit of the VIP ticket is that you don't have to wait in the check-in line.

Pro tip: The observation wheel lights up at night so plan an early evening adventure. That way you'll avoid roasting in the gondola when the sun is beating down, and you'll get to see the lights. 

Get your tickets here

5 New Baby Bison Joined the GGP Herd

Earlier this spring, five new baby bison joined the GGP herd and you can check them out via the park's two webcams. The bison webcams offer a rare opportunity to observe the all-female herd as five longtime residents—Betsy, Bailey, Bellatrix, Buttercup, and Bambi—get to know their five young roommates, 1-year-olds acquired in March in honor of Golden Gate Park’s 150th anniversary.  Among the youngsters is Sesqui, a bison named for the park’s sesquicentennial who sports an ear tag number of 150. Bison gear is available at the Welcome Center and you can find free Bison activities here


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Bike, Walk or Stroll Down JFK Drive

As a part of San Francisco's Slow Streets program, Golden Gate Park has become virtually car-free from one end of the park to the other, from Stanyan Street at the east end of the park, to Ocean Beach and the Great Highway at the west end. That means you can walk, ride your bikes, roller skate or run right on the street! Families with kids aged 12 and up can also book a Segway tour through the park. 

Check out the full info and map here.

Koret Children’s Quarter Playground Is Open

With San Francisco's playgrounds recently reopening to the public, families are thrilled that they can once again take advantage of GGP's Koret Children's Quarter. The mother of all playgrounds, on a Saturday mid-morning this is not for the faint-of-heart. It’s big, there’s a ton to do and it’s busy. (The din of children squealing with delight almost drowns out the drums of Hippie Hill). Try out the cement slides—one of the few remnants of the vintage playground that once stood here (bring scrap cardboard). The playground also includes one of the tallest climbing structures in the park circuit, a water feature and sand that mix together for a messily awesome good time and a carousel! Restrooms are just past the carousel.


Visit California Academy of Sciences

Kate Loweth

Advanced reservations are required when you visit the Cal Academy as they are limited to 25% building capacity to ensure social distancing. They are opening for members Oct. 13-22 and thereafter for non-members. Find their COVID-19 protocols here

See What's on View at the de Young

de Young Museum

The de Young museum is now open for visitors with timed tickets available via online reservation. You'll definitely want to check out the Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving exhibit while you are there. It's on exhibit through February and your timed ticket to the exhibit also gets you access to the permanent galleries. In celebration of the de Young museum’s 125th anniversary, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are hosting The de Young Open, a juried community art exhibition of submissions by artists who live in the nine Bay Area counties. Artworks by over 750 Bay Area artists will be on view in a unique wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling presentation and you can check them out with your general admission. 

Tickets to the de Young include free same-day admission to the Legion of Honor. Kids 12 and under are free but still need to have a timed entry ticket. Through Dec. 2021, frontline and essential workers will get free admission. Every Saturday the de Young offers free general admission to all residents of the nine Bay Area counties with a timed reservation required. Note: the deYoungsters Studio and the observation deck are currently closed. Find their COVID-19 protocols here.

Visit the San Francisco Zoo

Marianne Hale

Kids of all ages will be thrilled to hear that the SF Zoo is back open for visitors! The Little Puffer Railroad has recently reopened (with a max of 18 riders) and you'll definitely want to book your tickets for this year's Sloth-oween, a brand-new Halloween festival at the zoo. Dress in your costumes and enjoy a self-guided walk around the zoo to find our five sloth-themed haunted houses, including “Franken-sloth’s Fort,” where you will learn some creepy facts about sloths.

Cruise through the Conservatory of Flowers

WolfmanSF via Wikimedia Commons

The Conservatory of Flowers has reopened at 25% capacity and we are thrilled we can visit again! It will continue to be free every first Tuesday of the month. Face coverings are required at all times and visitors must follow a one-way path through the conservatory. Find their COVID-19 protocols here. 


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Stop and Smell the Flowers at the San Francisco Botanical Garden

The SF Botanical Garden has reopened and on-site enrichment activities are starting. Bean Sprout Family Days are back and you must make a reservation for this in advance. The Garden continues to be free on the second Tuesday of every month, from 7:30-9 a.m. daily and at all times for San Francisco residents. Find their COVID-19 protocols here

COMING IN DECEMBER: Visit "Entwined" in Golden Gate Park

San Francisco Recreation and Park Department

An art installation coming to Golden Gate Park will transform Peacock Meadow into an enchanted forest of otherworldly shapes and ever-changing light. “Entwined,” by San Francisco artist Charles Gadeken, will honor Golden Gate Park’s 150th Anniversary. Dec. 1-Feb. 28. 

More info: tinybeans.go-vip.net

—Kate Loweth


20 Free or Cheap Things to Do in Golden Gate Park

An Insider’s Guide to the SF Zoo

Free (or Cheap) Things to Do with Kids in the Bay Area

An Insider’s Guide to the California Academy of Sciences

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