Conservatory of Flowers, San Francisco

The Conservatory of Flowers is a Victorian greenhouse and botanical garden located in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

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The materials for the conservatory were purchased by businessman James Lick. He died in 1876 before construction could commence and the materials were sold by his estate. A group of businessmen purchased the materials and offered it as a gift to the City to be erected in Golden Gate Park.

The conservatory opened in 1879 making it the oldest building in Golden Gate Park. It is also the oldest wood-glass conservatory in North America. Its design is inspired by the Kew Gardens in London. The impressive wooden Victorian building has 16,800 window panes.

It houses nearly 2,000 plant species across five galleries – Aquatic Plants, Highland Tropics, Lowland Tropics, Potted Plants, and West Gallery.

The conservatory is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 4.30pm. It closes some public holidays; visit the website for full hours and pricing.

It is located at 100 John F Kennedy Drive.

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Japanese Tea Garden, San Francisco

The Japanese Tea Garden is a jewel in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

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This is the oldest Japanese garden in the United States. It was originally created for a Japanese village exhibit as part of the California Widwinter Exposition in 1894.

After the exposition Japanese landscape architect Makoto Haigwara developed the exhibit into to a permanent Japanese tea garden. Haigwara and his family lived on the property until World War II when they were evicted and sent to an internment camp.

The garden’s winding paths weave around pagodas, wooden bridges, rock gardens, koi ponds, and buddha statues.

There is a tea house serving Japanese refreshments. I had a cup of green tea with a slice of green tea cheesecake.

If you visit before 10am on Monday, Wednesday or Friday admission is free. The garden opens at 9am and closes at 4:45pm in winter and 6pm in summer. See their website for prices and seasonal hours.

The Japanese Tea Garden is located at 75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park.

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