The Japanese Tea Garden and de Young museum in Golden Gate Park draw some of the largest and most vibrant crowds in the city because of their sheer majesty. The harmony of architecture and nature in the Tea Garden (built for the 1894 World Fair) can be an irresistible combination, but for many it’s too small, too expensive, and too crowded for their taste. So while we recommend checking out this attraction, there is so much more to see in the vicinity that it serves best as a springboard for more adventures.
Take the small path around the southern side of the California Academy of Sciences building (if you’re facing the academy, it’s on your right) to get to Nancy Pelosi Dr. Make a left there and proceed to the second possible left about a quarter mile away. The paved road takes you down near Lily Pond, a formerly idyllic pond now under restoration from an epidemic of South African clawed frogs.
At the next fork, the path to the right breaks up and meander into a series of flower gardens and lush grass lawns. The radiant smattering of lilies, orchids, and roses really pop when set against the towering pines and sycamores that shield the walkways from the busy streets nearby. These paths reward adventurers well, and by simply keeping track of your turns, it should be fairly easy to maintain a northern heading to step out of the groves. From here, the Japanese Tea Garden is just a short walk through the picturesque Music Concourse, where walkers will find plenty of benches to relax on.
All these paths are marked as handicap accessible, and the engineers have gone to considerable lengths to ensure that the hill grades and concrete surfaces are steady and smooth.