The Arboretum

More properly called the San Francisco Botanical Garden, most people in San Francisco still call it the Arboretum. It actually is very big garden, but that doesn’t really cover the place. Within 10 minutes you can walk from Australia to Chile to Japan. It represents plants from all over the world and is a really nice place to take a long walk.

The best part about it is that if you are a San Francisco resident you get in for free. Great idea when you’re looking for something to do on the cheap. One of the secrets to getting decent parking is to park at the east end of Stowe Lake if you can’t find parking and walk down the steps and you’re there. I don’t know why, but hardly anyone ever parks at the east end of Stowe lake.

We decided to take our daughter there because we now have two weeks off before she starts her summer school so we need to find things to entertain her with. We weren’t sure how she would like it, but she seemed to get a real kick out of having so much open space to run around in. We also figured she’d have fun by the lake that has the swans and ducks which were noticeably absent, but around the lake the place is over run with squirrels. We used to bring nuts to feed the squirrels, but apparently you’re not supposed to do that. Which was pretty obviously ignored by all the peanut shells you would find lying around. The squirrels can be a bit aggressive and will even climb up you leg sometimes if you stand still long enough.

We noticed there was a Children’s Garden which is as far away from either entrance as you can get. That was the only thing I wasn’t really impressed with. It was pretty disorganized and I’m not sure if that’s because kids were doing the gardening work or it’s just a new thing that they’re working on. It was filled with lots of cut up stumps that had been brightly painted so our daughter was at least happy with that.

On the way back we did go through the succulents area which to me is one of the more impressive looking parts of the place. If you want to green up your backyard, these are what you need and they rarely need watering. I don’t think ours in the backyard have been watered in over six months.

If you go be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes because you’ll get a good work out walking around the place. They do give tours and also have lectures frequently. There is also a bookstore where you can get lots of gardening books or if you become a member you get access to their library. If you cheap, just ask any one of the gardeners you find. If you’re not from the city you’ll have to pay $7 to get in unless you can find a friend in SF who will give you a copy of their PG&E bill which they’ll accept as proof of residency.

Check out the little gallery below.