What's the best way to get to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco via public transit?
January 25, 2004 8:18 AM   Subscribe

SF residents: what's the easiest/best way to get to Golden Gate Park via public transit? [more inside]

I'll be arriving via BART (which stop?), but what after that? Muni? Cable Car? Hoof it? Hire homeless people to pick me up and carry me around? I don't mind a bit of exercise and/or sightseeing along the way, but I'd like to try to keep the trip relatively short (timewise) and cheap. Also, any caveats would be helpful--for example, weather, days of week, and/or time and schedule considerations (I know BART closes around 1AM-ish).

I'm an East Bay resident who usually drives to SF, but parking is a huge hassle and I'd get a better view of the city on foot. I'd likely be making multiple trips in the near future so having multiple options would be great.
posted by DaShiv to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Get off at any of the downtown stops (embarcadero, montgomery, powell) and then:

1. In the same station, transfer to the underground MUNI. Take the N-Judah and get off at 19th and Judah. Walk a couple blocks north to GG park. (This option is probably the fastest)
2. Go aboveground and grab a Haight or Parnassus bus. Take it up Haight till Haight intersects the East end of GG park. Get off a few blocks earlier for an optional scenic walk down Haight.

You didnt mention where in GG park you are going. Its a really looong park. Also, you might find 511.org helpful (though the site is new and still lacking in many ways)
posted by vacapinta at 8:47 AM on January 25, 2004

Maps. And watch out for the buffalos. Are they still there?
posted by anathema at 9:56 AM on January 25, 2004

Speaking as a native San Franciscan, here's my advice. I've lived outside the city for 3 years now, so things may have changed slightly but overall MUNI doesn't have a history of evolving.

The 7 Haight/71 Noriega and 6 Parnassus are both fairly slow with a lot of folks hopping on and off. If you're going aboveground, try to catch a 5 Fulton or 21 Hayes. The 21 is pretty swift once you get on it, but it tends to be elusive. The 5 runs down the entire length of the park, all the way to the beach, so it's pretty easy to just hop off near wherever you're going -- and by the time it gets to Stanyan it really starts to blast down Fulton at a good clip.

Underground, the N Judah is your best bet, although I've developed something of a disitaste for it. Hop on at any of the downtown BART stations (I try to go as far as possible on BART before switching at Civic Center Station) by exiting BART and walking directly to the MUNI Metro faregates. You'll go down again to the Metro platform you passed on your way up to the exit gate. They still don't take bills, so have some coins on hand. If you're coming in to the park from Stanyan, and don't mind a stroll along Haight -- there's a time and place for such things -- hop off at Cole, walk down to Haight, and go a couple of more blocks to the park. You know you're in the right spot when you see a McDonalds heavily beseiged by vagrants and people who want to impersonate vagrants.

If you want to drive, it's really not too difficult, although somewhat more of a pain in the ass now that the freeway's been torn down. Parking in the city is generally a hassle, but if you're just going to the park, it's not too big a deal. There's usually tons of parking along the northern Fulton side of the park, and a pretty fair amount along Lincoln on the southern side, too. Down towards the beach, it can sometimes take a little while to find parking, but it's not impossible. At the eastern Stanyan end, forget it.

As to times and weather: it's usually several degrees warmer inside the park than outside on sunny, breezy days like today. Today'd be a great day for the park, especially if you have a bike -- on Sundays, several of the streets are closed to car traffic, there's some wind but inside the park it's probably almost unnoticeable, it's been mostly dry for a few days so the grassy places ishouldn't be a complete mudbath.

The Arboretum gets crowded on Sundays, but it's worth a trip anyways. If you take the N, the Arboretum is pretty accessible: hop off at 9th Ave, head down 9th to Irving and grab a sandwich along the way, bring it into the park with you. The Arboretum's just inside the gate, keep going down 9th, you'll see it.
posted by majick at 10:44 AM on January 25, 2004

A correction on mine: I meant 9th (not 19th) and Judah. The 9th and Irving area is a great, underplayed part of the city.

Hop on at any of the downtown BART stations (I try to go as far as possible on BART before switching at Civic Center Station)

A small but important emendation to majick's more complete summary: I just realized that, especially on weekdays near commute hours, its better to make this transfer earlier. I've had to miss underground trains at the later stops like Civic and Van ness because they were so crowded you couldnt get on (sardine-like.)
posted by vacapinta at 1:15 PM on January 25, 2004

I'd go further in amendment: On weekdays near commute hours, unless you have a commitment to keep don't travel through the city at all. Either beat the rush or wait it out somewhere pleasant, but don't get caught in it.

Of course, if you're going towards the park in the mornings, the Metro or bus leg of your trip is reverse-commute -- departing from downtown rather than entering it -- so you're probably only going to have minor psychic damage and a merely elevated (rather than "ridiculous") level of delay. Same thing with heading home at the end of the day.
posted by majick at 2:57 PM on January 25, 2004

Thanks guys--took the 6/7 aboveground today, hit the Conservatory, and hung around the Haight for a bit and dropped in on a friend at Cole Valley. Will be exploring the park and the city some more in the coming weeks.
posted by DaShiv at 3:45 PM on January 25, 2004

If you take the N, the Arboretum is pretty accessible: hop off at 9th Ave, head down 9th to Irving and grab a sandwich along the way, bring it into the park with you.

Or a burrito at Gordos! And don't forget to pick up some peanuts for the Arboretum squirrels! You can get them in bulk at 10th and Irving.
posted by squirrel at 11:43 PM on January 25, 2004

And there you have it. Finally, crystal clear evidence of a MeFi member participating here just to put food in his own mouth.
posted by scarabic at 12:21 AM on January 26, 2004

Burrito at Gordo's, peanuts for Arboretum squirrels, check. Any other suggestions welcome (before this thread scrolls too far down). :)
posted by DaShiv at 5:10 AM on January 26, 2004

The park's so full of good stuff it's hard to get it all, but here are a few suggestions off the top of my head:

Main playground, carousel, brick of stale pink popcorn. If you go climb and scar yourself falling off of something, it'll be just like you grew up in San Francisco!

The Tea Garden is always worth visiting. If you keep going down that street, past the Arboretum, you'll find it. The grand old cherry presiding over the pond is one of the most incredible sights, even when it's not blossoming.

One of my favorite park exploration activities is to wander around looking for hidden little nooks and benches and groves. If you're the romantic type try to guess how many people were proposed to at each!

Windmills, down at the beach end, one at either corner. Very good places to sit and contemplate. Careful, though: you might get a few unwelcome propositions taking the sandy path from one windmill to the other. Bonus: you're across the street from the largest body of water on the planet!

If you're a fan of roses, there's a pretty nice rose garden.

And best of all: STOW LAKE ELECTRIC BOAT! It's a madcap vehicular control adventure!
posted by majick at 6:03 AM on January 26, 2004

Stow Lake has electric boats?! I've only seen the row boats and peddal boats. The Park & Rec folks are tearing it up right now, with some plans to make it somehow better. Oh, and don't forget the BISON!
posted by squirrel at 3:09 PM on February 3, 2004

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