The largest and most diverse green space in a city rich in parklands, Golden Gate Park is the one above all that’s not to be missed. Stretching three miles west from the Haight all the way to the Pacific Ocean, it was constructed in the late 1800s on what was then an area of wild sand dunes buffeted by sea spray. Today, despite throngs of daily visitors (particularly in its museum-rich eastern reaches), you can always find some solitude among its hidden meadows and quiet paths.
Don’t miss the Japanese Tea Garden, which features carp-filled ponds, bonsai and cherry trees and sloping bridges that all lend a tranquil feel. Nearby, the immaculate Conservatory of Flowers and 75-acre San Francisco Botanical Garden are both worthwhile destinations for exotic foliage and quiet reflection.