It's impossible to be anything but Zen at the gorgeous oasis known as the Japanese Tea Garden, which lives in glorious Golden Gate Park. Visitors are transported to another time and place as they are surrounded by cherry trees, bonsai and pretty ponds, winding paths and arched bridges, as well as a traditional Shinto gate and a large bronze Buddha (made in 1790 Japan). This is a great place to grab a spot on a bench, turn off your iPhone (and any other e-devices you have with you) and enjoy the quiet and magnificence of the surroundings. One of the most popular spots in the park and the oldest public Japanese garden in the country, the traditional Japanese garden was initially built for the Midwinter Exposition in 1894. Famed Golden Gate Park landscaper John McLaren hired Makato Hagiwara to design and care for it, which he did faithfully until WWII. The teahouse pagoda serves authentic Japanese teas, snacks and sweets, and the gift shop is ripe with souvenirs. The best time to visit is during early spring when the pink blossoms on the cherry trees are in full bloom. The garden is open daily, with free admission before 10AM; $7 admission for non-resident adults; $5 for non-resident seniors and nominal fees for children 5-17.
- Open Hours: Monday to Sunday from 09:00 AM to 04:45 PM
Parks, Gardens & Cemeteries