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  • Writer's pictureLatifat Apatira, MD MPH

Parks in Review: Golden Gate and Coyote Point

This week I visited two local parks—Coyote Point Park in San Mateo and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Both are huge parks located in the middle of major cities and offer tons of activities ranging from playgrounds, gardens, archery, wind surfing, museums, bison viewing, and tons more.

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park is a treasure. At over 3 miles long and half a mile wide, Golden Gate Park is larger than Central Park in New York City, to which it is often compared. Golden Gate gets 13 million visitors annually making it the fifth most-visited park in the country. The area the park now stands used it be sand and shore dunes, but back in 1860, the citizen of the young San Francisco wanted an area of open space for recreation, and so Golden Gate Park was born.

(Photos by Latifat Apatira unless stated otherwise)

Aerial view of Golden Gate Park. Wikipedia

Golden Gate Park is not one to be conquered in a day or even a week and the park is constantly changing. That’s one of the things that I love about it. Despite that I’ve been visiting the park since childhood, I still find it’s museums entertaining and its gardens and grasslands a peaceful respite from the noise and hustle of the city. And it’s here, for us, to enjoy.

Here’s a list of cool things to do and see in the park. More information about Golden Gate Park, it’s attractions, gardens, and events can be found at

  • Concerts and Food trucks at the Music Concourse

  • De Young Museum—a museum of ever changing paintings, sculpture and photography fine art

  • The California Academy of Science – a natural history museum, aquarium, and planetarium

  • The Japanese Tea Garden—the oldest public tea garden in the country

  • The Conservatory of Flowers—the oldest building in the park (a greenhouse) displaying tropical plants from around the world.

  • San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum-- 55 acres of plants from around the world, some no longer found in their natural habits.

  • Lakes, Lakes and Lakes—Stow Lake, Spreckels Lake, Elk Glen Lake, Chain of Lakes, North Lake, Middle Lake, South Lake.

  • Bison?! – Yup, a heard of Bison live at a paddock located in the park.

And much more.

Spreckels Lake

Murphy Windmill, GG Park

Coyote Point

Coyote Point Recreation Area on the boarder of Burlingame and San Mateo is equally as special as Golden Gate Park. Although bit less manicured, Coyote Point provides opportunities for picnicking, hiking, fishing, windsurfing, swimming and saltwater marsh exploring. Situated on the peninsula’s eastern coast south the San Francisco’s International Airport, it’s a good spot for viewing shorebirds and air planes coming in for landing. Originally an island in San Francisco Bay, the area that became the park underwent a lot of different phases before being purchased by the County of San Mateo.

Being located right on the bay, the park is frequently breezy and is a nice reprieve from the heat of the summer heat of the mid-Peninsula. Kids love the huge Magic Mountain—a giant, castle and dragon themed playground, as well as CuriOdyssey, an interactive science museum. Hiking is one of my favorite things to do there. A number of paved and unpaved pathways can use used for walking, running or biking. During my recent visit, I explored Bluff Trail. It’s a short one that starts at the water front and climbs up a brief hill to offer breath taking views of the San Francisco Bay.

View from Bluff Trail

Although being smaller in size than Golden Gate Park, the outdoor fun of Coyote Point makes it a visit there a trip well spent. More information about Coyote Point Recreation Area, it’s attractions, trails, and events can be found at

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