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Inside Golden Gate Park's Conservatory of Flowers

Step inside Golden Gate Park’s oldest—and most stunning—building

Photos by Patricia Chang

Located in the heart Golden Gate Park, the Conservatory of Flowers is now one of San Francisco's most treasured historic landmarks. Since opening in 1879, the greenhouse and adjacent botanical gardens have survived earthquakes, fires, and years of neglect. Thanks to a $25 million restoration that took place between 1998 and 2003, the conservatory continues to captivate both botanists and architecture lovers alike, just as it did when it opened 135 years ago.

The attraction features a vast collection of tropical plants, and each year hosts thousands of visitors from around the globe. The institution's mission is to "connect people and plants in a place of exceptional beauty," and it's safe to say that it does just that.

Some facts about the conservatory:

  • The conservatory contains roughly 1,700 plant species
  • It's the oldest building in Golden Gate Park
  • The building's structural skeleton is made exclusively of wood
  • It’s built in the Victorian style
  • The conservatory was built thanks to donations from philanthropists, including Leland Stanford
  • The greenhouse was once on the 100 most endangered world monuments list
  • The conservatory’s design was inspired by London’s Kew Gardens
  • It’s a national, state, and local landmark
  • The conservatory’s Garden of Fragrance exhibit was designed in 1965 as a way for disabled people and the visually impaired to enjoy the space via touch and smell
  • It contains the world’s largest public collection of high-altitude orchids
  • A massive fire destroyed the structure’s dome in 1883
  • The conservatory has 16,800 window panes
  • The greenhouse features carnivorous plants
  • Flower Piano, happening four weeks in the summertime, turns the outdoor area into an alfresco concert hall where everyone is invited to play on several pianos
  • There’s a special-exhibit gallery that changes twice per year
  • The conservatory’s facade lights up during the summer and winter months
  • Sometimes it stinks
  • You can get married here or host other private events
Photo by Patricia Chang

The Conservatory of Flowers is open from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The admission fee for adults residing in San Francisco is $9, but the attraction is free to all visitors on the first Tuesday of each month.

Conservatory of Flowers

100 John F Kennedy Drive, , CA 94118 Visit Website