Travel Realizations

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San Francisco Bay Area Gardens to Visit in Spring

I love exploring the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area gardens in spring. Springtime in California is the best time to explore the beautiful state both far and near. The weather gets warmer, and the signs of the season pop up everywhere. All the places with vibrant new green leaves on the trees look prettier every day. Spring blooms are ephemeral yet perennially beautiful. Therefore, if you want to know where to see the best of the Bay Area gardens, today I bring you my top picks. Read along!

San Francisco Bay Area Gardens to Visit in Spring #Travel #California #Spring Click To Tweet Spring blooms are ephemeral yet perennially beautiful. Therefore, if you want to know where to see the best of the Bay Area gardens, today I bring you my top picks. Read along! #Travel #California #Spring Click To Tweet

Spring in San Francisco Bay area

The vibrant golden orange California poppies are the star of the spring in California. They bloom almost everywhere and one can see them while driving, running errands, or while taking a morning walk or an evening stroll. They beckon the spring in us and are simple yet beautiful. They’re often surrounded by a colorful ensemble of purple lupin, yellow fiddlenecks, and pink filaree. Scarlet Pimpernel, California buttercups, and red maids also whisper the arrival of spring. Flowers everywhere inspire me to spend some more time amidst them and I choose to go to gardens, to experience the extravaganza of brightly colored flowers from tulips beds to other bulbs and blooms. Whether you like tulips, cherry blossoms or rhododendrons, formal or secret gardens, there’s a perfect spring garden in the San Francisco Bay Area for you.

Whether you like tulips, cherry blossoms or rhododendrons, formal or secret gardens, there’s a perfect spring garden in the San Francisco Bay Area for you. #Travel #VisitCalifornia #Spring Click To Tweet
San Francisco Bay Area gardens to visit in Spring, Travel Realizations, wild flowers
The vibrant golden orange california poppies are the star of the spring in California.

Map of San Francisco Bay Area Gardens to Visit in Spring

When to visit spring gardens in Bay Area

Spring flowers are fleeting and bloom in stages, so make sure to time your visits so you see the spring gardens in the Bay Area at their peak. Some flowers start blooming around mid-February, and some later during March, April, and May. It’s a good idea to check the website of the specific garden before you visit if there are specific flowers you want to see. Instagram can help, as lots of people post photos and videos of spring and wildflowers in California there.

1. Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Inhale spring’s breathtaking perfume in this Zen garden, designed in 1953 by Nagao Sakurai, a leading landscape architect of Japan. You can see two beautiful blooming cherry blossoms from the entrance of the Japanese Tea Garden, located in the Golden Gate State Park in San Francisco. Delicate in nature and color, cherry blossoms, or sakura, mirror human life—beautiful, cherished, but brief. I would highly recommend visiting this garden till the blooms last. A few spectacular structures like a five-story-tall pagoda, the Half-Moon Bridge, the 9,000-pound bronze Lantern of Peace, and the Buddha statue inside the garden are some of my favorites. I float in serenity, tranquility, and harmony for some time whenever I enter this garden.  The multi-hued tapestry of this garden is spectacular. Plan your visit during March or April and enjoy sakura!

San Francisco Bay Area gardens to visit in Spring, Travel Realizations, Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Intrinsically appealing and healing, the Zen garden speaks to something deep inside all of us!

2. Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Wander through the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden – a micro version of Keukenhof, the world’s largest flower garden in Lisse, Netherlands. This tulip garden in the Golden State Park in San Francisco centers around the historic Dutch windmill. In 1902, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands gave the Dutch windmill tulip garden to the city of San Francisco. The multicolored flowerbeds formed by the tulips, in this peaceful garden are a sight to savor. From March 15th-April 15th, this garden is in full bloom.

San Francisco Bay Area gardens to visit in Spring, Travel Realizations, Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden - Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

3. UC Berkeley Botanical Garden in Berkeley

The 34-acre UC Botanical Garden is one of the most diverse landscapes in the world, with over 10,000 types of plants including many rare and endangered species. I have seen flowers not just from California but from different parts of the world. This is an ideal place to spend some time alone or with kids. There are ample learning opportunities. Enjoy seeing the beautiful Magnolias, Camellias, and Rhododendrons in early spring.

San Francisco Bay Area gardens to visit in Spring, Travel Realizations, UC Berkeley Botanical Garden

4. Hakone Estate and Gardens in Saratoga

Hakone Estate and Gardens in Saratoga is a beautiful place for a weekend day trip all year round. Every corner in the garden seems new with the arrival of the new green leaves. During the spring, Hanami or the evening cherry blossom viewing takes place and is a unique experience. Seeing a spring garden at night is different yet beautiful; the sun vanishes; the pearl of a moon rises; magic happens. The best time to visit this garden during the spring is from the end of March to late April.

San Francisco Bay Area gardens to visit in Spring, Travel Realizations, Hakone Estate and Gardens, Saratoga
Newness everywhere!

5. Municipal Rose Garden in San Jose

Municipal Rose Garden in San Jose, named, “America’s Best Rose Garden”, is one of my favorites and truly an urban refuge. Lush green rolling lawns, a variety of roses in different colors, and a beautiful fountain at the center of the garden enhance the mood almost instantly. There is nothing like strolling the garden while smelling sweet and majestic roses. This is an oasis in the heart of silicon valley. The best time to visit this garden is from the end of April to early May.

San Francisco Bay Area gardens to visit in Spring, Travel Realizations, Municipal Rose Garden, San Jose
A garden fulfills our need for quiet, contemplation, and calm!

6. Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg

Find bliss in the stunning Mendocino coast botanical gardens by the sea, located in the town of Fort Bragg, California, about a 10-minute drive north of Mendocino. I was blown away by their floral, cactus and conifer collection. While strolling in the garden, I loved seeing all the beautiful sculptures and my daughter got an opportunity to dance on a small stage surrounded by flowers. Also, don’t miss their dahlia collection. The highlight of the trip was the coastal bluff and marine zone. Along the edges of the coastal bluff are plants adapted to poor, rocky soils and salt-laden winds. They are tough, often low-growing plants that have adapted to the windswept, sometimes fog-bound climate. California poppy, angelica, seaside wooly sunflower, seaside daisy, and sea thrift look beautiful. This botanical garden by the sea is a must-see, especially in springtime. The best time to visit this garden is from early April till June.

San Francisco Bay Area gardens to visit in Spring, Travel Realizations, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens
A gateway to flowers!

7. Cherry blossom at Wat Dhammararam – A Buddhist Temple

Located in Stockton California, Wat Dhammararam is a Cambodian Buddhist temple. It has many sculptures depicting different stories from the life of Gautama Buddha. This sculpture garden is an off-beat destination and if you love exploring different cultures, this is a gem. I love seeing a postcard row of Buddha sculptures and cherry blossom trees. It’s a unique way to greet spring amidst sculptures and flowers. The best time to visit this place is from early March to mid April.

San Francisco Bay Area gardens to visit in Spring, Travel Realizations, Cherry blossom at Wat Dhammararam - A Buddhist Temple
Sun dappled cherry blossoms and buddha sculptures at Wat Dhammararam

8. Gamble Gardens in Palo Alto

“Life is simply better in a garden” – this sentence at the entrance of the Gamble Gardens in Palo Alto made me stop and ponder. The astounding beauty inside can put a restless mind to rest almost instantly. This free garden is open to the public every day during daylight hours. Ditch the tech (for a while), relax, and take a breath of fresh air amidst the roses, wisteria, camellia, and cherry blossoms. The best time to visit this place is in March and April.

San Francisco Bay Area gardens to visit in Spring, Travel Realizations, Gamble Gardens
A dash of white and green in Gamble Gardens

9. Carmel Mission Garden in Carmel

How about greeting spring with a dash of colors amidst a slice of history? The beautiful Carmel Mission, one of my favorite Spanish missions in California is exactly the combination of history, a carefully manicured garden behind the church, and peace. Outside, the lush gardens of bougainvillea which frame pretty views of the buildings will brighten your spring day. The beautiful old-style architecture takes one back in time. Visit Carmel Mission and enjoy the beautiful garden inside during the spring.

San Francisco Bay Area gardens to visit in Spring, Travel Realizations, Carmel Mission Garden
The juxtaposition of history, religion and perennial spring!

10. Bouquet to art – A floral exhibition

Bouquet to art – a unique floral exhibition takes place every year in the de Young Museum, one of the best fine arts museums in San Francisco around the end of spring or early summer. Florists, designers, and garden clubs are invited to present floral interpretations of works in the museums’ permanent collections, and the floral displays are presented in juxtaposition with the works that inspired them. During my visit, I saw how the vibrant and radiant flower bouquets breathed new life into the paintings inside the museum and transformed the whole ambiance into an art piece. When two forms of art juxtapose, the result is nothing but beauty and wonder. This is one of the most unique exhibitions I have ever seen. If you live in the Bay Area or are visiting San Francisco during late spring, add this event to your bucket-list.

San Francisco Bay Area gardens to visit in Spring, Travel Realizations, Bouquet to art - a unique floral exhibition takes place every year in the de Young Museum
A Bouquet to art!

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Travel is truly about expanding the horizon of our knowledge, recognizing the diversity of this world, and realizing that celebration is universal, albeit with differences in methods and forms! #Travel Click To Tweet
Celebrate spring and greet this gorgeous season inside a garden 💖

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Chirasree Banerjee

Hello. My name is Chirasree. I have been traveling for almost 11 years to places all over the world. I enter into a separate reality during my travels and enjoy the allure of escape from the mundane. I seek beauty through nature and human-made creations. Because beauty is powerful. I seek knowledge. I observe, absorb, and write about the places I visit and the profound realizations and inspirations that each place has to offer.

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4 Comments

  1. I love all the beautiful gardens that you have shared! I bet it’s nice to wander around them to see all the flowers!

  2. What gorgeous pictures! I remember visiting the Rose Garden a few years back and it was beautiful.

  3. Thank you for this guide! I’ve visited San Francisco in winter and summer, but never in spring. The flowers look beautiful!

  4. These gardens are so beautiful! Hoping to make it to the SF Bay area in the near future to check them out. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

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