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Stow Lake

Go boating on Golden Gate Park’s largest lake. The placid body of water is the home of turtles, ducks and during winter, Canadian geese.  

The biggest body of water within Golden Gate Park, Stow Lake is a popular recreational spot for locals and visitors. Rent a boat from the boathouse and row to Strawberry Hill island to see the artificial waterfall before boating to the Chinese Pavilion.

Stow Lake is not a natural feature, but rather a manmade body of water that was built in 1893. Since its opening, it has served as a recreational space for the people of San Francisco who come here to walk, row and picnic. Join other visitors for several peaceful hours of exploration and relaxation.

Begin your visit in the boathouse, a building that dates back to 1946. If the weather is good, rent a boat. Choose between rowboats, pedalboats or electric boats. As you float around, spot geese and ducks out on the water as well as turtles on the rocks and logs around the lake’s edge. 

Make your way to Strawberry Hill, the island in the center of the lake, via the footbridges. Seek out the waterfall, which cascades down from the island into the lake’s water. Though it looks just like a natural waterfall, it is actually an artificial feature, specially constructed to add to the atmosphere of the lake area. The island harbors colorful swallowtail and monarch butterflies.

Look for the Golden Gate Pavilion, a red-and-white pagoda with a decorative green roof designed in typical Chinese style. This structure was a gift to the city of San Francisco from Taipei, a sister city, dedicated in 1981. Follow walking trails on Strawberry Hill up to the summit. At an elevation of more than 400 feet (120 meters), this is the highest point in the park. 

Stay until sunset for your chance to see the “White Lady.” According to local legend, she haunts the shores of Stow Lake hoping to find her child whom she lost to the lake.

Find Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park. The park is open daily during daylight hours. No entrance fee applies, though visitors must pay to rent boats. 


Guide to Exploring around Stow Lake


Map

Best Lodging Options Near Stow Lake

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Geary Parkway Motel CA $110
Geary Parkway Motel

Geary Parkway Motel

4750 Geary Blvd, Richmond District, San Francisco, CA
     
    2.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Richmond District, this motel is within 1 mile (2 km) of Steinhart Aquarium, Golden Gate Park and California Academy of Sciences. University of San Francisco and De Young Museum are also within 1 mile (2 km). Irving St & 9th Ave Stop is 27 minutes by foot and Irving St & 8th Ave Stop is 28 minutes.

    Holiday Inn Golden Gateway CA $178
    Holiday Inn Golden Gateway

    Holiday Inn Golden Gateway

    1500 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA
       
      3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Downtown San Francisco, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Van Ness Avenue and The Regency Ballroom. San Francisco City Hall and Lombard Street are also within 1 mile (2 km). California St & Van Ness Ave Stop is only a 2-minute walk and California St & Polk St Stop is 2 minutes.

      Stanyan Park Hotel CA $185
      Stanyan Park Hotel

      Stanyan Park Hotel

      750 Stanyan Street, San Francisco, CA
         
        3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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        Laurel Inn, a Joie de Vivre Boutique Hotel CA $160
        Laurel Inn, a Joie de Vivre Boutique Hotel

        Laurel Inn, a Joie de Vivre Boutique Hotel

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          3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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          Rodeway Inn and Suites CA $111
          Rodeway Inn and Suites

          Rodeway Inn and Suites

          1234 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA
             
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