The Ghost & the Fairy

Rent a Rowboat for Golden Gate Park's Haunted Stow Lake

It’s hard to resist paddling the tranquil waters of Golden Gate Park’s Stow Lake … home to ducks, geese, gulls, turtles, tourists, and—according to legend—a ghost! Urban myth or not, the story is a bit of a sad one. During the 1800s a woman sat down at a bench along the lake, and while talking to another woman her baby, in a stroller, fell into the lake. When she noticed, she went into the lake to try and save her toddler. Neither made it out, and according to lore the ghostly image of the woman searching the lake appears now and again, sometimes even asking people if they’ve seen her baby. Want to go in search of this ghost, known as the White Lady?

Rent a rowboat at the Stow Lake Boathouse and take your time as you make a big loop around the 400-foot-tall center island, Strawberry Hill. Pass under Rustic Bridge (made out of sharp, bulky stone) and Roman Bridge (one of the oldest surviving concrete bridges). Row by camouflaged turtles sunning themselves on giant rocks. The White Lady is said mostly to appear at night, coming up from the lake. But you never know. Row, row, row on Stow …

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BONUS FAIRY TRAIL: Need to lighten the mood? Go in search of the fanciful Fairy Door nearby. Built by artist Tony Powell, this tiny door is hidden on the end of a fallen eucalyptus. Hint: From Stow Lake, head east towards the Japanese Tea Garden … the elusive fairy is found near a paved path here, under a yew tree.

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Stow Lake is in Golden Gate Park off John F. Kennedy Dr., just west of the de Young Museum. Park along the shore of Stow Lake. Dog-friendly! 

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