Romancing the Stow
Rowing on Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park
If you’re prone to poetry or singing “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore,” then you’re not going to be able to resist paddling the romantic waters of Golden Gate Park’s Stow Lake. This popular lake is home to ducks, geese, gulls, turtles, tourists, and yep—locals who want to catch its kitschy drift. Rent a rowboat at the Stow Lake Boathouse and get out on the water for scenery worthy of a soliloquy.
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.
You’ll also get some classic scenery of the shoreline pathways: folks feeding the birds, and visitors with selfie sticks. Just row with it!
Bonus Food and Fairy Door: Afterwards, grab a beer and a hot dog (or pizza slice!) at the Boathouse.Then head out 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 … Fairy trails do come true …
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!
Bring the Outdoors to Your Inbox
Sign up for our weekly email and stay up to date on where to explore in California.* No spam, that’s a funky food!