One of the best picnic spots in California and resting in a gigantic park by the Bay, the 55-acre arboretum and San Francisco Botanical Garden (SFBG, San Fran BG) specializes in plants from areas with climates similar to that of the Bay Area. A veritable labyrinth of over 8,000 varieties of trees, shrubs and flowers, the garden lays its sprawling acreage inside the gorgeous Strybing Arboretum. There are acres upon acres of sanctuary – landscaped gardens and open spaces – and so many varieties of plants from around the world it will make you dizzy! SFBG is spectacularly beautiful and very well-designed, too. It is a brilliantly organized place to walk, visit, or sit and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature away from the modern noise of the city. The gardens are simply that: a peaceful oasis in a bustling city. A mild Mediterranean climate provides the San Francisco Botanical Garden the right conditions to grow and conserve plants from all over the world, including plants that are no longer found in their native habitats. Education is of utmost importance here and SFBG rings it in well with a huge variety of classes, lectures, walks and trips for all age group and all proficiencies. Whether you’re a senior who wants to go to a beginner’s wreath-making class during the winter holidays; a parent wanting some time to yourself at the Chinese brush painting class; a botany buff wanting to take Botanical Latin; or have a child who loves to take nature tours and learn about the natural world, there is literally something for all of you here at San Fran BG. It’s perfectly acceptable to explore the gardens on your own and forego the docent tours. Walk the Eastern Australian garden to see tough, pokey shrubs and plants with cartoon-like names, such as the Hilly-Pilly Tree. Or, take the kiddos: they gravitate toward the large shallow fountain and the pond with ducks, turtles, and egrets! Adults and children alike will love the magic and refreshing feel of a place nestled outside their lively big city. It’s a truly wonderful place with lovely meadows, ponds, forests, gardens, plants, flowers and other aquatics; plus, it has the most beautiful trees from all around the world and a variety of other eye-catching attractions.