By Joan Walsh
Get out and smell the roses! The Bay area has many serene rose gardens to wander and enjoy. It is always nice to be out in nature enjoying the fragrant delight of manicured roses.
Peak blooming is in late spring but the roses in the Bay Area bloom until around October. Before you say “hello” to fall and pumpkin spice lattes, visit a rose garden for the last remnants of summer.
Golden Gate Park Rose Garden
The Rose Garden in Golden Gate Park has around 60 rose beds in all different colors and styles. This garden is always busy since it lies in a thoroughfare to the park from the entrance at busy Fulton and Park Presidio streets. Views of Sutro Tower lie in the distance. It is definitely worth visiting especially if already at the park. Its proximity to Stow Lake, the DeYoung Museum, and the Japanese Garden makes it easy to squeeze in other activities afterward. This rose garden gets a bit foggy due to being in San Francisco which is worth noting if looking for bright, sunny rose pictures. But it can also be a romantic and unique experience as well.
J.F. Kennedy Drive and 14th Avenue in Golden Gate Park (San Francisco)
Berkeley Rose Garden
The Berkeley Rose Garden is designed in a multi-level amphitheater style. At 3.5 acres it’s about half of the size of the one in Oakland but has more than 100 rose varieties. What sets this garden apart from the others is the beautiful view of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge. This garden is located in a hilly residential neighborhood across the street from a park with bathrooms, a playground, tennis courts, basketball courts, and a large grassy area.
1200 Euclid Avenue (Berkeley), visitberkeley.com/directory/berkeley-rose-garden
Oakland Rose Garden
The Oakland Rose Garden is so fragrant you can already smell the roses as you walk down the path from the street. At 8 acres, the Oakland Rose Garden is about twice as big as the nearby Berkeley garden. The roses are remarkably colorful with a design that is rustic yet manicured. In addition to the many different styles and colors of roses, there is a pond with lily pads, ducks, descending waterfall pools, and even a family of wild turkeys roaming around!
700 Jean St. (Oakland), visitoakland.com/listing/morcom-rose-garden/220
About 40 minutes from City College lies a palatial estate home with gorgeous gardens named Filoli. In addition to the beautiful rose garden there is also a fruit orchard, spacious grass lawns, and ponds with fountains. Visitors can also tour the estate house. Filoli is the only garden on this list that has an entrance fee and it can be quite steep but this is the best place for an excursion out of the city and a must for people who love wandering around manicured gardens. It’s right off Interstate 280, so it’s an easy road trip activity.
86 Cañada Rd, (Woodside), filoli.org
San Jose Municipal Rose Garden
Trek out to San Jose for the most grandiose rose garden in the Bay Area. The roses bloom as late as November, which is later than most bloom seasons. The park is 5.5 acres with over 3,000 different varieties and includes a fountain, archways, and a connecting park with a large grassy area. This garden becomes extremely popular in the spring with graduation photoshoots and people setting up picnics amongst the rose bushes. It’s definitely the most busy and social one on the list.
1649 Naglee Ave. (San Jose), sanjose.org/attraction/municipal-rose-garden
San Jose Heritage Rose Garden
The San Jose Heritage Rose garden is 10 minutes down the street from the Municipal Rose Garden, so it is easy to visit both. Municipal is not nearly as impressive as Heritage with many overgrown and some dead bushes; it does include many varieties of roses. Heritage has a mismatched charm whereas Municipal is perfectly coiffed and manicured. The garden is in a flight path of the nearby San Jose Airport so planes are frequently descending, which can be interesting or annoying. If your time is limited and you must choose, the Municipal garden has more wow factor, but Heritage is not nearly as crowded.
438 Coleman Ave (San Jose) grpg.org/visit/guadalupe-gardens/san-jose-heritage-rose-garden
Marin Art and Gardens
If you head up to the North Bay, the Marin Art and Garden Center is a splendid place to take a stroll and wander around the different gardens. The property is mainly used for events like weddings but the gardens are open to the public to visit during the day. There is ample parking and bathrooms are available, so it makes a nice stopover on a trip to West Marin. The rose garden is gated to keep out the deer but can easily be accessed by opening the gate. It’s the smallest garden on the list but there are other features on the property, including a pond and a unique Octagon house. It’s definitely worth visiting if you are already in Marin, or are on an excursion from San Francisco.
30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd (Ross), maringarden.org
Heather Farm Park
It’s worth the drive to Walnut Creek to escape the city fog. Heather Farm Park is part park and part gardens. The Cowden Rose Garden sits around a gazebo and is bordered by the park and pollinator, butterfly, and waterfall gardens. There are many benches for relaxing amongst the roses, many of which are identified with labels. Heather Farm is the hottest out of all the gardens on the list.