1) Golden Gate Angling & Casting Club (GGACC)
At the center of the Golden Gate Park, you will find a collection of anglers who have joined the more than 500 other members that gather at the Angler’s Lodge and Casting Pools that date back to 1938. This collection of anglers possesses a unique kinship; as they share their love of fish and extensive knowledge of casting, fly tying, and rod design. On a worldwide level, the casting pools are thought some of the best across the globe, which are also open to the public.
Throughout the year, a host of national and international casting tournaments are held, as well as free casting lessons, fly fishing shows, and international sportsmen expositions. If you are interested in becoming a part of the fun that stirs at Golden Gate Park, any individual showing an interest in casting or fly fishing as a sport is allowed to become a member of the Golden Gate Angling & Casting Club.
2) Golden Gate Park Polo Club
When it comes to the United States Polo Association (USPA), the Pacific Coast Circuit accommodates the highest number of members pertaining to the 13 circuits that make up the association. Out of the nearly 35 clubs attached to the Pacific Coast Circuit, the Golden Gate Park Polo Club utilizes the park for events throughout the year for its annual Polo in the Park. This occasion has been entertaining polo players and onlookers for more than 20 years, as it serves for the perfect family-friendly gathering to a great way to catch sight of the majestic horses that take to the field. In more recent times, the club has also delivered other fundraising delights, such as Dressage in the Park, and Jumping in the Park.
3) SF Frontrunners
The weekly events that the SF Frontrunners host at the Stow Lake Boathouse, located at Golden Gate Park, caters to the members of this social walking and running club. The largest weekly event that the club sponsors takes place on Saturday at 9am when more than 100 runners and walkers participate in a series of events – regardless of the weather. Participants enjoy a 5-mile run to the ocean and back; 3-mile run through the east end of the park; 2-mile run or walk through Strybing Arboretum; and a 1-mile walk or run around Stow Lake.
In other locations, chapters of the Frontrunners thrive, but San Francisco serves as the founding chapter of the entire club, which has gained a reputation as a worldwide network consisting of running clubs that accommodate the LGBT population and their friends. Additionally, after working up a sweat at the events, post-run brunches are offered to members.
4) SF Track and Field Club
In the fall of 1982, the San Francisco Track & Field Club became a reality after the first Gay Games in San Francisco took place. The first members were a collection of athletes, who wanted to keep the positive and uplifting camaraderie alive that they experienced at the Games. The Club served as a way to train and compete during the years preceding the next Gay Games. Before long, the club was racking up medals, including more than 90 honors at the Gay Games VI in Sydney.
With the San Francisco Track & Field Club, all skill levels and abilities are welcome and encouraged to participate. Practices take place on a weekly basis on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 6pm. The club also meets on Sunday mornings at 10am. Keep in mind that gatherings are held at the southeast side of Golden Gate Park at Kezar Stadium.
5) San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club (SFLBC)
To boost the health and sense of wellbeing of members, the San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club (SFLBC) is an inviting organization that strives for happiness and healthy leisure time. The aim of the club is to also encourage the participation and cultivation of the game of lawn bowling, which is a rather easy activity to get the hang of. It doesn’t matter how physically fit you are, lawn bowling accommodates all, which over the years – has captured the attention of Golden Gate Park visitors of all ages.
On Wednesdays, free lessons are held at noon. During the late springtime and summer season, extra lessons surface during the evenings. Game play takes place close to Sharon Meadow and the Carousel. Those who join the club, often come to socialize while enjoying the game, while others have developed tournament-level skills that allow participation in serious competition.
6) Lindy in the Park
Take a page from Dancing with the Stars and enjoy the fun that never seems to end when learning how to swing dance. Chad Kubo and Ken Watanabe have been promoting lindy hop ever since they established Lindy in the Park (or LitP) in 1996. Now, every Sunday, swing dancing takes place from 11am to 1:30pm if the “weather Gods” allows it. A free beginner’s lesson is held at 12:30pm at their meeting place on JFK Drive (between 9th and 10th avenues).
The club also offers different workshops, such as 2-hour programs like learning the Shim Sham, a popular line dance that involves the participation of a group. Swing dancers all over the world have embraced this style of dance that dates back to the 1930s. In order to indulge in your curiosity, never fear that you have to come with a partner or have any previous dance experience. Keep in mind that some lessons and workshops come with a price, such as $20 per person.
7) SF Model Yacht Club
Head to Kennedy Drive and 35th Avenue to reach Spreckels Lake where you can admire the creativity of the model boats that soar across the waters of this artificial body of water. You may also find an entrance to the fun located at 36th Avenue and Fulton Street, where you can enjoy the fresh air that Golden Gate Park delivers. If you have an interest in constructing and/or sailing model yachts, then this is a club to consider becoming a member of, as it caters to those that enjoy both powered and sail boats. All the public is welcome to enjoy.
An array of events are sponsored by the club, including the Tug Boat and Barge Pull, which hosts a complete weekend of individual and team events that involves the mastering of a course full of obstacles that push high powered tugs and pusher boats to their limits. The All Fishing Boat Regatta is also quite popular, as classic models of Monterey Clippers and working riggers are on display. The Springer Limited Competition additionally holds figure-8 competitions that involve the beauty of driving and navigation.
8 ) San Francisco Disc Golf Club
On JFK (between 25th and 30th avenues), disc golf enthusiasts head for Golden Gate Park to enjoy the events and access to a course that has recently enjoyed a revamping of the grounds. The San Francisco Disc Golf Club is a not-for-profit organization that encourages the exploration of disc golf – an unlikely sport to some, but an addicting adventure to others. The course found at Golden Gate Park underwent an expansion project that heightened the playing experience, as the previous 12-hole course turned into an 18-hole wonderland. Not only do the locals have a blast on the course, but the 18 holes have also gained the attention of travelers to the city.
9) San Francisco Ultimate Club
Intense games at the Speedway Meadow often unfold at Golden Gate Park, as participants of ultimate Frisbee work up a sweat on a sunny San Francisco day. This particular team sport thrives on the need for quick movements, stamina, smart play, athleticism, a high level of competitive spirit, and a sense of community. As you explore the ins and outs of this spirited sport, you are sure to find an activity that transports you into an adrenaline-raising, heart-pumping good time. All skill levels are found at the park, which is known to draw large flocks of onlookers.
At Golden Gate Park, the games aim to score 13 with players winning by 2 – with a cap at 15. Games are soft capped at 8:15 and 9:45. Each team is given a total of two timeouts for every game, allowed only once during the soft cap, which then becomes a 30-second timeout. Gender ratios fall on the shoulders of offense, where a 3/4 and 4/3 for male/female ratio is permitted.
10) Sharon Art Studio Arts & Crafts
At Golden Gate Park, there are activities that bring both adults and children to explore their creative side, as they gather at the Sharon Art Studio to take classes in a variety of subjects. Situated close to Children’s Playground (found at the far eastern end of the park, north of Kezar Drive), classes in ceramics, painting, metal arts, and drawing are held. The studio is where you can experience the creativity brewing at the largest public community art center in San Francisco.
Youth classes range from $40 to $50 for 4- to 8-week adventures, while adult classes can cost between $85 and $150 for an 8- to 10-week exploration. The center is a haven for beginner, intermediate, and advanced recreational artists. Some of the programs held in the past include Art Cards & Holiday Gift Wrap; Still Life Drawing; and Japanese Shibori Scarf Dyeing Workshop.
11) San Francisco Field Ornithologists
Birding is a popular pastime at Golden Gate Park because there are so many fields and bodies of water that serve for an enlightening journey into the world of the feathered residents of the park. The San Francisco Field Ornithologists often take notice of the impressive collection of birds that call the park their home. For example, at Elk Glen Lake (found at the 25th Avenue entrance and Martin Luther King Drive), one of the best places to view ducks is located. American Wigeons, Mallards, and Buffleheads spread their wings in the vicinity.
The seasonal changes and habitat of the park accommodates a wide-range of birds, including the Red-breasted Sapsucker that spends winters in the fruit trees found on the north shore of the lake. Warblers gather in the eucalyptus thriving just north of the lake. The Great Horned Owl is known to take over the night. The Belted Kingfisher is also a frequent visitor of the lakes. On land, Black Phoebes, Song Sparrows, Downy Woodpeckers, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, and Pygmy Nuthatches scuttle about the grounds.
12) Opera in the Park
September is the month to gather at Golden Gate Park to experience the annual free outdoor concert that the San Francisco Opera hosts. You will not be disappointed when you take advantage of this perfect opportunity to catch wind of the mesmerizing arias and soothing operatic selections that fill the crisp, sweet air of autumn. This impressive event unfolds at Sharon Meadow, where the public has a chance to experience the talent of their very own San Francisco Opera and highly rated San Francisco Opera Orchestra.
13) San Francisco Rose Society
The Rose Garden found at Golden Gate Park was designed in 1961, which showcases the beauty of hybrid tea, floribunda, grandiflora and miniatures. The San Francisco Rose Society is often quite active between Mother’s Day to Father’s Day, as well as around the Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Columbus Day, as the blooms are quite spectacular at these times. The group meets between Fulton Avenue and John F. Kennedy Drive at Park Presidio Boulevard, where the Rose Garden is situated. Members of the San Francisco Rose Society also donate rosebushes, and provide the public with free annual classes, such as their “Growing Roses from Cuttings” program. The pruning demonstrations are often quite helpful for those looking to go beyond simply admiring the breathtaking attractiveness of roses.
14) Campaign to Save the Golden Gate Park Windmills
The windmills and the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden have been of interest to the members of the Campaign to Save the Golden Gate Park Windmills for many years, as they concentrate on the restoration of the two pieces of history that decorate the western end of the park. The Dutch (North) Windmill was finished in 1902, while the Murphy (South) Windmill followed in 1905. At the time, you could see the largest windmill of its kind just by paying a visit to Golden Gate Park. However, the years have not been kind to the windmills and the fundraising that this organization heads pays for uplifting the appearance and longevity of these majestic structures.
15) San Francisco Sierra Club: San Francisco Group
There are about 10,000 members attached to the San Francisco Group of the Sierra Club, which enjoys a host of social events and conservation activities throughout the city. While they spend their time spearheading the efforts to reduce toxin pollution, clean up parks, further recycling processes, conserve resources (such as water), and protect wetlands – members also care about preserving the Golden Gate Park. Some of the interests they’ve backed for the park in the past include extending the carless park days on Sunday to include Saturdays, which allows walkers, runners, skaters, and bikers to take pleasure in their surroundings without the threat of cars compromising their overall safety and enjoyment.