Go Dutch in Golden Gate Park with a visit to Queen Wilhelmina’s Windmill

A small child runs beneath the giant Wilhelmina Windmill in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park

The massive Queen Wilhelmina Windmill at the western edge of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

Few visitors make it to the west-most edge of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, but those who do are often startled by the sight of this enormous windmill facing onto the Pacific. Queen Wilhelmina’s Windmill is one of two enormous windmills that were built in 1902 to help bring water into Golden Gate Park and nearby areas. This recently restored treasure is surrounded by a lovely small garden, which explodes with tulips each early spring and dazzles with other blossoms most of the year.

It’s the perfect place to bring a picnic or plan your lunch outing while exploring San Francisco’s west side. Even on sunny days when the afternoon winds pick up along the coast, this garden treasure is still fairly well sheltered from the coastal breeze by surrounding trees and its slightly sunken location. The windmill itself inspires photos of all sorts, and you may happen upon an artist at work capturing its likeness in paint. Small children love to race around the garden paths and explore the nooks around the base of the structure.

While you’re there:
Ocean Beach is right across the street, so stroll on over to make a sand castle. Also, the Beach Chalet restaurant is just a short stroll away, with its “Park Chalet” outdoor service that is very popular for families with tots on sunny, warm afternoons as we are so lucky to have spring and fall (not so in July). They often have live music as well, adding to the festive ambience. Here is a shot of the approach from the park-side footpath; you can also enter from the front side on Great Highway. The windmill is also an easy stop on your way to or from Fort Funston–another great FREE attraction in San Francisco.


Getting there:
I’m very sorry to say the SF Culture Bus has been discontinued due to insufficient ridership, which now makes reaching most destinations in Golden Gate Park by public transportation—especially the west end—a very slow undertaking for visitors staying downtown. The Fulton 5 line will take you along the northern edge of the entire park, but slowly (more public transit help here). For most visitors with small children traveling out from Fisherman’s Wharf or the financial district, a car would certainly simplify things–and will make it easier to explore other nearby attractions in the Outer Richmond district and along the coast.

This post is part of my “Cheap and Free San Francisco” series and is part of the Photo Friday fun you can check out at DeliciousBaby.com.

Safe journeys,

Shelly Rivoli
Author of the award-winning Travels with Baby and Take-Along Travels with Baby

Kid Friendly Travel Blog on Raveable

Curious about this content? See my editorial content disclosure.


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  4. business logo design

    Great stuff! Thanks for sharing!!

  5. Carolina

    I spent a great day there this summer and my son loves the Beach Chalet and keeps asking to go back. He swears he had such a great brownie there.
    Plus the view is awesome.

  6. Heather on her travels

    That's a pretty windmill and sounds like a great place to hang out with children for an afternoon

  7. Steph

    Thanks for these suggestions! We're not too far from SF but haven't gone since having the kids. We keep talking about taking a trip to the city but aren't really sure what to do w/ 3 toddlers in SF. I'd love any other suggestions you might have.

  8. Jen@TwoKidsandaMap

    This would definitely be an alternative to the bustle of the touristy sections of San Fran…especially since we have already done those. We will need to add this to our list of things to do if we make it back!

  9. Marina K Villatoro

    I have never been there, but it looks so good that i might go some day…

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