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How to get to Stow Lake Boathouse

From Sunset or South Bay via 280: Take 280 North to SF. Exit onto 19th Avenue/Junipero Serra (Cal route 1 north). Take 19th Ave. about 4 miles to the EDGE of the park, but DON'T go in. (If you do, see the directions from the north.) Turn right onto Lincoln Way. Go east 10 blocks (about 2/3 mile) to 9th Ave. Turn left and enter the park. Follow Martin Luther King Jr. Drive around the Arboretum (about 2/3 mile). Just past the edge of the Arboretum you'll see Strawberry Hill on your right, with a one-way exit and a one-way entrance. Take the one-way entrance, and drive around the hill to the parking lot. If you reach the busy intersection at Cross-Over Drive, you missed the turn; go FORWARD, turn around, and try again.
From Richmond or North Bay via GG Bridge: Stay to the RIGHT after the toll plaza and exit onto Cal route 1 south (MacArthur Tunnel, Park Presidio Blvd., 19th Ave.) About a mile past the tunnel, BEFORE you get to the park, turn right onto Balboa or Cabrillo. (If you miss it and enter the park, see the directions from the south.) Then turn left onto 14th or 15th Ave., then left again in a block or two onto Fulton. Go east 4 or 5 blocks (about 1/4 mile) to 10th Ave. Turn right and enter the park. Turn right again onto JFK Drive, and watch for the Stow Lake sign on your left in about a mile. Turn left and drive up the hill. If you reach the tunnel/overpass at Transverse Dr., you missed it.
From elsewhere in SF, East Bay via 80, or South Bay via 101: From the East Bay, take the Bay Bridge into SF, and follow signs for 101 NORTH. From the South Bay, take 101 North to SF. Follow the 101 North freeway all the way to the end, PAST the 101 exit. Exit onto Fell Street. Take Fell St. west, along the Panhandle Park, and into GG Park at Stanyan St. (about 1.6 miles). Stay to the RIGHT, and bear right onto JFK Drive as the main traffic stream curves left. Follow JFK Drive past all the sights, about 1.2 miles, and watch for the Stow Lake sign on your left. Turn left and drive up the hill. If you reach the tunnel/overpass at Transverse Drive, you missed it.
Alternate access to Stow Lake: View these videos for access from Martin Luther King drive and the Boathouse Parking area. 

Left: Entry to Stow Lake Drive

Right: Stow Lake Boathouse Parking area

Parking: The lot fills up quickly. After the lot, try the road between the Boathouse and JFK Drive or the road that goes around the lake. Pay attention to parking signs! There are bicycle parking racks on the right (west) side of the boathouse up by the lake.
Via MUNI: The closest bus stops are at Fulton and 10th or Lincoln and 19th. The 5 Fulton runs along (yup) Fulton St. all the way from downtown; get off at 10th Ave. The 21 Hayes runs from downtown and ends at 8th and Cabrillo, just one block from 8th and Fulton. The 31 Balboa parallels the 5 Fulton, just a few blocks north; get off at 10th ave. The 71 Haight/Noriega runs from downtown out Lincoln; get off at 19th Ave. You can transfer to any of these from the 22 Fillmore or the 24 Divisadero, or from the 14 Mission on Market. The N Judah runs from downtown out Judah, which is 2 blocks south of the park; get off at 19th Ave. The 28 19th Ave. and 29 Sunset run along Park-Presidio Bypass; get off at Lincoln Way. The 44 O'Shaughnessy runs from 6th and California down through the Music Concourse between JFK Drive and MLK Drive, and then down through Forest Hill; you can transfer to it from the 1 California, the 38 Geary, etc., and go south to the park, or from the K, L or M at West Portal and go north to the park. South of West Portal, the 44 goes through Glen Park and Visitacion Valley, and it ends up at Hunter's Point.
Via BART: Get off anywhere from Embarcadero to Civic Center. Transfer to MUNI Metro inside the station, and take the N Judah line. The car will eventually go outside; don't be nervous. Get off at 19th Ave, turn right, and walk north on 19th Ave. into the park. See the map of the park.
Map of Golden Gate Park 

Disclaimer: Drive, ride, walk, and most especially park, at your own risk! We have attempted to get the details right, but no warranty is expressed or implied as to the safety, legality, or (sorry) even the geographical accuracy of these instructions.