#62: Sun Yat-Sen Garden

“worth the price of admission. Incredibly peaceful.”

#6 in Downtown

578 Carrall Street

For Kids


For Adults






Final Score


We aren’t architecture critics, so we’re in a place to judge the classical merits of the Ming Dynasty era Chinese garden built in the 1980s on the western edge of Chinatown. And we can’t say whether its place as the top city garden in a 2011 book by National Geographic was deserved or not. 

What we can say is Sun Yat-Sen Garden is an incredibly peaceful place to be. 

Technically there are two parts: the Sun Yat-Sen Park to the east, which is free and dominated by a pond. Then there’s the more intricate, authentic and walled-off Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden to the west, which costs a fee.

This helps fund the separate non-profit society that operates the park, but both parts integrate into one another well, and there’s so much to explore in the relatively small space — it’s the type of experience you would have at a top-tier museum more than a small urban park. 

If you want, you can get right into the displays about how the garden embraces yin and yang, the specifics on how the tiles were made, the rotating exhibitions. Or you can simply enjoy the beautiful trees, the reflective pond, the enchanted patterns. 

If how much kids enjoy a park wasn’t factored into our scores, Sun Yat-Sen would be the 11th best park in the city. But it is, and we’re realistic about the patience of children to enjoy a slow historical nature walk while avoiding running around and screaming. 

You’re reading this though. Which means you’re not a kid — or if you are, a highly discerning one! — so you really have no excuse not to visit the garden. 

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