BEST NOT-SO-SECRET GARDEN

Kapok Gardens at the Kapok Tree Pavilion

Formerly part of the Kapok Tree Restaurant — a popular tourist trap from the 1960s through the 1980s — the Kapok Gardens now serve as the scenic backdrop for myriad Bay area wedding receptions, anniversaries and corporate parties. Open to the public most other times, the European-style gardens are located behind the Clearwater Sam Ash music store, which muffles the sound of traffic on busy McMullen-Booth Drive. Towering hedges enclose the rest of the garden and are marked by pillars, archways, planters and assorted statuary. The most striking feature is a vast fountain wall with chiseled faces spewing spouts of water amidst cascading waterfalls, all of it landing in a quiet pool. Elegant statues, scattered benches, lush greenery and bright blooms, delicate fountains, an intimate gazebo, a small lagoon — all give the gardens a hushed, enchanted, almost secretive feel.

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