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With its myriad hills and spectacular bay, San Francisco beguiles with natural beauty, vibrant neighborhoods, and contagious energy. Whether or not you’ve already visited the City by the Bay, it can overwhelm visitors with its offerings. Of course there are the well-trodden spots including Alamo Square, with its Painted Ladies; Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39; and twisting Lombard Street, the “crookedest street in the world.” But there’s much more to see and do, so we’ve selected the 25 top things every visitor should experience in San Francisco. Whether you’re visiting for the first time or the fifth, these recommendations ensure that you’ll have a great trip.

Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco’s signature International Orange entryway is the city’s majestic background, and about 10 million people a year head to the bridge for an up-close look. Walking the 1.7 miles to Marin County—inches from roaring traffic, steel shaking beneath your feet, and only a railing between you and the water 200 feet below—is much more than a superlative photo op (though it’s that, too). Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge under your own power is exhilarating—a little scary, and definitely chilly. From the bridge’s eastern-side walkway, the only side pedestrians are allowed on, you can take in the San Francisco skyline and the bay islands; look west for the wild hills of the Marin Headlands, the curving coast south to Lands End, and the Pacific Ocean.

Ferry Building

Foodies, rejoice! The historic Ferry Building is stuffed to the brim with all things tasty, including cafés, restaurants, a farmers’ market, and merchants peddling everything from wine and olive oil to oysters and mushrooms. The building backs up to the bay, so the views are great—but they’re even better from the decks of the departing ferries. San Franciscans flock to the street-level marketplace, stocking up on supplies from local favorites such as Acme Bread, Scharffen Berger Chocolate, Cowgirl Creamery, Blue Bottle Coffee, and Humphry Slocombe ice cream. Slanted Door, the city’s beloved high-end Vietnamese restaurant, is here, along with highly regarded Bouli Bar. The seafood bar at Hog Island Oyster Company has fantastic bay view panoramas. On the plaza side, the outdoor tables at Gott’s Roadside offer great people-watching with their famous burgers. On Saturday morning the plazas outside the building buzz with an upscale farmers’ market where you can buy exotic sandwiches and other munchables.

Chinatown

If there’s one place in San Francisco that feels like a city unto itself, it’s Chinatown. Here, people dash between small neighborhood stores, their arms draped with plastic totes filled with groceries or souvenirs. Breathe in the scented air as you watch the nimble hands at Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, then kick back with a cocktail at Li Po around the corner, rumored to be haunted by the ghost of an opium junkie still looking to score. At Tin How Temple, climb the narrow stairway to this space with hundreds of red lanterns, then step onto the tiny balcony and take in the alley scene below. And, of course, don’t skip a chance to have dim sum at Yank Sing.

Yerba Buena Gardens

There’s not much south of Market Street that encourages lingering outdoors—or indeed walking at all—with this notable exception. These two blocks encompass the Center for the Arts, the Metreon, Moscone Convention Center, and the convention center’s rooftop Children’s Creativity Museum, but the gardens themselves are the everyday draw.Office workers escape to the green swath of the East Garden, the focal point of which is the memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. Powerful streams of water surge over large, jagged stone columns, mirroring the enduring force of King’s words that are carved on the stone walls and on glass blocks behind the waterfall. Atop the Moscone Convention Center perch a few lures for kids. The historic Looff carousel twirls daily 10–5. South of the carousel is the Children’s Creativity Museum, a high-tech, interactive arts-and-technology center geared to children ages 3–12. Kids can make Claymation videos, work in a computer lab, check out new games and apps, and perform and record music videos. Just outside, kids adore the excellent slides, including a 25-foot tube slide, at the play circle. Also part of the rooftop complex are gardens, an ice-skating rink, and a bowling alley.

Palace of Fine Arts

Perched on a swan-filled lagoon near the Marina’s yacht harbor, this stirringly beautiful terra-cotta-color domed structure has an otherworldly quality about it. Built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition and restored in 2008, the palace is a San Francisco architect’s version of a Roman ruin, and it’s been eliciting gasps for almost a century. The massive columns (each topped with four “weeping maidens”), great rotunda, and swan-filled lagoon have been used in countless fashion layouts, films, and wedding photo shoots. After admiring the lagoon, look across the street to the house at 3460 Baker St. If the maidens out front look familiar, they should—they’re original casts of the “garland ladies” you can see in the Palace’s colonnade.

Golden Gate Park

It may be world-famous, but first and foremost the park is the city’s backyard. Come here any day of the week and you’ll find a microcosm of San Francisco, from the Russian senior citizens feeding the pigeons at Stow Lake and the moms pushing strollers through the botanical gardens to school kids exploring the fabulous California Academy of Sciences and arts boosters checking out the latest at the de Young Museum. Be sure to visit the park’s iconic treasures, including the serene Japanese Tea Garden and the beautiful Victorian Conservatory of Flowers. If you have the time to venture farther into this urban oasis, you’ll discover less-accessible gems like the Beach Chalet and the wild western shores of Ocean Beach.

Macondray Lane

San Francisco has no shortage of impressive, grand homes, but it’s the tiny fairy-tale lanes that make most want to move here, and Macondray Lane is the quintessential hidden garden. Enter under a lovely wooden trellis and proceed down a quiet, cobbled pedestrian lane lined with Edwardian cottages and flowering plants and trees. Watch your step—the cobblestones are quite uneven in spots. A flight of steep wooden stairs at the end of the lane leads to Taylor Street—on the way down you can’t miss the bay views. If you’ve read any of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City books, you may find the lane vaguely familiar. It’s the thinly disguised setting for part of the series’ action.

City Lights Bookstore

Take a look at the exterior of the store: the replica of a revolutionary mural destroyed in Chiapas, Mexico by military forces; the art banners hanging above the windows; and the sign that says “Turn your sell [sic] phone off. Be here now.” This place isn’t just doling out best sellers. Designated a city landmark, the hangout of Beat-era writers—Allen Ginsberg and store founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti among them—and independent publisher remains a vital part of San Francisco’s literary scene. Browse the three levels of poetry, philosophy, politics, fiction, history, and local zines, to the tune of creaking wood floors. Be sure to check the calendar of literary events.

Coit Tower

Most people assume that this stubby white tower atop Telegraph Hill is supposed to look like a fire-hose nozzle. And considering that a fire truck–chasing, cross-dressing 19th-century socialite donated the funds to build it, maybe it is. The tower itself is of vague interest—it does house the history of San Francisco in murals—but the parking lot at its base and tiny park out back have fantastic views of the city and the bay. The tower sits at the top of Telegraph Hill’s Filbert Steps, a steep stairway through glorious gardens with vistas of transcendent beauty, an only-in-San Francisco spot locals cherish.

Hyde Street Pier

Cotton candy and souvenirs are all well and good, but if you want to get to the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf—boats—there’s no better place to do it than at this pier, one of the area’s best bargains. Depending on the time of day, you might see boat builders at work or children pretending to man an early-1900s ship. Don’t pass up the centerpiece collection of historic vessels, part of the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, almost all of which can be boarded. The Balclutha, an 1886 full-rigged three-masted sailing vessel that’s more than 250 feet long, sailed around Cape Horn 17 times. Kids especially love the Eureka, a side-wheel passenger and car ferry, for her onboard collection of vintage cars. The Hercules is a steam-powered tugboat, and the C.A. Thayer is a beautifully restored three-masted schooner.

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Originally founded in 1888 under the name of Sidney, Buckeye is the westernmost suburb in the Phoenix metropolitan area, with an old west charm.

Located in Arizona’s Maricopa County, it was renamed in 1910 Buckeye due to the importance of the nearby Buckeye Canal.

With a population of almost 60,000 people, Buckeye is considered one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States.

A heaven for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts of all ages, Buckeye offers hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians and campers the chance of exploring dozen of miles of trails around the city.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Buckeye:

1. Historic Gillespie Dam Bridge

Constructed over the Gila River in 1927 and restored in 2012, the Gillespie Dam Bridge is a unique reminder of Arizona’s rich past and America’s transportation history.

This 1,662 foot long bridge was one of the longest bridges and the largest steel structure in Arizona.

While the bridge no longer serves as a segment of the Old U.S. 80 highway, it is continually used by locals and tourists.

By driving just a quarter of a mile west of the bridge, on the west side of the river, an impressive display of petroglyphs can be found at the base of the cliffs.

2. Skyline Regional Park

With more than 16 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, Skyline Regional Park is a very popular park among the people of Buckeye.

Located in the southern White Tank Mountains, Skyline Regional Park is 8,700 acres and features 5 ramadas and 7 camping sites, offering amazing views of the surrounding mountains.

Opened in January, 2016, this brand new park is dog friendly and offers fresh and new amenities.

Each campsite includes a parking stall, two graded tent pads, a picnic table, cooking grill and a fire ring.

Due to minimal light pollution it is also an excellent spot for stargazing.

3. Desert Botanical Garden

Established in 1939, the Desert Botanical Garden has more than 50,000 plants, with one third of them native to the area.

Located 40 miles away from Buckeye, the garden can be found in Papago Park.

As volunteers were essential in the creation and development of the Garden, they are still considered an important asset.

Working closely with the staff, they share their time, talents and professional expertise in the working and care of the garden and with guests.

4. White Tank Mountain Regional Park

Located in west-central Maricopa County, Arizona, the White Tank Mountain Regional Park is a mix of desert and mountain landscapes.

With nearly 26 miles of hiking trails and an extension of 29,271 acres, this is the largest regional park in the county.

The majority of the park is undeveloped and prohibited to motorised vehicles but in the developed portion of the park picnic areas and campground can be found.

Perfect for stargazing due to regular clear weather and dark skies, the park hosts various stargazing events through the year.

5. Verrado Golf Club

Designed by the Ryder Cup Captain, Tom Lehman, the Verrado Golf Club lies 36 holes of championship golf in two different layouts.

Located in the shadows of the White Tank Mountains, golfers can delight in its amazing views and wildlife while playing an enjoyable round.

Following golf, players can enjoy an unforgettable meal at the Verrado Grille Restaurant, which combines impeccable service, a lively atmosphere, and incredible views.

Weddings and other events can be celebrated in this high-quality golf club.

6. Robbins Butte Wildlife Area

From the top of Robbins Butte hill, located south of the Gila River, visitors can get a broad overview of the river corridor.

Featuring diverse habitats that draw large populations of resident and migratory wildlife, Robins Butte is a popular area to watch the mule deer, bighorn sheep and many other small animals like cottontails.

Although overnight camping is prohibited, the area is also popular for hiking, hunting and birdwatching.

Caution is advised while hiking as several species of rattlesnakes can be found in the area.

7. Buckeye’s Air Fair

Celebrated annually at the Buckeye’s Municipal Airport, Buckeye’s Air Fair features aviation exhibits, aircraft displays and air demonstrations.

Part of the Arizona SciTech Festival where children of all ages can learn about the science of aviation, the Buckeye’s Air Fair is a day of fun for the whole family.

From the latest in space exploration to remote control demonstrations, Top Gun lovers can even book a ride on an authentic World War II aircraft at one of Buckeye’s largest and most exciting events.

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