Washington Square


in North Beach & Chinatown

Wild parrots, tai chi masters, and nonagenarian churchgoing nonnas (grandmothers) are the local company you'll keep on this lively patch of lawn. This was the city's earliest official park, built in 1850 on the ranchland of pioneering entrepreneur and San Francisco founder Juana Briones – there's a bench dedicated to her. Parrots keep their distance in the treetops, but like anyone else in North Beach, they can probably be bribed into friendship with a focaccia from Liguria Bakery, on the square's northeastern corner.

At the northwestern corner of the park, you'll spot Ben Franklin balancing atop a dry water fountain, donated in 1897 by an eccentric dentist who believed water could cure alcoholism.