Washington Square

Park in North Beach & Chinatown

Wild parrots, tai chi masters and nonagenarian churchgoing nonnas (grandmothers) are the 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 businesswoman Juana Briones – there's a bench dedicated to her. The 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.

Across from Saints Peter & Paul Cathedral, you'll spot Ben Franklin atop a dry water fountain, donated in 1897 by an eccentric dentist who believed water could cure alcoholism.