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Things You Need To See While You’re In San Francisco

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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Trip Ideas

The Best Beaches In Florida

Florida does a lot of things wrong. We’re terrible at voting. We beat people with lizards. We have alligators in our swimming pools, politicians in our public bathrooms, and an entire Twitter account devoted to stupid things our male citizens do. Also, women dressed as turkeys might just try and rob you. And yet, we're the third most populated state in the US (behind Texas and California). Why?

Look out the window… if it’s anything other than sunny and 80 degrees, you probably wish you were in Florida right now. Alligators and all. But what is there to do in Florida when you’re not being beaten with reptiles? Go to the beach, of course. And in planning your next Florida fling, here are the 20 best beaches in the Sunshine State.

P.S. We also have a separate handy guide to Florida's nude beaches right here. Happy tanning.

No hecks left to give? Daytona is the beach for you. Yes, it’s cleaned itself up a bit from its biker-and-breaker heyday, but if you want a wide stretch of sand with absolutely zero pretension, Daytona’s it. Here you can drive right up on the shoreline near Ormond and cruise the big beach up to the spot where the famous 500 started racing cars on the sand. You’ll pass by plenty of T-shirt shops full of stuff that’ll make you say, “You can still say that?” and not find a soul who objects.
Where you’re staying: The Delta Hotels Marriott, a newly renovated hotel right on the water configured so every room has some sort of view of the ocean. And it’s actually quiet... if you go to Daytona Beach for that sort of thing.

You ever read those hilarious Florida Man stories and wonder, “Just where the HELL do these people come from?” The answer is Hollywood Beach. All of them. If you’re jonesing to see a baby alligator get pedaled up the boardwalk in a bicycle basket, post up at Taco Spot and just wait. Wanna see two geriatric men the color of footballs get in a fight over a spot under a palm tree? It’ll happen in Hollywood. It isn’t just as close to a SoCal beach town as exists in the Sunshine State, it’s also the best people-watching of any beach in Florida. Which considering the stuff our state gets into, is pretty impressive.
Where you’re staying: Diplomat Resort and Spa. Hollywood’s king of luxury high rises just completely redid itself, adding a solid burger joint and wine spot across the street at Diplomat Landing, and one of 2017’s best new restaurants in South Florida at Monkitail.

Since it banned drinking on the beach and effectively killed Spring Break faster than an '80s movie villain, Panama City is now probably best known as the home to Ironman Florida, which involves a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile marathon. If you’re into doing things other than inhuman endurance sports on vacation, the beach itself is beautiful, with pristine white sand leading out to lake-like turquoise water. And the town is full of kitschy cultural beach staples like the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum and the epic Shipwreck Island Waterpark.
Where you’re staying: Legacy by the Sea. It’s a little removed from the “main drag” in PCB, but this beach-adjacent spot has upscale rooms -- by Panama City standards anyway -- and vastly cheaper rates.

If you were rating beaches solely on spring break, and it was 1987, Lauderdale Beach might be the best in the land. But you'd also be reading this on a Commodore 64. As the city ushered out SB, it also ushered out most of the fun that came along with it, and now what’s left is a narrow strand of beach backed by bars full of people who came here for spring break 1987 and still can’t figure out where the rest of their group went. Need proof? That bar where Richie Incognito went all Richie Incognito on a pool table is one of them. Another is owned by an infamous male pornstar who has a proclivity to hunt.
Where you’re staying: The Atlantic Hotel and Spa. No shortage of first-rate mega-resorts along Lauderdale Beach, but this one still feels like a charming boutique and offers the best new restaurant in the city at Coastal. If you’re into fresh seafood and Italian food, there’s not a better place to be in South Florida.

Not long ago we named South Beach the sexiest neighborhood in America, and for good reason. While the natural scenery is nothing to sneer at, with coarse grain sand and light turquoise waters fronting miles of art deco hotels, the human scenery is really what makes this one of the most popular beaches in the world. Do most of those bodies occur in nature? Of course not, but neither do beaches on marsh barrier islands. Don’t think too much, you’re in Florida.
Where you’re staying: Stanton South Beach. Located right on the water in the much-quieter South of Fifth section of South Beach, this is one of the few beachfront hotels that’s a quiet escape from the insanity of South Beach. The first floor is also home to the new Miami outpost of the Michelin-starred sushi joint Azabu.

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Trip Ideas

The Best Things To Do In Cincinnati When Someone Visits

Cincinnati might seem like one of those “not-a-major-tourist-destination cities," but it actually has a quite a lot going on. From the rapidly-revitalizing Over-the-Rhine (OTR) to the suburbs and even all the way across the river into Kentucky neighborhoods like Newport and Covington, the city really feels like it’s on the up-and-up. Inventive new restaurants and experiences opening almost weekly combine with a rich history and a strong sense of Cincy pride to make The Queen City a really fascinating place to explore, as an out-of-towner or as a local.

If you’ve got visitors coming to Cincinnati, there’s a simple, totally foolproof plan for guaranteeing that they have an unforgettable time: just take them along to the fun stuff you normally do. But whether you’re doing the visiting or are the one being visited, we made things easy for you. Here the best things to do Cincinnati has to offer:

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Multiple Locations
Any attempt to put into words just how strong the bond is between Cincinnati and its beer would probably fall short. It’s always been this way for the city, which boasts a very strong German heritage (In fact, in 1880, the Cincinnati Reds were kicked out of the National League for about a year because they refused to stop selling beer). These days, it’s all about craft beer. There are more than 30 craft breweries in the area. Book a brewery bus tour to hit as many as possible, as quickly (and safely!) as possible.

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Nippert Stadium
Cincinnati has a reputation for being a baseball town (Reds, I’ll always love you, even if you keep “rebuilding” the team forever), but that’s quickly shifting. The city’s minor league soccer team, FC Cincinnati, was an instant hit with locals, and in 2018, the city got an upgrade when it was awarded a Major League Soccer franchise. Don your best orange and blue, grab a Moerlein Blood Orange IPA, and (if you’re feeling brave) buy some tickets to sit in The Bailey, the superfan seating section where you’ll experience all of the flags, colored smoke, and cheers first-hand. While the team is waiting on a new stadium as part of their major league deal, games are played at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium, so save some time to explore campus before or after the game.

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Walnut Hills
Welcome to Cincinnati’s premiere Quentin Tarantino-themed video store speakeasy! It’s also Cincinnati’s only Quentin Tarantino-themed video store speakeasy, but that’s neither here nor there. The front half of The Video Archive looks just like a classic video rental store, complete with shelves of VHS tapes. The clerk will give you a hint as to which tape to pull to open the secret door into the bar, cleverly hidden in a sliding shelf. The drinks menu rotates, but the delicious, bourbon-infused, Pulp Fiction-referencing $5 Milkshake is always available (and yes, it’s actually $5). They frequently host movie screenings on their patio on Saturday nights and even host evenings dedicated to favorite TV shows, as well as holiday themed pop-ups. Gorilla Cinema, the company behind the Video Archive, also runs The Overlook Lodge, a Shining-themed neighborhood bar, and Tokyo Kitty, a Lost in Translation-inspired karaoke bar that slings Japanese tiki drinks.

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Multiple Locations
You’ll only find this in the summer, and if you’re able to snag a cone, be warned: you’ll be dreaming about the day when you can roll up to an ice cream stand in shorts and flip flops and order a blue cone topped with rainbow sprinkles all winter long. The trend of serving blueberry-flavored soft serve started at Kings Island, a theme park just north of the city, in the 1980s, when it was created as a promotional special to go along with a Smurfs-themed ride. When the Smurfs ride closed in 1992, the blue ice cream was replaced with a cherry-red soft serve... and the people revolted. K.I. brought it back, and it’s been on menus across the park ever since. It’s also now offered at various ice cream stands and creamy whips like Putz’s and Norwood Delite. It’s especially great in a blueberry-vanilla twist cone.

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Over-the-Rhine
There’s no better place to be on a weekend morning than Findlay Market. Cincinnati’s oldest covered public market offers inventive food at various stalls, fresh and local goods and produce, and occasional live music at the beer garden. Grab a pastry from Blue Oven, a Honey Bear latte from Deeper Roots, and enjoy people-watching and browsing through the various shops and stalls. And don’t forget to pick up some goetta from Eckerline (Seriously, you can’t leave Cincinnati without trying goetta, our beloved mystery meat made from sausage and pinhead oats. It tastes better than it sounds, and makes great hangover food... I promise).

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Downtown
Right downtown, in a distinctive building designed by Zaha Hadid, is the Contemporary Arts Center. The non-collecting museum’s exhibits are constantly rotating, and has brought in works from famous artists like Andy Warhol and Shepard Fairey, as well as countless up-and-comers. It has also attracted its fair share of controversy (it and its director at the time were acquitted for obscenity charges related to an exhibition of seven photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe in 1990). Start at the top (which houses a children’s museum that even adults will enjoy; make sure to pose for a picture sitting next to Shark Girl, Casey Millard’s beloved statue) and work your way down to the lobby, which houses a killer gift shop and cafe that comes complete with a full bar. Bonus points if you attend one of the awesome events they put on: yoga, art labs, and the always popular Drink and Draw nights.

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Multiple Locations
It feels like Cincinnati chili is one of the most hated regional cuisines on the internet. Sure, not everyone will like it, but some of the names it gets called are.. extreme. Love it or hate it, you have to at least try it. Skyline is the most popular chain serving up coneys (chili and cheese on a hot dog, optionally topped with mustard and onion) and ways (a three-way is chili and cheese on spaghetti, a four way adds either beans or onions, and a five-way adds both). For a more authentic experience, hit up a local chili parlor like Camp Washington Chili, Price Hill Chili, Dixie Chili, or Empress. If you’re still unsure about whether or not you’ll like Cincinnati chili, think of it as spaghetti or a hot dog topped with a Greek meat sauce instead of a traditional chili. Or just try it so you can at least tell everyone that you had a three-way on your trip. And don’t forget to grab a peppermint patty on the way out!

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Fairfield
Jungle Jim’s is part theme park, part grocery store, and 100% incredible. You’ll find singing animatronic statues tucked away among the maze of aisles in the 200,00 square foot megastore. Besides their normal grocery, there’s plenty of beer and wine and a huge international section, with aisles upon aisles dedicated to various countries. The original location also has a kombucha bar, a cigar shop, an enormous natural foods section, and one of the largest displays of hot sauce you’ll ever see… it’s even topped with a vintage fire truck.