San Francisco·United States
One hundred and fifty years ago, this 1000-acre park was a windswept sand dune. To this day, its autumnal music festival, Outsidelands, is an homage to its former moniker. These days, you'll find the same serenity with a myriad of attractions -- art museums, a Japanese tea garden, a Shakespeare garden, even a buffalo paddock. Or, get active -- hike, ride horseback, learn archery or feed ducks at any one of three ponds. What Central Park is to New York, Golden Gate Park is to San Francisco. Stretching from the Panhandle to Ocean Beach, Golden Gate Park is over 1,000 acres of gardens, lakes, and cultural institutions. The deYoung art museum and family-friendly Academy of Sciences can be found near the Japanese Tea Garden, an elaborate maze of sculpted landscape leading up to a tea house. Rent a paddleboat at Stow Lake, or watch members of the San Francisco Model Yacht Club race their handmade boats around Spreckels Lake. While there are a number of homeless encampments throughout the grounds, it doesn't take away from the park's beauty. Just look at the Conservatory of Flowers, the blooming plantlife at the Botanicals Gardens, and the ocean views from the top floor of Beach Chalet.