Chinatown Gate at Grant and Bush Streets. Photo © Chee-On Leong/123rf.

Sights in San Francisco’s North Beach and Chinatown

In the historic Chinatown neighborhood, beautiful Asian architecture mixes with more mundane blocky city buildings to create a unique skyline. Farther up Grant from the Chinatown Gate, North Beach is an odd amalgam of old-school residential neighborhood and total tourist district. Although most of the old families have gone, North Beach has long served as the Italian district of San Francisco.

El Mercado Viejo in Masaya. Photo © Carles-Amalaric Navarro Parcerisas/123rf.

Sights in Masaya, Nicaragua

Soak in the culture and people-watching of Masaya’s plazas, especially the throbbing social and commercial heart of the mostly indigenous Monimbó neighborhood, peruse crafts markets where find all manner of delightful surprises: locally made leather shoes, brass, iron, carved wood, and textile handicrafts, plus paintings, clothing and hammocks, and cool off after an intense morning in the market on the windswept malecón.

Glass Beach. Photo © Elizabeth Linhart Veneman.

Sights in Fort Bragg

The village of Mendocino may be where folks savor the scenery, but Fort Bragg is where the work gets done. This blue-collar town is home to lumber mills, fishing boats, and scores of working train tracks. It is rougher around the edges than its gentle cousin down the coast, but it has some great attractions, beautiful scenery, and tons of local color.

San Andrés Ruins. Photo © Raúl Arias, licensed Creative Commons usage.

The Indigenous History of Panchimalco and the San Andres Ruins

The area surrounding San Salvador is rich with history and natural beauty. If you are in the area, it is definitely worth making a short drive (or bus ride) to explore the wonderful sights of Panchimalco and San Andrés Ruins and learn more about the indigenous people of El Salvador.

Catedral Santiago de los Caballeros. Photo © Dreamstime.

Sights in Managua

You can easily visit all of Managua’s main attractions, which are scattered along the Avenida Bolívar, in half a day. Many are ruins and monuments to the disastrous 1972 earthquake that leveled the city, others are simply lovely places to sit and take in the city views. Expert author Elizabeth Perkins is here with a guided tour.

Monumento al Indio. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Sights in Isabela, Puerto Rico

The area known today as Isabela was once ruled by Cacique Mabodamaca, one of the island’s most powerful Taíno chiefs. The town of Isabela features a charming little plaza anchored by a church, as are all town plazas, impressive cultural sights, ruins, and one of the most hair-raising mountain drives.

Monumento al Jíbaro Puertorriqueño. Photo © Ulises Jorge, licensed Creative Commons usage.

Sights in Caguas and Cayey, Puerto Rico

The Puerto Rico’s eastern mountain towns of Caguas and Cayey don’t boast the dramatic peaks and valleys of Jayuya and Utuado, but they have plenty to offer in the way of attractions. Caguas is home to the impressive botanical gardens at Jardín Botánico y Cultural de Caguas, and many locals make a day of visiting the area to dine at all-you-can-eat buffets, dance to the live bands, and shop at roadside vendors.

Museo del Cemí is devoted to artifacts of the Taíno Indians. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Mountain Scenery and Taíno Culture in Jayuya, Puerto Rico

If you visit only one place in Puerto Rico’s Cordillera Central, go to Jayuya. Go to experience the gorgeous mountain scenery and some of the highest peaks on the island, where it’s possible to see both the Atlantic and the Caribbean, as well as vegetation thick with sierra palms, bamboo, banana trees, and brilliantly colorful impatiens. This is also the place to soak up the rich Taíno culture and explore other historic sights.

Lake Shasta. Photo © Maislam/Dreamstime.

What to See at Shasta Lake

Shasta Lake doesn’t look like most lakes. Rather than a bowl shape, the lake is fed by three major rivers; to create this sprawling artificial lake, five towns were drowned. The remains are still down there, most sunk so deep that even scuba divers cannot explore them. A tour of the amazing Lake Shasta Caverns is a welcome respite from summer heat, and even if you’re not fascinated by engineering statistics and superlatives, a tour of the Shasta Dam is a great experience.

Arco de Santa Catalina. Photo © Al Argueta.

Religious Sights in Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua is fascinating and easily manageable for a day of sight-seeing, as most everything you might want to see and do lies within a radius of a few miles. These churches and convents provide a great look into Antigua’s history.