Best of the Bay 2013: BEST PLACE TO PADDLE AND WADDLE

The de Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences have the giant advertising budgets and thus get all the press, but Golden Gate Park’s hidden gem lies just down JFK from those twin attractions: the Stow Lake Boathouse, perched alongside the built-in-1893 lake. The historic, recently renovated boathouse (it was getting a little creaky) contains a café stocked with handmade piroshkis and serves as the launch spot for Stow Lake’s fleet of boats, including the iconic paddleboats so beloved by tourists — and locals who aren’t too cool to admit it. If hanging out on the water’s not for you, stroll around the lake, dodging rapidly waddling geese and ducks on the paved path. More ambitious hikers can cruise to Strawberry Hill atop Stow Lake’s tiny, wooded island. On days when the fog lifts, the view there is well worth the huffing and puffing.

50 Stow Lake Dr. E., Golden Gate Park, SF. www.stowlakeboathouse.com