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Slide into summer.

SAN FRANCISCO On the south slope of the always-sunny Mission Dolores Park, swing sets and 38-foot-long super-slides have displaced sunbathers in Speedos. The new $3.5 million Helen Diller Playground is a G-rated Vegas for the toddlers and a serious workout for the adults who chase after them--across bridges and down spiderwebs, from the bouldering rocks and sound gardens to the wooden boats. Early reviews from those who really matter are glowing. "Everything here is fun," cheers a giddy 7-year-old girl, rainbowing her face with a snow cone from the nearby cart. "Everything!"




Park yourself here

Not so long ago, Little Basin Cabins and Campground was where software engineers came to do trust falls with their bosses. Now the former Hewlett-Packard private retreat--and newest addition to the quickly contracting California State Park system--is open to the rest of us. There are a dozen modest cabins and three times as many spots to plop your tent around the 520-acre redwood wonderland, not to mention plenty of hikes like the 1,200-foot climb to Buzzard's Roost. But if you're looking to get deeper into the woods, sign up for one of the outdoor ed-inspired activities: This month, learn how to be a redwood ecologist or book a spot on the nighttime astronomy walks. From $15;



Garden as muse

The Berkeley Botanical Garden has Long felt Like nature's version of an art exhibit. This month, it'll gild the lily with Natural Discourse, a collection of works from sculptors, architects, and poets, created in collaboration with horticulturists and spread over the 34-acre garden. Site-specific pieces include Nami Yamamoto's handwoven fog catchers--huge red-waxed linen nets that wick moisture from the coastal air, much as the redwood grove around them does. Interpretive signs enlivened by poets Hazel White and Denise Newman, like all 11 installations in the exhibit, draw visitors into the garden's trove. $10;


Track your summer romps with the new Passport to Your National Parks iPhone app. Trying to hit all 397 parks in this lifetime? Use the free tool to mark your progress with photos and notes, keep a parks bucket list, and get travel info like entrance fees and area maps. Download from Apple's App Store.

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Title Annotation:EDITORS' PICKS
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Jul 1, 2012
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