San Mateo is a city in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. It is located on the San Francisco Peninsula, about halfway between San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
Exploring exotic cultures and enlightening sports activities are only a few of the best things to do in San Mateo. From the Japanese Garden to pedaling for miles during Bicycle Sunday and taking a leisurely stroll in Central Park, this vibrant city has an array of attractions to offer.
Even if you wish to wander through the historic San Mateo downtown, grab some local produce at the 25th Avenue Farmer’s Market, or appreciate a panoramic view of the Bay Area, you will be sure to discover something perfect for you.
Read on to learn more and discover your San Mateo surprise!
- Japanese Garden
- Sawyer Camp Trail
- Laurelwood Park
- Old Downtown
- Hilldale Shopping Center
- 25th Avenue Farmer’s Market
- Bicycle Sundays
- Coyote Recreation Area
- San Mateo STEM Fair
- Central Park
- Neal’s Coffee Shop
- Junipero Serra Statue
- Pulga’s Water Temple
- Filoli Estate and Gardens
- The Hiller Aviation Museum
- The San Mateo County History Museum
- Bair Island
Nestled within a sprawling 16-acre green expanse in San Mateo’s Central Park, the Japanese Garden offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Once the private estate of a prosperous local sailor, the garden was initially crafted by a skilled Japanese landscape architect who had previously worked at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
Since the early 1920s, the garden has been open to the public, and it’s renowned for its breathtaking cherry and bonsai trees, soothing koi ponds, cascading waterfalls, and imposing multi-tiered granite pagoda.
Whether you’re seeking a peaceful morning or afternoon respite from the crowds, the garden is the perfect destination for a leisurely stroll.
Sawyer Camp Trail
Sawyer Camp Trail is a hidden gem nestled in the heart of San Mateo, CA. This scenic trail spans over six miles and offers breathtaking views of the Crystal Springs Reservoir. It’s no wonder that locals and tourists alike flock to this trail for a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
The trail is well-maintained and accessible for all skill levels, making it perfect for a leisurely stroll or an invigorating hike. Along the way, hikers can spot various wildlife species, such as deer, coyotes, and even bald eagles. The serene atmosphere of Sawyer Camp Trail makes it an ideal spot for nature lovers to unwind and recharge.
Whether you’re looking to get some exercise or just enjoy the beauty of nature, Sawyer Camp Trail has something to offer everyone. So pack your hiking boots and head on over to this tranquil oasis in San Mateo – you won’t be disappointed!
Panoramic View of the Bay Area at Laurelwood Park
If you’re looking for a stunning panoramic view of the Bay Area, head on over to Laurelwood Park in San Mateo, CA. This hidden gem offers a breathtaking vista that will leave you in awe.
As you make your way up the winding trails of Laurelwood Park, you’ll be treated to stunning views of San Francisco Bay and beyond. From the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oakland skyline, this panoramic view is truly one-of-a-kind.
Whether you’re looking for a quiet place to reflect or simply want to take in some of the best views San Mateo has to offer, Laurelwood Park is definitely worth a visit. So pack your camera and head on over – you won’t be disappointed!
Old Downtown in San Mateo
Old Downtown San Mateo is a hidden gem, boasting a unique blend of historic charm and modern sophistication. The area is home to an array of boutique shops, eclectic restaurants, and vibrant nightlife.
One of the most notable attractions in the area is the Central Park Music Series, which takes place every summer in the heart of downtown. The series features local bands and musicians, as well as food trucks and vendors selling handmade crafts. It’s the perfect way to spend a warm summer evening with friends or family.
In addition to its cultural offerings, Old Downtown in San Mateo also boasts several beautiful landmarks that are worth exploring. From historic churches to stunning art deco buildings, there’s no shortage of architectural wonders in this charming neighborhood.
So whether you’re a history buff or simply appreciate great design, be sure to take some time to wander through Old Downtown on your next visit to this vibrant city.
Hilldale Shopping Center
Hillsdale Shopping Center is a hidden gem in San Mateo, California, that offers an unparalleled shopping experience. With over 130 stores and restaurants, this retail destination is the perfect place to indulge in some retail therapy or grab a delicious meal with friends and family.
One of the standout features of Hillsdale Shopping Center is its stunning architecture. The sleek and modern design of the mall creates an inviting atmosphere for shoppers and sets it apart from other shopping destinations in the area. Whether you’re window-shopping or on a mission to find something specific, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful surroundings that are sure to inspire.
In addition to its impressive design, Hillsdale Shopping Center also boasts world-class amenities such as valet parking, personal shopping services, and complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the property. These little touches help make your experience at Hillsdale Shopping Center truly unforgettable and add an extra layer of luxury to your day out.
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Local Produce at the 25th Avenue Farmer’s Market
The 25th Avenue Farmer’s Market in San Mateo is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the best of locally sourced, fresh produce.
The market offers a wide range of fruits and vegetables, all grown by local farmers who are dedicated to sustainable farming practices.
What sets the 25th Avenue Farmer’s Market apart from other farmer’s markets is its commitment to supporting small-scale farmers and promoting local agriculture. By purchasing their products directly from the farmers, visitors can be assured that they are getting the freshest, most flavorful fruits and vegetables available.
In addition to fresh produce, the market also features a variety of artisanal foods and crafts made by local artisans.
From handmade soaps to artisanal cheeses, there is something for everyone at this vibrant community gathering place.
So why not take a break from your busy schedule and come check out all that the 25th Avenue Farmer’s Market has to offer?
On Sundays, I ride my bicycle
Bicycle Sunday is a beloved tradition in San Mateo, CA, that brings together cyclists of all ages and backgrounds.
On Sundays from April to October, a seven-mile stretch of road along the Crystal Springs Reservoir is closed off to vehicular traffic, allowing cyclists to enjoy a leisurely ride with stunning views.
Not only does Bicycle Sunday promote physical activity and outdoor recreation, but it also fosters a sense of community among San Mateo residents. Cyclists can be seen chatting with each other along the route, pointing out interesting sights, and offering encouragement to those who may be struggling.
Whether you’re an avid cyclist or just looking for a fun way to spend your Sunday morning, Bicycle Sunday is not to be missed.
So grab your helmet and hit the road – you never know who you might meet or what beautiful scenery you might discover!
Coyote Point Recreation Area
Located in the heart of San Mateo, Coyote Point Recreation Area is a hidden gem that offers a plethora of activities for locals and tourists alike. From stunning views of the Bay to miles of hiking trails, this park has something for everyone.
One of the main attractions at Coyote Point is the CuriOdyssey museum, which features interactive exhibits and live animal shows. Visitors can learn about science and nature while getting up close and personal with local wildlife, such as river otters and raccoons.
For those looking to get some exercise, Coyote Point has plenty of options. The park boasts a golf course, tennis courts, and even a beach where visitors can swim or paddleboard in the Bay.
With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder that Coyote Point Recreation Area is one of San Mateo’s best-kept secrets.
San Mateo STEM Fair
The San Mateo STEM Fair is an exciting event that showcases the latest innovations and breakthroughs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This annual fair brings together students, educators, researchers, and industry professionals to explore the cutting-edge technologies that are shaping our world.
The fair features a wide range of interactive exhibits and demonstrations that allow visitors to experience the latest developments in fields such as robotics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and more. Attendees can also attend workshops and presentations led by experts in their respective fields to learn more about these emerging technologies.
For those interested in pursuing careers in STEM fields or simply curious about the latest advancements in science and technology, the San Mateo STEM Fair is not to be missed.
With its engaging exhibits and informative presentations, this event will inspire future generations of innovators. So mark your calendars for a day of inspiration at the San Mateo STEM Fair!
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Central Park is a true gem in the heart of San Mateo, California. This sprawling green space offers something for everyone, from quiet contemplation to lively recreation.
With its lush lawns and shade trees, Central Park is the perfect place to relax and unwind. Take a stroll along one of the many walking paths or find a quiet spot to enjoy a picnic with friends or family. For those looking for a more active experience, there are plenty of opportunities for sports and fitness activities as well.
In addition to its natural beauty and recreational opportunities, Central Park also hosts a variety of community events throughout the year.
From concerts and festivals to food fairs and craft markets, there’s always something happening in this vibrant park.
So come out and explore all that Central Park has to offer – you won’t be disappointed!
Neal’s Coffee Shop
Neal’s Coffee Shop is a hidden gem nestled in the heart of San Mateo, California.
This cozy café is a favorite among locals and tourists alike, offering a unique and inviting atmosphere that is both charming and welcoming.
From the moment you step inside Neal’s Coffee Shop, you are transported to another world. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee fills the air, while the soft lighting and comfortable seating invite you to sit back, relax, and enjoy your favorite beverage.
But Neal’s Coffee Shop is more than just a place to grab a cup of coffee. It’s also an experience in itself.
With its friendly staff, delicious pastries, and carefully curated selection of books and magazines, this café offers something for everyone – from busy professionals looking for a quick caffeine fix to book lovers searching for their next read.
So why not stop by Neal’s Coffee Shop today? You won’t be disappointed!
Junipero Serra Statue
The Junípero Serra statue in San Mateo has been a source of controversy in recent years. Some view the statue as a symbol of California’s colonial past, while others see it as a tribute to the state’s rich history.
Regardless of one’s personal opinion on the matter, it is important to acknowledge the complex legacy of Junípero Serra and his role in California’s history. As a Franciscan friar and missionary, Serra was instrumental in establishing missions throughout California and converting native populations to Christianity.
However, there are also accounts of violence and forced labor associated with these missions. It is crucial that we engage in honest dialogue about this history and work towards reconciliation with indigenous communities who were impacted by these events.
Ultimately, whether or not the Junípero Serra statue remains standing is up for debate. But what cannot be denied is the importance of understanding our collective past and working towards a more just future for all Californians.
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Pulga’s Water Temple
Nestled in the rolling hills of San Mateo lies a hidden gem that speaks to the area’s rich history and cultural significance: the Pulgas Water Temple. Built-in 1934, this architectural marvel was originally designed as a tribute to the completion of one of California’s most significant engineering projects – The Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct.
The temple is a testament to human ingenuity and reminds us of our capacity for greatness when we come together as a community. Visitors can stroll through the beautifully landscaped gardens and take in stunning views of Crystal Springs Reservoir while learning about the temple’s history from informative plaques scattered throughout.
Beyond its historical significance, Pulgas Water Temple has become an important gathering place for community events such as weddings, concerts, and other celebrations. It is truly a unique venue that encapsulates both natural beauty and human achievement – making it one of San Mateo’s must-see destinations.
Filoli Estate and Gardens
Nestled in the heart of San Mateo lies the stunning Filoli Estate and Gardens. This historic site boasts 16 acres of beautifully manicured gardens, a grand mansion, and a rich history that dates back to the early 1900s.
Visitors can explore the formal gardens, which feature a variety of plant species, such as roses, camellias, and magnolias. The estate also features several serene water features, including fountains and reflecting pools. Take a stroll down one of the many walking paths and discover hidden nooks throughout the garden.
The mansion itself is a sight to behold with its elegant architecture and interior design. Guided tours are available for those who want to learn more about its history as an affluent family’s summer residence turned private school for girls. A trip to Filoli Estate and Gardens is truly an unforgettable experience that should not be missed when visiting San Mateo.
The Hiller Aviation Museum
If you’re looking for a unique and exciting experience in San Mateo, look no further than the Hiller Aviation Museum. This one-of-a-kind museum showcases the history of aviation, featuring interactive exhibits and rare aircraft from throughout the ages.
Visitors can explore the evolution of flight, from early gliders to modern jets, and even try their hand at flying a simulator. The museum also offers educational programs for all ages, inspiring the next generation of aviators and innovators.
From its stunning collection to its innovative programming, the Hiller Aviation Museum is a must-see destination in San Mateo. Whether you’re a lifelong aviation enthusiast or just looking for something new and exciting to do, this museum is sure to inspire and delight you. So come take flight with us at the Hiller Aviation Museum!
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The San Mateo County History Museum
The San Mateo County History Museum is a hidden gem that all visitors should experience. This museum offers a unique glimpse into the rich history of the region and allows visitors to immerse themselves in local lore.
The museum features a variety of exhibits that showcase the diverse cultural heritage of San Mateo County. From Native American artifacts to displays highlighting the impact of major industries like agriculture, mining, and transportation on the region, there is something for everyone at this fascinating institution.
Whether you are a history buff or simply looking for an engaging way to spend an afternoon in San Mateo, you won’t be disappointed by what the San Mateo County History Museum has to offer. So why not plan your visit today?
Bair Island, located in the heart of San Francisco Bay, is a hidden gem that offers visitors a unique opportunity to connect with nature while still being close to the city. This beautiful island is home to various wildlife, including rare bird species and harbor seals. Visitors can explore the island’s trails and observe these animals in their natural habitat.
But Bair Island isn’t just for nature lovers – it also offers opportunities for kayaking and paddleboarding. The calm waters surrounding the island make it an ideal spot for beginners or those looking for a more leisurely paddle. And with stunning views of the San Francisco skyline as a backdrop, it’s no wonder that this spot has become increasingly popular among locals and tourists alike.
Overall, Bair Island is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and reconnect with nature. With its diverse wildlife, beautiful trails, and serene waters perfect for kayaking or paddleboarding, this hidden gem is not to be missed.
San Mateo is a great city with a rich history and plenty of things to do. Whether you’re interested in exploring the city’s top attractions, dining at its best restaurants, or attending one of its many events, there’s something for everyone in San Mateo.
Enjoy, and don’t forget to share your experience in San Mateo with us!
Read here our California Travel Guide!