Great Day Trips & Adventures
Not far from San Francisco, the San Mateo Coast is filled with spectacular beaches, charming towns and all sorts of interesting things to do and see. If you are seeking quiet beaches and small towns, you will find the San Mateo coast most alluring. The dramatic coastline will beg you to pull over and take out your camera. The enchanting little towns will lure you right into their magic. Grab your sunscreen, hiking shoes, camera and check out our some of our favorite spots along the San Mateo Coast.
Pacifica is said to be the most panoramic coastal town in the San Francisco Bay Area known for its breathtaking vistas. On a clear day, the Farallon Islands, only 30 miles, can look close enough to reach out and touch. This town with its variety of beaches, trails and parks is a quick trip from San Francisco and even has its own Castle. Sam’s Castle was built in 1908 by Henry Harrison McClosky and was a former brothel and speakeasy.
This beautiful town is full of unique shops and welcoming residents. Pacifica becomes a famous surf town when the best of the best big wave surfers come to one of the most famous invitational competitions in the world to compete in the Titans of Maverick each year.
Just over a mile, this multi-use trail was once part of Highway 1 that gives hikers, cyclists, runners and equestrian’s access to the rocky heights high above the Pacific Ocean. Devil’s Slide was once a dizzying drive where motorists would want to keep their eyes on the road and avoid the temptation to glance down at the Pacific Ocean below.
Hikers will find benches outfitted with observation scopes to take in the breathtaking views of the rocky coastline below. This old bluff top highway has now been transformed into a great trail to slow down and enjoy the spectacular views.
Montara Beach and Lighthouse
Just 25 miles south of San Francisco, Montara State Beach is a popular location for visitors who can explore the beach tide pools or go surf fishing. The beach is guarded by low hills both to the north and south with shops, restaurants, and grocery stores nearby. This cute little beach town has its own lighthouse perched high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific.
This historic lighthouse is still operating aid-to-navigation and also has been converted into a hostel through a partnership with California State Parks. If you are looking for sunshine amongst the coastal fog, Montara Mountain, also known as McNee Ranch is the place to go. Rising almost 2,000 feet above the beaches of Pacifica, McNee ranch is the only undisturbed coastal mountain habitat found in over 100 miles of coastline.
Half Moon Bay
The oldest settlement in San Mateo County was called the Spanishtown in the 1840’s. This quaint town’s historic downtown is home to art galleries, restaurants, bed and breakfasts, and numerous shops.
Local beaches and parks welcome equestrians, pedestrians and cyclists. Sunbathers or surfers can choose from the picturesque beaches including Venice Beach and Redondo Beach. Half Moon Bay is also home to Northern California’s luxury golf course, Half Moon Bay Golf Links.
Pulgas Water Temple
A quick trip east from Half Moon Bay, you will not want to miss out on this architectural beauty. The water temple is a monument to the engineering marvel that brought Hetch Hetchy water more than 160 miles across California from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the Bay Area. The aqueduct itself is a monument celebrating those whose engineering methods were used to transport and revolutionize how water was being utilized.
The Hetch Hetchy project took 24 years to build through the great depression at a cost of $102 million. If you love architecture, you may recognize various reflections of Ancient Greek and Roman style, including fluted columns and Corinthian capitals reflecting the genius intellect of ancient Western Civilization. An inscription at the top reads, “I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people.
After you visit the Pulgas, be sure to take the 5 minute drive to the Filoli. This is truly an amazing attraction filled with sweeping green lawns, endless gardens and beauty located 30 miles south of San Francisco, Filoli is a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Filoli features a 36,000 sq. ft. home and a 16 acre English Renaissance Garden. The property also includes a 6.8 acre Gentlemen’s Heritage Orchard. Be sure to check out the blooming calendar so that you will know what is blooming at Filoli on your next visit. Filoli is recognized as one of the finest remaining country estates of the early 20th century and is a cherished resource for the community valuing education, volunteerism and diversity.
This enchanting little town tucked in the rolling green hills with its working farms and gorgeous sweeping coastal views is truly a hidden gem. Pescadero is a favorite for the outdoor adventurist with its extensive rural roads for cyclists as well as endless hiking trails.
Visitors have easy access to the beaches, rocky shores as well as the meadows of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Be sure to stop by the Pie Ranch, yes they make pies!
Ano Nuevo State Park is an extraordinary outdoor experience. Each year, up to 10,000 elephant seals return to breed, birth and molt their skin on the beaches of Ano Nuevo. Birdwatchers can expect quite a show as well when you hike out along the ocean bluffs as Ano Nuevo Point is a major bird migratory route.
The scenic dunes and beaches of Ano Nuevo are also home to a natural history exhibit, bookstore and theater. With the seals being the biggest attraction, you can enjoy these massive beauties with a docent tour or a self-guided permit system.
This is only a partial list of all the amazing sights there are to see in San Mateo County. Every few months we will spotlight some of our best finds for day trips when business or vacation travel brings you to San Mateo County. Many of RESI Housing’s most beautiful apartments are only a short drive from some of these incredible attractions. So be sure to give us a call or view our listings when looking for San Mateo County corporate housing or San Mateo County vacation rentals and we will be sure to make your stay with us exceptional.