32 Things To Do In San Mateo

San Mateo is a city on the San Francisco Peninsula in the state of California. The city is located about 20 miles south of San Francisco and has boundaries with Belmont to the south, San Francisco Bay, Hillsborough, and Hillsborough to the west. The 2020 census shows 105,661 people living there.

Incredible San Mateo is a city in San Mateo County, California. There are many breathtaking sights and exciting activities in this city. More than 130 years ago, the city was incorporated. Despite having humble roots, it has developed into one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the Bay Area and is blessed with reasonably pleasant weather all year round.

The city, which is endowed with several natural features, perfectly captures how amazing nature is. San Mateo should be your next travel destination if you enjoy the outdoors because there are many options to engage in thrilling outdoor activities. San Mateo has a lot to offer, including parks for recreation, dining establishments, museums, and more.

List of things to do in San Mateo

Given below is the list of top attractions and things to do in San Mateo during your vacation.

1. Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden San Mateo

The 16-acre Central Park green space where San Mateo’s Japanese Garden is located is a tranquil haven. The garden was initially created by a Japanese landscape architect who had previously worked at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. It was once the estate of a wealthy local mariner.

The Japanese garden, which has been open to the public since the early 1920s, is well known for its magnificent cherry and bonsai trees, koi ponds, waterfalls, and grand multi-tiered granite pagoda. A peaceful morning or afternoon stroll in the Japanese garden is a wonderful way to escape the bustle.

2. Sawyer Camp Trail

Sawyer Camp Trail San Mateo

Visit the six-mile paved Sawyer Camp Trail for an afternoon trek to discover San Mateo’s flora and animals.

This trail’s location above the well-known San Andreas Fault makes the Sawyer camp trail extremely cool to stroll along it. You can also get a breathtaking view of Crystal Springs road, Crystal Springs Watershed, and the San Francisco Peninsula from the Sawyer camp trail.

Discover the Northern Coastal Scrub, the California Oak Woodlands, and the meadows filled with rabbits, deer, and ducks that you’ll pass through along the Sawyer Camp trail.

Families and friends may enjoy an afternoon hike, exercise, or other outdoor activities there because the trail isn’t too technical for beginners.

3. Ryptic Room Escape

Ryptic Room Escape San Mateo

Playing a game with your family and friends at Ryptic Room Escape is one of the most enjoyable do in San Mateo. All ages are welcome to participate in Ryptic Room Escape, which can accommodate a minimum of four players and a maximum of twelve.

The activities at Ryptic Room Escape are perfect for testing a group’s ability to function as a cohesive unit. Birthday celebrations, tea parties, and other significant events are just a few of the occasions that Ryptic Room Escape hosts.

4. CuriOdyssey Museum

CuriOdyssey Museum San Mateo

Children can experience the wonders of science for a day at CuriOdyssey and pretend to be real scientists there. Children are free to watch wild animals, engage in experiments, and obtain the answers to their inquiries here.

Everyone can participate in a variety of fun activities here, including scientific lessons, summer camps, and weekly animal presentations where you can even feed some amicable bobcats. Bring your young ones here while you’re in the San Mateo area since kids get cheap admission.

5. Old Downtown San Mateo

Old Downtown San Mateo

There is no better way to pass a few hours than by touring San Mateo’s historic downtown district if you enjoy gastronomy, history, and architecture.

One of the city’s most walkable neighborhoods has experienced a stunning metamorphosis recently, turning it into a popular spot for young Bay Area diners and drinkers.

In Old Downtown San Mateo, almost all types of eateries, from upscale steak and seafood establishments to casual taco shops.

Along with restored historic structures, the region is teeming with tech startups and art deco theatres from the 1920s and 1930s, as well as churches designed in the Spanish mission style at Old Downtown San Mateo.

6. Hillsdale Shopping Center

Hillsdale Shopping Center San Mateo

Shopping is one of the interesting things to do in San Mateo; for a superb shopping experience, go to Hillsdale Shopping Center. With more than a hundred businesses, Hillsdale Shopping Center is one of the biggest shopping areas in the city.

One of the best places to sate your burning wants for top-notch entertainment and distinctive culinary options are this center.

About 120 shops make up Hillsdale Shopping Center source, which has fantastic prices on home decor and accessories, luxury and lifestyle apparel, cutting-edge technology, and cosmetics.

Along with other well-known stores, Hillsdale Shopping Center houses Nordstrom, Macy’s, H&M, and many others. The eateries include a variety of mouthwatering burgers, specialty coffee, California-style pizza, fresh baked goods, and more.

7. Pulgas Water Temple

Pulgas Water Temple San Mateo

Pulgas Water Temple is a special form of fountain that was erected in California as a memorial to a new water supply. Many Bay Area households used to receive their drinking water from this water system. The water system that stands there was built using Greek and Roman technologies, and the structure at the center of the fountain has an architectural style that honors them.

The wonderfully preserved Pulgas Water Temple is still a well-liked tourist attraction today even if water doesn’t flow through it anymore.

8. Laurelwood Park

Laurelwood Park San Mateo

The natural paths in San Mateo are renowned for providing panoramic views of the towns and cities in the Bay Area. The pathways in Laurelwood Park are comparable to those in these other parks, particularly if you ascend Sugarloaf Mountain for the best views of the Bay Area.

In addition to hiking, Laurelwood Park’s 200 acres of gently undulating green hills will keep you busy all day long.

The location is also ideal for off-road mountain biking and picnics. Laurelwood Park can be found in Sugarloaf, San Mateo, California, at 3471 Glendora Drive.

9. Bicycle Sunday

Bicycle Sunday San Mateo

Californians have known for being physically fitter and more adventurous than most people, and San Mateo offers a wealth of recreational choices.

Cycling enthusiasts of all ages and ability levels can participate in the well-liked end-of-week event known as Bicycle Sunday source. From mid-morning to mid-afternoon, when most riders decide to take part, its course is closed to traffic.

A few kilometers outside of town, on Highway 280, rides start and last around two miles through the lovely countryside. There are a lot of intriguing places featured, like the Pulgas Temple and the Filoli Estate, which are excellent side trips for people who want to get away from the action.

10. Bel Mateo Bowl

Bel Mateo Bowl San Mateo

One of the enjoyable activities in San Mateo is bowling; for an exceptional time bowling, go to Bel Mateo Bowl. Bel Mateo Bowl is a great place to hang out with friends and family; they host friendly competitions like bowling leagues.

The establishment features many lanes and a full-service bar that offers a variety of drinks, Japanese cuisine, and free coffee. Visitors can taste Bel Mateo Bowl’s delectable trademark pizzas in addition to the drinks.

The Bel Mateo Bowl is spotless and well-kept, and the kind staff is always ready to help out and make sure everyone is comfortable.

11. Pacific Catch West Coast Fish House

Pacific Catch West Coast Fish House San Mateo

Fresh seafood is another specialty of the Bay Area, for obvious reasons. So it’s not altogether surprising that San Mateo has a large number of seafood-centric restaurants. The fresh seafood menu at the Pacific Catch West Coast Fish House is renowned for being cooked and presented in a Pan-Pacific manner.

The eatery frequently offers top-notch, fresh seafood caught using environmentally friendly fishing techniques. Enjoy their succulent lobsters, crabs, sushi, sashimi, Hawaiian poke, and other seafood dishes presented in a Pan-Pacific manner. The restaurant is located at 243 S.B. St. in San Mateo, California.

12. Coyote Point Recreation Area

Coyote Point Recreation Area San Mateo

Coyote Point Recreation Area is the ideal location in San Mateo for an awesome, enjoyable time with friends and family. On the eastern side of San Francisco Bay, there is a 700-acre tract known as Coyote Point Recreation Area.

This recreation area offers a variety of outdoor activities, which explains why both locals and visitors frequently visit. The Coyote Point Recreation Area is a great location for windsurfing, fishing, biking, swimming, and bird watching.

It has a large play area with a medieval theme as well as cutting-edge displays that center on interactive subjects like ecology and the animal kingdom. In addition, the Coyote Point Recreation Area has a museum, open fields of grass, and grilling areas.

13. San Mateo STEM Fair

San Mateo STEM Fair

San Mateo has hosted an annual STEM Fair for more than three decades. It was developed to pique the attention of bright youngsters who reside in the area and attend local schools in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

Even though tourists frequently ignore the fair, it’s a fantastic place to meet residents and eager students who have poured their hearts and souls into their projects.

The San Mateo County Event Center, which holds numerous annual events, festivals, and expos throughout the year, is where the event is normally hosted. Check their website to see what events are scheduled for the time you will be there.

14. Neal’s Coffee Shop

Neal’s Coffee Shop San Mateo

Neal’s Coffee Shop is one of the top coffee shops in San Mateo and is highly recommended for coffee lovers.

On De Anza Boulevard in San Mateo and Burlingame, Neal’s Coffee Shop has two locations. The coffee is served hot, flavorful, and reasonably priced. There is a twist to it as well.

Neal’s Coffee Shop offers delicious meals in addition to coffee, including burgers, fresh salads, waffles, gyros, fried chicken, salmon fillet, chicken breast, Linguica sausage and eggs, Veggie Patty and Eggs, pancakes, French breakfast, Swedish, and a variety of other options.

15. 25th Ave. Farmers Market

25th Ave. Farmers Market San Mateo

At the 25th Ave. Farmers Market, you may choose from the best artisanal ingredients and the freshest farm products. The 25th Ave. Farmers Market, which is held on Tuesday nights from May through October, is a place where local farmers and ranchers may offer their best wares.

Fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables live fish, and premium products like eggs, honey, baked goods, and even flowers are all available.

16. Central Park

Central Park San Mateo

In between the 5th and 9th Avenues of El Camino Real lies San Mateo’s Central Park, a lively and charming urban park. Beautiful parks, playgrounds, an abundance of greenery, and a kid-friendly motorized diesel train are all found in San Mateo’s central park.

Most locals work out in Central Park in San Mateo, which also hosts yoga, aerobics, and other fitness courses. Additionally, the area offers several sporting amenities, including a baseball diamond, tennis courts, and a large playground.

In addition, Central Park is home to numerous statues, including the well-known Leon, a life-sized monument of a giraffe constructed of copper plates.

17. Junípero Serra Statue

Junípero Serra Statue San Mateo

The priest Junipero Serra Statue is primarily attributed with introducing Catholicism to California and western Mexico in the 18th century, even though he is not precisely a household name.

From the Baja Peninsula up north to San Francisco, he founded several missions. A few miles west of San Mateo in Hillsborough, there is currently a statue dedicated to him.

A commemorative plaque that lists the missions he founded is attached to the statue, which was first built in the middle of the 1970s. It’s one of those sights that you can check out in a matter of minutes, but it’s still worthwhile to stop by because of its accessible location at the Hillsborough rest area off Interstate 280.

18. Magic Mountain Playground

Magic Mountain Playground San Mateo

One of San Mateo’s greatest playgrounds, Magic Mountain Playground is especially for kids to enjoy themselves. The Coyote Point Recreation Area, which is amply stocked with interesting activities for youngsters, is where the playground is located.

There are thirteen swings at Magic Mountain Playground, and it also has one of the longest or highest slides in the Bay Area. The playground has three distinct zones in addition to the Castle, as well as ground-level monsters and dragons for youngsters to climb on.

19. Horseshoe Lake

Horseshoe Lake San Mateo

The Skyline Ridge Preserve is a nature reserve that is situated 45 miles south of San Mateo. There is a lot to explore on the more than 2000 acres of woodland, meadows, ponds, and other natural features.

The Skyline Ridge preserve also has 10 miles of trails, many of which may be used for bicycling and hiking. Some of them can also be used for horseback riding. You can also take a stroll around Alpine Pond and Horseshoe Lake after a hike or bike ride.

20. Filoli Estate and Gardens

Filoli Estate and Gardens San Mateo

The Filoli Estate and Gardens stand out even in San Mateo, which is home to many beautiful outdoor and historic sites.

They are in the city of Woodside, which is close to Interstate 280 and 15 kilometers southeast of San Mateo. The historical building is frequently cited as the nation’s most spectacular display of English Renaissance architecture.

The house and gardens are situated on a 16-acre parcel of property that is frequently accessible to the general public; a private estate with 600 more acres is off-limits. The location has a café and tea room and boasts stunning views of the Santa Cruz Mountains and a nearby reservoir.

21. Par 3 at Poplar Creek

Par 3 at Poplar Creek San Mateo

One of the fun things to do in San Mateo for a fantastic eating experience is to go to Par 3 at Poplar Creek. Beautifully situated among the trees and evergreen grass, Par 3 at Poplar Creek is a restaurant that provides delicious food.

Par 3 at Poplar Creek also has a large selection of alcoholic beverages, including handcrafted and bottled beers, wines, and specialty cocktails.

22. Enjoy a custom-blended cuppa at Philz Coffee

Enjoy a custom-blended cuppa at Philz Coffee San Mateo

A local chain of coffee shops called Philz Coffee is well-known for its relaxed atmosphere and specially brewed coffee. Choose from their special concoctions, some of which even feature flavors like Blackberry, Butterscotch, and Tobacco, among many others, or create your own.

 Ask the helpful baristas to assist you in creating your blend after selecting the ingredients you want to use. You can luxuriate in a cup at Philz Coffee that is specially crafted to your preference.

23. Hiller Aviation Museum

Hiller Aviation Museum San Mateo

The Hiller Aviation Museum, conveniently situated on Skyway Road in San Carlos, just 10 minutes south of San Mateo, is well-known for its enormous 747 cockpit, which gives visitors a close-up view of what was for many years the largest flying machine in the world.

The museum is popular with children as well as retired pilots, history fans, and aviation enthusiasts in general. There is a flight simulator that may be rented by people who want to have their own flying experience.

Most visitors stay on-site for between one and two hours, exploring the extensive collection of aircraft artifacts. The venue also holds a lot of special events all year round.

24. The San Mateo County History Museum

The San Mateo County History Museum

The more than a-century-old former county courthouse is now home to the San Mateo County History Museum. The museum, which is run by the local historical society, is home to a large collection of historical relics and memorabilia with a focus on the origins, history, and culture of the city.

The San Mateo County History Museum also contains objects on display that focus on the history of Spanish explorers, dairy farms, grand mansions from the Victorian era, early logging, the Ohlone Indians, agriculture, and ranchos.

The museum’s mission is to educate the general public about the natural and cultural history of the County of San Mateo. It also houses the largest public structure with stained glass on the west coast.

25. Bair Island

Bair Island San Mateo

Between San Mateo to the north and Palo Alto to the south, on the eastern shore of San Francisco, is Bair Island, a large tract of conserved marshes and wetlands.

The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge includes all three of the island’s unique regions.

There are several different ecosystems on the island that make up the habitats, and they are home to a wide range of protected species of plants and animals. The best way to see the island is to join one of the often scheduled docent-led tours, which are suitable for guests of diverse ages and interests.

26. Seal Point Park

Seal Point Park San Mateo

The 1.6-kilometer circular track in Seal Point Park is modestly used and great for walking, running, and bird watching. Although there are established rules and limits, dogs are allowed on the route and in the park’s three-acre dog park.

The park is easily accessible, wonderfully clean, and well-maintained, plus it has a nice water system.

Although it is occasionally busy, Seal Point Park offers breathtaking views and is an excellent place to spend some alone time.

27. The Swingin’ Door

The Swingin’ Door San Mateo

The Swingin’ Door bar is a great spot for you and your friends to unwind, hang out, and speak while in San Mateo. The multi-pub Swingin’ Door has everything you need to keep the party going all night long without getting bored.

The pub, which opened in 1955 and was dubbed “the hottest nightspot in San Mateo,” is housed in a historic Kehoe structure that was originally constructed in the 1940s and later turned into a bar.

28. Baking Arts

Baking Arts San Mateo

Baking Arts is a retail establishment that specializes in baking, confectionery, and decorative arts and is a hybrid of a cooking academy and a store.

They provide a variety of workshops for groups and couples, including a comprehensive two-hour baking class. The instructors at Baking Arts are skilled and informed; they teach you everything you need to know about baking and aid with your skill development.

29. Pancho Villa Taqueria

Pancho Villa Taqueria San Mateo

One of the most well-known Mexican restaurants in the area, Pancho Villa Taqueria, serves up some delectable tacos. You can choose from a variety of foods, including tacos, burritos, and quesadillas. Salads, nachos, and churros are just a few of the delicious sides that can be served with a delicious entree.

30. Little Shanghai Restaurant

Little Shanghai Restaurant San Mateo

The food selection at Little Shanghai Restaurant is impressive, and it is always prepared with fresh, delicious ingredients from the area.

Smoked fish, five-spice stewed duck, dry-cooked string beans, curry beef, cashew nut chicken, cabbage beef stew hot plate, classic Shanghai dishes, Jiang Nan-inspired foods, vegetables, noodles & rice, soup, and many other dishes are among the meals offered.

31. Sugarloaf Nature Area

Sugarloaf Nature Area San Mateo

A wildlife area with numerous pathways, Sugarloaf Hill is located next to Laurelwood Park. The majority of these trails are simple to hike, and several even lend themselves to biking. Just over a mile of trails lead to the summit. The peak itself is around 567 feet high, and from here you can view San Francisco and the water in the distance.

32. Grape & Grain

Grape & Grain San Mateo

One of the coolest spots in town to hang out is Grape & Grain Bar. Due to the wine rack display and the hardwood picnic tables, the interior has a distinctly traditional pub vibe. You can select a beverage from their daily draught list and pair it with any of their excellent sides. Goat cheese, salami, cracked corn, and olives are a few of these sides.


What is San Mateo famous for?

Answer: The County is famous for its warm climate and picturesque landscapes inside its 455 square miles, which are bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west and San Francisco Bay to the east. Agriculture continues to play a significant role in our economy and culture, with over 75 percent of the county being open land.

How long is San Francisco to San Mateo?

Answer: San Mateo and San Francisco are 25 kilometers apart (16 miles). San Mateo and San Francisco are 31 kilometers apart when driving (20 miles).


San Mateo is renowned for its unmatched natural beauty and vibrant cultural and historical heritage. It is also recognized as the “home of art,” providing a venue for regional artists to exhibit their creations. With its parks, mountain passes, and bay walks, this city is not only abundant in natural beauty, but it also offers urban conveniences like retail centers, marketplaces, and top-notch restaurants and bars. With activities and natural attractions for everyone, the city is a great spot to visit with friends and family.

Leave a Comment