Rugged San Mateo County offers natural attractions to visitors that include Northern California’s storied coastal redwood forests, horseback riding trails, waterfall hikes and wineries. Along the coast, travelers can watch for elephant seal colonies, explore historic lighthouses or bird watch at marine nature reserves. Some San Mateo County farms are open to visitors and offer gardening and composting lessons, opportunities to milk goats or picnic on the rural grounds that produce homegrown foods and herbs. In the winter, massive ocean swells attract surfers from around the world to charge the steep, dangerous waves. Area lodging can include hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfast establishments.
Some visitors use Palo Alto as a business or leisure travel gateway to the San Francisco Bay Area or nearby Napa and Sonoma Valleys, but the city has its own charms. Home to Stanford University, it’s also a convenient stopover for visiting parents, prospective students and guest lecturers. Palo Alto’s Cardinal Hotel offers standard rooms, suites and lower-priced rooms with shared hallway bathrooms. It's within one mile of Stanford University, and the hotel offers discounted rates and breakfast packages for friends and family of patients at the nearby Stanford Medical Center two miles away. Free perks include daily newspapers and incoming faxes. Guests pay a small fee for wireless Internet access and breakfast.
Pacifica’s coastal cliffs and serene valleys feel far away from busy San Francisco, but the seaside town makes a convenient travel hub for accessing the city. Located on San Francisco Bay, the Best Western Lighthouse Hotel in San Mateo County offers ocean views and easy beach access. Visitors can observe tidepools at the nearby Fitzgerald Marine Park, try hopping on a surfboard at Pacifica State Beach, fish for salmon off the pier or book a whale-watching trip. Rooms include a fridge, free wireless Internet access and, in some cases, fireplaces. Kids under age 17 stay free with parents. On-site amenities include outdoor pool and therapy spa, sauna, restaurant and in-room massages. The lobby serves complimentary fruit, cookies and coffee.
San Mateo lies between San Francisco and Silicon Valley, six miles from San Francisco’s airport. Business travelers frequently stay in San Mateo, and the Hilton Garden Inn caters to these guests with amenities that include meeting rooms, audio and visual equipment rentals, free printing, photocopying services, printers and video conferencing capabilities. Rooms come with free wireless Internet, fridge, microwave and flat screen TV. On-site restaurants offer informal meeting spaces, and the hotel serves free Starbucks coffee in the mornings.
Half Moon Bay
Serene Half Moon Bay offers a restful coastal respite from busy San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The family-owned Mill Rose Inn, an updated 1900’s era cottage, features antiques and watercolor paintings, and outside winding trails lead hikers and joggers through redwood forest. The bed-and-breakfast dishes up omelets, quiche, crepes and homemade breads. A tropically landscaped gazebo, hot tub, flower gardens and Japanese dressing robes round out the romantic offerings.
- San Mateo County Convention and Business Bureau: Fun With Nature
- San Mateo County Convention and Business Bureau: Farms And Ranches
- Cardinal Hotel: Stanford University
- Best Western Lighthouse: Amenities at Our Best Western Lighthouse Hotel in Pacifica
- Hilton Garden Inn San Mateo: Our San Mateo Hotel
- Mill Rose Inn
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