San Mateo County is part of the Bay Area, bordering the San Francisco Peninsula and the Santa Cruz Mountains. The county encompasses a wide variety of habitats—such as estuarine, coastal shrub, oak woodland, and redwood forest—making the area rich with wildlife, especially by the San Francisco Bay shoreline, San Bruno Mountain, and Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. (Several endangered species can even be found in the county, including the San Francisco garter snake, San Bruno elfin butterfly, and California clapper rail.) This is a large part of San Mateo County’s appeal, particularly for outdoor enthusiasts, who flock to the region’s numerous parks and beaches to hike, bike, surf, kayak, ride horses, or play golf. But the county also provides an array of activities for visitors who want to see historic and cultural attractions, spend some time shopping, or savor local food and wine.
Adventurers may want to start their day at Año Nuevo State Park, where they have numerous trails to choose from. Año Nuevo Point Trail is a popular option, as it takes hikers along the rugged coastline, offering glimpses of elephant seals, sea lions, migrating whales, coyotes, and seasonal wildflowers. For a walk through the woods, consider the Skyline Trail on Phleger Estate, which winds through redwood, oak, manzanita, and Douglas-fir trees. If you’re lucky, you may also spot a bobcat, black-tailed deer, eagles, and banana slugs. Other options include Burlingame’s Crystal Springs Regional Trail—which borders the San Andreas Fault and features views of San Andreas Lake and Crystal Springs Reservoir—and any of the three trails at San Bruno’s Junipero Serra County Park, where you can discover creeks, spring wildflowers, and breathtaking views of the Bay.