Perfect Summer Days
1. fruit picking
The Peninsula has some of the country’s, if not the world’s, best produce, and there’s no better way to get up close and personal with nature’s bounty than by picking it yourself. Portola Valley’s Webb Ranch opens their gates all summer to anyone who’s willing to work a little for their organic fruit. Pros know to wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and plenty of sun protection, and that if you have to tug hard on a blackberry or nectarine, it’s not ready; ripe fruit practically falls off into your hand. Check out the ranch’s pages on Instagram or Facebook for the most up-to-date information, including photos of exactly which trees and bushes are ready to be harvested. After a $4 entrance fee per person, each pound of fruit is $5. Find updated hours and directions to the ranch at webbranchinc.com.
2. bair island
The largest island in the South Bay, Bair Island is located right off the Peninsula coast, and seeing it for yourself is a surprisingly attainable goal for this summer. Just join Outback Adventures’ kayak tour out to the island and through the twisting waterways around it. Tours launch from Redwood City; get more information by calling 510.440.8888.
Whether you love the term or love to hate it, glamping does offer the best of both worlds for a summer getaway. You can enjoy the same remote, beautiful locations that you’d visit on a traditional camping trip, but with some of the added comforts you’d enjoy in a hotel. To add some retro flair to your glamping trip, rent a vintage Airstream trailer from GoSilver. You can have a trailer and a tow vehicle delivered directly to your house or attach the Airstream to your own car at their San Jose facility. Once you’re ready to hit the road, you can pick any destination between Big Sur and Napa Valley for your adventure. Rentals start at $275 per night; more information is available at letsgosilver.com
4. learn to surf
Though we’re located so close to a beautiful coastline, not everyone lives the classic California lifestyle of surfing every morning. If you’ve never been on a board, the licensed instructors at Sea, Surf & Fun Surf Shop in El Granada will have you hanging ten in no time. Choose between a group lesson and a private one, or you can even schedule a team-building event for all your coworkers. Bring your own wetsuit if you have one, but the shop is also happy to provide one along with your board. You’ll meet for your lesson in the parking lot across the street from the shop at 531 Obispo Road, but for more detailed directions and to see the full listing of classes, check out the shop’s website at seasurffun.com.
5. walk along the reservoir
With a paved path open to bikers, strollers, horseback riders and everything in between, there’s a way for everyone to enjoy the Sawyer Camp Trail. This San Mateo spot has some of the best views of the Crystal Springs Reservoir on the Peninsula, while history buffs and plant lovers will want to visit the 600-year-old Jepson Laurel tree. You can acess the trail off of 280 via Bunker Hill Drive; find more information and detailed directions at parks.smcgov.org
6. go off the grid
Since they hosted their gathering of food trucks in 2010, the event organizers at Off the Grid have become the best way to access some of the best mobile eats from the Peninsula and beyond. Off the Grid veterans and newbies alike should make time this summer to visit their Friday gathering at Devil’s Canyon Brewery in San Carlos. In addition to food trucks in the venue’s beer garden, the weekly event features a live band, craft beer on tap, and even Devil’s Canyon’s homemade root beer for kids, who are welcome as well. If you do choose to indulge in a few stouts or IPAs, you can feel epically warm inside because of the brewery’s “Cheers! for Charity” program, which donates a portion of the beer sales during Off the Grid to a local non-profit. See what bands and trucks will be at each event at devilscanyon.com/Fridays
7. rock climbing
Rock climbing is the perfect way to get outside and test your strength and agility, but no one should just start scaling cliffs on their own. Instead, let the instructors at Castle Rock Climbing School in Los Gatos show you the ropes, literally. If you’re new to climbing, start with their “Go Climb Outside” session, a four-hour introduction to the equipment and skills you need to explore the many amazing rock formations on the Peninsula. Call the school at 408.833.8308 to check availability; if even the beginner class is out of your league, visit Planet Granite in Belmont to get your feet wet on their indoor walls. See facilities on their website planetgranite.com/bl
8. local wine tasting
With so many winemakers on the Peninsula, you could easily do your own winery tour this summer without trekking north to Napa. Start your journey at Domenico Winery in San Carlos, where you can drop in for a flight of five wines ($15) any weekend. To make a reservation or see which days a live band will be playing in the tasting room, check out domenicowinery.com/visit-us.
9. tour a linear accelerator
If you’ve driven past the nondescript concrete sign on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park that simply reads “SLAC” a thousand times and never given it a second thought, this summer is the perfect time to discover what you’ve been missing. SLAC, which stands for the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, is a cutting-edge research facility run by the U.S. Department of Energy. The laboratory’s centerpiece is a two-mile-long building that functions as a linear accelerator, which allows scientists to send microscopic particles shooting at incredible speeds and observe their behavior. Twice a month, SLAC opens their doors to the public and runs guided tours of the state-of-the-art facility. Lean more and register for a tour at slac.stanford.edu.
10. day in pescadero
With one trip to the seaside town of Pescadero, you can visit some of the Peninsula’s oldest businesses still in operation. Customers have been crowding the dining room at Duarte’s Tavern (202 Stage Road) since it opened in 1894, although the famous pies are a relatively recent addition to the menu since they weren’t added to the menu until the 1930s. Down the road at the Arcangeli Grocery Company (287 Stage Road) which was founded in 1929, pick of a loaf of homemade bread made with local artichokes or a bottle of homemade pasta sauce.
Warm summer evenings are the perfect time to learn more about the night sky, and you can take your backyard stargazing up a notch with the Peninsula Astronomical Society. The group hosts “Star Parties” in local parks, and every week they also run programs at the Foothill Observatory in Los Altos. Every clear Friday night this summer, you can lookat at the wonders of space through a computer-controlled 16-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. For more information about the group, check out their website at pastro.org.
12. digital drive-in
Though almost every town on the Peninsula once had its own drive-in theater, changing times have almost made this summertime tradition extinct. Luckily, you only need to make the short drive to the West Wind Capitol in San Jose to travel back to the golden age of drive-ins. Some things have been updated—instead of tinny clip-on speakers, you tune into a special FM radio station to listen to the show, the screens are digital, and the theater’s listings include recent family-friendly releases. Tickets start at $5 a person at the Capitol’s weekly “Family Fun Night,” and parents will be glad to know that kids under four are always free. Visit westwinddi.com/locations/capitol to see what’s playing.
13. pizza & porsches
Don’t be fooled by AutoVino’s plain-Jane outside appearance. This Menlo Park warehouse is home to some of the Peninsula’s coolest cars and finest wine collections, and the best part is that they open the doors to the public. Stop by for a weekend wine tasting or a lunch of wood-fired pizzas, and while you’re there you can see everything from a mint-condition 1940 Ford Deluxe to a just-off-the-production-line Ferarri. Check out the Facebook page for the most up-to-date details on public events, or visit their website at auto-vino.com.
14. goat yoga
If you just want one great photo from this summer, make the trek to Lemos Farm in Half Moon Bay. The farm hosts visiting yoga teachers in their barn, and once the class gets started some of the barnyard’s newest residents join in—a herd of baby goats. The goats wander around while students practice their tree poses, and might even jump on your back when you move into downward dog. If the cuteness sounds too distracting to get any real yoga practice in, don’t be concerned. Each class ends with a goat bonding session where you can visit with the animals to your heart’s content. Sign up for the next class at lemosfarm.com/activities/goat-yoga.
15. cooking classes
With the farmers markets bursting with fresh produce, this is the perfect time of year to expand your culinary horizons. Improve your meals with some of the Peninsula’s best chefs with Cozymeal, which lets you book cooking classes in your own home. The service can provide everything from a private lesson for a couple to team-building activities for a group of 40. Visit cozymeal.com for more details and to see their current class offerings.
16. learn how to garden
If you’ve ever toured the grounds of Filoli you’ve likely been impressed by their botanic gardens. Though you probably don’t have 16 acres in your own backyard to convert into a wooded masterpiece, you can still take some of the gardens home with one of the estate’s horticulture classes. With topics ranging from the general, like learning how to plant a basic vegetable plot, to lectures on expert topics like pruning a bonsai tree, gardeners of every level will be sure to find something to inspire them. See the full listing of classes and sign up at filoli.org/classes.
17. hiking at el corte de madera
Since you probably can’t visit all of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District’s 25-plus sites this summer, at least check out Redwood City’s El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space Preserve. The unusual Tafoni sandstone rock formations, pictured, are worth the trip, but there are also 36 miles of trails to explore. The preserve is accessible via Skyline Boulevard; see a map at openspace.org.
18. swimming at coyote point
To answer the obvious questions right off the bat: yes, people do swim in the San Francisco Bay, and yes, the water is pretty cold. But at this time of year the temperature might rise into the 60s, so head to San Mateo’s Coyote Point Recreation Area to try out open-water swimming. The area is located in a smaller cove protected from the strongest winds and waves on the bay, so it’s a good place to dip your toe into a new hobby. The point is accessible off of 101 via Airport Boulevard.
19. archery lessons
If you’ve ever dreamed of being Robin Hood or Hawkeye, use this summer to hone your archery skills at the Stanford archery range. Group lessons are taught by members of the university’s nationally ranked team, and they can accommodate anything from a lone bowman to bands of prospective Merry Men of up to 10 people. Lessons are $30 a person, and are held on Saturdays. Sign up at archery.stanford.edu/group-lessons
20. learn to fly a drone
You might assume from its name that the Hiller Aviation Museum focuses on the history of flying objects. But in keeping with its location in a hub of innovation, the museum is currently displaying some of the newest crafts to take the sky—drones. Visitors are invited to fly a nano-drone equipped with a camera and First Person View technology, which includes a pair of goggles that allow you see exactly where your drone is flying as if you were a tiny pilot in the cockpit. After you master hovering and landing, race through the “DronePlex” obstacle course to see if you have what it takes to join in this new aerial sport. Class times and more information is available at hiller.org/event/drone-plex.
21. distillery tour
Though small wineries and craft breweries seem to be popping up everywhere, it’s a little more unusual to see someone practicing the Old-World technique of distilling liquor in copper pots. But that’s how they make their award-winning spirits and liqueurs at Essential Spirits Alambic Distillery in Mountain View. Groups of at least four people can call the distillery at 650.962.0546 to schedule a private tour and tasting. Just a note—California law only allows the sale of spirits distilled from fruit, like their pear brandy, on-site, so if you fall in love with one of their rums or vodkas, the staff can direct you to a local liquor shop that stocks their wares.
22. buy fish off the dock
Everyone knows that fishermen regularly troll the waters off the Peninsula, but have you ever thought about taking home part of their catch for yourself. Pillar Point Harbor in El Granada allows you to get the freshest possible fish, and you can even buy your dinner directly on the pier. Just call the harbor’s “Fish Phone” at 650.726.8724 on the day you’re planning to stop by, and a recording will tell you what the boats have been bringing in. If you need some help getting your dinner ready for the grill, there are a number of local fish markets happy to clean or filet your purchase for you.
23. hidden gems of stanford
Even if you’re a local and you think you’ve seen everything on the university’s sprawling campus, there are probably a few spots you still need to check out. When you enter campus from Junipero Serra, take a detour to visit the Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden. Since it’s almost hidden behind a grove of trees, few visitors see the collection of traditional New Guinean carvings, made by a group of visiting master carvers from the island. While Stanford’s Cantor Art Center is more well-known, many people don’t realize that one of the museum’s most unique works isn’t located in a gallery. Located across the street is notable land artist Andy Goldsworthy’s Stone River, made of blocks from damaged buildings that were recovered after the Loma Prieta quake. Just a short walk towards El Camino is the Arizona Cactus Garden, which was built for the private enjoyment of university founders Jane and Leland Stanford when the grounds were still a private residence. Some of the cacti and succulents on display are over 100 years old, and the garden was supposedly a popular place for courting students in Stanford’s early days.
24. village hub
Although Woodside might look like the set of a Western film, you can practice New-Age hobbies like mindfulness meditation and yoga classes at the town’s new community center, The Village Hub. The hub also hosts monthly events like a popular Canine and Coffee meetup. To see a full listing of their calendar, visit thevillagehub.org.
25. tour a farm
You’ve probably enjoyed Harley Farms’ award-winning goat chevre on a cheese plate or in a dish at a local restaurant. The goats responsible for that delicious cheese live on a beautiful cliffside in Pescadero, and the cheesemakers welcome visitors. On a scheduled tour, you’ll get a chance to learn about the farm’s history, meet some goats and even taste samples of cheese in the barn where it’s made. If you don’t have time for a long stop but still want to get a taste of Harley Farms, their cheese shop is open from 11 AM to 4 PM on weekends. Find dates and times at harleyfarms.com/tours.
A hiker enjoys solitude and beautiful views on the Bella Vista Trail in Monte Bello Open Space Preserve. This summer, connect with nature close to home in a Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District preserve near you. Learn more about Midpen’s 26 preserves that are free and open to the public daily at openspace.org.