Known for its near-perfect climate, and conveniently located halfway between San Francisco and San Jose, Redwood City is the oldest city on the peninsula. In fact, during the Gold Rush of 1849, it became an important logging town.
Redwood City has quietly been a tech town for over 30 years, and in the most recent gold rush of tech, it’s experiencing a boom of its own. To tech giants such as Oracle and Electronic Arts, Redwood City has added Box, Evernote, Shutterfly, and Shazam. With so many tech companies moving in, the city has seen a quickly evolving downtown expand into a super cool little city, with artisanal coffee and roasters, trendy places to eat, the arts, and great live entertainment.
On your day out, you might want to start with a cup of coffee—not just any coffee, but great coffee. Redwood City has grown into a superior coffee town, with some shops serving their own roasts, others selling many of the same artisanal roasters you’d find in the best shops in the South Bay. Start your day at Bliss Coffee right in the heart of downtown, on Broadway. Bliss serves their local artisanal coffee on a rotating schedule, and on any particular day you might find blends from Four Barrel, Verve, or Chromatic on the menu.
It’s likely to be a lovely day for a hike. Fortified with a jolt of joe, drive five minutes up Woodside Road into the town of Woodside to Wunderlich County Park. Beautifully shaded ferns and moss-covered boulders are surrounded by statuesque redwood trees. Hikers and horses share trails that pass the old Folger estate stables, for a step back in time. If you skipped coffee downtown, on your way up to the park you can enjoy a handcrafted pour-over, syphon, or cold brew at S’bastians Coffee, right along Woodside Road.
After a leisurely, woodsy walk, jump back in your car and, yes, another short five minutes and you’re back downtown for lunch at Vesta. Relax on the charming back patio and enjoy one of the incredible woodfired pizzas they’re known for. The crust is on par with what’s on offer in New York—it’s that good. You might try the sausage and honey: tangy tomato sauce with spicy Italian sausage, mascarpone, fresh parsley, honey, and a tiny kick of Serrano chili. Get there early. With limited reservations, there’s a line out the door nearly any day of the week.
In the afternoon, if you’re a history buff, check out Union Cemetery, a Civil War-era burial ground built in 1859. Use the markers and archives listed on the website, or wander about on your own. You might also browse through the San Mateo County History Museum, at the grand courthouse on Broadway. The museum is situated in a charming European-style town square dotted with mini-cafes reminiscent of Italy, Spain, or the Netherlands. In the summer, you’ll find the locals enjoying Friday night concerts here in the square.
If it’s a warm day and you’d like to cool off, head for Nazareth Ice Oasis. Built in the ’70s, it’s one of only two ice rinks between San Francisco and San Jose. The home rink of the Stanford hockey team, Ice Oasis boasts figure skating and ice dance coaches who’ve won national, Olympic, and World titles for both the US and Canada.
Ready for dinner? LV Mar’s white table–clothed dining room with its highly attentive wait staff should be top of your list. Chef Manuel Martinez creates Latin-inspired tapas, ceviches, entrees, and desserts. With your meal, try the refreshing nonalcoholic tamarindo with soda, a Pisco Sour, or a festive Brazilian Caipirinha.
After dinner, stroll on over to the historic Fox Theatre for live entertainment. The Fox, which has seen artists such as Etta James, Neil Young, BB King, and Melissa Etheridge within its walls, first opened in 1929. Its interior was designed to have a Moorish feel; its exterior, a Gothic style. Inducted into the National Register of Historic Places in 1993, it’s not to be missed. If what’s playing at the Fox doesn’t appeal, you might check out the intimate, not-for-profit, 70-seat Dragon Theatre, where the focus is often on emerging voices. Or if you’d prefer music—in fact, if you’d prefer dinner and music—try Angelica’s, which offers fine dining and live music five to six nights a week. Shows often sell out, so plan ahead.
With so much to see and do here in Redwood City, you may find yourself planning a second trip.
Places to Visit in Redwood City
Written by Annette Garcia
Photography by Daniel Garcia