Take a hike, tour a graveyard…chase down the ice cream man? It’s the 650’s guide to an eventful (but socially-distanced) Turkey Day vacay.
Well, it’s no surprise that 2020 keeps on 2020-ing. And while your Thanksgiving gathering may be very scaled back this year, your holiday break doesn’t need to be. Sure, the landscape continues to change and caution is a must, but there is still an exciting array of local outings available for you to choose from.
So we rounded up some of our 6–5–0 faves as well as some recently featured items to present you with 11 ideas for how to get out of the house and enjoy some leisurely downtime over the long weekend.
As you know, hours (and openings, in general) are subject to change, so we encourage you to call ahead and confirm as much as possible. In addition, please wear a mask, be safe…and overtip your servers when you can.
Take a look….and enjoy…
Explore the rugged hills and vistas of Pacifica
There’s nothing like a short drive out to the Coastside to feel like you’re a world away from the corporate office parks and mansions of Silicon Valley. Although November is a bit chilly for beachgoing, it’s a beautiful time to explore the mountains and hills of Coastside towns like Pacifica—definitely bring a jacket, though. The town offers miles of surprisingly dog-friendly trails that combine spectacular ocean views and challenging terrain sure to help you burn off that third helping of pie a la mode. Here are a few trail suggestions, with routes linked via AllTrails.
Mori Point // 2.5 miles. Parking at the official Mori Point parking area fills up fast on weekends, so you can also park near Sharp Park Beach and start the hike with a southbound stroll along the beach promenade until you get to the trails at Mori Point.
Sweeney Ridge // 4.8 miles. If you don’t feel like driving all the way to Pacifica but still want amazing views, Sweeney Ridge is for you. The trailhead is easy to access from 280 near San Bruno. Take the Sweeney Ridge trail from Sneath Lane, which is dog-friendly and mostly paved, up about 2 miles to the ridge. Turn left at the summit to visit the Bay Area Discovery Site, where Spain’s Captain Juan Gaspar de Portola and his crew — accompanied by members of the local Aramai tribe — first “discovered” the San Francisco Bay in 1769, according to the National Park Service.
Montara Mountain // 7.0 miles. This hike is a bit more challenging, with about 1,800 feet of elevation gain largely in the first three miles, but the rewards of summiting, and the downhill views on the flipside are worth it. Pro tip: Start from the McNee Ranch trailhead on the Coastside to skip the $6 parking fee and dog ban at San Mateo County’s San Pedro County Park.
Tour the Necropolis of Colma
If you missed our take on tombstone tourism for Halloween…no worries, the many, many graveyards of Colma still make for a safe socially-distanced outing, with lots of offbeat options to encounter. Visit the grave site of a famous local: Joe DiMaggio, Wyatt Earp, William Randolph Hearst or Levi Strauss. Or better yet, pay homage to the one-and-only Emperor of the United States—Joshua Norton.
More of an animal enthusiast? The pet cemetery is fun, endearing and strangely heart-warming (you know…for a cemetery).
Best of all (yes, this is a favorite of ours) don’t miss the stained-glass ceilings of the mausoleum at Cypress Lawn Cemetery…which are simply stunning as the late autumn sun shines through on the stillness of the space.
Be aware, most cemeteries close by 5 p.m.
Hike Monte Bello Open Space Preserve
One of our all-time fave hikes on the Peninsula, we always recommend this one for its oh-so-scenic, not-too-rugged appeal. This 3-mile loop boasts a viewpoint where hikers can see Stevens Creek Canyon and a potential plethora of local flora and fauna. Better yet—check out the preserve’s super-secret permit-only trailhead and pair it with a stop at Ridge Vineyards for a post-hike glass of vino (but heads-up, you need to book in advance).
Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, Los Gatos, CA // Open daily, half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset.
Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District: 650.691.1200
Spend time with Goats at Harley Farms
It’s a Coastside classic and one of our all time favorites here at The Six Fifty. So if you’ve never been to San Mateo County’s rockstar goat farm, now is a great time to make the trip to Pescadero for some coastal air, fresh cheese and heavy petting.
With more than 150 goats and an abundance of outdoor atmosphere, Harley Farms is just a great excursion to counter your shelter-in-place weariness. But spaces are limited, so book ahead (like right now) for the long weekend after Thanksgiving.
And if you make the trip, don’t forget to swing by Duarte’s Tavern (see below) for a bit of local lunch.
Silicon Valley Open Studios
Like so many other things in 2020, the annual local springtime art extravaganza that is Silicon Valley Open Studios was canceled this year, but the organizers have since pivoted to put together a virtual art show and fundraiser to benefit Second Harvest of Silicon Valley. This manifested to the tune of 130 Bay Area artists submitting 600 pieces of art across a wide range of mediums.
The art show is currently running now through Cyber Monday (November 30th). So log on…peruse the offerings and buy some art in support of combating local hunger.
Pacific Art League
For its 99th anniversary, the Peninsula’s Pacific Art League reacted to our currently socially-distanced reality by putting together “Beyond 2020,” a juried competition encompassing work in a variety of media that can be viewed on the organization’s website and in the League’s windows in downtown Palo Alto.
The exhibit features 100 works of art spanning a variety of styles and mediums. Best of all, the work is for sale at reasonable price points, providing an opportunity to gift some original (and local) art for the holidays.
The Pacific Art League is located at 668 Ramona St., Palo Alto. For more information and to view the online exhibition, go to pacificartleague.org.
Richard Pousette-Dart at PACE
The always-ambitious PACE Gallery in Palo Alto just unveiled their latest exhibit, featuring the work of Abstract Expressionist Richard Pousette-Dart.
A colleague of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, Pousette-Dart was known to call his paintings “presences” and “implosions of color.” These notions are readily on display in this new show which consists of 16 paintings and works on paper that range from the late 1960s to the early 1990s.
“He was a highly independent innovator among 20th-century abstract painters,” explains Liz Sullivan, president of Pace Palo Alto,” and this presentation is a reminder of Pousette-Dart’s ability to explore visual possibilities and create paintings and drawings that represent the unknowable.”
Gallery visits are currently available by appointment only.
Beer Fridays (& Sunday too)
As we always say: When in doubt — booze.
Thankfully, the good folks at Devil’s Canyon have returned to sort us all out on that front with their beloved local brew-oriented hangout known as Beer Friday, running from 4–9pm via their socially distanced beer garden. And don’t hesitate to return again on Sunday (we don’t judge) for some day drinking there from 10am-4pm alongside the San Carlos Farmer’s Market just out front.
Bring the entire clan (yes, kids are welcome) and don’t sleep on their top-notch root beer.
Devils Canyon Brewery // 935 Washington St, San Carlos; 650. 592.2739
Track down Mister Softee!
East Coast natives know the deal on this one and while the classic soft serve ice cream truck is more likely to conjure sweet memories of New York summers gone by, Mister Softee has not only migrated to the Bay, but works quite well in our current era of outdoor eating.
Follow Mister Softee Norcal on Instagram and get the daily down low on where the soft serve wizardry can be found (they often have as many as six different ones on the Peninsula). But be aware, Californians, unlike your typical food truck experience these days, Softee is on the move…so just make an afternoon of it and track that delicious double dip down.
Roadhouse Excursions (and other 6–5–0 classic eateries)
Get out of the house and take a drive to one of the many classic destination restaurants around the area code.
Alice’s Restaurant on Skyline Boulevard in Woodside has outdoor seating with heat lamps beneath the redwoods from 8am–7:30pm Monday–Saturday (they close at 7pm on Sundays). Get some fresh air, have a drink…and maybe eat a giant burger too.
The Alpine Inn (you know….Zott’s) is perfectly suited for outdoor eats at a distance. They’re open every day except Mondays (check the current hours here) boasting an extensive menu and (most importantly) a full bar.
You also just can’t go wrong with a trip down to Pescadero with a stop at the one-and-only Duarte’s Tavern. The current Covid climate means they’re mostly just serving takeout, but order some artichoke soup or a piece of olallieberry pie and find someplace scenic along Highway 1 to enjoy it.
Holidays at Filoli
Yep…can you believe it—it’s pretty much Christmastime already, or as 2020 likes to call it: the season finale. Like everywhere else, it’s not your normal year at Filoli, but the staff there has still managed to orchestrate a wide range of (socially-distanced) events at the century-old estate.
They have a lot to offer: Garden Lights, Santa Saturdays and more, but space is limited and everything is reserved in advance. So secure your slice of classic holiday cheer sooner than later….and if you jingle, make sure to jingle ALL the way.
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