Keep the relatives amused: eight offbeat ideas for entertaining the family over the holiday weekend.

Tide pools, art exhibits and a rock star goat farm (all with adjacent options for drinking).

Yep, the family is in town, you made it through Thanksgiving dinner…and……what?

We’ve been there and we certainly empathize. So we drafted this list of interesting, engaging and slightly offbeat excursions to help you get through that treacherous window which runs from right now until that glorious curbside moment at the Departures level of SFO. Here’s the plan: keep them busy, entertained and fed (plus, a bit—we said A BIT—of booze never hurt the equation, either).

So unless you want to get stuck eating $15 popcorn while watching Frozen 2 at a multi-giganta-plex with your niece (or more likely—you already exhausted that option on Wednesday night), we suggest you take a look at our list of outside-the-box outings. Good luck!

Multiple views of Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. (Photos by Adam Pardee and Charles Russo)

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve (and lunch!)

This one is win-win in every direction: an insanely scenic setting, easy parking AND great options for lunch afterwards. Better yet, there have been some super low tides this past week, which means abundant opportunity for seeing starfish, anenomes, urchins and maybe even something really special.

Head up to the highly photogenic bluffs overlooking the beach for a short hike and prime views of coast. All told, it’s a great place to really chew up some hours with the entire family. Just check the tide charts before going and please keep your hyperactive nephew from terrorizing the native fauna.

Afterwards, head a few miles south to The Barn for a lunch of burgers and shakes in their very easygoing and lively family setting.

James V. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve // 200 Nevada Ave., Moss Beach.

The Barn// 3068 Cabrillo Hwy N., Half Moon Bay; 650.560.8363

(Left) Pie with ice cream, coffee with whiskey: good times at Duarte’s in Pescadero; a view of Harley Farms. (Photos by Charles Russo & Philip Wartena)

Pescadero Day Trip

A second option for a day on the Coastside is an afternoon excursion to Pescadero. Grab lunch at Duarte’s Tavern, the 125-year-old local institution famous for artichoke soup, crab cioppino, and Olallieberry pie. Afterwards, there’s high-end coffee (and other aberrant attractions) at Downtown Local just across the street. And DO NO LEAVE without a warm loaf of artichoke bread from Arcangeli Grocery Co. (if you don’t know, we’re telling you).

From there, you have a couple outdoor options. Head to one of the many majestic beaches along the Coast (just west of town) and/or check out Harley Farms…the very famous Pescadero goat farm run by Dee Harley.

Be warned though…both Duarte’s and Harley Farms can get pretty popular with the weekend/holiday crowds, so navigate with caution.

Duarte’s Tavern // 202 Stage Rd, Pescadero; 650.879.0464

Downtown Local // 213 Stage Rd, Pescadero; 650.879.9155

Harley Farms // 205 North St, Pescadero; 650.879.0480

Arcangeli Grocery Co. // 287 Stage Rd, Pescadero; 650.879.0147

The PEZ Museum in Burlingame has every PEZ dispenser ever sold. (Photo by Charles Russo)

The PEZ Museum

Maybe you need to throw the family a serious curveball to loosen everybody up? In that case, we suggest popping into Burlingame’s quintessentially quirky PEZ Museum, which not only contains every PEZ dispenser ever made (!!!) but just all manner of fun memorabilia (dangerous, too…there’s an entire exhibit on banned toys, as well).

And let’s be clear on expectations, it’s not a “museum” in the MOMA sense of the concept as much as it is a super quirky antique shop. All that said, it’s well worth a quick drop-in before having lunch up the block in downtown Burlingame. It’ll provide you plenty to talk about with your otherwise conversation-challenged clan.

(Great option as well if you’re making your way to SFO.)

The Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia // 214 California Dr, Burlingame; 650.347.2301

At left, Ansel’s Adams 1929 image “Winnowing Grain, Taos Pueblo, New Mexico.” Cantor Art Center on the Stanford Campus. (Images via Cantor’s Website and Facebook page)

Cantor’s Ansel Adams Exhibit

Let’s face it…everyone loves Ansel Adams. (Seriously, he’s the Meryl Streep of fine art photography.) So, an afternoon at Cantor with Ansel and….wait for it…free admission is likely a winner with your holiday guests. The museum is gorgeous, their exhibits are world class and campus will be very quiet (read as—parking).

Don’t pass up on some of Cantor’s other current offerings, especially their marquee exhibit of Harlem-based painter Jordan Casteel.

Cantor Center Arts Center // 328 Lomita Dr, Stanford; 650.723.4177

(Left) The Alpine Inn, the 167-year-old historic Portola Valley tavern and beer garden; (right) notice the extensive drinking options. (Photos by Sammy Dallal)

The Alpine Inn (you know…Zott’s)

Turn lunch into an upbeat outing by running the whole family over to Zott’s. It’s local, it’s historic, it’s a fun place to hang out and (most importantly) they have a wide selection of booze.

As we recently covered, Zott’s is humming these days after their recent redesign, which means it’s a great time to show it off to out-of-towners…but hey, expect crowds.

The Alpine Inn // 3915 Alpine Road, Portola Valley; 650.854.4004

Vast views in the nearby Monte Bello Open Space Preserve. (Photos via Yelp and by Kate Bradshaw)

Hike Monte Bello Open Space Preserve

If you’re the outdoorsy type but you’re not in the mood to hike a 7-mile trail with your entire family complaining non-stop 10 yards behind you, Monte Bello Open Space Preserve’s Stevens Creek Nature Trail might be the appropriate spot. This 3-mile loop boasts a viewpoint where hikers can see Stevens Creek Canyon and a potential plethora of local flora and fauna. Want to truly impress? 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.

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

Sunnyvale residents Melanie Barnett, left, and Glen Barnett, harvest chestnuts for the first time during a visit to Skyline Chestnuts, a 20-acre pick-your-own farm located in the Santa Cruz Mountains just above Palo Alto. (Photo by Sammy Dallal)

Pick chestnuts at Skyline Chestnuts

Yeah, we had no idea either. But as our recent profile explained, the Peninsula is home to one of the last chestnut farms in California. It’s scenic, interesting and best of all, you can go there to pick nuts!

So get out of the house, take in some fresh air, fill up a basket and subtly convey to your family that when you think of them…you think of nuts.

Call ahead before going (picking season varies from year to year).

Skyline Chestnuts // 22322 Skyline Blvd, La Honda; 408.202.9557

Food Truck Friday at the Devil’s Canyon Brewery in San Carlos; a view of the taps. (Photos by Nicole Ruiz Hudson)

Beer Friday at Devil’s Canyon Brewery

When in doubt—booze.

Yeah, if nothing else is working, just take your family to the weekly Friday evening shindig in San Carlos, where the good folks at Devil’s Canyon will host your entire clan (yes, kids are welcome) with top-notch microbrews and food truck eats. It’s a ton of fun and one of the most genuinely local of local hangouts.

Fridays beginning at 4 p.m.

Devils Canyon Brewery // 935 Washington St, San Carlos; 650. 592.2739

Stay up to date with other coverage from The Six Fifty by subscribing to our weekly newsletter, featuring event listings, reviews and articles showcasing the best that the Peninsula has to offer. Sign up here!

More local life from The Six Fifty:

TheSixFifty logo


Sometimes our work is a collaborative effort, hence the "staff" byline. The best of what to eat, see and do on the SF Peninsula.

You May Also Like

Inside the San Carlos bakery crafting a gluten-free version of a San Francisco staple

Fired up: In search of Peninsula dining destinations offering fireside seats

The Six Fifty’s 2023 guide to Peninsula holiday performances, festivals and community gatherings

Culinary holiday happenings around Silicon Valley