What to eat, where to hike and how much beer you should drink (just kidding, that’s up to you)

Heading into the long weekend, the good news is it is not 2020 anymore.

Still…it’s not exactly going to be a full-blown Memorial Day weekend, but regardless of how you’re feeling on that front (or what your vaccination status is), we’ve got some ideas about how you can acclimate back into interacting with society over the next few days. And, you’ll be happy to know, most of it is outdoors.

So take a look, be safe, be kind and enjoy the three-day weekend.

A scene from the 2018 Memorial Day Parade in Hillsborough. (Photo via Facebook)

Go full Americana (virtually)

Well…we’ve certainly come a long way from the 2020 lockdown, but some restrictions still remain in place, which is a lingering reality that is perhaps best reflected in the 11th annual Hillsborough Memorial Day Parade being a virtual event for the second year in a row. Even still, if you need that Memorial Day dose of Americana to kick off your summer, the city has some online festivities planned with musical acts, a virtual parade and a list of local speakers which includes Congresswoman Jackie Speier.

Vistas like whoa at Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve. (Photo by Charles Russo)

Take a hike

It’s a great year to find some open space for Memorial Day, and the Peninsula certainly has a lot to offer. High on our list these days is the Russian Ridge Preserve up on Skyline. Meadows full of wildflowers, stunning vistas and winding trails are all quickly accessible from the main parking lot (which is located near the Page Mill /Alpine Road intersection). You can hike far or just take a simple loop; plus, the area is full of raptors, lizards and other critters for the kids to scout.

We’re also inclined to point you towards some other great hike potential in the region, such as the Monte Bello Open Space Preserve and Montara Mountain (which is challenging in spots, but the coastal views are worth it). Also, consider the Sweeney Ridge Trail, which is located just off of 280 in San Bruno and leads to 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.

Visitors view the inhabitants of tide pool this past spring at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. (Photo by Adam Pardee)

Finally, it wouldn’t be a list of 650 things to do without mentioning one of our perennial faves—Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. Yes, the tide pool wonderland is open again and there are some great negative low tides (read as: peak tide pooling conditions) in the a.m. hours throughout the weekend. And, as we always suggest, don’t forget to hike the bluffs overlooking the beach…which are simply stunning.

Mitchell Johnson’s painting “Pine and Grant,” currently on display at Pamela Walsh Gallery. (Photo by Magali Gauthier)

Get artsy

Mindful that our artistic intake in 2020 didn’t go much beyond Tiger King, we encourage you to seek out some of the many excellent exhibits that will be available this weekend. High on our list is Poached, Pruned, Peeledby local artist Jane Kim, whose fine art muralism recently manifested in the form of an 11-story butterfly mural in San Francisco. Jane’s new series of paintings is a visual consideration of our relationship to nature through food, and fittingly, her new work is being shown in SF’s swanky Palette Gallery, which serves cocktails and eats in an art house setting. Best of all, this Saturday Jane will be there in person for a live painting session.

This weekend is also the last chance to catch “When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art” at the Cantor Arts Center on the Stanford campus. It’s a dynamic, timely and highly faceted exhibit that is well worth a look. Note that Cantor is still operating at 25% viewer capacity, so they require that you register for timed tickets. It’s all easy to set up and is a unique chance to have much of the galleries to yourself.

Finally, take a moment to swing by the Pamela Walsh Gallery in Palo Alto to see the current retrospective of Menlo Park painter Mitchell Johnson. The gallery is free, but note that Sundays and Mondays are by appointment only.

Summer atmosphere (and cinema) at Frost. (Image via Frost Amphitheatre home page)

Outdoor entertainment (with drinks)

As the days get long, Filoli kicks off their Summer Nights series this Thursday (and tix are still available if you hurry). Have a drink, stroll the gardens and watch the sun set amid the splendor of the historic house in Woodside.

The good folks at Devil’s Canyon Brewing are holding a special edition of their hyper local Beer Fridays hangout this week. To celebrate AAPI heritage month, the brewery is featuring Pan-Asian and Island cuisine food trucks in their beer garden (with a reggae band too…just for good measure).

Frost Amphitheater is continuing its outdoor summer movie series this weekend with a showcase of films born out of the university’s MFA documentary film program.

In the mood for some live music? The always lively Hop Dogma Brewing on Pillar Point Harbor is going full blues with the Stan Erhart Trio on Friday. Bring a picnic blanket to Mitchell Park in Palo Alto on Saturday to get your live Dead fix with One Man Gone. The Park James Hotel in Menlo Park has a Saturday evening dinner, featuring a singer/songwriter showcase with Michael Ahern. And Freewheel Brewery in Redwood City has live music all weekend, including the School of Rock House Band on Sunday afternoon.

Customers gathered in the (beer) garden at Fieldwork (during pre-Covid times)(Photo by Natalia Nazarova)

Beer gardens, farmer’s markets and pop-ups

Need some ideas for outdoor eats? Give a look to the Peninsula classics—Alice’s Restaurant in Woodside, The Alpine Inn in Portola Valley, Ludwig’s German Table in Mountain View and Sam’s Chowder House in Half Moon Bay (who have a BBQ ribs special all weekend), all of whom have ample outdoor seating (it’s gonna be a busy weekend though, so expect crowds). Some other 650 faves include Waterdog Tavern in Belmont, Steins Beer Garden in Mountain View, Fieldwork Brewing Company in San Mateo, the Moss Beach Distillery and the British Bankers Club in Menlo Park.

You can also try a farmers’ market Sunday stroll by visiting Mountain View’s Evelyn Avenue, or stop at the stalls on Cal Ave in Palo AltoThe Farmers’ Market in San Carlos on Variant Street is unique because you can wander into the nearby beer garden at Devil’s Canyon Brewery (or one of the many local wineries) for refreshments. Or, head to Belmont where the market is in the Caltrain lot off El Camino Real and O’Neill.

Finally, seek out something new with a pop-up meal this weekend. Satay by the Bay will be at Alpha Acid Brewing on Saturday (talk about win-win). South Bay Vietnamese fare popup Hết Sẩy will be at the Storefront Records street food fair in Oakland this Saturday (who knows…maybe share a Lemongrass-spice chicken thigh with Fantastic Negrito). The Pacifica Pizza Project has a great menu all weekend long…get your order in now.

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

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