What sets the Bay Area apart other than its proximity to huge urban centers, perfect weather, and brilliant residents is its topography.
Silicon Valley is named that for a reason — we can get the best views of the entire Bay just by driving or hiking 20 minutes from our quaint suburbia. Here are some spots for the perfect panorama:
The Dish, Stanford
Ok, ok. If you have lived in the Peninsula for more than six months and haven’t at least heard of The Dish, you’re probably living under a rock. It’s not to be overlooked, though, with its beautiful views of Stanford campus and surrounding area. The hike is paved, with everyone from parents with strollers to serious marathoners conquering the hills. Pick your days wisely, as parking is limited and Nixon Elementary School just down the way doesn’t like it when you park during school hours.
Wunderlich Park, Woodside
Tucked up just west of 280 is a former ranch on the side of the hills. It’s one of the most shaded hiking areas on this side of the Santa Cruz Mountains, with a beautiful assortment of redwood, madrone, and oak trees. The climb to the view is a little longer and more challenging than some of the other options, but the vista of the valley looks like something out of a Tolkien novel — you can’t even believe that 280 is just around the corner.
Sawyer Camp Trail, San Mateo
For a lazy viewseeker like me, it’s all about the least amount of work — as long as the views are good. Sawyer Camp is the best of both worlds, because unlike most of the the aforementioned routes, you get a beautiful panorama of the Crystal Springs Reservoir without walking up any hills. Even though there are no views out to San Francisco like at the Dish, it is easily one of the most Instagrammable locations on this list.