Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in San Bruno, CA

  • Published 2022/04/08

The city of San Bruno is part of San Mateo County and sits along the peninsula near the San Francisco International Airport.

Named after the Spanish explorer Captain Bruno Hecate, the city was once famed for its robust dairy farm business after being developed into ranch land during the 1880s.

After some time, San Bruno was no longer considered a rural town after the Tanforan Horse Racing Track was used for the internment of Japanese-American citizens before they were sent to detention camps.

Another event that launched San Bruno into further development during the 1940s was when George Williams purchased the Mills Land, which provided an opportunity for land development and housing.

Today, San Bruno is known to be an airport city, and due to the high number of foot traffic in the San Francisco International Airport, San Bruno has turned into an international city as well.

San Bruno is now considered a bustling city in terms of commerce, technology, and transportation which tourists have come to appreciate over the years.

If you’re planning to visit this city anytime soon, check out 15 of the best things you can do while in San Bruno, California.

Stroll around San Andreas Lake

Scenic daytime view of San Andreas Lake

Sarah Heywood /

San Andreas Lake is a reservoir adjacent to San Bruno and Millbrae and situated directly on the San Andreas Fault.

The lake is primarily used for freshwater, prohibiting watersports activities.

Nonetheless, the area makes a great place to take a stroll and enjoy the cool breeze and lush green trees surrounding the lake.

The waters of San Andreas Lake

BrokenSphere, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

During its early years, San Andreas Lake used to be a sag pond before a dam was erected in 1868, expanding it to its current size.

The lake is also abundant in rainbow trout and salmon; however, fishing is also prohibited as a way of keeping the water fresh for farmers and residents nearby.

Visit the Peninsula Museum of Art

Art aficionados can’t miss the Peninsula Museum of Art in El Camino Real.

Founded by Ruth Waters in 2003, the museum features some of the best works done by artists of the Greater Bay Area.

The museum is a non-profit organization backed by the O.P Decker Foundation and offers free admission to its guests.

Check out critically-acclaimed pieces from student and professional artists from the area一from paintings and sculptures to digital works and photography.

Aside from providing a cultural hub for artists, the Peninsula Museum of Art also welcomes artworks that touch on global issues that aim to promote awareness among visitors and other artists.

Topics about climate change and other nature-centric exhibits have graced the museum, as well as integrated art forms like mixed-media.

Catch a Panoramic View of the Bay Area at Junipero Serra Park

If you’re looking for the best place to take a photo of the entire Bay Area, you might want to consider dropping by Junipero Serra Park on Crystal Springs Road.

The park has an unrivaled view of the San Bruno Mountain, San Francisco Airport, San Francisco Bay, and Mount Diablo.

The park also has a great combination of sunny and shaded areas, making it a great picnic spot for families and friends.

Explore the park, and you’ll get to see the famed Oak Foothill plant community, a myriad of spring wildflowers, and El Zanjon Creek.

Kids can also enjoy the park’s Meadow View Playground and its 54-foot double slides and climbing structures.

Traverse the Sweeney Ridge Trail

Sign post of Sweeney Ridge Trail

Richard Wood, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sweeney Ridge is another popular hiking trail between San Bruno and Pacifica.

The hilly hiking area of ridges and ravines is decorated with grassland and coastal scrub.

Landscape of Sweeney Ridge Trail

Richard Wood, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As you hike along this trail, you’ll be met with sightings of wildlife like hawks and deers, as well as an abundance of wildflowers.

From Sweeney Ridge, you can also get an overlooking view of the Farallon Islands, Mount Tamalpais, Point Reyes, Mount Diablo, the Montara Mountains, and San Pedro Point.

Portola discovery marker at Sweeney Ridge Trail

Richard Wood, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spend a Day at Commodore Park

San Bruno is famed for having well-kept parks, and Commodore Park along Commodore and Cherry Avenue is a testament to that.

As one of the city’s largest parks, Commodore Park offers a wide range of activities that both kids and adults can surely enjoy.

Visitors are welcome to play a game of volleyball, swing their bats at the baseball diamond, get some exercise at the walking track, and explore the playground.

Commodore Park is also a great picnic area with several tables and grills set up for public use.

You can also reserve a picnic spot in advance as long as you book a year or a week prior to your desired date.

Lounge at SkyTerrace

There’s no better place to catch a 180-degree view of San Francisco’s airfield other than SkyTerrace.

Watch as planes land and take off from the runway from this beautiful deck at the second terminal of the San Francisco airport.

Sit back, relax, and marvel at the panoramic view of the airfield as seen from the glass panels surrounding the deck.

After a while, head to The 1954 San Francisco International Airport Terminal exhibit.

The airport exhibit showcases the history and architecture of the area of the observation deck before it was built.

Hike along San Bruno Mountain Park

A trail at San Bruno Mountain Park

Daniel Ramirez from Honolulu, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Outdoor enthusiasts will surely enjoy hiking along San Bruno Mountain Park.

Take your pick from over five scenic trails that are accessible from various neighborhoods like Crocker Road and Carter Street.

If you’re looking to hike along a simple and refreshing trail, you can traverse the Eucalyptus Loop Trail beginning at the Trailhead Parking Lot.

Aerial view of San Bruno Mountain Park

Derrick Coetzee (User:Dcoetzee), CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Along the trail’s 1.1-mile length, catch a glimpse of the open grasslands and eucalyptus forests while overlooking the San Francisco Bay and Skyline.

For cross-country runners and backpacking enthusiasts, the Ridge Trail is a popular route that spans 4.8 miles from the Summit Parking Lot.

Enjoy traversing the rough trail and marvel at the sight of wildflowers and endangered plants, as well as butterfly species like the mission blue, callippe silverspot, and bay checkerspot.

Place Some Bets at Artichoke Joe’s Casino

Las Vegas isn’t the only place where you can have fun playing cards and slot machines.

At Artichoke Joe’s Casino on Huntington Avenue, you can place your bets playing Baccarat, Poker, Blackjack, and more.

Founded in 1916 by a Maltese immigrant named Giuseppe Sammut, the casino was originally named “Joe’s Pool Parlor” before being rebranded into a casino.

The name was also inspired by San Bruno’s rural area that was filled with artichokes and other crops.

Today, the casino remains a popular spot for those looking to spend their nights playing a round of card games and trying their luck at earning a few bills.

Dine at Jack’s Restaurant and Bar on Admiral Court

What better way to end a long day than to fill up on great food and down a few drinks?

Jack’s Restaurant and Bar on Admiral Court is the go-to place for those looking for delectable meals that you can eat from breakfast to dinner.

Take your pick from favorite breakfast meals like Greek Scramble and Bananas Foster French Toast, lunch meals like the Mediterranean Sampler and Hot Wings.

You can also check out their selection of family meals like Grilled Chicken Skewers and Grilled Lamb Chops.

And to top it all off, order a glass of Tequila Sunrise, Premium Bellini, or Smoky Mary.

Check Out the Graffiti Gallery at the Nike Missile Site SF-51

Information board of Nike Missile Site SF-51

Michael Vi /

What was once a last line of defense against Soviet bombers has now turned into an artist’s playground.

The Nike Missile Site SF-51 at Sweeney Ridge is one of the 11 sites built in the Bay Area for launching supersonic missiles.

Graffiti at Nike Missile Site SF-51

Travis Wise from Bay Area, California, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The ruins of the missile site are a reminder of the US Army’s efforts in defending the country against Russian air assault during the cold war from 1953 to 1979.

Today, although most sites have been demolished, the remaining walls in the area have paraded a myriad of colors courtesy of graffiti artists.

You’ll come across these artistically restored ruins as you walk the trail, ride a bike, or even a horse.

Swing by Sanatan Mandir

Sanatan Mandir is located at West Angus Avenue.

The famous Hindu temple of the localities regularly hosts Sunday prayers in the morning, as well as programs on Hindu culture and beliefs.

Feel a calming presence as you enter the temple with its ambient environment.

The temple also hosts regular Balvihar classes, a weekly gathering for children who aim to develop their overall personalities.

Also included in the Balvihar classes are developing basic reading, writing, and communication skills in Hindi and other languages, as well as dharmic cultural heritage, Vedic traditions, and more.

Swing Your Club at the San Bruno Golf Center

The San Bruno Golf Center has 38 practice stalls on the upper deck of the driving range and 27 on the lower deck, making it a great place to practice your swings.

Visitors are welcome to enjoy the grass tees every day.

One of the more noticeable feats of the golf center is that it allows players to practice all aspects of their short game, including putting, chipping, pitching, and sand shots.

The golf center’s 20,000-square foot area is also considered one of the largest in the Bay Area.

After your practice session, cool off at the 1,400-square-foot clubhouse with some refreshments and hang out by the redwood deck overlooking the entire facility.

Stop by the Golden Gate National Cemetery

Aerial view of the Golden Gate National Cemetery

Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz /

The Golden Gate National Cemetery on Sneath Lane is the first major expansion of the National Cemetery System between the World Wars.

The army-planned cemetery originally belonged to the “Buri Buri,” a Native American group.

Headstones at Golden Gate National Cemetery

Anatoliy Lukich /

You’ll find graves of thousands of army veterans in the cemetery who have participated in dozens of wars and battles like the Boxer Rebellion, World War II, Spanish-American War, Philippine-American War, and more.

Pass through the monumental entrance and check out the Mediterranean Revival style of the surrounding buildings.

Walk around the L-shaped cemetery and explore the low-rolling hills with flat terrain features and a man-made mound.

A monument at Golden Gate National Cemetery

Anatoliy Lukich /

Learn about Aviation History at the SFO Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum

This museum in the International Terminal offers visitors an in-depth view of the development of commercial aviation.

As you step inside, you’ll see an architectural adaptation of the airport’s 1930 passenger lobby.

Check out the museum’s collections depicting the history of commercial air transport, the airline industry, and the San Francisco International Airport.

Browse over 150,000 aviation items and collections showcasing photographs, uniform pieces, timetables, insignias, and more.

You can also check out books, periodicals, serials from the aviation library, and multimedia records from the archives.

Shop at San Bruno Towne Center

San Bruno Towne Center on El Camino Real offers visitors a unique shopping experience with its outdoor setting.

Enjoy the open air as you make your way through over 40 specialty shops and restaurants.

From clothing and essentials to music and entertainment, San Bruno Towne Center has everything you need.

Shop ‘til you drop and grab a bite at favorites like Chuck E. Cheese’s, Burger King, and other fast-food chains.

San Bruno Towne Center also has specialty stores and the famous Lowe’s Home and Garden Center.

Final Thoughts

San Bruno may not be as popular as the other cities in California, but that doesn’t mean you should leave it out of your list.

Aside from its historical sites, the city also has robust art districts and business centers that everyone will surely enjoy.

So, what are you waiting for?

Don’t miss out on the adventure, and book your trip to San Bruno today!

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