17 Best Things to Do in San Bruno, CA

17 Best Things to Do in San Bruno, CA

Welcome San Bruno, California - a hidden gem between the Santa Cruz mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

Whether you're a lifelong resident or a first-time visitor, let me offer you a guide to some of the best things to do in San Bruno, California.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Bruno Davidson, Donald Johnson, Kiley Mora, Richard Seiler, Melissa Rodrigues, Gayle Smith and Thomas Andrews.

Spend the Day at San Andreas Lake

Scenic daytime view of San Andreas Lake
Sarah Heywood / Shutterstock.com 

Can you imagine a place where city life and nature's serenity collide?

That's what you get at the San Andreas Lake, a stone's throw away from bustling cities, nestled over tectonic plates.

It's my go-to getaway when I need that breath of fresh air without going too far from the comforts of civilization.

Start your day by taking the scenic route along the paved shoreline trail.

Let the sun's morning rays kiss your face as you bike or hike around the lake.

Expect the wind, a constant companion here, rustling through the trees and whipping the lake's surface into a beautiful frenzy.

The beauty of the lake is that it offers so much more than just the water.

For instance, the nearby Sawyer Camp Trail, starting at an entry gate marked by a monument of the Portola Expedition, takes you through about six miles of pure calmness and wilderness.

The waters of San Andreas Lake
BrokenSphere, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This trail has wild turkeys, squirrels, and many waterfowl to keep you company.

The Portola Expedition monument signifies a piece of history, as it marks the expedition that led to the founding of the San Francisco Bay.

Clean and well-kept, the Sawyer Trail is a testament to the efforts to maintain the area's natural beauty.

On this trail, I first visited the San Andreas Dam, a sight you can't miss while here. It's a three-hour hike that I promise is worth every minute.

In the evening, the lake transforms into a peaceful haven perfect for a leisurely walk.

The fading light of the day casting long shadows, and the soothing sound of the lake lapping against the shore makes it a fitting end to a day of outdoor adventures.

Next time you're up for a day surrounded by nature's charms, you might want to check out the San Andreas Lake.

It's closer than you think and better than you imagine.

Hang Out at Junipero Serra Park

I can tell you, there's no better place to relax and unwind than Junipero Serra Park.

This is not just your average park; imagine a place where you can picnic, take a leisurely walk along a creek, or sit back and enjoy the awe-inspiring views of the city, the bay, and the mountains.

My weekends are often spent barbecuing under the park's pavilion with family and friends.

The tables are spacious, and the area is nice and clean.

I always enjoy seeing my dog frolicking around, his tail wagging in delight.

The massive trees provide plenty of shade, making it a great place to hang up a hammock and tap.

Likewise, the weather here is always pleasant, providing an ideal outdoor party or gathering place.

If you have children, there's a playground to keep them entertained while you enjoy the park's tranquility.

The bathroom facilities are clean and well-maintained, adding to the overall comfort and convenience of the park.

I've been visiting Junipero Serra Park for years, and every time I go, I discover something new.

It's a hidden gem in our city, and I can't wait to explore it again soon.

Feel the Divine at Sanatan Mandir

There's something incredibly peaceful about taking a stroll in the heart of San Bruno downtown, especially when your path leads you straight to the serene oasis, the Sanatan Mandir.

It's a spot where tranquility and devotion meet - a haven I'm grateful to have right in my community.

The temple's parking lot, located conveniently at the back, often fills up quickly, a testament to its popularity among locals and visitors alike.

Every Tuesday evening, the melody of bhajans reverberates through the temple, filling devotees with a sense of unity and peace.

The Mandir is home to Radhe Krishna and Shiva worshippers, and each special occasion is transformed into a grand celebration that brings together a lovely community.

Moreover, the spiritual connection you feel at the Sanatan Mandir is inexplicably beautiful.

Evenings are often filled with poojas, creating a serene ambiance that transcends the mundane.

The temple also provides a platform for engaging conversations with fellow devotees, making the experience all the more enriching.

Indeed, the Sanatan Mandir, with its comforting spiritual environment and strong community bond, has become a cherished part of my life.

Walk Through History at Golden Gate National Cemetery

Aerial view of the Golden Gate National Cemetery
Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz / Shutterstock.com

The Golden Gate National Cemetery, with its rows upon rows of uniform gravestones, always reminds me of the bittersweet beauty of honoring our nation's service members.

It's a place I hold close to my heart, not only for its serene surroundings but also for the personal connections it has for me.

My grandparents rest here amidst heroes and legends like the WWII fleet commander Chester Nimitz.

Whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed or simply needing some quiet time, I find myself walking along the seemingly endless rows of gravestones.

Sometimes, I simply stand there, in front of my grandparents' resting place, feeling an odd sense of peace.

Over time, I've learned many of the stories these gravestones tell: stories of courage, bravery, sacrifices, and lives that will always be remembered.

On Memorial Day, each gravestone is adorned with an American flag - a sight that leaves you with a sense of awe at the number of people who have served our country.

Headstones at Golden Gate National Cemetery
Anatoliy Lukich / Shutterstock.com

It's a sight everyone should experience. I highly recommend visiting if you're ever in the South San Francisco area.

But it's not just about the gravestones.

The cemetery in itself is a beautiful place.

Its tranquility is unparalleled, providing a fitting tribute to those who've served.

The landscaping and maintenance are also noteworthy. It's truly a solemn and respectful place where the lives of many are memorialized.

This place is a monumental testament to our nation's history and a humbling reminder of the sacrifices made for our freedom.

For me, it's a cherished spot, a place of reflection, and a sanctuary of peace.

A monument at Golden Gate National Cemetery
Anatoliy Lukich / Shutterstock.com

Make a Delicious Escape to Jack's Restaurant & Bar

There's something about Jack's Restaurant & Bar that captures the heart and stomach.

This place is like a well-loved nook where I find comfort in food.

Imagine sinking your teeth into the leanest, juiciest, succulent French dip you could ever imagine.

Jack's does it right with their soft rolls, a delightful divergence from the usual sourdough.

And the portion size? Generous! The hearty sandwich comes with a mountain of fries that certainly hit the spot.

You can also trust Jack's to satisfy your cravings for steaks.

Their grills are well-seasoned, which brings an otherworldly goodness to their steak.

A plate of it is a surefire winner, whether you're a longtime carnivore or a newbie meat-lover.

Jack's Restaurant & Bar boasts a stylish ambiance that mirrors the cozy vibe of Walnut Creek.

The place is decked out with a full bar and TVs, setting the perfect mood for a laid-back dinner or a thrilling game night.

Did I mention they also offer an awesome menu?

Every palate has a plate, from country-fried steak to corned beef hash and fresh banana toast.

So, if you wander around San Francisco, don't hesitate to make a beeline for Jack's Restaurant & Bar.

It's where good food and good times never run out.

Enjoy Picnics and Pooches at Commodore Park

And then, I find myself retreating from daily life's bustle to Commodore Park's tranquil corners.

This is not your average city park but a sanctuary where I can breathe and enjoy simple pleasures.

If you were to ask me what my favorite way to spend a sunny afternoon is, without a second's hesitation, I would tell you about the charming picnic tables nestled among the park's greenery.

I fondly remember a few years ago, when autumn quietly made way for winter, my friends and I decided to have lunch there.

As we shared homemade sandwiches and laughs, the orange hues of November painted an unforgettable picture and warmed our hearts despite the chill in the air.

While the park is undeniably a fabulous picnic spot, it does not merely stop there.

Commodore Park also caters to our four-legged friends.

The enclosed dog run is a pet owner's delight where dogs of all shapes and sizes can let loose and have their share of fun.

I remember how my dog would wag his tail in sheer joy every time we visited.

And did I mention the handy facilities like BBQ pits and restrooms that make you feel right at home?

Commodore Park is indeed a comforting amalgamation of nature and convenience.

If you find yourself in San Bruno, make sure to visit.

Bring a picnic, your dog, your kids, or a book.

Whichever way, you will find joy in Commodore Park's simplicity and tranquility.

Take a Stroll in Pacific Heights Park

There's just something undeniably charming about Pacific Heights Park.

Perhaps it's the calmness that envelopes you the moment you step foot into it, or maybe it's the way the sunlight filters through the trees, casting whimsical shadows on the ground.

My kids always have a blast there.

The park may not have any bathrooms, but it does provide a nice view, two slides, and a climbing rock.

It's the perfect spot for a short and sweet afternoon of fun for my little ones.

They particularly love the mini adventure that the 1/5 mile loop offers.

It's always a delight to walk around and enjoy the nature surrounding us.

Taking my dog for long strolls in the park has been a routine.

He seems to appreciate the serenity of the place as much as I do.

At the end of the day, Pacific Heights Park is a humble haven amidst our bustling locality.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors at San Bruno City Park

Playground at San Bruno City Park
Jstratm, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Looking for fresh air in the city's heart, I often head to San Bruno City Park.

It's the perfect spot for a family outing or a peaceful retreat in a bustling city.

The park is clean and well-maintained and offers a nice playground shaded by lush trees, making it a perfect spot for kids to play on a sunny day.

What I love about San Bruno City Park is its accessibility despite the ongoing construction of a new recreation center.

A big portion of the park is still open to the public, and the baseball field and tennis courts are kept in top-notch condition.

It's a pleasure to watch people come from all around to enjoy a walk or play a game of baseball or tennis.

The playgrounds are the highlight of his day, and the big fields are perfect for a game of catch.

Moreover, the park boasts two playgrounds on the corner of Crystal Springs Rd and Cypress Ave. and another near the baseball fields and tennis courts.

For those who are up for a more exhilarating venture, there's a trail that leads up to Junipero Serra Park.

Just follow the path behind the tennis courts, and you're in for a moderately challenging, but fun hike.

This mix of peaceful green spaces and active recreation makes San Bruno City Park the heart of our community.

Enjoy the Weekend at San Bruno Towne Center

San Bruno Towne Center has always been my go-to place for shopping.

There's one store that my family and I love - Lowe's.

We'd drive miles to visit that place, often bypassing the more popular orange and gray big-box stores.

What stands out about Lowe's is not just its range of high-quality plants but also its remarkable service and warm appreciation for veterans and active military personnel.

It's always a pleasure to shop there and support a business that values those who serve our country.

So, if you ask me about San Bruno Towne Center, I'd say it's more than just a shopping complex.

It's a part of our community that brings us together in good times and bad.

Enjoy a Century of Gaming at Artichoke Joe's Casino

You never really get to appreciate the charm of my town until you've spent a late night at Artichoke Joe's Casino.

It's as integral to our community as the town hall or the old post office, with all the history to prove it.

This isn't just a flashy casino but testament to our town's rich history and colorful past.

When you first walk into Artichoke Joe's, you can't miss the full bar and the mouthwatering aroma from the Asian and American restaurant that draws you in.

The menu won't disappoint you, and the food is worth every minute you spend there.

It opens 24/7, so it's perfect when you're longing for a late-night snack or early-morning meal.

But what truly sets Artichoke Joe's apart is its history.

The business marked its 100th anniversary recently, a rare feat in this day and age.

It all started with Giuseppe Sammut, a young Maltese immigrant who bought an old stable on Huntington Avenue in San Bruno and turned it into “Joe’s Pool Parlor.”

Unlike today, the place initially housed a couple of pool tables, a poker table or two, and a bar.

Then there's the name's story, which I find particularly amusing.

Back in the 1920s, San Bruno was a farming town surrounded by artichoke and other crops.

Joe, known to accept almost any wager, once quipped about paying off a bet "in artichoke leaves," and the name stuck.

We still call it Artichoke Joe's, and the moniker is a beloved part of our local lore.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Visit Nike Missile Site SF-51L

Information board of Nike Missile Site SF-51
Michael Vi / Shutterstock.com

The Nike Missile Site SF-51L is a site of historical significance that I visit often.

Perched atop Sweeney Ridge, the site offers a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape that's nothing short of breathtaking.

Each visit turns into a fantastic hike, with the added allure of a history lesson that never fails to remind me of the area's past.

The memories associated with the site symbolize our historical heritage and a stark reminder of a time when the threat of destruction was all too real.

Graffiti at Nike Missile Site SF-51L
Travis Wise from Bay Area, California, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

But it's not all about the past.

The area has its share of cute, little inhabitants as well.

Throughout my hike, I often encountered lizards scuttling around, adding a delightful touch to the overall experience.

Visiting the Nike Missile Site SF-51L is a journey amalgamating history, nature, and a unique local experience.

Discover Aviation History at the SFO Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum

When I have some downtime between running errands or before catching a flight, I often wander over to the SFO Museum Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum and Library.

It's a hidden treasure in our city, offering free galleries that delve into various aspects of art, history, science, and culture.

The aviation museum part, in particular, is a fascinating dive into the aircraft world.

It's small but well-curated, featuring exhibits on the history of airlines and iconic flights such as the Concorde flights.

I've had quite a few geek-out moments looking at the detailed displays and absorbing the rich history of aviation.

The library part is also quite impressive, with its focus on the early airline industry.

Although it doesn't have an extensive array of exhibits, I still find it interesting to explore.

The space is inviting, and there always seems to be something new to see.

One of my favorite exhibits is the uniform display.

It uniquely brings the history of aviation to life, showcasing the evolution of airline uniforms.

It's one of the many ways the SFO Museum provides a glimpse into the past.

Whenever I have friends or family in town, I bring them to the SFO Museum.

It's a great way to kill some time before a flight, and seeing their reactions to the exhibits is always interesting.

And the best part? It's free to enter, making it an affordable and educational experience for everyone.

I highly recommend checking it out if you're ever in the area.

Visit Gray Whale Cove State Beach

Aerial view of Gray Whale Cove State Beach
photosounds / Shutterstock.com

Every weekend, I find myself drawn to the tranquility and picturesque beauty of Gray Whale Cove State Beach.

Nestled amongst towering cliffs, the sandy beach is a haven for those seeking a peaceful retreat, often blessed with the sight of whales dancing close to the shore.

Getting there is an adventure of its own.

The path to the beach takes you down a flight of stairs, so it's not the best place for strollers or car seats, but the view from the top is worth the journey.

Likewise, the park is surprisingly clean, which adds to the whole experience.

Yes, you might occasionally spot a few clothing-optional beachgoers, but it's all part of the charm of Gray Whale Cove.

People at Gray Whale Cove State Beach
Alexander Davidovich / Shutterstock.com

What I love the most about this beach is how it's the ideal backdrop for unforgettable sunsets.

It's also a fantastic spot for a picnic, but make sure to get there early, especially on weekends, as the parking lot fills up quickly.

And if you're lucky like me, you might find yourself on the beach almost entirely on a weekday.

Prepare for a swift dash across two lanes of traffic for this luxury.

Nonetheless, I assure you, it's a small price to pay for a day of serenity at Gray Whale Cove.

Visit Westborough Park

You haven't truly experienced South San Francisco until you've spent a day at Westborough Park.

This park is a hidden gem tucked away amid our bustling city.

The first thing you notice here is the abundance of green space.

There's a soft carpet of grass underfoot and a canopy of trees overhead, providing shade on hot summer days.

It's the perfect setting for a relaxing walk or a quick jog around the looped path.

And yes, your pets are welcome, too!

Just be prepared to see a few free-spirited dogs roaming off-leash.

One of the biggest attractions for my family is the playgrounds.

The park has two gardens, one for the toddlers and the other for the older kids.

Speaking from personal experience, if you have a little thrill-seeker on your hands, they'll prefer the bigger playground.

Just make sure you're ready to keep a watchful eye on them.

The big kid playground is a bustling area.

Picnics are a breeze at Westborough Park, with ample tables and grills available.

The best part is the vast shaded area with tables, perfect for group parties or family gatherings.

But the fun doesn't stop at picnics and playgrounds. The park also features a basketball court, which always seems to have a game going on.

There's a sense of community here, as everyone – kids and adults, locals and visitors – comes together over a shared love of the game.

Westborough Park is a community hub, a kid's paradise, and a nature lover's retreat all rolled into one.

Whether you want to unwind, play, or enjoy the outdoors, this park has something for everyone.

Explore the Enchanting Sam's Castle

Exterior of Sam's Castle
DreamArt123 / Shutterstock.com

Never would I have thought that nestled in the heart of our little town, a place as enchanting as Sam's Castle could exist.

This historical site is where I often find myself on weekends, exploring the rich history that adds charm to our city of Pacifica.

As soon as you step into the castle, the magic begins.

The castle tour is simply exceptional, transporting you back in time.

Interior of Sam's Castle
DreamArt123 / Shutterstock.com

Their stories interweave with the history of Pacifica, making you feel closely tied to the city's past.

It's a tour I and many others would highly recommend.

Feel the magic of history and enjoy the charm of our beautiful Pacifica through this castle tour.

A bedroom in Sam's Castle
DreamArt123 / Shutterstock.com

Go Plane-Spotting at SkyTerrace

When you're an aviation enthusiast living in the heart of San Francisco, the SkyTerrace at SFO is your paradise.

Just a three-stop ride on the Red AirTrain line from the BART station, you've arrived at this little gem nestled in Terminal 2.

It can be hard to find at first, but those signs will guide you right to it.

Before stepping onto the terrace, a security checkpoint only requires an X-ray scan, which is hassle-free if you ask me.

Once you're in, there's a cozy indoor seating area with comfortable chairs and exciting information about our beloved airport.

If you need to charge your device, a few outlets are available.

They've thought of everything, haven't they?

Step outside, and you're treated to a panoramic view of the runway.

Grab a seat on the patio; they have plenty of benches.

The view from here is best suited for observing domestic flights, as the smaller planes are visible.

It's awe-inspiring, watching the planes take off and land every five minutes.

Pack a snack or a drink.

They're welcome here. Just remember, smoking is off-limits.

While the SkyTerrace doesn't have a restroom, finding one nearby is no sweat.

I have to admit, the view is slightly obstructed regarding 19R/L traffic due to the airport terminal buildings, and photographers might prefer Bayfront Park or Coyote Point because of the glass barriers here.

But if you have time to spare or just fancy watching planes, SkyTerrace is the perfect spot.

Final Thoughts

I cannot help but feel proud and grateful to call San Bruno my home.

San Bruno is a hidden gem in California with its rich history, natural beauty, and vibrant community.

Whether you're a resident or a visitor, the charm of San Bruno is sure to captivate you.

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