Detour Home: Stuff to Do Outside of San Francisco

The Castro, Duboce Triangle, craft beer, Haight-Ashbury, Alcatraz, seafood, the Golden Gate Bridge, historic streetcars, sourdough bread, and Dolores Park are just a few of the places and things that attract tourists and make up the vibrant city of San Francisco.

Like a lot of the big cities in California, San Francisco is surrounded by even more vibrant, fun, and often quirky towns and cities with their own festivals, attractions, and small-town/big-character personalities that are just as colourful as the rainbow-lined streets of the Castro District and just as bustling and entertaining as the Embarcadero. Better yet, many of these towns are accessible through the very well-connected mass transit line.

On one of our travels we discovered the town of Burlingame. Just 10 minutes away from SFO Airport, Burlingame is one of those small towns with a big and welcoming personality. It hosts a lively and walkable downtown complete with outdoor shops, restaurant patios, and streets lined with locally owned coffee shops and bars. The restaurants we saw were all small and family-owned, providing not only great food but also pleasant and welcoming conversations. It’s one of those rare places that have found that perfect balance of urban living and suburban peacefulness.

Burlingame is a great place to visit for families looking for a change of scenery from the big-city vibe of San Francisco, or for visitors looking to grab a more relaxing small-town experience without travelling too far from the downtown core. We were lucky enough to visit Burlingame during its annual Pet Parade, which saw the whole town come out to showcase their furry, clawed, feathered, and even scaled friends.

We were sad to leave the town knowing that just a few days later there would be a chili cook-off, but despite that, Burlingame was a pleasant “road less travelled” destination to visit. It was hard to believe that we were actually exploring the suburbs, as the town is far from having that sleepy suburban feel. The experience of walking through the town’s quaint yet lively downtown, passing under giant and majestic eucalyptus trees, was a breath of fresh air from the busy rolling hills of downtown San Francisco. We were happy to have stopped over in Burlingame before flying back home via SFO, which was just a short drive away!


For more travel adventures, check our blog.

Travelling with Pets on Public Transit

Renji, our 75-lb Doberman, is more than just a pet to us. He’s a family member, and not to just myself and my spouse. He gets treated like a grandchild by our parents. We even call my brother-in-law’s Golden Retriever his “cousin.” So, naturally, our little guy goes everywhere, or at least everywhere possibly allowable. He’s sat in my office at work sometimes, he joins us on our morning jogs, and when we’re feeling extra cozy in the evenings, he’ll cuddle up beside us and watch Netflix.

Taking your dog around everywhere you can takes experience and training—lots and lots of training. The key to travelling with your dog is consistency and patience. Renji doesn’t like small places. He’s the type of dog that needs to be out in open space or in an area with lots of positive mental stimulation. Most dogs are like this, and getting them in a car or on a subway takes some getting used to for the both you.


Public Transit

This could potentially be a little trickier and will require more training than travelling by car. Public transit is a whole different playing field. For one, you have to be mindful of other people and pets around you. Not everyone is comfortable around animals, especially larger dogs. Likewise, other pets on the train or subway can be distracting to yours, so you’ll really need to train them to keep focused. Again, take it slow. Go on quick, short trips, and always encourage and reward your dog for good behaviour. We always take a bunch of treats with us to keep Renji busy, especially at times when transit is busier. Take each trip as a learning and training opportunity for your dog to keep their mind engaged on you.

They key to an enjoyable trip experience with your dog is patience and training, regardless of where you go and how you get there. And, like all good things, it will take time before your dog becomes a road trip buddy or a public transit pro.


In the Car

If your dog hasn’t been in a car much since their puppy years, it may be a bit of a challenge for them to get used to being cooped up in the backseat, or the trunk of a hatchback or station wagon. The easiest thing to do is getting them crate trained and having the crate in the back for them to travel in. If that’s not a possibility, make the vehicle enjoyable for your dog. Lay down familiar items like their favourite toy or blanket, and reward them for getting into the car with you. Next, take them on short trips and always encourage them. In the beginning, we’d take Renji on quick trips to the pet store or to the park, and eventually, he learned that jumping in the car and driving off meant going somewhere fun! Safety tip: invest in seatbelt harnesses for your dog. It’s not required by law, but you always want to play it safe when it comes to your furry loved one.



Are you planning a road trip with the whole family? Check out these 5 tips. Or, read other articles about travelling with pets on our blog.