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!


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