Having lived in the bay area my entire life, I have had a lot of time to discover many hidden gems that are great for dates or just fun days out with friends. Listed here, are my top 10 favorite places to explore around the SF bay area. Take advantage of these awesome locations and activities, as they are the perfect way to spend quality time with that special someone in order to take friendships further!
1. Filoli Gardens: Located in the heart of the bay area, Filoli Gardens is the perfect place for a nice afternoon stroll or a simple picnic. Here you can explore miles and miles of floral beauty as well as the inside of a historic mansion. Not to mention, admission is only $5 for students – perfect date idea of a couple on a budget!
2. Hunter’s Point: Hunter’s Point is the perfect hike, especially if you are looking for a challenge but are not trying to hike for hours. The trail itself is only 1.2 miles, but the hike is moderately challenging, making the panoramic view of Silicon Valley even more rewarding. The aerial view of Cupertino, West San Jose, Mountain View, and Saratoga is even more stunning at night!
3. Mission Peak: If you are looking for more of a challenge than Hunter’s Point, Mission Peak is your destination. The way up to the peak is entirely uphill – because it is so steep and strenuous, make sure to bring a lot of water and comfortable shoes (trust me, you will need it!). Although the hike is extremely long and challenging, once you reach the top, the view is amazing and well worth it.
4. Shoreline Park & Lake: There is so much to do at Shoreline whether it is paddle boating, kayaking, hiking, or even biking! The prices very reasonable and with the many options of activities to take on, you will find yourself easily spending the whole afternoon or even day exploring the park.
5. Panther Beach: While many beaches in Santa Cruz are often crowded and polluted with noise, Panther beach (also in Santa Cruz) is located in a secluded area, eliminating these problems. Not only is the beach quiet and romantic, the view is absolutely breathtaking. Surrounding the beach are massive stone arches that are perfect for pictures and exploring!
6. Downtown: The bay area is filled with a variety of downtowns, each with their own unique personalities. My personal favorites are downtown Palo Alto, downtown Los Gatos, and downtown Mountain View. Each downtown is surrounded by a variety of boutiques, shops, as well as five star restaurants that are definitely worth checking out!
7. California Academy of Sciences: The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco is a great place to explore, learn, and have a great time! The museum is full of a variety of exhibits ranging from Rainforests of the World, Morrison Planetarium, to Steinhart Aquarium. While admission is a little pricey, the Academy is free to everyone on certain Sundays throughout the year! The museum is also located in a gorgeous area – Golden Gate Park – where there are many other attractions to explore such as the de Young Museum and the Japanese Tea Garden.
8. Farmers Markets: Farmers markets can be found all over the bay area including downtown Mountain View, downtown Los Altos, and even Cupertino. Not only do these markets sell fresh fruits and veggies, but also many homemade treats that are great for lunch or a quick snack. Farmers markets are perfect for fun, easy, and cheap dates!
9. Drive-In Movie: Capitol Drive-In located in San Jose is perfect for that cheap yet romantic date. Tickets are $7.25 per person, which includes access to two movies of your choice! The Drive-In also offers discounts on certain days every week. Drive-Ins are much more affordable than going to the movies, while also a lot more fun. Bring your own snacks, sit back, and relax in the comfort of your own car!
10. Santana Row: One of my favorite places to go either on a date or to grab dinner with friends is Santana Row. The romantic European style architecture as well as the lively atmosphere truly makes you feel as though you are shopping or dining out in Rome. Although the shops and restaurants can be quite pricey, the unique yet fun atmosphere is worth the price! Not to mention, it doesn’t cost anything to simply walk around and enjoy the environment, which is also fun to do!
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