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Superb South Bay Vistas

Five don’t-miss beauty spots south of San Francisco.

  • Savannah Chanelle Vineyards, image
    Photo caption
    Above Saratoga, the grounds at Savannah Chanelle Vineyards offer views into the Santa Cruz Mountains, a wine region for more than 150 years.
  • Alviso Marina County Park, image
    Photo caption
    The boardwalk at Alviso Marina County Park leads out into San Francisco Bay and skirts ponds teeming with birds.
  • Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve, image
    Photo caption
    Ten miles of trails at Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve lead to huge views and a mix of forest and fields full of wildlife.
  • Pulgas Water Temple, image
    Photo caption
    The serene Pulgas Water Temple in Redwood City celebrates the aqueduct that brings life to the peninsula.
  • Hanna House, image
    Photo caption
    Hanna House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, was badly damaged in the Loma Prieta earthquake and needed extensive restoration.


The San Francisco Peninsula and South Bay hide more than the designs for the next smartphone. Exit its bustling highways and leave the office parks behind to discover natural splendor and inspiring architecture.

In a quiet slough at the southern end of San Francisco Bay, Alviso Marina County Park inspires the kind of serenity usually reserved for meditation retreats. Stroll walkways that skirt wind-rippled waters and range over wetlands teeming with shorebirds. Mill Street, Alviso, (408) 262-6980,

Perched on the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve embraces a diverse landscape of forested ravines, wildflower-covered hills, and the tallest named peak in San Mateo County—Borel Hill. The quick trek to the top is easy on the calves and heavy on the scenery, with 360-degree views of the Bay and Pacific Ocean. Skyline Boulevard at Page Mill Road, Palo Alto, (650) 691-1200,

Built to honor the engineering marvel that brings Yosemite water to the Bay Area, the columned Pulgas Water Temple presides over a sprawling green lawn and a glimmering reflecting pool. At the nifty refilling station, visitors who bring their own bottles can take the waters with them. Cañada Road at the south end of Upper Crystal Springs Reservoir, Redwood City, (650) 872-5900,

Perched in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Savannah-Chanelle Vineyards feels more rural than its Saratoga address suggests. Guests can explore a stream-fed redwood grove, sip estate wines in a 105-year-old barn, and picnic at hilltop tables with a view of Silicon Valley and San Jose. 23600 Congress Springs Rd., Saratoga, (408) 741-2934,

Frank Lloyd Wright dispensed with right angles when he designed Hanna House on a hexagonal grid. The restored 1936 home sits amidst two acres of gardens with rare plants and is the only one of Wright’s Northern California houses regularly open to the public. Stanford Campus, (650) 725-8352,

Photography by Garrick Ramirez




This article was first published in May 2015. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.