Five don’t-miss beauty spots south of San Francisco.
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, parkhere.org.
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, openspace.org.
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, sfwater.org.
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, savannahchanelle.com.
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, hannahousetours.stanford.edu.
Photography by Garrick Ramirez
This article was first published in May 2015. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.