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August 21, 2014

Take a Drive on Skyline Boulevard

This story is brought to you by the great people over at San Francisco To Do. SF To Do shares brutally honest reviews of the best ways to plan an amazing trip to San Francisco – from Alcatraz to Twin Peaks.

Most visitors to San Francisco head straight for the iconic beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin County. But if you’re looking for a great escape filled with curvy, narrow roads and dramatic mountain views, look no further than a drive on Skyline Boulevard. This hidden gem of a daytrip takes you on a spectacular out-of-the-way drive in the heart of the Bay Area. If you’ve enjoyed a “car-free” trip to San Francisco, you can also pick up a rental car for the day.

Head for the Hills

Roughly a forty-minute drive (without traffic) from San Francisco, Skyline Boulevard (US-35) puts you on a ridge road running atop the mountains that separate the San Mateo Peninsula from the Pacific Ocean. If you’re starting in San Francisco, head south on Highway 280 and follow the signs to Highway 92, as if you are going to Half Moon Bay. Once on Highway 92, you’ll meander for a few minutes on a beautiful tree-lined ascent to the summit.

When you get to the peak, turn left onto Skyline Boulevard. You’re now driving on a winding road that offers a series of scenic overlooks before taking you through a beautiful wooded area. It’s an incredibly peaceful and bucolic setting, made all the more amazing when you consider that you’re less than an hour from downtown San Francisco and only moments from the harried multi-lane freeways of Silicon Valley. But let’s not think about that for now.

Taking in the Scene

Once you’re on Skyline Boulevard, take your time to enjoy the scenery. You might want to pull over to the side of the road (safely!) to take in the views. As you’re travelling south from where Skyline intersects with Highway 92, you’ll see the San Mateo Peninsula on your left. To the right, you’ll be treated to views of the lush mountain forests that stand between you and the Pacific Ocean.

Keep in mind that Skyline is a prime destination for motorcyclists. And, on weekends especially, you’ll be sharing the road with a fair share of road warriors. The region also offers many great biking routes, even on the narrowest of roads.

Hiking and Mountain Biking

This entire area is great for hiking and mountain biking. Not far from the Skeggs Point turnout, for instance, you’ll find El Corte de Madera Creek Open Space Preserve. Once you’re in the park, follow the signs at the entrance to choose from more than 35 miles of trails on 2,819 acres of amazing forest terrain. You can get more details about spots and prices for bicycle rentals around San Francisco here.

From Roadside Grub to Fine-Dining

When it’s time for a break from the road, make a pit stop at Alice’s Restaurant in Woodside. This roadside restaurant is the perfect location for grabbing a bite to eat and reminiscing about the incredible scenery you’ve just travelled through. If it’s fine dining you crave, check out either the Mountain House or the Bella Vista. Both of these restaurants offer great food, cocktails, and a friendly atmosphere.

Where Are We Going Now?

From Woodside, you have a variety of options for continuing your drive. You can retrace your route if you’re in a rush to get back to San Francisco. Or, if you’re in the mood for a vehicular adventure, power down the GPS, put away the map, and simply meander on any one of the spectacularly beautiful side roads you’ll find in the area. If you want to really focus on the view, you can also rent a towncar and driver to make it into a truly special day.

One of our favorite drives runs on Alpine Road between Skyline Boulevard and La Honda. Another great route is Tunitas Creek Road, which ultimately takes you to Highway 1 (a few miles south of Half Moon Bay). Don’t worry too much about getting lost when you leave Skyline Boulevard; all roads will lead you back to civilization … eventually.

Photo by J. Pitt / CC BY

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