Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, which means it’s time to start planning a special surprise for that special someone. In San Mateo County/Silicon Valley, there’s a hotel for every preference and price point, from high-end boutiques to cozy cottages. So whether in the mood for soft adventure or sunset dinner views, you’re in for a real treat.


North County

While there are plenty of trails to choose from in North County, Sweeney Ridge is one of the most popular among couples. In the 1,200 acres between San Bruno and Pacifica, you’ll pass through ridges and ravines overlooking inspiring views. The trail is a must-see any time of year but especially in spring, when the wildflowers are in full bloom.

After working up a sweat, cool down with a nice cold brew. For happy hour, swing by 7 Mile House for some pub grub, cool beer and live music. There’s even a “pawty” every day for dog-owning couples and their beloved pups. Monday through Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. is “Yappy Hour,” where dogs get a free peanut butter biscuit. Then there’s Armstrong Brewing Co., a brewery serving rotating pints, flights and growlers.


Central County

Feeling adventurous? Then head out on the Crystal Springs Regional Trail. With a planned span of 17.5 miles (15.3 miles are complete), couples have their pick of activities, from walking and running to skating, rollerblading, bicycling and even horseback riding.

Come lunchtime, you have your pick of bars and restaurants, whether in town or in the comfort of your own home. Vault 164 is the best of both worlds—serving up contemporary American cuisine in an upscale and hip setting, offering everything from whole-roasted chicken to fresh pasta. Should you choose to recreate your dinner experience at home, stock up on fine olive oils and balsamic vinegars from Del’Oliva.

Speaking of pasta, you have your pick of Italian restaurants in Central County. At Pausa Bar and Cookery, meals are made from scratch, and if you manage to book a seat at the coveted chef’s table, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes view. Then there’s Stella Alpina Osteria in Burlingame, with its rustic Northern Italian cuisine and romantic decor.


South County

In South County, slow things down with some soft adventure. Opt for a couple’s (or small group) horseback riding tour through Wunderlich Park in Woodside; trail rides are available for 30 minutes, an hour or 1.5 hours. Don’t worry if you’re a complete novice; there are Western saddle and English saddle lessons offered.

For something equally interactive but less strenuous, get inspired at one of San Mateo County/Silicon Valley’s art galleries or museums. The Anderson Collection at Stanford University features modern and contemporary American art. Nearby is the Cantor Arts Center, a visual arts museum with indoor exhibits as well as an outdoor sculpture park.

Weather is almost always sunny in San Mateo County/Silicon Valley, so you’ll probably want your lunch and dinner served with a view. Plan for a romantic evening of fine dining at Angelicas, a lively space with an outdoor patio and full bar. Come for the food but stick around for the live entertainment. Then there’s LV Mar, a Latin tapas restaurant serving flavorful dishes and creative cocktails in a modern setting.



If you’re up for a challenge, hike the 1.3-mile Devil’s Slide Trail. Couples can hike, run, bike or horseback ride across the rocky terrain. While certain patches can be rough, there are plenty of benches and resting spots along the way. Make sure to bring your camera along, as the overlooks offer some pretty gorgeous views.

End your day with a romantic dinner with a sunset view. La Costanera in Montana Beach is a hotspot for its oceanfront locale and fresh Peruvian fare. Toast to the sunset with a pisco sour before feasting on ceviche. For similar culinary offerings in Pacifica, try Puerto 27. Or, just enjoy the view while listening to live music at Nick’s Seafood or Moonraker in Pacifica.


See all that San Mateo County/Silicon Valley has to offer and plan your trip now.

(feature photo: Pausa Bar & Cookery by  Kristen Loken)