Active Lifestyle

How San Mateo Defines Culture

August 28, 2018 • Fenny Peiffer

california from space

When we think of a city steeped in “culture,” we usually envision storied historic landmarks, and a vibrant visual, and performing art scene – but scratch below the surface, and it ’s a city’s diverse population that defines true cultural ambiance. When the world harmoniously converges as it does in San Mateo California, we’re given the opportunity to experience a rich tapestry of ethnicities and embrace traditions outside of our own. Located 20 miles south of San Francisco, San Mateo is a respite from the Silicon Valley jungle and has a cherished suburban feel that attracts a community focused crowd of young families, and active retirees.

Set upon the San Francisco Peninsula, San Mateo is a slightly more compact version of its Bay Area neighbors and is equally influenced by technology, higher education, and global diversity. According to, foreign-born residents make up more than 30 percent of its fast-growing population – creating a dynamic fusion of language, art, and collective coexistence. From the modern, Frank Lloyd Wright inspired homes found in the San Mateo Highlands, authentic Spanish architecture circa the 1930’s, and the sleek sophistication of its downtown high rises, San Mateo’s blend of styles is as varied as the community itself. It’s the kind of city where people still look out for one another, and with more than 800 shops, and restaurants, an efficient public transit system, and easy access to San Francisco International Airport, one doesn’t have to travel far to meet with friends, plan a weekend getaway, and savor everything from Peruvian, and Cuban fare to authentic Chicago style pizza.

Thankfully rain checks are far and few between – it is California after all, and whether it’s kayaking, fishing, and windsurfing across the bay, or biking through Coyote Point recreation area, San Mateo’s waterfront setting is NorCal perfection. Centrally located less than 30 minutes from Half Moon Bay, and Pacifica State Beach, and home to Central Park – where a lush, Japanese Garden floods the senses with natural beauty, it’s surprising how near all this outdoor serenity is to the Bay Area’s technology-centric landscape.

San Mateo may be a suburb, but there’s no shortage of big-city attractions and entertainment. From family-friendly activities like sharing a billowing cloud of cotton candy at the San Mateo County Fair, or watching a ballet performance at the 1,600 seat San Mateo Performing Arts Center, to planning a date night filled with live music at the Vinyl Room or meeting for an award-winning cocktail at the Swingin’ Door – the city offers kids from 9-99 a wealth of things to do by day, and well into the night. Whether they’re connecting over cultural cuisine, attending the annual Immigrants Day Festival, or meeting at the park, the people of San Mateo take pride in celebrating their heritage and embracing the diversity that surrounds them.

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