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San Carlos, California, is a quiet Silicon Valley city near San Francisco. Being a small suburb, it can seem like there is not a whole lot to do there, but there are a few cool highlights, many of them involving food & drink. Here are the best things to do in San Carlos, including museums, restaurants, bars, & more.
Hiller Aviation Museum
The most prominent attraction in San Carlos is the Hiller Aviation Museum (website). Located at the San Carlos Airport, the museum has a variety of vintage and experimental aircraft, with some 50+ on display.
The Hiller Aviation Museum, which helicopter designer Stanley Hiller founded, is also part of the Smithsonian Affiliations program. There are also flight simulators, aviation camps, and other fun activities.
Laurel Street Pedestrian Mall
As awful as 2020 was for everyone, there were a few silver linings. Places like San Carlos learned that there is demand for more outdoor walkable spaces. In 2023, San Carlos turned Laurel Street into a permanent pedestrian mall. Over the coming years, the city will continue to work to make the space even more attractive and accessible. I applaud this, as I believe in reducing car dependence.
Laurel Street is lined with restaurants, bars, and shops. With the street now closed to traffic, there is plenty of room to walk or bike. Everyone can also enjoy the excellent weather with outdoor eating & drinking.
There are plenty of excellent places to go along Laurel Street in San Carlos, but some of the highlights include Blue Line Pizza, Gelataio, Rangoon Ruby Burmese Cuisine, Diddams Party & Toy Store, Town, Hapa’s Brewing Company, Blind Tasting Restaurant & Wine Bar, The Cask Wine Bar, Spasso, Pranzi, and Ale Arsenal.
San Carlos stretches from the San Francisco Bay up into the foothills of the mountains that separate Silicon Valley from Half Moon Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
Up in these hills, there are a few local parks with great views, hiking, and recreation, including Eaton Park, Big Canyon Park, and Heather Park.
Closer to the center of town is City Hall Park, which is popular with dog owners.
Local Craft Beer
San Carlos has several great places to drink craft beer, including Ale Arsenal, Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company, Blue Oak Brewing Company, Hapa’s Brewing Company, and Out of the Barrel.
Local Wine Tasting
While there aren’t vineyards in the city, there are a few production wineries in San Carlos that offer tastings and other events.
Local wineries include Russian Ridge Winery, Flying Suitcase Wines, Domenico Winery, and Woodside Vineyards.
Additionally, you can also visit wine bars such as Blind Tasting & The Cask.
Sky Zone Trampoline Park
Looking for something to do on a rainy day in San Carlos? Or are you looking for things to do with kids in San Carlos? The Sky Zone Trampoline Park (website) has you covered.
The indoor trampoline park has a variety of activities, including trampolines, zip lines, ultimate dodgeball, sky slam, and more. Sky Zone Trampoline Park also hosts groups & events, including birthday parties.
San Carlos Museum of History
The San Carlos Museum of History is located next to the San Carlos Fire Station on Laurel Street.
The museum is currently only open on Saturday afternoons (check their website for the latest times). It contains exhibits ranging from Native settlements in the area to electronics related to the city’s position in the heart of Silicon Valley. There is also a historic fire truck.
San Carlos Library
The San Carlos Library (website) is part of the San Mateo County Library system.
In addition to books, the San Carlos Library also offers community programs, including art, writing, reading, sewing, tech tutoring, board games, and more.
Other Bars & Restaurants in San Carlos
In addition to the Laurel Street Pedestrian Mall bars & restaurants I mentioned above, there are also several other great places for food & drink in San Carlos, including El Charrito, CreoLa Bistro, Red Hot Chili Pepper, Rita’s Italian Ice & Frozen Custard, Rustic House Oyster Bar & Grill, Noelani’s Island Grill, Mints & Honey, & Johnston’s Saltbox.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out these San Carlos hotels.