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As a sleepy “pass-through” town between Palo Alto and San Francisco, Redwood City used to be jokingly called “Deadwood City,” even by its residents. But things have certainly changed, and Deadwood City is no more.

Redwood City has become one of the Peninsula’s fastest-growing and most happening places, with a thriving arts, dining and entertainment scene. The city began perking up when Century Theatre opened a 20-screen theater downtown in the early 2000s. A major refurbishment then restored Broadway’s historic County Courthouse to its former glory, turning the square out front into an open-air performance center. Across the street, the beautifully renovated art deco Fox Theatre, first built in 1929, and adjacent Club Fox reopened as venues hosting top entertainers. In their wake, an enticing mixture of new restaurants, bars and nightlife options sprang up, all clustered within a few walkable blocks of the movie complex at Jefferson Avenue and Broadway.

Live music performances, and outdoor movie screenings draw big crowds on summer evenings to the Courthouse Square, which also hosts a number of festivals.

For history buffs, the San Mateo County History Museum, located inside the historic San Mateo County Courthouse, houses exhibits showcasing the county’s past, from its first inhabitants, the Ohlone Indians, to the present.