San Mateo has always been a crossroads for the Peninsula. Today, its downtown—the city’s cultural hub—has an impressive roster of dining, entertainment and shopping options that make it a lively destination for visitors and Peninsula residents alike.

The downtown, easily accessed from the 3rd Avenue exit off Highway 101 or by CalTrain, offers a multitude of things to do. You can shop for jewelry, apparel, oriental rugs and antiques, refresh your body and mind in an elegant spa, take in a film at the expansive Century Theater complex, work out at a fitness center, or—last but by no means least—experience a nearly endless list of great dining options.

The downtown area boasts more than 130 restaurants of every imaginable variety, running the gamut from sushi and pizza to prestigious Zagat-rated restaurants featuring a wide array of cuisines reflecting the Peninsula’s ethnically diverse population. You name it—classic American, Chinese, Continental, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Mexican and seafood, not to mention Brazilian churrasco and upscale wine bars—if you crave it, you’ll find it here.

The city also hosts an annual Wine Walk in late June. Thursday evenings throughout the summer, showcase the family-friendly Central Park Music Series featuring live performances in Central Park. A monthly Third Thursdays Art Walk highlights local artists working in nontraditional gallery spaces.

Just a few minutes south of downtown on El Camino Real, national-chain shopping and additional dining opportunities abound at Hillsdale Shopping Center. The Peninsula’s biggest indoor mall offers a cornucopia of brand-name shops, delicious food choices and three major department stores.

If you’re traveling with your kids, CuriOdyssey, located in a tree-shaded park on the shore of San Francisco Bay, offers a mini-zoo with close-up views of local animals in their native habitats.

San Mateo has all the right ingredients for a perfect day or night on the town. Visit to find out more.