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Today, Norm Goldman, Editor of is pleased to have as our guest, Margi Grant, Publications Manager  San Mateo County Convention and Visitors Bureau.   Margi is here to share her knowledge about San Mateo County in California.



Good day Margi and thank you for participating in our interview.





Margi, can you tell us something about yourself and what you do as Publications Manager of the San Mateo County Convention and Visitors Bureau?




I have worked in different capacities at the San Mateo County Convention and Visitors Bureau for 25 years I have served as Publications Manager for the past six years.  My job entails producing the Bureau's tourism brochures, special interest brochures, the county's calendar of events, a visitors e-newsletter, and various other publications.

I also serve as the Bureau's liaison with travel journalist by keeping the media informed about attractions and venues in our area and by representing San Mateo County at several media trade shows.  I was born in Shanghai, China (of Russian and German parentage), grew up in Brazil, and have lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since the age of 15.  I am married to an attorney whose passion (besides me, I hope) is fly fishing. 




Where is San Mateo County?




San Mateo County is located immediately south of San Francisco and takes up most of the San Francisco Peninsula.  It is the area between San Francisco and San Jose and home to the San Francisco International Airport.  The county offers two sides of a gorgeous peninsula the Coastside and the Bayside and is chock full of undiscovered treasures and an abundance of scenic and fascinating attractions.




If you had to choose six of the most romantic venues in San Mateo County, which ones would you choose and why?




San Mateo County's Coastside can truly vie for the title of one of California's most romantic destinations.  The Coastside, with its stunning scenery combining the Pacific Ocean, rugged cliffs, solitary beaches, lush redwood forests, gloriously colored fields of wild flowers and pumpkins, offers cozy bed and breakfast inns, luxury oceanfront hotels, and romantic seaside dining. 

A day or weekend spent on the San Mateo coast cannot fail to inspire and rekindle romantic feelings.  And if you are not in love, you are sure to be after the breathtakingly romantic adventure that awaits you on the Coastside.


Here are some suggestions for activities that are sure to promote romance:


***An early morning hike or horseback ride under the canopy of redwood trees of  Sam McDonald Park, Memorial Park or Heritage Grove.

*** Butano State Park offers miles of scenic trails for hiking and mountain biking with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.  For another fun activity that promotes togetherness, rent kayaks from Half Moon Bay Kayak Company out of Pillar Point Harbor.


***A hand-in-hand stroll on the beach is a fascinating adventure of exploring tide pools and marine life at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve or watching the migratory birds and waterfowl of Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve.  The beaches of Half Moon Bay are also great for horseback riding, fishing and sunbathing.


***Visit one or both of the Coastside's lighthouses.  BothPigeon Point Lighthouse and Montara Lighthouse provide gorgeous views of the coast and ocean, as well as accommodations for overnight stay. 

***How can one not feel inspired spending a night in such an unusual and romantic setting?  The movie Bandits (starring Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton and Cate Blanchett) was shot at the Montara Lighthouse and we all witnessed the romance this setting promoted in the film.


***The Coastside provides such a variety of places for romantic accommodations. The Beach House Hotel and the Half Moon Bay Lodge provide luxurious rooms with gorgeous ocean views.  The numerous bed and breakfast inns on the San Mateo coast range from rustic to posh, but all are charming and provide a wonderfully cozy and romantic atmosphere.  At Landis Shores Oceanfront Inn, marriage proposals average two a week! 

***Costanoa is a fun location to spend a weekend  the facility provides both lodge and camping accommodations in a wonderfully scenic setting.


***Visit the quaint and historic towns along the coast.  Each has a fascinating history of agriculture, bootlegging, and rum running.  Take your loved one antique shopping.  Stroll along Half Moon Bay's historic streets teeming with antique stores and small restaurants.  It's a wonderful way to relax and bond with your partner.


***The San Mateo CountyCoastside is famous for its farms and nurseries.  The visual spectacle of colors created by the multi-colored flower fields, green houses, and pumpkin and Christmas tree fields is breathtaking.  Visit the nurseries and buy some flowers for your loved one.  Or, go fruit picking at some of the ranches that offer kiwifruit, olallieberries, and other fruit at their ripest. 

Some of the ranches offer picnic areas that will provide a wonderful romantic experience. Wine tasting at La Nebbia Winery proves to be a delightful stop in Half Moon Bay.  Share a Champagne or wine toast with your love and purchase a bottle to relive the experience at a later date. 

The winery also provides a picnic area in the back overlooking colorful pumpkin fields.  What better way to create an unforgettable moment?





As a follow up, could you describe six of the most unique wedding destinations such as parks, beaches etc in San Mateo County?




Besides the numerous scenic locations on the San Mateo County Coastside (Redwood parks overlooking the Pacific Ocean, gorgeous beaches, golf courses along the ocean, and the beautiful hotels and inns previously mentioned), the Bayside of the County was the chosen location for several beautiful mansions built for wealthy San Francisco business tycoons who used the estates as their country homes. 


***The Kohl Mansion in Millbrae,  former home of Alaska commercial shipping business heir Frederick Kohl, is a 63-room Tudor style home built in 1914 and considered a historical jewel due to its spectacular rooms and fascinating past.


***Ralston Hall in Belmont,  a Victorian mansion completed in 1868 and furnished with priceless antiques, is situated on what is now the campus of the Notre Dame de Namur University.  These mansions are ideal settings for elegant and romantic weddings and other special occasions.  


***Woodside's Thomas Fogarty Winery and Vineyards,  situated in a spectacular setting overlooking the vineyards and the mountains of the San Francisco Peninsula, is a gorgeous spot for weddings and private and corporate events. 

***Located in Central Park in the heart of the city of San Mateo is the  Japanese Tea Garden, considered one of the finest tea gardens in California. Landscape architect Nagao Sakurai of the Imperial Palace of Tokyo designed this stunning retreat graced with a granite pagoda, a teahouse, lanterns, and bamboo groves. 

The garden, containing harmoniously arranged trees, waterfalls, Koi ponds, lotus flowers, different seasonal blooms and rare plants, and all the features traditional to Japanese garden is a beautiful location for a wedding.




How is the cultural scene in San Mateo County- museums, theater etc?




San Mateo County is proud of its several museums specializing in a range of historical topics. 


***The Hiller Aviation Museum  in San Carlos showcases the past, present and future of aviation with an array of aircraft, interactive hands-on displays, and multimedia presentations spanning the development of aviation since the early 1800's.  The museum, which also hosts Vertical Challenge (the largest helicopter show in the country), provides a fascinating tour for both children and adults. 


***San Mateo's Coyote Point Museum for Environmental Education  offers environmental exhibits in addition to aquariums, computers, games, films, and a wildlife habitat that features native Bay Area live animals, birds and plants.  The museum has recently re-opened its newly refurbished aviary and beehive exhibit.  The San Mateo County History Museum, located in Redwood City (the county's seat) features exhibits spanning the various eras in the history of the San Francisco Peninsula.

***The unusual Burlingame Museumof Pez Memorabilia- a collection of over 500 Pez candy dispensers plus Pez jigsaw puzzles, watches and books on the toy's history, is a fun visit for families with children.   In addition, each city in San Mateo County has a museum, which contains exhibits depicting the history of its particular area.   And, of course, there are countless art galleries and art museums along the San Francisco Peninsula. 


***The historic Fox Theatre  is an establishment that dates back to 1929.  The theatre was built as the Sequoia Theatre with a Gothic Revival exterior and a Moorish style interior.  It was mainly used for motion pictures although it also featured a stage for Vaudeville acts and a pipe organ. 

In the 1950's the Fox Theatre underwent extensive interior remodeling to resemble the Art Deco style of the period's movie houses, and in 1993, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Since the remodeling, Fox Theatre has hosted an impressive array of talent which includes such entertainment greats as Bill Cosby, Tony Bennett, Joan Baez, Marcel Marceau, Lyle Lovett, Tim Conway and Harvey Korman, Itzhak Perlman, Charlie Daniels Band, Kenny Loggins, B.B. King, the Beach Boys, the Vienna Choir Boys, Johnny Mathis, and the Peking Acrobats.


***Broadway By The Bay in San Mateo features top-notch musical shows such as West Side Story, Funny Girl, Bye Bye Birdie, and Cabaret, and Foster City's charming Hillbarn Theatre present top-quality community theater productions.




What are the favorite romantic dining establishments in the county?




***Moss Beach  is the beautiful setting for the famous Moss Beach Distillery.  Now a popular restaurant on the Coast, the Distillery, built in 1917,  is home to a legendary ghost (the Blue Lady, who wanders about the area searching for her lover) and a history dating back to the speakeasy and bootlegging days.  Watch the sunset on the Distillery deck overlooking the ocean while sampling drinks and appetizers.


***And, for a perfectly romantic ending to a fabulous day, snuggle by the fire pits on the patio of the charming  Half Moon Bay Brewing Company in Princeton-by-the-Sea.  The restaurant, built in a Cape Cod cottage style, is a cozy place to dine and try out a variety of beers. 


***Princeton-by-the-Sea is a fishing town where fresh seafood is served in countless restaurants. No romantic evening would be complete without dinner at the elegant award-winning Cetrella Bistro and Café on Main Street in Half Moon Bay.   Cetrella has been selected for the third year in a row as one of the 2006 Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants by food critic Michael Bauer of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Lewis Rossman, executive chef of Cetrella, was named one of the top five chefs under the age of 35 by The Wave Magazine.




If you don't have a car, how easy or difficult is it to travel around San Mateo County?




The county is extremely accessible by land and air.  San Francisco International Airport is actually located in San Mateo County and BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit System) connects the airport and the Peninsula to most of the Bay Area.  The airport has recently added discount airlines that offer economical fares to domestic and international destinations. 

Virgin America has decided to base its U.S. operations at San Francisco International Airport and plans to be operating from SFO to the East Coast in the near future.

Additionally, the Baby Bullet train has started its service between San Francisco and San Jose and covers the distance in less than an hour at speeds up to 75 mph.  And, of course, the SamTrans bus system conveniently connects the various cities on the Peninsula.




Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered.




Since nature has generously provided a splendid year-round climate, a beautiful and pristine environment, and a location convenient to all Bay Area action, San Mateo County is famous for offering fun, pleasure and relaxation. 

All in all, San Mateo County is a destination not-to-be-missed.  For more information on the above attractions and venues, please contact the San Mateo County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-800-288-4748 or check our WEBSITE. We are here to ensure that your trip to San Mateo County is truly an unforgettable experience.

To learn what Margi had to say about the Beaches of San Mateo County, CLICK HERE

Thanks once again Margi for sharing your knowledge with our readers.