Major Landmarks of San Mateo, California

San Mateo is a vibrant city located in the San Francisco Bay Area with a rich history and many notable landmarks. This article provides an overview of the major landmarks and points of interest in San Mateo.

Downtown San Mateo

Downtown San Mateo is the heart of the city. It features a wide range of landmarks showcasing the city’s history and culture.

San Mateo County History Museum

The San Mateo County History Museum is located in the old San Mateo County Courthouse building constructed in 1910. This Beaux-Arts style building is itself a landmark, with granite and marble construction. The museum features permanent and rotating exhibits on the history of San Mateo County.

Central Park

Central Park is a 12-acre public park located in the center of downtown. It features walking paths, lawns, playgrounds, and sports fields. The park often hosts community events and festivals.

San Mateo Public Library

The San Mateo Public Library branch is located downtown in a distinctive building constructed in 2006 featuring a curved facade and large windows. The downtown branch is the main and largest branch of the city’s library system.

Historic Buildings and Architecture

San Mateo has many historic buildings showcasing unique architectural styles.

Saint Matthew’s Episcopal Church

Saint Matthew’s Episcopal Church was established in 1862 and the current church building dates to 1892 in the Late Victorian style. It features stained glass windows and a prominent bell tower.

City Hall

The San Mateo City Hall building was constructed in 1917 in the Beaux Arts style. It is three stories made of reinforced concrete and features an elegant exterior facade.

The Peninsula Regent

The Peninsula Regent apartment building was constructed in 1928 and is considered one of the finest Spanish Colonial Revival style buildings in San Mateo. It features intricate tile work, wrought iron details, courtyards and arches.

Parks and Outdoor Spaces

San Mateo has numerous parks and outdoor destinations for recreation and enjoying nature.

Central Park

As mentioned previously, Central Park in downtown San Mateo provides a beautiful urban green space. The rose garden and lawn bowling club located in the park are some of its landmark features.

Coyote Point Park

Coyote Point Park is a 670-acre park located on the San Francisco Bay. It features a promenade, beaches, picnic areas, playgrounds, and a marina. The park’s main landmark is the Coyote Point Museum with exhibits on natural history and science.

Beresford Park

Beresford Park is a 27-acre public park originally constructed in 1904. It features sports fields, a skate park, playgrounds, and the landmark San Mateo Senior Center building.

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain is a 60-acre open space preserve owned by the Peninsula Open Space Trust. Visitors can hike to the top of Sugarloaf Hill to enjoy panoramic views of the Bay Area.

Historic Places and Districts

Several neighborhoods and areas of San Mateo have historic significance.

Rail Corridor Trestle

The Rail Corridor Trestle is considered one of San Mateo’s most iconic landmarks. It is an elevated railway bridge built in 1902 that remains standing today.

Hillsdale Shopping Center

Hillsdale Shopping Center was established in 1948 as one of the first suburban outdoor malls in the country. It was designated as a historic landmark in 2004.

Boogie House

The Boogie House at 706 Oak Grove Avenue was the site of live music shows in the 1940s and 1950s that helped catalyze the rock and roll scene in the Bay Area. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2021.

Japan Town

San Mateo’s historic Japan Town dates back to the late 1800s when many Japanese immigrants settled in the area. The neighborhood retains many historic shops and buildings that celebrate this cultural heritage.

Educational Institutions

San Mateo is home to several prominent educational institutions with significant campuses.

San Mateo High School

San Mateo High School was established in 1902 and is one of the oldest public high schools in California. The current main building was built in the 1920s with a distinctive tower.

Notre Dame de Namur University

Notre Dame de Namur University is a private Catholic university founded in 1851, making it the third oldest college in California. Its 50-acre campus has many historic buildings.

College of San Mateo

College of San Mateo is a public community college established in 1922. It has notable brutalist style mid-century modern architecture.

Nueva School

Nueva School is a highly selective private K-12 school founded in 1967. It has two campuses in San Mateo emphasizing innovative and project-based learning.

Additional Landmarks

Here are some other significant landmarks in San Mateo:

  • San Mateo County Event Center – Home to the annual San Mateo County Fair and year-round events.
  • San Mateo City Hall – The historic 1917 civic building made of reinforced concrete in the Beaux Arts style.
  • Poplar Creek Golf Course – A scenic 18-hole public golf course originally built in 1925.
  • Bay Meadows Racetrack – A former horse racing track that operated from 1934 to 2008. Now being redeveloped.
  • Bayshore Freeway – A section of US 101 passing through San Mateo with historic architectural features.
  • KCSM-TV – Public television station based at the College of San Mateo since 1964.

In conclusion, San Mateo is filled with history and landmarks just waiting to be explored. From historic buildings and parks to civic and educational institutions, these landmarks showcase the rich cultural heritage of this Bay Area city.

Visitors and residents alike can appreciate the diverse architecture, public spaces, and unique sights that make San Mateo special.


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  • Starting downtown, head north on South B Street then make a left on East 4th Ave followed by a right on South Delaware Street. Turn left on 9th Avenue and arrive shortly on the right.
  • Coming from Highway 101 North, take the CA-92 West exit then turn left on Delaware Street and right on 9th Avenue, arriving soon after on the right side.
  • From Hayward Park Station, walk northwest on West Hillsdale Boulevard, turn right on Norfolk Street followed by a left on 9th Avenue. 812 will be on the left side.