Explore: San Mateo's Central Park

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Heard of the charms of downtown San Mateo’s sixteen-acre urban oasis but not had the chance to hop in the car to make a day of it yet? Here’s the scoop on everything this much-loved park has to offer.

When to go: In spring during cherry-blossom season, and in summer for the shade that all the mature trees provide.

Approximate travel time: San Mateo is located 20 miles south of San Francisco.

What to see and do: There’s a little train for tots to ride on, a Japanese Tea Garden complete with a koi pond (watch the fish being fed at certain times during the spring and summer), a playground, a rose garden, picnic areas, a huge lawn, paved paths for bikes, trikes, and scooters, a snack bar, water fountains, and clean restrooms.

Where to have lunch: Take a picnic, or walk over to Pasta Pasta or Kaffeehaus, both favorite haunts of locals and visitors alike.

How to dress: Bring an extra layer along in case it’s breezy.

Bonus: Don’t miss the Central Park Music Series, where families can get up and jive to an eclectic mix of great music from around the world.  It’s held every summer and is free.

Cost of trip: Inexpensive. Train rides cost $1.50.

Online: www.cityofsanmateo.org

—Annie Sheldon