Turn Your Back on Golden Gate Traffic: 10 Best Cow Palace Attractions

If you mention to friends that you're headed to a convention at the Cow Palace, they'll probably suggest all kinds of San Francisco Bay Area excursions. The wine country tours of Sonoma and Napa are always popular, and the coastal hiking in Point Reyes National Seashore offers plenty of exercise to shake off the rust from those long meetings. Hopping on BART can take you across the bay to the college town fun of Berkeley or for lunch at all the new restaurants popping-up in revitalized Oakland.

But don't feel you have to head far north or east from the Cow Palace to find the best attractions in the Bay Area. If you head south instead, you'll find the dramatic coast of San Mateo County has all kinds of sights to offer. For example, an unforgettable day would include the gorgeous drive down Highway 1 through the brand new tunnel, with a stop for a Pacific view at the Montara Lighthouse and a day of shopping, eating and sightseeing at lovely Half-Moon Bay. If you don't have that kind of time away from your conference, consider a quick drive to nearby Pacifica and whale-watching right off of Mori Point. 

If you're in town near the Cow Palace and need a break - and don't want to get stuck in the traffic on the Golden Gate or Bay Bridge - skip the traffic and the tolls by checking out our list below. 

Ocean Beach
Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy


During the summer months, locals flock to the area beaches, and Ocean Beach is one their top choices. This expansive shoreline extends from the Cliff House to Fort Funston along the glistening Pacific Ocean, making it a great spot to stroll, jog...  Read More

Mission Dolores Park
Photo courtesy of nguy1


Mission Dolores Park is the heart of the Mission district and offers wonderful views of downtown. This is a true city park: often crowded, usually loud, and a great spot for people-watching. Street performers and food trucks often visit the park...  Read More



Perched right on the Pacific Ocean, The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a world-class facility that offers unforgettable experiences for the whole family. If you're coming from San Francisco, you'll enjoy a beautiful drive down the coast with plenty of...  Read More



Spend a day preparing for the holidays and soaking up seasonal cheer in the streets of Victorian England. Actors dressed in period costume, authentic specialty stores, strolling musicians and other live entertainers make the Dickens Fair a...  Read More



Nothing quite symbolizes San Francisco as much as her famous beer, Anchor Steam. Locals always anticipate the brewery's "holiday brew," which includes secret ingredients that change every year. And both tourists and locals have made the tour of...  Read More

South Bay/Peninsula
Ano Nuevo State Park
Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy


Ano Nuevo State Park is a coastal park just an hour's drive south of San Francisco. It offers similar activities and sights as most Bay Area parks: endless hiking up and down hills that offer dramatic views of the endless Pacific Ocean. What...  Read More



Half Moon Bay Brewing Company is always "hopping." People come from miles around not just for their excellent brews, but for their fantastic meals, as well. If you're looking for an excuse to get out of San Francisco -and want to avoid the...  Read More



Perched on the edge of the Pacific, Fort Funston is a reminder of what most of San Francisco used to be: sand. World-renowned for its hang-gliding and locally-renowned for dog walking, Fort Funston offers spectacular views of the Pacific. If you...  Read More

Mori Point
Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy


Although Stinson Beach and Ocean Beach are the most popular beaches in the greater San Francisco Bay area, Sharp Beach Park at Mori Point is a hidden jewel. Just a twenty minutes from the city in the surfer community of Pacifica, Mori Point and...  Read More



Although the Marin and Sonoma coasts boast some wonderful Pacific views and a lighthouse or two, the hidden gem of Montara Lighthouse and Hostel is a a great stop not eh beautiful drive down Highway One. Visitors aren't allowed into the...  Read More


Meet Tom Molanphy

The only thing that Tom Molanphy loves more than the food, art, music, and culture of San Francisco is sharing it with others. San Francisco never gets old for Tom.

Tom has lived in the San...  More About Tom