Calling all college students during the last few weeks of the summer holidays, discover some of the Bay Area’s most beautiful hidden treasures. There are dozens of breathtaking locations waiting to be explored. Whether you enjoy travelling solo, with family or friends, any of these 10 gems are perfect for a day or weekend out in the Californian sun.
No matter what mood you are in or what time of year it is, Panther Beach is a hidden treasure every college student must explore. Panther’s heavenly sand and beautiful walking trails aid any college student’s need for a relaxing and picturesque environment. The beach is fairly secluded, giving it a secret getaway feel and photographers from all over the globe visit Panther beach to snap the unique rock sea arch leading to a much lengthier section of the beach to the south. Known as the ‘Hole in the wall’ beach, this stunning stretch of light-colored sand has a few private caves that also draw nude sunbathers. It’s also a great little spot for beginner surfers who want to escape the big crowds in Santa Cruz.
Panther Beach, California 1, Seaside, CA 95060
Conservatory of Flowers
The Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park is a magical tropic wonderland that every college student must appreciate. It has captivated thousands of guests from all over the world, since its opening in 1878. The exuberant Victorian building has a rich source of history, named one of the oldest public wood and glass conservatories in North America. It is a highly regarded national historic landmark, remaining one of the most photographed and beloved attractions in San Francisco.
A perfect hidden treasure for a date, spend hours smelling and touching some of the world’s most gorgeous flowers, plants and trees. The colors, details and excellent lighting are something that can only be experienced by visiting. Every first Tuesday of the month is free, otherwise it costs $8 or $5 for seniors, students and locals.
Conservatory of Flowers, 100 John F Kennedy Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118
Capitola Beach, Capitola
Capitola Beach is a truly extraordinary hidden gem. The 855-foot wharf running along the beach attracts sightseers from all around the world. It is located in Capitola Village, on the renowned Esplanade and is known for its popular restaurants and charming shops within walking distance from the beach.
The intimate beach is shielded on either end by high cliffs, which prohibit cold winds entering. Soquel Creek empties through the beach into the ocean in winter and during summer it becomes an inland lagoon, creating a great area for less confident swimmers in the shallow waters. The waves are very tame, making it a perfect place for beginner surfers, paddle boarding, skim boarding and kayaking. Take a break for refreshments at the Wharf House Restaurant, located at the end of Capitola Wharf to experience the hidden treasures of great food and a cheerful environment that locals have known for years. Wharf House Restaurant has great views of Capitola Village and all of Monterey Bay, experience watching the moon rise over the ocean while eating sensational food.
Capitola Beach, Capitola, CA 95010
California Academy of Sciences
Spend a day exploring one of the largest museums of natural history in the world. The California Academy of Sciences is a perfect place to visit with a group of friends this summer. This amazing museum opened in 1853 and has only continued to expand since. There are many different sections of the museum; some include a section featuring a dome-like canopy, a rainforest and Amazon. The famous Steinhart aquarium, enables visitors to experience an underwater world, featuring hundreds of sea creatures and plants that you are able to touch and feel, adding to a close and personal experience of an aquatic environment.
California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118
Stanford University Church
Stanford University’s Memorial Church is a phenomenal landmark that every college student should take the time to visit, whether religious or not. Admire the numerous stunningly unique and historic mosaics. Located at the main quad of Stanford University Campus, it was originally built by Jane Stanford during the American renaissance as a memorial to Leland, her husband. The Stanford family who constructed the university as a memorial to their son, Leland declared that the church be open to all and serve the ‘broadest spiritual needs’ of the university community. The Stanford family were religious, yet they wanted the church to be open to all students of all faiths. Anyone is welcome and encouraged to visit any day of the school week for no cost. The church is open for visitors Monday to Fridays from 8am to 5pm.
Memorial Church, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305
If you love nature’s beauty, Mount Tamalpais peak is a perfect hideaway escape. It sits north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and is free for anyone to experience it’s spectacular views from the 2,571-foot peak. The view is gorgeous during a clear day where you can see 25 miles out to sea, with exceptional views of The San Francisco Bay. Regularly the mountains are covered with a cloud of fog creating an ‘above the clouds’, heaven-like environment. There are also dozens of challenging hilly hikes with extraordinary views of the entire San Francisco Bay, stretching out for miles along Marin County. Take a break and simply enjoy being amongst nature at this breathtaking location.
Mt Tamalpais, California 94941
You will not regret having dinner at Coconuts Caribbean Restaurant and Bar in Palo Alto. The food is very reasonably priced, the service is exceptional and the laid-back environment is perfect for any occasion. No matter if you are just ordering from the bar for beautifully decorated cocktails or sitting to eat dinner outside under the Caribbean palm trees and glowing lights, you will love the Caribbean themed environment that also occasionally features live music. Inspired by the Caribbean Islands, the creative dishes feature bold spices on the menu, that will surely thrill your taste buds and leave you wanting to come back for more. Whether you prefer savory or sweet dishes, Coconuts has a wide variety of dishes to suit your appetite.
Coconuts Caribbean Restaurant & Bar, 642 Ramona St, Palo Alto, CA 94301
Sutro Baths & Lands End
Sutro Baths & Lands End
The Sutro Baths in San Francisco is a perfect place to relax with friends and learn the historical significance behind a 19th-century swimming pool. This hidden treasure features rare and unique rock formations and caves. Visit during the day to ensure good lighting for photography and full vision of the ruin. Back in 1896, the Sutro baths was known to be the largest indoor swimming pool. Unfortunately maintenance costs were too high, so it struggled for years leading to its final closing in 1966. All the remains of the site after a fire during its demolishment are left for people to touch, see and explore. After exploring the Sutro Baths, take a 30-minute walk to Land’s end for a spectacular view of The Golden Gate Bridge. It is a peaceful, open and quiet place to explore on a sunny day.
Sutro Baths, 680 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121
One of the most extraordinary hidden treasures is Battery Spencer in Marin County. Battery Spencer is an abandoned military point, where many postcard pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge are taken. Simply, nothing else compares. Do not waste one more minute trying to take photographs of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge elsewhere, this location provides a stunning view at any time of the day. Before heading back to school, take a drive here with friends, pull out a blanket and food to dine under the stars while admiring the famous symbol of San Francisco.
Battery Spencer, Conzelman Rd, Sausalito, CA 94965