By Erin Hurley
30 Things You Need to Know About Redwood City Before You Move There
1. A Throwback To The Good Old Days Of Theater
The Fox Theatre in downtown Redwood City opened in 1929 during the motion picture craze and is still going strong today with a range of live shows, from Broadway to Joan Rivers. Step inside and be transported back to the days when simply going to the movies was an adventure in and of itself.
2. Its Climate Can’t Be Beat
The sign above downtown Redwood City proclaiming the city is “Climate Best by Government Test” isn’t just a gimmick: Before World War I the U.S. and German governments conducted tests to determine the world’s best climates, and Redwood City nabbed one of the top spots along with the Canary Islands and the Mediterranean. So all you need for a vacation are some lawn chairs (and maybe a mai tai).
3. You Can Meet Your Farmers Face To Face
On Saturday mornings between April and November our local farmers and vendors gather in Redwood City to show off all the goodies they’ve grown and made by hand. Strawberries, persimmons, veggies, fresh flowers, even jewelry – it’s basically a one-stop shop.
4. It’s Home To Some Real Characters
In 2002, when the world was still laughing over Dreamworks Animation’s Oscar-winning hit “Shrek,” the studio packed up from Palo Alto and made Redwood City its new home. Since the move, Dreamworks has continued to produce hit animated movies including “Shrek 2” (duh), “Madagascar,” and “Kung Fu Panda.” Must be the great government-tested weather.
5. Yes, The Name Is Accurate
The moniker “Redwood City” wasn’t chosen at random: The towering trees once covered the San Francisco peninsula. They’re still easily found today (they even surround City Hall). A prime spot to look up and gape is on the Purisima Redwoods Loop, a trail passing through many of the giant specimens.
6. There’s A Whole New Downtown…
In the 2000s the downtown area of Redwood City was revitalized with a huge development initiative, and transformed from not-so-impressive to a can’t-miss Peninsula destination. A huge theatre complex, boutiques, restaurants and stores—this city’s got it all for a night (or day) on the town.
7. … and It’s Still Growing
Redwood City’s development push also shows no sign of slowing down. The city has already begun construction on a new downtown office complex called Crossing/900, and there are future plans to build a new headquarters for Zazzle and a Stanford satellite site. Talk about a town literally on the rise.
8. It’s A Gamer’s Mecca
In Redwood City there stands a little company you might have heard of, called Electronic Arts. That’s right, this video game giant is headquartered right here, producing hit games like Madden, Dead Space and Mass Effect. And the campus has its own basketball and volleyball courts too. Have to keep those creative juices flowing, right?
9. Picky Eaters Have No Excuses
When it comes to finding food in Redwood City, the only thing you won’t find is a lack of choices. Chinese, American, Persian, a dizzying number of Mexican restaurants—there’s something for everyone. Try Arya Global Cuisine for delicious Persian, Italian or Middle Eastern dishes all at one theater district spot, or the fresh seafood ceviche at La Viga Restaurant nearby. Getting hungry yet?
10. It’s “Jurassic Park” With A Sense Of Humor
He smashed his way through Reddit like a… well, like a dinosaur through San Diego. But in reality Dug the T-Rex calls a Redwood City neighborhood his real home. Dug’s owners dress the over-sized tin lawn ornament up in various costumes like Elvis and Barney, and go all out on holidays like Halloween and Christmas. And it’s pretty awesome.
11. A (Long) History Of Education
If you’re looking for a high school that stands apart from the rest, Sequoia High School has a big advantage over the competition: It was the first ever high school established on the San Francisco Bay Peninsula (way back in 1895), just four years after Stanford University. It’s even on the National Register of Historic Places.
12. Relax And Raise Your Glass
No one’s judging here—sometimes we all need a glass of wine at the end of a long day. If I’m singing your song, Redwood City has you covered with its own La Honda Winery (complete with tasting room) and the elegant yet intimate 840 Wine Bar and Cocktail Lounge. Now all you have to choose is red or white… or maybe both?
13. It’s Home To An Engineering Legend
EA isn’t the only top company that calls Redwood City home. The one and only Oracle has been based here for over 20 years, and continues to churn out software used in 145 countries worldwide, including every Fortune 100 company. The sleek, imposing Redwood Shores campus is impossible to miss.
14. Lifestyle Of The Rich And (Often) Famous
Redwood City is neighbors with Bay Area cities that are ranked among the most expensive places in the country, like Woodside, Menlo Park and Atherton. A number of today’s top companies are also based close by. As a result, the city attracts many wealthy residents, and factors like average incomes and home values are significantly higher than the national average.
15. It Keeps History Alive
The historic Redwood City courthouse dates back more than 100 years, and saw many criminals pass through its doors for judgment and sentencing over the years. When it was shut down in 1988 the old building seemed to be on its way to demolition—until the San Mateo County Historical Society saved it and turned it into the San Mateo County History Museum. Today the building offers a fascinating glimpse into days gone by.
16. You Can Shamelessly Rock Out In Public
This city loves its summer music. All around Redwood City during the summer months you can catch live performances ranging from rock to jazz to country. Sometimes you might find rock and roll blasting in the austere Courthouse Square, or maybe salsa music in the park that just makes you want to get up and shake it. And the best part? All the concerts are free!
17. It’s In Deep (Water, That Is)
Fun fact: Redwood City has the only deepwater port in the southern San Francisco Bay, which makes it an ideal spot for shipping and transporting. It’s actually considered the fastest growing small bulk port in the state. Combined with the booming downtown, this city is basically unstoppable.
18. Our Ice Theatre Group Has No Mercy
Yep, you read that right. The Nazareth Ice Oasis rink is home to the city’s award-winning Theatre on Ice team, which combines the already difficult sport of ice skating with choreography, dancing and theatre. And they do it quite well. The nationally-ranked team has won multiple medals at international competitions, with no intention of ending their streak anytime soon. And you thought cross-country was exhausting.
19. It Has Killer Biscotti
For a sweet taste of Italy in Redwood City don’t miss La Biscotteria, where you’ll drool over traditional Italian classics like panettone, cannoli, and of course incredible biscotti. The charming bakery has been serving these delicacies to the public for 10 years and still gets rave reviews. Make a detour (and some room in your stomach) for these sweets. Delizioso!
20. It Knows How To Keep Things Spicy
Redwood City might not be the first destination that you think of if you’re looking for a Latin celebration, but you would be pleasantly surprised. The annual Salsa Festival brings everyone together for a day of hot music and dancing with a salsa competition and even tequila tasting. Enough said, right?
21. Get A Glimpse Of Ancient Greece
On the western edge of Redwood City you’ll find something unexpected—a temple that looks like it was transported here from thousands of years ago. The Pulgas Water Temple was constructed to honor the huge Hetch Hetchy water transportation system built during the Depression to bring water to the Peninsula. Today this Beaux-Arts temple is a peaceful spot to stop and admire, or even for tying the knot.
22. A Hometown Brewery
Looking for something a little more special than Coors or Budweiser for that get-together with your college buddies? Look no further than the FreeWheel Brewing Company, where you’ll find hand crafted English style ales brewed 10 feet from a taproom that serves as the perfect place to enjoy time with friends and family.
23. It’s Got A Criminal Record
The infamous and highly publicized Scott Peterson trial was held at the county courthouse in Redwood City in 2004 to determine whether Peterson had murdered his wife Laci and their unborn son in 2002. The trial was moved from the Peterson’s hometown of Modesto to Redwood City after it was ruled that the hostility in Modesto toward Scott was too high to conduct a fair trial.
24. It Has All The Answers
For 24 years teams have gathered at the Redwood City Trivia Bee to show that we know the answer to… basically anything. This local trivia competition poses questions like “What do the red and white stripes on a barber pole represent?” Entrance and sponsorship fees help to support literacy in the area, so you’ll leave feeling as good about yourself as the winners.
25. The Perfect Spot For A “Me Day”
Escape your hectic schedule and relax at Spa Luxe, Redwood City’s own full service day spa. Try a soothing massage, a cleansing facial, or even see a professional chiropractor. And if you’re still not convinced, it’s been recognized by the local news as the best day spa for two years in a row.
26. A Fun Way To Beat The Summer Heat
Not much is worse than a scorching hot summer day when you just can’t cool off, and the beach is too far away. But in Redwood City you don’t have to sweat it out: Stulsaft Park has the perfect solution with fountains shaped like giant colored crayons that spout cool water.
27. It’s Got A Soft Spot For The Bard
Just because Shakespeare is high drama doesn’t mean it has to be high cost. San Francisco’s Free Shakespeare in the Park program offers a classic play every summer at Redwood City’s Sequoia High School campus. Catch the witty comedy The Taming of the Shrew in 2014.
28. It’s On A Boat! (Well, Boats)
Who needs the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade when you’ve got the Redwood City Lighted Boat Contest and Parade? Each December the Sequoia Yacht Club challenges residents to a boat decorating contest and the gussied-up boats go for a glowing and floating parade around the harbor for all to see.
29. A Luxury Getaway Right Nearby
Who says you have to go to into San Francisco for a fancy hotel in the Bay Area? Redwood City is home to the elegant Hotel Sofitel, designed in a French style with a gorgeous waterfront location and all the bells and whistles expected from a luxury hotel. Check out the tennis courts, swimming pool and the bar serving specialty cocktails.
30. Roads Are So Yesterday
A drive through Redwood Shores is reminiscent of the canals in Venice, with peaceful winding water where you’d expect to find roads. That’s because an area of Redwood Shores sits below the high tide elevation and creates a lagoon. But we don’t mind: The water serves as a prime spot for recreation like kayaking and swimming, and makes for a great photo op.
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