Victorian Days Walking Tours

Get a taste of local history through online walking tours.

Get a taste of local history through free walking tours that give an introduction to some of the historic places and themes throughout San Mateo County. Many of the tours require RSVPS and some have COVID-related restrictions. For everyone’s safety, please stay home if you are ill.

Group dressed in period Victorian clothing for Victorian Walking Day Tours at San Mateo County History Museum

“Emperor Norton” and friends at the Cypress Lawn Walking Tour, 2016

Tours and Dates

Redwood City: Historic Union Cemetery – Saturday, July 16 from 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Historic Union Cemetery Association Board members will lead a tour starting at the kiosk near the entrance at 316 Woodside Road, Redwood City. The Historic Union Cemetery first opened in 1859 on a six-acre triangle of land just outside of downtown Redwood City.  With a little over 2,400 graves, many contain San Mateo County founding families and pioneers. Closed in 1918, the cemetery was named a California Historic landmark in 1967 and was placed on the National Register of Historic places in 1983.

RSVP: 650.299.0104, ext. 220 or education@historysmc.org
Difficulty Level: Easy. Flat, gravel paths.
Address: 316 Woodside Road, Redwood City

Woodside: Folger Stable – Sunday, July 17 from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Starting at the picnic tables near the parking lot, tour the Folger Estate Stable Historic District at Wunderlich Park (4040 Woodside Road, Woodside). Learn about the history of the main stable, Carriage House, Chinese built stone walls, the blacksmith barn and dairy house. Take a trip back in time to learn about the agricultural uses of the property, the development of the Folger Coffee Company, the architectural legacy of the estate, the influence of horses to the American West and Woodside history. This year the tour will feature the planned restoration of the Dairy House built in 1874 that is currently in disrepair. Parking is extremely limited on this site.

Difficulty Level: Moderate. Most surfaces are paved and even, some bricks/pavers, one steep segment. For questions, contact fhwp2961@gmail.com.
Address: Wunderlich County Park, 4040 Woodside Road, Woodside

South San Francisco – Saturday, July 23 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

The South San Francisco Public Library History Room will share architectural details about historic buildings along Grand Avenue.  We will see the hotel that housed the earliest workers in the booming industrial town, the house that served as the City’s first hospital, and a dozen other historical sites. Come hear about the people who lived and worked in the city 100 years ago. The tour will start at the library (306 Walnut Avenue, South San Francisco) with a video about the city’s history. Free parking behind the library, enter on Miller Avenue.

RSVP and more information: 650.877.8533 or martinezev@plsinfo.org
Difficulty Level: Moderate. Most is on a slight decline, 2 blocks are steeper.
Address: Grand Avenue Library, 306 Walnut Ave., South San Francisco

Colma: Italian Cemetery – Saturday, July 30 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Join the Colma Historical Association for a one-hour walk through the Italian Cemetery starting at the cemetery office (540 F Street at Clark Avenue, Colma). You’ll learn about its founding, the stories of some of its famous underground residents, the unique architectural style of the cemetery, and its award-winning above ground mausoleums. This will be followed by a picnic buffet at the Colma Historical Museum “next door” to the cemetery (1500 Hillside Boulevard, Colma).

COVID Restriction: Masks recommended
RSVP: 650.757.1676 or cha@colmahistory.com
Difficulty Level: Easy. The tour is on level ground, but the paved paths have some trip-hazards.
Address: Italian Cemetery, 540 F Street at Clark Avenue, Colma

Menlo Park – Saturday, August 6 from 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Menlo Park Historical Association (MPHA) Historian, Bo Crane, along with other members of the MPHA Board, will lead participants to historical sites in one of Menlo Park’s oldest sections start at the 1867 Railroad Depot (1120 Merrill Street, Menlo Park). The tour will follow Ravenswood Avenue and Oak Grove Avenue. Sights will include the 1869 Bright Eagle mansion, the 1927 Corpus Christi monastery, the Vallombrosa Center with an 1880 mansion, the 1872 Church of the Nativity, the 1914 Montgomery House, the 1864 Hopkins estate Gate House, and the newly built Menlo Park gate, replicating the original 1854 Menlo Park Ranch gateway. Please bring your own water and sun protection.

Difficulty Level: Easy. The 1.5-mile tour is on level sidewalks.
Address: Menlo Park Train Station, 1120 Merrill Street, Menlo Park

Burlingame- – Sunday, August 7 from 1-2 p.m.

The Burlingame Historical Society tour will describe the planting of the eucalyptus and elm trees that gave Burlingame its distinctive look, as well as the building in 1892 of a planned development of five homes that sought to jump-start a community of San Francisco summer dwellers. They will discuss original owners of the cottages, as well as the country club they formed. Bring a hat or sun protection. Starting at the Hillsborough Town parking lot (1600 Floribunda Avenue, Hillsborough), the ¾ mile tour concludes at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

RSVP requested, not required: 650.299.0104, ext. 220 or education@historysmc.org
Difficulty Level: Easy. Flat walk, but no sidewalks and limited shade.
Address: Hillsborough Town Hall parking lot, 1600 Floribunda Avenue, Hillsborough

Colma: Cypress Lawn – Saturday, August 13 from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

A docent-led trolley excursion around a beautiful arboretum and outdoor museum of mausoleums and memorials to the famous pioneers of San Francisco and California. Meet at 1363 El Camino Real by the archway. Refreshments to follow the tour. As the trolley is limited to 24, RSVPs are required.

RSVP: 650.299.0104, ext. 220 or education@historysmc.org
Difficulty Level: Easy. Trolley not wheelchair accessible.
Address: 1363 El Camino Real by the archway

San Bruno – Sunday, August 14 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Join San Mateo County Historical Association President Mitch Postel in an exploration of San Bruno’s historic business district. Starting at the intersection of San Mateo Avenue and El Camino, the walk down San Mateo Avenue includes the original EIMAC building where vacuum tubes were produced for broadcast and radar transmitters during World War II. The tour will feature a stop at the Welch Family’s private slot machine collection, a rare treat in itself.

RSVP: 650.299.0104, ext. 220 or education@historysmc.org
Difficulty Level: Easy. Note the private slot machine collection is not ADA accessible.
Address: Intersection of San Mateo Avenue and El Camino Real (in front of apartments at 400 San Mateo Avenue)

Millbrae – Sunday, August 14 from 1:00 – 3:30 pm

Join Millbrae Historical Society member Joe Teresi on a walking tour of historic sites of Millbrae.  The two-mile looped walk will feature stops to view and discuss the oldest house in Millbrae and the former site of the historic Mills Mansion.  Meet at the Millbrae History Museum (open Saturdays 12- 4 pm) at 420 Poplar Avenue, Millbrae.  RSVP requested.

RSVP and information: Joe at 650.455.4887
Difficulty Level: Easy (city sidewalks with moderate slopes)
Address: 420 Poplar Avenue, Millbrae.

San Mateo – Saturday, August 20 from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Explore the fascinating architecture of San Mateo’s National Register eligible Downtown Historic District. Comprising 40 individual buildings, the historic district reflects important themes in the city’s growth and development, including architecture, city planning, social history, ethnic heritage and commerce. The district’s eclectic mix of styles includes Art Deco, Colonial, Classical and Greek Revival, Spanish Colonial, Mission and Tudor Revival. Tour begins in the plaza in front of the Century 12 San Mateo movie theater on B Street, one block from the downtown Caltrain station. Comfortable shoes are recommended.

RSVP: 650.299.0104, ext. 220 or education@historysmc.org
Difficulty Level: Easy. ADA accessible.
Address: Plaza in front of Century 12 San Mateo on B Street (movie theater address is 320 2nd Ave, San Mateo)

San Carlos – Saturday, August 27 from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.  

Tour historic locations in downtown San Carlos with the San Carlos Heritage Association. Meet at the SW corner of San Carlos Avenue and Elm Street. The tour will end at the San Carlos History Museum, which will be open for tours.

RSVP and more information: 650-283-0512
Difficulty Level: Easy. Sidewalks, mainly flat ground.
Address: San Carlos Avenue and Elm Street

Redwood City – Saturday, August 27 from 2 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.  

Visit several of the Path of History Walking Tour sites in historic downtown Redwood City with San Mateo County Historical Association Board Member Dee Eva. Meet at the historic Lathrop House, 701 Hamilton Street, corner of Marshall Street. While supplies last, you will receive a copy of the tour map and guide.

RSVP: 650.299.0104, ext. 220 or education@historysmc.org
Difficulty Level: Easy
Address: Lathrop House, 701 Hamilton Street

Half Moon Bay: Burleigh Murray Ranch State Park – Sunday, August 28 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m.  

Join a docent on a leisurely two-hour walk and take a journey back in time along Mills Creek at Burleigh H. Murray Ranch State Park. This walk will be a 2.5 miles round trip hike with only a small gain in elevation. Along the way you will learn about the lives of early pioneers and farming families who first settled here in the 19th century.  Enjoy one of our area’s hidden treasures. Meet in the parking lot. There is no water on site.

RSVP: www.santacruzstateparks.as.me/BMRWalk
More information: 650.726.8814 or HMBParksVolunteer@parks.ca.gov
COVID Restriction: Masks recommended, but not required.
Difficulty Level: Moderate. Trail is mostly packed dirt and gravel, with only minor increases in elevation.
Address: 305 Higgins Canyon Road, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019.

Pescadero – Sunday, August 28 from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.  

Pescadero historian Gregory Timm will this year’s walking tour focusing on the buildings and land that you can still see. There will be discussions about events back before the Spanish came and more recent times, as well. Starting outside the 1863 Knapp House (80 Stage Road, Pescadero), view and learn about the early homes and buildings from as far back as the 1860s. To enjoy the tour more, please watch Timm’s 16-minute video to see images of buildings no longer standing.

 

RSVP: 650.299.0104, ext. 220 or education@historysmc.org
COVID Restriction: Full vaccination record or proof of a negative COVID test
Difficulty Level: Easy. Flat, paved ground.
Address: In front of the white Knapp House at 80 Stage Road, Pescadero