Venice of Silicon Valley: A Guide to Foster City

The world often wonders, “what is there to do in Foster City?” Ask and ye shall be answered.

Foster City’s prettiness explains its immediately soothing effect. Or perhaps the super-accessible parking situation is the city’s true tranquilizer.

Yes, parking in Foster City is super facile. It’s available everywhere you go with rare hassle. It’s always free, and it’s unlikely that you’ll ever get a parking ticket (You might get a ticket for not making a full stop at a sign, so “California rolls” are not advised.). 

However, easy parking isn’t Foster City’s only asset, let alone its best attribute. This bayside town features excellent dining, water activities, fun events, and  hella parks. It is also recognized as one of the safest cities in the state by several sources, and has been ranked the safest city in the Bay Area by Neighborhood Scout . Forbes ranked Foster City as one of the top towns to live well. It is also home to many companies, like Visa, Sony, and Gilead. 

Statues at Leo J. Ryan Park in Foster City. Photo: Peter Kaminski, Flickr, Creative Commons.
Statues at Leo J. Ryan Park in Foster City. Photo: Peter Kaminski, Flickr, Creative Commons.

Additionally, Foster City’s diverse community has attracted delicious cuisine, most notably tons of authentic Asian restaurants.  Whether you want a long dim sum lunch or two-dollar chow mein to-go, you’ll drool a little.

Furthermore, there is no deficit in outdoor activities, considering that Foster City has over 20 parks. The Bay Trail, also known as “the levee”, is a stand-out gem in Foster City and a crucial Bay Area landmark. It is a multi mile cement trail next to the Bay and the shelly, marshy beaches thereof. Foster City also features a snake-like lagoon that distinguishes the town from other suburbs in the Silicon Valley. And, unlike the Bay, it’s swimmable.

Foster City's lagoon by Leo J. Ryan Park, also known as the Central Lake. Photo: Srikanth Jandhyala.
Foster City’s lagoon by Leo J. Ryan Park, also known as the Central Lake. Photo: Srikanth Jandhyala.

This town is a tightly-knit and highly-organized community, with many activities for children and youths, seniors, and wined-up adults. There are many annual events like New Year’s Eve and July Fourth fireworks, the Arts & Wine festival, and free concerts on Friday nights during the summer. Additionally, the public library and the recreation center provide many activities and host daily events and classes, accommodating all ages and interests. 

Foster City has one of the best locations in the Bay. Its central Peninsula location is essentially equidistant between San Francisco, the East Bay, and San Jose. It’s a quick drive to SFO, and right by the San Mateo Bridge. As such, its convenient location is perfect for those who travel across the Bay. And yet, its isolated serenity offers relaxation amid the occasionally hectic Bay lifestyle.

But, honestly, you’ll stay for the food.

Haven’t see all the beauty there is to Foster City and want to plan a visit? Are you hungry? Get started with the 49 Miles guide to Foster City.

Get Outside

Photo: Harald Brendel, Flickr, Creative Commons.
Photo: Harald Brendel, Flickr, Creative Commons.

The Bay Trail, or the Levee, is one of the most beautiful bayside spots in the Bay Area, thanks to the Parks and Rec Department’s beautification efforts and the new park additions on its circumference. This trail is great for scenic walks, and is the most picturesque location to get a great workout. Cyclists, runners, and all kinds of athletes make use of this primo trail. The levee is also very popular for windsurfing, kayaking, and other water sports. Moreover, there is a section of the beach with dunes that attracts all kinds of motorists and skaters.

Foster City has over 20 parks, diligently maintained by Parks and Rec. Each park is different, offering amenities like playgrounds, picnic areas, and sandy beaches. These are great for children, hosting parties, or a brief retreat from humanity.

Not only does Foster City have hella parks, there is a dog park! It is split off into two sections, one for big dogs and one the small ones. It is located right next to Boat Park, the sparkling lagoon of which makes this a delightful location for you and your pup.

Photo: Olivier Bruchez, Flickr, Creative Commons.
Photo: Olivier Bruchez, Flickr, Creative Commons.

It’s not easy to find an outdoor swimming spot in the Bay, but Foster City’s lagoon is swimmable. It is salt water, and regularly flushed out into the Bay to keep it clean. Sometimes the water is strikingly blue because the city puts organic blue dye to protect it from UV rays, reducing the growth of algae and seaweeds.  You can take a dip into the water at one of the park-side beaches, such as Marlin Park, Gull Park, and Catamaran Park. The Central Lake by Leo J. Ryan Park is good for more serious swimmers. The lagoon is also popular for all sorts of water sports and boating; many enjoy boating on the lagoon to watch the fireworks during special occasions. 

Dim Sum, and Then Some

If you like any Asian cuisine, then you probably have already visited Foster City for its food. If you haven’t yet, then you will be pleased. For Thai food, check out the popular Sweet Basil. If it gets too packed, then go to the neighboring restaurants Kenta Ramen or Akizu Sushi Bar and Grill. They are located right next to the Bay Trail, so you can do a digestive post-meal stroll. Joy restaurant is in the same plaza, Beach Park Plaza, and has been a staple favorite for years. This authentic Chinese and Taiwanese restaurant is great for large groups.

Waterfront Pizza is kind of Bay Area’s best kept secret, and it attracts a loyal crowd from all over the Bay. Waterfront offers Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, pizzas with Arabic twists, and hookah. Here, you can dine and smoke shisha on the waterside patio. This is a must-do place if you like hookah, Arabic cuisine, and waterfront seating.  In the same center is Rickshaw Corner. It is cash only, so you know its good. This Chinese fast-food restaurant is mostly a to-go joint, but in-house seating is available. Here you can select portions from the hot buffet to gather a family-style meal to take home. For some Greek food, head a few store fronts over to Olive’s Mediterranean and Greek Cuisine. Their gyros are so mouthwatering, it’s gryo-ic.

Photo: Vicki Moore, Flickr, Creative Commons.
The dock by Waterfront Pizza at Edgewater Plaza. Photo: Vicki Moore, Flickr, Creative Commons.

Soon’s Tofu and Korean BBQ is a family-owned restaurant with tofu stews, flavor-packed BBQ, and bibinbop. You can’t go wrong with their extensive menu, and their service is prompt and friendly. In the same center as Soon’s, Marlin Cove Shopping Center, Tai Wu is a casual Pan-asian restaurant that offers large portions of scrumptious food for reasonable prices. It’s great for groups and families, and child-friendly. Also in the same plaza is Pho New Saigon, which attracts pho-lovers from across the Bay. If you love pho, this is the place to go to inhale noodles.

If you love Indian foodTabla will not fail you. This simple local favorite has gained a loyal following with it’s cherished Indian standards, like the hot dosa, biryani, and creamy chicken dishes. Tokie’s Japanese Restaurant is another local favorite neighboring Tabla. Their acclaimed dishes include the spicy scallop roll, firecracker roll, and green tea ice cream. Also not to be missed is the udon noodle, a fan favorite and surefire delight for any noodle lover.

ABC Seafood, in the same plaza as Safeway and T-Pumps at MetroCenter, serves a seafood-heavy Chinese food menu, and is one of the only dim sum spots in the city.

Slurp Here

If you want boba but don’t want to wait in line at T-Pumps, then go to Chatime to quench your thirst with a tapioca beverage. This is located in the same center as Waterfront, so you can sip on a drink and go on a waterside walk. Across from the plaza is a Boothbay Park (well, there are many surrounding parks, but this one happens to be yards away).

Live Theatrically

Photo: Mliu92, Flickr, Creative Commons.
Photo: Mliu92, Flickr, Creative Commons.

If you love the theatre (spelled “re,” of course), Foster City has a fabulous and adored community theatre, the Hillbarn TheatreThey have new plays and musicals every season, with Cabaret as its most recent highlight. If you are a patron of the arts, or like to participate in theatre, you shouldn’t miss this place.

Get Extra Credit

Bricks of the Foster City library. Photo: Esparta Palma, Flickr, Creative Commons.
Bricks of the Foster City library. Photo: Esparta Palma, Flickr, Creative Commons.

The Foster City Library is a great community resource that goes above and-Beyoncé. It hosts workshops, lectures, and readings, in addition to fundraisers and charities. Across the street is the Foster City Recreation Center which organizes a variety events, from arts and crafts to fitness classes, in addition to youth and senior services.

Photo: Ian Brown, Flickr, Creative Commons.
Birds-eye view of Foster City. Also, it’s a bird-friendly town. Photo: Ian Brown, Flickr, Creative Commons.


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