15 Best Things to Do in Daly City (California)

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Located in California’s Bay Area, Daly City is not one of the best known parts of the United States, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a whole host of hidden gems here waiting to be uncovered.

Whether you like shopping, dining, or exploring the great outdoors, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Daly City.

This city is small by California’s standards, particularly compared with neighboring areas such as Burbank, and you may need to scratch a little below the surface in order to get the best of your trip here.

Situated just outside of sunny San Francisco, Daly City is a charming spot that is just waiting to be uncovered.

One of the best things about this city is its proximity to the ocean, and many of the highlights of a trip here involve walking along sandy beaches and enjoying the sea breeze and the sunset.

Lets explore the best things to do in Daly City:

1. The Cow Palace

The Cow PalaceSource: wikipedia
The Cow Palace

One of Daly City’s best loved venues, the Cow Palace is an arena that sits right on the border of the city.

Easy to access from neighboring San Francisco, the Cow Palace hosts a range of concerts, shows, and live events throughout the year, so make sure to check the local listings to see what will be on when you are in town.

There are also a range of restaurants at the Cow Palace so that you can enjoy a meal and drinks as part of a show.

2. Serramonte Mall

Serramonte MallSource: sfexaminer
Serramonte Mall

If you are looking for shopping and dining opportunities all under one roof then Serramonte Mall is the place to come.

With a huge range of shops to choose from, whatever you are looking for you will likely find it here, from high end brands to local boutiques.

If you get hungry then there are a plethora of dining options available as well.

For these reasons, this is one of the best loved malls in Daly City and comes recommended by locals if you are looking to shop till you drop when you visit.

3. Thornton Beach State Park

Thornton Beach State ParkSource: flickr
Thornton Beach State Park

One of the best activities in Daly City is said to be Thornton Beach State Park.

The park is located on a strip of beach and is well loved by locals who flock here for the white sand and ambient dunes.

There are walking trails that run along the edge of the park and take in the local coastline such as the Bay Area Ridge Trail and the Coastal Trail which goes all the way from Thornton Beach past romantic rolling dunes up until Fort Funston in the south of San Francisco.

If you want to witness the great outdoors here then this is one of the best places to come.

4. Off The Grid

Off The GridSource: yelp
Off The Grid

Dining with a difference, Off The Grid is a travelling market that also lets you experience a fine American culinary tradition in the form of food trucks.

Off The Grid operates on a weekly basis when a variety of rotating food trucks from around the California region come and set up here in the parking lot of Serramonte.

The area is packed with tables and chairs so that you can dine in a semi-restaurant environment and enjoy some of California’s best local bites.

Certainly this is not your normal sit-down dinner but it will definitely be an experience to remember and you will get a taste of some of the local fare, with many of the food trucks having won awards for their culinary prowess.

5. Mussel Rock Park

Mussel Rock ParkSource: flickr
Mussel Rock Park

A free attraction in Daly City, Mussel Rock Park is a great place to get away from it all and enjoy some greenery in the city.

Popular activities in the park include playing games such as Frisbee or football, and there are a range of picnic areas so that you can enjoy some al fresco dining here.

There are also a plethora of grassy spots to seek out as well as some sand banks and sand pits, so you can feel like you are in a park or at the beach depending on your preferences.

For younger visitors there is also a comprehensive playground area.

6. Daly City Farmer’s Market

Daly City Farmer’s MarketSource: cafarmersmkts
Daly City Farmer’s Market

Daly City Farmer’s Market is something of a historical gem in these parts as the market has been in operation for the past 20 years.

Held twice a week, the market features the best of the local produce from the area and is particularly famous for its crisp fruit and vegetables.

Local baked goods are also common here if you fancy stocking up for a picnic as are delicacies such as honey from the region.

Come here if you want to sample some of the local fare in this outdoor setting, as the farmer’s market sets up just outside of the Serramonte area.

There are also often musical performances and children’s activities.

7. Classic Bowling Center

Classic Bowling CenterSource: youtube
Classic Bowling Center

For those who want to do a little sport in Daly City, look no further than the Classic Bowling Center.

More than just the typical bowling center with a few lanes, the Classic Bowling Center has an impressive 60 lanes as well as a comprehensive arcade full of old-school games.

There is also a cafe where you can enjoy a full meal if you get hungry during a competition, and there is also a sports bar if you fancy a drink.

The bowling center is also notable as it is open late into the night, so if you are looking for some evening entertainment then this is a great choice.

8. Mar Vista Stables

Mar Vista StablesSource: marvistastable
Mar Vista Stables

For something different to do in the Daly City area, head on down to Mar Vista Stables where you can enjoy horseback riding.

The stables provide lessons as well as walks and you can go on a guided trail as part of a group tour.

Trails skirt around the coast of Northern California and provide stunning views from the vantage point of a horse.

There are horse riding tours for adults and children as well as camps if you happen to be visiting during the summer months.

Certainly if you want to get outdoors then this is a great way to experience the scenery in Daly City.

9. San Bruno Mountain State Park

San Bruno Mountain State ParkSource: flickr
San Bruno Mountain State Park

Hiking is a common pursuit at San Bruno Mountain State Park, which is one of the premium parks in the Daly City area.

The park stretches from the edges of Daly City to the neighboring Santa Cruz mountain range and has a range of glorious hiking trails for visitors to discover.

From the park you can experience gorgeous vistas over nearby San Francisco as well as the wider Central Bay Area.

If you enjoy bird watching then this is also the place to come as there are a huge number of species in the park as well as a plethora of butterfly species.

10. Palisades Park

Palisades ParkSource: yelp
Palisades Park

Palisades Park is most well known in Daly City for its gorgeous views over the ocean and neighboring beach which is the reason why many locals and visitors flock here.

The park is popular for its walking trails that skirt around the coast and there is a dog park here as well as a children’s playground so the whole family can join in the fun.

11. Century 20 Movie Theater

Century 20 Movie TheaterSource: wikimedia
Century 20 Movie Theater

As the name suggests, the Century 20 Movie Theater in Daly City has an impressive twenty screens and is also located in a neighborhood that is known for its eclectic dining options.

The theater is known for its comfortable seating and huge choice of films including all the latest releases, and you can enjoy diverse dining including cafes and ice cream parlors if you want to grab a treat before or after a show.

12. The Hideout

The HideoutSource: clubzone
The Hideout

If you want to experience the nightlife in Daly City then head to The Hideout where you will find one of the city’s premium bars.

The Hideout serves drinks and food so you can have a leisurely dinner here and as evening turns to night you can enjoy the DJ and the live music nights as well.

The Hideout is made up of two separate rooms with different atmospheres and there are also projectors that screen sporting events and games.

13. Westlake Shopping Center

Westlake Shopping CenterSource: shopkimco
Westlake Shopping Center

Westlake Shopping Center is a great place to explore if you prefer to shop outside rather than inside.

The shopping center is located in a leafy area and is made up of a series of shops rather than an indoor mall set-up and you can spend the afternoon strolling from shop to shop.

There are supermarkets as well as boutiques and high end retail outlets here, and restaurants and coffee shops can all be found in the vicinity if you get hungry during your visit.

14. Pacifica Archery

Pacifica ArcherySource: yelp
Pacifica Archery

Practice your aim while in Daly City at Pacifica Archery, a family owned business dedicated to all things archery related.

Part of the archery center is made up of a pro shop that is committed to selling archery products such as bows and targets, and the rest of the location is given over to an indoor shooting range where you can try and hit a bull’s eye.

All in all this is fun for the whole family, and a good stop if you have never tried your hand at archery before.

15. Westlake Park Community Center

Westlake Park Community CenterSource: yelp
Westlake Park Community Center

Westlake Park Community Center is a great place to come if you are looking for a range of exercise activities in the Daly City area.

The center is owned by the City Parks Department and is dedicated to providing a variety of programs for the local community and visitors alike.

Classes that you can join include arts, crafts, dancing, sports, and even quirky activities such as tumbling.

There are also jogging tracks and indoor sport facilities that can be booked such as squash courts.

15 Best Things to Do in Daly City (California):

  • The Cow Palace
  • Serramonte Mall
  • Thornton Beach State Park
  • Off The Grid
  • Mussel Rock Park
  • Daly City Farmer’s Market
  • Classic Bowling Center
  • Mar Vista Stables
  • San Bruno Mountain State Park
  • Palisades Park
  • Century 20 Movie Theater
  • The Hideout
  • Westlake Shopping Center
  • Pacifica Archery
  • Westlake Park Community Center