The Bay Area is home to some of the most beautiful spots to stage your next great family pics — start with these popular spots
It’s time to start making your list and checking it twice — your holiday card list, that is.
This is prime time for snapping a few family pics to pop on your next mailing. But the big question: where to capture those memorable moments?
We’ve got you covered. As you’re exploring the suburbs over these next few weeks be sure to add a detour or two and swing by these stunning outdoor spots — AKA the perfect backdrops for your holiday photos. And once you’ve captured those picture-perfect shots? Plan to stay a while — these holiday photo go-tos are also some of the most popular parks, outdoor gardens and beaches in the Bay Area ‘burbs.
GAMBLE GARDEN (PALO ALTO)
An annual favorite for holiday pics, Gamble Garden offers a lush, natural background — especially now when the leaves and flowers are shifting into cooler-weather colors. Expect lots of red, orange and yellow hues, plus plenty of bright purple and blue berries and flowers throughout the garden.
Source: San Mateo County, Silicon Valley
Given its size there are lots of spots to grab the perfect photo, so plan to get there early, walk the grounds and test out a few backgrounds. Then, post-photo shoot hunker down for a quick picnic or head to nearby Rinconada Park. This 19-acre park is packed with live oaks and redwood — ideal for a second round of pics — as well as a playground, Junior Museum and Zoo and, in the summer, the town swimming pool.
REDWOOD GROVE NATURAL PRESERVE (LOS ALTOS)
For families looking for a classic California forest backdrop, Redwood Grove is your place. This six-acre natural preserve has plenty of great spots to snap your holiday photos. Wander along the boardwalk and observation decks, or trek down Hillside Trail following Adobe Creek and into the rose garden. Our advice? Grab pics along the way — the grounds are so diverse and so beautiful you’ll want to capture the day, whether all of the pics make the holiday card cut or not.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
When you’re done, Redwood Grove is a quick walk to Shoup Park which, in addition to a fantastic playground, has a creek kids can explore. The preserve is also close to Downtown Los Altos which is super walkable and packed with shops, restaurants, cafes and more — be sure to swing by State of Mind Public House and Pizzeria for a bite.
VASONA LAKE COUNTY PARK (LOS GATOS)
Vasona Lake is a massive 152-acre park with big grassy fields and a sprawling lake — perfect for families who want to mix up their photo shoot or who are looking for a mountain-meets-lakefront background. And, if you do wind up moving to or around Los Gatos, take note — this park hosts free outdoor concerts every Saturday in June and July.
Source: Santa Clara County Parks
Just a mile from Downtown Los Gatos, this is a perfect stop-over if you’re touring the area — snap some holiday pics, swing through downtown and stroll around, then grab coffee and pastries at Manresa Bread before heading home or to the next town on your list.
JOAQUIN MILLER PARK REDWOOD GROVE (OAKLAND)
Another spot for huge redwoods, Joaquin Miller Park offers diverse backdrops including the always-popular Sequoia Bayview and Sunset Trails. For optimal scenery, plan on hitting the Palos Colorados Trail which leads to a redwood gorge. Alternatively, the Big Tree Trail is great for families, winding through a hilltop redwood grove.
After your hike, check out Piedmont Pines and Montclair and treat your crew to treats from Batch Pastries.
CROWN MEMORIAL STATE BEACH (ALAMEDA)
Looking for the perfect beach pic? Crown Memorial State Park is it. This 2 ½-mile beach has plenty of sand dunes, rocks and a calm ocean backdrop ideal for fun family photos. If you’re aiming for a more creative shot, grab your bikes and hit the bike path that winds along the beach — snap a few shots on the move or capture your kids racing along the trail.
After you’ve scored the shot head over to local favorite Burma Superstar and grab takeout — it’s perfect for picnicking or for bringing home to celebrate a successful photo shoot.
HIPPIE TREE (TIBURON)
With its amazing views of San Francisco and the Bay, Hippie Tree has long been a go-to for beautiful photos — think weddings, engagements and, of course, those perfect holiday photos. Pop your kids — or the whole family — on the famous tree swing or gather in front of (or climb on) the eucalyptus tree. No matter where you position yourself the views are amazing any time of day.
After snagging your holiday shots then take a tour of Tiburon (home to Suburban Jungle San Francisco Strategist Pamela Goldman) — Pamela recommends grabbing coffee, pastries or gelato at Caffe Acri, then letting the kids loose at Shoreline Park in Downtown Tiburon. After, head to the waterfront patio at Sam’s Anchor Cafe — not only is the food fantastic, but the views will make you feel like you’re on a European vacation.
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