By Dan Lieberman, @LiebermanTweets

We here at SamTrans just consolidated some of our routes. As such, this month we’re highlighting the new 296, which forms like Voltron out of the old 295 and 296. The route runs from the Redwood City Transit Center to the Ravenswood Shopping Center, with multiple stops in North Fair Oaks and Menlo Park. In my delinquent youth, I remember considering these neighborhoods to be sleepy stops with nothing much of interest. I know better now, as these diverse communities offer a myriad of interesting locations that are worth spending some time in.

Here are nine things the new route lets you do:

  1. Dinner and a Movie – Remember when Redwood City used to be lame? That sure is no longer the case, as nowadays you’ll find a vibrant downtown with a solid range of delicious, trendy restaurants surrounding the Cinemark Redwood Downtown 20. Whether you want pizza, poke or hipster haggis, it’s all a short walk from the route.
  2. Get Your Farmers’ Market On – I may be blowing up my spot here, but I can’t not share how awesome Sigona’s This family-owned permanent farmers’ market has a better variety of produce than anywhere else on the Peninsula, along with a banging cheese counter, Devil’s Canyon root beer, and a freezer full of Marianne’s ice cream. There’s also a Costco across the street, but we advise against taking a pallet of vodka and a 55-gallon drum of mayonnaise on the bus.
  3. Scream for Ice Cream – Normally, recommending ice cream in February would be kind of a bust, but since the weather has decided to make as much sense as politics lately I’m going for it. On Middlefield Road, you’ll find Monarca Ice Cream and Snacks on the west side and Los Manguitos on the east side and they have you covered for a scoop, a paleta or a big pile of fruit and hot sauce that only a Mexican dessert can offer.
  4. Holbrook Park – Back in my catering days, I was at Holbrook almost once a week for some formal event or another. But you don’t have to be getting married to visit this beautiful, expansive park. Added bonus, if you show up in a suit and say you know the bride from work, you can probably score some free appetizers before being asked to leave.
  5. Take the Train – If taking a long-distance trip up or down the Peninsula, Caltrain is the way to do it in style (Personally, every time I’m on the train, I feel like Cary Grant). If you commute via train and are tired of hunting for parking in the morning, the 296 is your ticket to the Redwood City or Menlo Park Caltrain Stations. What could be better?
  6. Go to School – Everybody knows that the cool kids are the ones in the back of the bus. Therefore, if you go to either Encinal Elementary or Menlo-Atherton High, the 296 is your ticket to popularity. It’s practically like sitting on Zack Morris’ shoulders while jumping over a shark on water skis on the coolness spectrum (which is how coolness experts measure cooliosity).
  7. Read – The fact that any book store can stay open is pretty amazing, doubly so if they can do so without being a money laundering front. Kepler’s Books doesn’t just survive, it shows what Amazon just can’t deliver. Outstanding selection, helpful staff and a rotating series of events keep this Bay Area institution filled with loyal and happy customers. So go buy a book and make Levar Burton proud of you.
  8. Uncover a Vast Governmental Conspiracy – There’s a US Geological Survey Library in Menlo Park. Now, until recently I wouldn’t have cared, but I saw this crazy documentary on Netflix about what the Department of Energy is up to in Indiana, and now I don’t trust anybody. The Truth is out there, and it’s accessible via bus.
  9. Stop being sick – One of the additions to the new route is better service to medical clinics. So if you’re looking for the VA or the Ravenswood Family Health Center, the 296 offers the access you need. That said if you’re contagious, maybe find an alternative route or expect negative feedback.


On the Move is a monthly blog feature highlighting places to go and things to see on SamTrans bus routes. If you have a suggestion for a future route, please email Public Affairs Specialist Dan Lieberman at

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