Historically, Costonoan Indians lived in the park’s vicinity prior to the year 1800. They had a varied diet of shellfish, gathered from the bay, as well as native herbs, berries, nuts, birds and mammals, all of which could be found in the park.

The park was once part of the 15,000 acre Buri-Buri Rancho owned by Jose Sanchez. In 1860, Ansel Easton, D.O. Mills, and James Lux acquired title to the Buri-Buri lands. Slowly the large estates were sold and sub-divided, and in 1956, San Mateo County purchased 108 acres for a park.

Junipero Serra Park was named after the missionary father, Father Serra, who came to California in 1770 with Don Gaspar de Portola. Father Serra was responsible for the founding of the missions from San Diego to Sonoma.