StephSF

  • Local Expert 22,772 points
  • Reviews 347
  • Questions 0
  • Answers 367
  • Discussions 46

Reviews

3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
Just now

"Not the absolute worst"

I have a hard time giving any area fewer than three stars, unless it is a crowded, unpleasant interstate, but by many peoples' standards, anything in East Palo Alto is worthy of one or two stars. However, Tulane Avenue has several things going for it, compared to other streets in town.

It is the northernmost street, and is located in the northeast quadrant, which has better houses and a slightly better reputation than some of the other neighborhoods further south. While still run-down, half of the backyards face north out onto the Dumbarton Bridge, completely removed from anything resembling the rest of EPA. This does, of course, mean more highway noise and other unpleasantries.

In addition to this, being further north means being further from all of Palo Alto's attractions, which is one of the main purposes of living here in the first place.
Pros
  • Further removed from EPA
  • Affordable
  • Slightly better homes
Cons
  • Highway noise
  • Far from everything else
  • Still sketchy
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"The Hollywood Hills of Berkeley"

A nice, leafy suburb of Berkeley, Kensington is nestled in the Berkeley Hills, adjacent to Tilden Regional Park. The views of the bay are spectacular, and the houses here are beautiful and large.

No house is ever too far away from any other house, with a few exceptions of homes that are set back, which means that you are often looking into your neighbor's window if you choose. Parking comes at a premium here. But the area is gorgeous, the parks are great, and Berkeley's many amenities are nearby, so for some people, this area could be worth the price.
Pros
  • Berkeley culture and nightlife
  • Great parks
  • Great views
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Congested parking
  • Removed from the rest of Berkeley
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
Just now

"Another tough highway stretch"

80 is never a fun stretch to drive on, and Richmond is not a particularly enjoyable town to visit, or to drive in. Put the two together, and you find yourself in a bit of a traffic mess. Congestion certainly builds here, whether you are commuting from Contra Costa County into San Francisco or returning to the South Bay from Tahoe on a Sunday night (and deemed 680 to be just as bad). The connection with the Richmond Bridge and 580 certainly doesn't help the situation.

Furthermore, the highway takes you through Richmond - arguably one of the worst towns in the Bay Area. Run-down at best, Richmond has Oakland's impoverished vibe, without the culture to go hand-in-hand.

To be fair, while the traffic is bad here, nothing can top Oakland's maze, and the views of the bay are pretty stellar.
Pros
  • Good views
  • Affordable town
Cons
  • Sketchy town
  • Bad traffic
  • Some confusion in navigation
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Beachside highway"

Cabrillo Highway in Soquel is basically a carbon copy of its southern neighbor in Aptos, except with one major difference: more traffic. Now granted, the 1 isn't exactly known for being California's busiest interstate, but Soquel does see its fair share of commuters coming in and going out in the morning.

The big disappointment here is that there are no beach or ocean views, which is unusual for this interstate. However, the beach is never too far off, and Soquel has some cute restaurants and coffee shops, as well as some great hiking in the redwoods. None of this could be accessed without this important interstate running through.
Pros
  • Accessible
  • Average traffic
  • Close to the beach
Cons
  • No views
  • Some congestion in the morning
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Average highway"

Unlike its northern neighbors, Cabrillo Highway in Aptos is a fairly mundane stretch of interstate, especially considering the area that it surrounds. It is past the Santa Cruz rush, so traffic is fairly minimal, even during rush hour. This is always a nice surprise in such a crowded area, but not something that one should get used to if one is commuting from Aptos to anywhere north or in the Bay Area.

The biggest disappointment with the road is that while it parallels the coast, it does not offer the stunning cliffside, coastal views found north of Santa Cruz. Rather, the road flattens out for a while before turning into dramatic coastline again just south of Monterey.

While the highway is not on the beach, it is certainly near the beach and offers beachfront access. With thin traffic and the ocean less than ten minutes away, there really isn't much to complain about here, even if the views leave something to be desired.
Pros
  • Close to the beach
  • Light traffic
  • Accessible highway
Cons
  • Expensive area
  • No views
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Beach Lovers
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
Just now

"HIghway madness"

San Jose’s lovely interstate 880 is a swarm of mass confusion. What is already notoriously the most congested highway in the Bay Area, 880 actually merges with 680, 101 AND 280, making it a completely chaotic driving experience, even on evenings and weekends.

Given its eastern location, it runs through some fairly colorful neighborhoods of East San Jose. As the town is so block-by-block, it is impossible to make any generalizations, but it is probably good practice to takea good look at where you are pulling off if you are not familiar for the area.

However, like most of Northern California, drivers here are polite – unbelievably so, in fact. It takes living on the East Coast to appreciate Californians’ respect for other drivers – and for their car horns, which are used sparingly.
Pros
  • Polite drivers
  • Access to many areas
  • Great weather
Cons
  • Very crowded
  • Runs through some questionable neighborhoods
  • Confusing to drive on
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"Hipsters and farmers"

Sebastopol is not for everyone, but it is SO Western Sonoma County. An artists’ and gardeners’ community, this is the gathering place for the area’s greatest bands, photographers, and botanists alike. Unlike nearby Sonoma’s very well laid-out downtown quad, Sebastopol’s downtown looks very thrown together, like business owners decided independently to put up storefronts that collectively became the area. And that is part of the charm that is Sebastopol.

Close to the ocean and even closer to the redwoods, nearby outdoor activities are aplenty. Kayakers can enjoy the calm waters of the Russian River, and of course, the abundance of nearby wineries don’t hurt, either (so long as you don’t drink too much!) Summers here actually feel the way that summers are supposed to feel, but the cool ocean breezes are never too far off.

The biggest drawback to the area is also its biggest asset: its location. Sebastopol is close to lots of cool things, like wineries and farms and redwood trees and rivers, but there really aren’t any major nearby towns for miles. Even the nearest interstate, the 101, is about seven miles away.
Pros
  • Great art scene
  • Great organic food
  • Plenty of outdoor activities
Cons
  • Far from any major town
  • Cool and foggy in the winter
  • A little off-beat
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"Well-kept secret"

Bodega Bay really is one of the North Bay’s best-kept secrets. While most North Bay residents travel to nearby Stinson Beach on a sunny day and sit in traffic for hours, an extra half hour up the 101 will get you to the turnoff that takes you to this little coastal town where The Birds was filmed.

The beaches here are just as good as they are further south, and a fraction as crowded. Doran Beach is about as family-friendly as one can get without importing the Atlantic Ocean’s warmer tides, and further north, Bodega Head gives the dramatic, cliff-side scenery that California is all about. The harbor is great for windsurfing and kite boarding, and the town, although small, has a charming, seaside village feel to it.

One should also be aware that idyllic, sunny beach days are few and far between this far north on the Pacific. Most days, if not cloudy and foggy for the duration, at least start out that way. Either way, the sunsets here are remarkable.


As far as living here…that’s another story. The one grocery store is highly overpriced, and the nearest major town, Sebastopol, is about 40 minutes away. Nightlife is minimal – there is one bar in nearby farm town Bodega, which has a very…local…scene.

But for that individual, that one person for whom the beach and proximity to the redwoods are more important than a vibrant nightlife or cell phone reception, Bodega Bay might just be the perfect place.
Pros
  • Great beaches
  • Uncrowded
  • Peaceful
Cons
  • Middle of nowhere
  • Cool, foggy weather
  • Terrible cell phone reception
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
DP
DP Bodega Bay is one of the best kept beach secrets in California. Most people that go there don't like to talk about it in public, because we want to keep it a secret. But, I have to debate a little, in that it truly is one of the best places in California. Lets talk golf, the Links is one a really great course that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, with breathtaking views. Bodega is a crabbing town so fresh crab, and with the Russian River down the street , you can bet the salmon is the best in the world. Ok, food, the establishments are over the top, and bodega has a Michelin star restaurant to boot... you can ride horses on the beach, surf, kayak, crab for you dinner in the bay... hike.surf, watch the whale migrate by.. Sebastopol is actually 20 minutes into town... oh, I forgot Joseph Phelps winery is there too... just down the street.. Are you kidding me? Where else in the US can you get such an amazing place... : )
2yrs+
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4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Modest living in the Bay Area"

Dublin is the place in the Bay Area where anyone from the rest of the country would feel comfortable raising a family. Its East Bay location makes it far more affordable and modest, but being further out, it is not as run-down as Oakland and Berkeley, nor is it as influenced by the city. The houses are similar to those in more expensive areas like Redwood City, San Rafael, and Mountain View, but are significantly lower in cost.
The town itself does not have a huge amount of its own culture – it certainly does not compare to any of the cities or even the Peninsula towns nearby, but it does offer respite from it all, with a great transit system to get there. Between its own BART station and the convenient location at the 580/680 junction, it is very easy to get to the Bay Area’s local culture, with or without a car, and be back to your lovely, safe suburb by the end of the day.

Within the town itself, shopping plazas are more common than downtown strips. There are some major businesses here as well as a military base, but nothing that truly stands out.

Weather here is cool and rainy in the winter, immaculate in the spring and fall, and blazingly hot – but dry – in the summer. Given how far it is from the city, fog here is more of a legend than a reality. Spring is the best time to enjoy the abundance of local hikes, as the area heats up and browns up in the summer, and the green does not return again until the winter rain.

If you are looking for the urban life, this is not the place for you. But if you are happy to live in a nice California ranch and have access the Bay Area’s greatest hits, then Dublin could very well be a great fit.
Pros
  • Reasonable(ish) prices
  • Safe and family-friendly
  • Close to BART
Cons
  • Lots of strip malls
  • About an hour from SF proper
  • Highway junctions=high traffic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"Diversity in Marin"

San Rafael is one part wealthy liberals, standard of Marin County, and one part Mexican immigrants, many of whom are first generation. Such a combination would be unique to almost any other area in the world, but is quite normal in Northern California, where very different demographics seem to coexist all the time.

The northern part of town, Terra Linda, is home to the former, while downtown San Rafael is home to the latter. Shopping complexes are aplenty and the downtown area has some great restaurants, many of which are of the Mexican nature, but overall nightlife in this city is pretty slim.

Interestingly, the yuppie population in this town has a bit more of an influence of displaced east coasters than some other similar neighborhoods on the Peninsula, which is neither good nor bad. The town also has a high Jewish population.

Proximity to San Francisco, wine country, the coast and the redwoods, combined with a near-perfect Mediterranean climate make San Rafael a very nice, desirable place to live, no matter what side of town you are on.
Pros
  • Diverse
  • Family-oriented
  • Great nearby attractions
Cons
  • Somewhat segregated
  • Some rough neighborhoods
  • Very expensive
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Appealing wine snobbery"

One of the swankest, most posh and well-known places to taste wine on the planet, Napa certainly lives up to its reputation. A cute, accessible downtown area, where one can order a meal complemented by their favorite local finding, is surrounded by rolling foothills filled with wineries far and near, all willing to give you a sampling of their most popular fare – at a price.

Scenery and charm are accompanied by overpriced food, drink, lodging, and entertainment in this area that is loved by some and frowned upon for its extravagance by others. High-end hotels dominate, and it certainly is frustrating to be charged significantly more per flight (tasting of 3-4 wines) than in neighboring Sonoma, on the other side of the valley.

But let’s go back to the downtown area, where the sun shines over the hundreds of acres of wineries. One can take the wine train and sample food and drink for hours while enjoying the scenery. More active visitors can rent bikes and do a self-guided wine tour – or skip the wine altogether and spend days touring the countryside.

It’s not cheap, but maybe it’s not so bad, either.
Pros
  • Great wine
  • Great food
  • Plenty to do in the area
Cons
  • Tourist-heavy
  • Expensive, even overpriced
  • Hot summers, rainy winters
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Great beach community"

Aptos is a great suburb to Santa Cruz for families and beach lovers alike. Clean, modern new housing developments and great schools make the town a great place to raise a family, far enough removed from the underground Santa Cruz drug scene for it to be safe, but close enough to enjoy the fun family activities that this beach town has to offer. For those who aren’t hip to the sheep-like feel that housing developments sometimes have, older homes in other neighborhoods have unique, charming touches like loft-style upstairs areas and spiral staircases.

But let’s not kid ourselves; it is not the family atmosphere or the STAIRS in the houses that make people want to live in Aptos. People live here for one thing: sheer proximity to the beach. And Northern California beaches have something that its LA and OC neighbors do not: redwood trees. It is one of the few places in the world where one can go for a hike in the redwoods and go surf in the same day: the same morning, even!

True to form for the area, real estate is not cheap, although one could find a single room rental in the area for a relatively reasonable price. While not quite as expensive as some of its neighbors on the other side of the hill, the town’s coastal location makes it come pretty close. But it does offer the best of many worlds: surf, sand, suburbs, Santa Cruz, and a beautiful redwood forest nearby.
Pros
  • Great outdoor activities
  • Friendly community
  • Great for families
Cons
  • Not much local nightlife
  • Expensive
  • Hard to get to more urban areas
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
Just now

"Both sides of the tracks"

Few towns can boast to be among the wealthiest in Silicon Valley and still offer a huge amount of diversity, but then again, few towns are Menlo Park. Historically, Menlo Park’s Sand Hill Road was once the wealthiest street in the country, and home to many of the major companies during the dot-com boom. Menlo Park’s affluence still stands in many neighborhoods, between the bustling downtown area and the mansions in the foothills.

However, there is another side to Menlo Park – the developing, working-class areas of North Fair Oaks and Belle Haven, which are home to first and second-generation immigrants from Mexico and the Pacific Islands. Given the close proximity of everything here, the populations mix in town and in schools, but stay segregated when they go home at the end of the day. Belle Haven schools historically perform much more poorly than other schools in the area. There is also a history of gang activity, though nowhere near what one would find in the neighboring East Palo Alto.

There is no shortage of activity or amenities here – in addition to your basic shopping, convenience store and grocery needs, Menlo Park is home to a vibrant, bustling downtown area with some great shops and restaurants. Though smaller in both size and breadth than neighboring downtown Palo Alto, downtown Menlo Park is clean, well-maintained and a great place to walk around. Nearby El Camino Real serves most other shopping needs, although traffic never seems to lighten up here.

Bottom line: the rich are still rich, and the poor are still poor, but they seem to coexist rather well.
Pros
  • Diverse
  • Great downtown
  • Great medical facilities
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Segregated
  • Some run-down neighborhoods
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"Silicon Valley's best and brightest"

Palo Alto is one of the most well-known towns in Silicon Valley – and for good reason. Home to one of the country’s most prestigious universities AND one of the fastest growing companies – Stanford and Facebook, respectively, Palo Alto has plenty of reason to be on the map, and is a perfect representation of the old and the new Silicon Valley, respectively.

This title – no small feat to live by – comes with both perks and pitfalls. A beautifully laid-out downtown area is perfect for pedestrians – students and fine diners alike, who enjoy their fine French food and their cheap pizza and beer. From zen yoga studios to buzzing coffee shops, downtown Palo Alto is a great place for visitors from afar or just around the corner.

Houses here are beautiful and reasonably sizeable, although somewhat close together for the price at which they sell – a common phenomenon in California’s most popular places. The schools are some of the best, although many residents here choose to send their children to private school.

Speaking of which, real estate prices are exactly what one would expect for such a town. Houses are some of the most expensive in the country – don’t expect anything other than a small condo for under $500,000. And the traffic is certainly not what justifies the prices – University Avenue, the main drag, is completely congested at all but the latest hours of the night.

But if you can brave the traffic and handle the prices, this is a very, very nice place to live. And if not – it is a lot of fun to visit!
Pros
  • Great restaurants
  • Great downtown scene
  • Great medical care
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Terrible traffic
  • A little snobby
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 2/5
Just now

"EPA and traffic"

Capitol Avenue Falls under the category of standard East Palo Alto streets - the houses are run-down but have some potential, gang activity is slightly under wraps but is still prevalent, and the schools are not good but there is the option to send kids to schools in other towns. Given the proximity to University Avenue and Donohoe Street, traffic is heavier than on other side streets, but the visibility and the fact that the homes are in the backyard of many of EPA's longtime establishments means that it is slightly harder to commit crime here. This street is also within walking distance of many of the grocery stores and the major shopping center, if you can brave the walk.

This is a good place for long-term investment (10-20 years) and/or to purchase a starter home, but raising a family here could be tough. You do get more square footage for your money than almost anywhere else on the Peninsula.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Good investment
  • Close to Peninsula attractions
Cons
  • So-so schools
  • Relatively unsafe
  • Heavy traffic
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 2/5
Just now

"Silicon Valley Bubble"

In some ways, Manhattan Avenue is a lot like its namesake - filled with tall, shimmering, new buildings at the crossroads of a major traffic hub, it is surrounded by some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country on one side (Palo Alto, or Westchester County), and some of the poorest on the other (East Palo Alto, or the Bronx). To put it more literally, Manhattan Avenue is the tiny development in East Palo Alto that is filled with glamorous law firms and the Four Seasons hotel, which exudes its glamor over a town full of people who will probably never be able to afford a night's stay here.

This is both the best and worst location for this kind of hotel - it is close to everything, but at one of the worst traffic junctions off of the 101. The EPA address makes the leases far more affordable, but can be a turnoff to many clients. The complex is the true definition of a bubble.
Pros
  • Safe little bubble
  • Nice buildings
  • Cheaper real estate
Cons
  • Lots of traffic
  • EPA zip code
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 3/5
Just now

"Nutty traffic"

Like its southern neighbor in Palo Alto, Bayshore Freeway in Menlo Park can be found a half mile away, given the sheer quantity of traffic getting on and off. Congestion here is insane, but this is to be expected, given that Menlo Park is the access town for the Dumbarton Bridge.

101 is not exactly known for passing through the best parts of town, and such remains true with Menlo Park. The area by the Dumbarton Bridge exit is fairly dead, and further south, the Willow Road exit passes through the run-down, rough around the edges Belle Haven. However, good food is never more than a 10-15 minute drive away in downtown Menlo Park, and the primary advantage here is access, not real estate.

It is a frustrating stretch to drive through, but almost necessary if you live on the east side of the Peninsula. At least the drivers are extremely polite.
Pros
  • Lots of access
  • Slightly more affordable real estate
  • Polite drivers
Cons
  • Lots of traffic
  • Some rough neighborhoods
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Schools 4/5
Just now

"Deceptive..."

Golf Drive runs parallel to the San Jose Country club, and its name indicates this location in the East Foothills. However, the bulk of Golf Drive lies not in this neighborhood, but in Alum Rock, one of the poorest, toughest neighborhoods in East San Jose. While this road may not be as bad as some of those further east, it is still tough and in the same school district. It should be noted that many neighborhoods in San Jose are subject to Little Red Riding Hood syndrom - safe-looking and attractive on the outside, but historically tough and home to a range of crimes, from home break-ins to murder.

Further west, Golf Drive extends into the East Foothills section of San Jose and is home to the San Jose Golf Club, one of the best places to book events in the area. Last year, I booked meetings in ten different major cities across the U.S., and the San Jose Country Club was one of the nicest venues and offered the best rates by far. For residents who would like to live here, particularly because they enjoy the road's namesake sport, I would stick to east of Toyon.

All of the ratings are based on the eastern part of the street. For the western part, assume fewer families and overall recommendations.
Pros
  • Affordable homes
  • Near country club
Cons
  • Some very bad neighborhoods
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
Just now

"There are better ways around..."

For much of San Francisco, Highway 1 is synonymous with 19th Avenue. It runs past SF State University, through the Sunset, Golden Gate Park, and the Inner Richmond before going into the Presidio up to the Golden Gate Bridge.

I have found that there always seems to be a better way to get from point A to point B than the 1, no matter where your destination lies or what your objectives are. From Golden Gate Park south, the highway is extremely congested, due to a combination of heavy traffic and even heavier traffic lights during rush hour. North of there, you can get through the Presidio, but even that is fairly crowded for being in such a remote part of San Francisco.

And the biggest drawback? In a city on the beach, and as a highway known for its views, 1 doesn't offer any ocean vistas past the Golden Gate Bridge. If this is your primary objective, stick to the Great Highway. Otherwise, you are better off on almost any side street if traveling this way.
Pros
  • Lots of access
  • Runs through less expensive areas
  • Some decent restaurants
Cons
  • Traffic
  • Often foggy
  • No views
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"Best in the summer"

San Francisco's Parkside neighborhood is not talked about all that frequently, but it is know for one thing in particular in the summer time - Stern Grove. The park, known fully as Sigmund Stern Grove Park, offers free concerts every Sunday from mid-June to mid-August. On any given Sunday, the amphitheater-style seating fills up as people congregate with picnic blankets, bottles of wine, and yes, the occasional 420.

Parking is scarce on those days, which is unusual for this particular neighborhood. For some reason, the park is positioned such that it gets an unusual amount of sun for being so far west, and as a result, it is far warmer here than one would expect. The ambiance is mostly young singles and couples in their 20s and 30s, but you will also see families, college students, and even older people here. A lot depends on the act.

The rest of the time, there is not much to write home about here. The park is pretty, the fog is prevalent, and the rest of the neighborhood is quiet. Morning traffic on 19th Avenue tends to be rather blocked.
Pros
  • Great park
  • Great summer concert series
  • Quieter neighborhood
Cons
  • Removed from major attractions
  • Often cold and foggy
  • Morning traffic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Hipsters
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"Posh country town"

Saratoga is one of the nicest, most desirable places to live in the Bay Area. Close enough to San Jose to get a city feel, but far enough from the main drag do feel like its own town, Saratoga really sits at the crossroads of the best of MANY worlds. Its western foothill location gives it some of the sunniest, warmest weather in the Bay Area, and Castle Rock State Park, on the summit of Skyline, offers an array of rock climbing and hiking, with scenery that would please any outdoor enthusiast.

But it's not just the surroundings that make it great; the town itself has its own charm and character. The streets are green, leafy, and well-manicured, rivaled only by nearby Palo Alto. The downtown drag is one main stretch of road, and while it is not massive, it comprises dive bars and wine bars alike. Speaking of wine, this town is like its own mini-Sonoma, with great wineries. Mountain Winery offers one of the nicest settings and views in the Bay Area and could easily rival those in Napa.

Homes can be small or large, condo or detached, close to downtown or nestled in the mountains. One thing that they are not, however, is cheap - which should come as no surprise, given how idyllic Saratoga is in practically every way. For those who can afford it and who value quality of life over quantity of real estate, it is worth every penny.
Pros
  • Great state parks
  • Quaint downtown scene
  • Easy to get to other major locations
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Can be construed as snobby
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"Luxury living"

Atherton is one of the top five most expensive towns in the United States, and is home to many dead-end cul-de-sac streets with mansions, pools, and gates that block out unwanted visitors. Rebecca Lane fits the stereotype to a "T."

There are fewer than a dozen homes total on this tiny, two-block street, but each one seems to be built on its own private estate in the middle of Silicon Valley. Traffic will probably not ever pass through here, given the dead ends on either end; the only attraction here is the Church of the Nativity.

There are a few drawbacks to Atherton, other than the price: proximity to North Fair Oaks, a much poorer neighborhood one town over, puts a big target on this affluent community. There is also no way to get anywhere without hitting some significant traffic.
Pros
  • Great schools
  • Beautiful houses
  • Quiet and secluded
Cons
  • Nearby traffic
  • Very expensive
  • Poor neighborhoods nearby
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"Central but residential"

Kenwood Drive, tucked away right behind Safeway, is a very nice, cute, residential street that is perfect for families. The loop-like structure makes it great for walking or short bike rides, and although the houses are close together, they are quite spacious for such a neighborhood.

Proximity to Safeway is a plus, but proximity to downtown is even nicer. For the rare young professional who can afford to live here, the bars are a hop, skip, and a jump away, and families or parents can walk to run their errands (and not having to drive on El Camino is a huge plus).

Square foot by square foot, the location makes the area very expensive. I could also understand some parents being concerned about the fact that the nearby road is home to some fairly heavy traffic.
Pros
  • Close to downtown
  • Safe, residential neighborhood
  • Great schools
Cons
  • Close to major roads
  • Very expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
Just now

"Also known as Hospital Drive..."

Veterans Drive is an interesting spot, as it is located in one of San Francisco's only nature areas, and happens to circumnavigate its namesake, the Veterans Hospital. The drive is twisty and windy through the trees, and turns an otherwise pretty area into something a little bit gloomy (exacerbated by the fog that never quite seems to go away).

It's an odd amalgamation of park maintenance, National Park services, and hospital staff that seems to result in a horrible parking situation - I work down by Fort Miley and see people park and hike up the hill to work all the time. Maybe they're getting extra exercise, but parking there always does seem to be full.

The area is also strangely heavily patrolled and regulated, which seems a bit odd for such a safe area. None of this makes the street all that compelling.
Pros
  • Relatively quiet
  • Pretty area
Cons
  • A little gloomy
  • Not much to do
  • Hospital is the main attraction
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
Just now

"Nature in the City"

Sutro Heights Park offers a unique mix of hiking, beach, and city life all rolled into one. Located in the northwestern corner of San Francisco, it can often feel like the end of the earth. Morning fog rolls in and lingers for the better part of the day, and the sunshine barely permeates through the forest canopies, making it easily one of the coldest spots in the Bay Area. Summers barely creep above 50 degrees.

However, when the fog lifts, you are rewarded with some of the best views imaginable. Panoramas of the Pacific Ocean and the Marin Headlands spread before you, and are easily accessed without having to hike for miles to the top of a hill. The recent parking lot renovations make it a lot easier for drivers to get here, but even on the warmest and sunniest of days, the area remains relatively uncrowded. The remote feel and lack of sunshine make it a relatively affordable area to live in the city, which could be the ideal California dream for beach lovers on a budget.

Aside from the proximity and the cooler, foggier weather, I am hard-pressed to find anything wrong with this area.
Pros
  • Beautiful views
  • Near the beach
  • Great hiking and biking
Cons
  • Removed from the city
  • Cool and foggy
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Decent Shopping Center"

Bayhill Drive, home to the Bayhill shopping center, is nothing too spectacular but is a decent little shopping center with more character than some of the nearby San Bruno strip malls. While your standard commercial retail stores are around (Baskin Robbins, CVS, and Taco Bell, for example), there are also some private shops. Best of all, the grocery store is an independently owned establishment.

The area can get rather crowded, and finding parking is harder than it should be. Caffeine addicts will be more than satiated with the Peet's and Starbucks, both in the complex, which means that the parking does have a high turnover. Given that it is at the 380/280 junction, it does see quite a few visitors.

Little known fact: YouTube's corporate office is located here.
Pros
  • Lots of coffee shops
  • Good grocery store
  • Standard shopping needs fulfilled
Cons
  • Crowded
  • Highway noise
  • Not much nightlife
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Great Views"

The stretch of 280 that runs through San Bruno is a bit of an anomaly in that there actually IS traffic here during rush hour, unlike its southern counterpart on the Peninsula. This has everything to do with the fact that it is close to the city and the many nearby malls and shopping plazas. However, it also runs through the foothills of the area, which means that the views overlooking the bay and the valley are phenomenal. It even makes sitting in traffic almost bearable.

The area can get a bit foggy at night and early morning, given the proximity to the ocean and the relatively small size of the protective hills, but it is still a very nice place to live. With hiking trails and parks nearby, the city at your fingertips, and plenty of shopping and restaurants in town, it is not hard to overlook the fact that a major interstate runs right through.
Pros
  • Amazing views
  • Great nearby shopping
  • Close to the city
Cons
  • Expensive area
  • Traffic
  • Noise
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
Just now

"Hello, traffic..."

92 is definitely one of the biggest perpetrators in the world of Silicon Valley traffic, as can be seen both on 280 and 101. The buildup is visible for about two miles on both interstates, and the off ramp to the highway may very well be the worst part.

Once on the road, it is a great connector during off-peak times, but a bit of a blockage during rush hour. The biggest plus to this road is that it is the only connector south of 380 on the Peninsula that is a true highway, and not barricaded by red lights. If you have the option to cross here rather than on 84 in Woodside/Redwood City, it will save you a traffic headache.
Pros
  • No stoplights
  • Close to many interstates
  • Close to public transportation
Cons
  • Traffic
  • Noise
  • Crowded area
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

""This is one of the nicer downtowns...""

The above is a phrase that was recently overheard by a middle-aged woman walking with her friend on a warm spring night on Santa Cruz Avenue, and this statement is definitely reality. But it is her reality. For affluent, middle-aged women, it doesn't get much better than downtown Menlo Park. There are sufficient nice restaurants of various ethnic backgrounds to stay well-fed for weeks, the shopping covers all of one's basic needs, and the streets are well-maintained and well-manicured. Benches are aplenty, and the area is small enough to navigate with ease in about a half hours' time.

But for the young, hip, tech-savvy mavens of Silicon Valley, the area leaves something to be desired. This area lacks the country charm of Woodside, the vibrant art scene of Los Gatos, and the ethnic smorgasbord of Mountain View. Neighboring Palo Alto holds the nightlife trump card, and Saratoga has a trendy, rustic charm that is not seen here.

True, perfection is in the eye of the beholder, and for the majority of those who reside in Menlo Park, this area does just the trick.
Pros
  • Good restaurants
  • Well-maintained
  • Sufficient shopping
Cons
  • Average nightlife
  • Lack of culture
  • El Camino Real noise and traffic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"Foggy, pretty beach"

Skyline Boulevard in Daly City is basically an extension of its northern neighbor in San Francisco. The architecture is more SF than it is Silicon Valley, but the drive itself is more ocean than urban. The Pacific Ocean runs parallel to this scenic drive, and the hills on the east side of the street add to the remote, natural feel.

The fog is more prevalent than even the ocean itself, which can give the drive a gloomy feel on bad weather days (which seem to happen often). This part of the peninsula is also fairly removed from the bulk of the activity, making it a more residential area. But when the fog burns off and the sun comes out in the afternoon, the drive out here is absolutely worth it!
Pros
  • Scenic
  • Near the beach
  • Relatively affordable
Cons
  • Lots of fog
  • Far from the main drag
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Beach Lovers
StephSF
StephSF Warning: Driving here in morning traffic is not without risks. I just got into a minor car accident here - one of those classic cases where traffic was moving quickly until suddenly it wasn't, and I realized it a half-second too late and rear-ended the car in front of me - I'm pretty sure I was admiring the views...

This could be a fluke, it could be completely my fault, and it could happen to anyone. At the same time, there are periods of time where I drive 60-70 miles a day all over the Bay Area, and nothing like this has ever happened to me before. It could have been anything - just be sure to be careful, especially in places like this where the view can actually turn into a dangerous distraction.

(By the way, everyone is okay - even the cars.)
2yrs+
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5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
Just now

"It makes the fog so appealing..."

Next to the Great Highway (which it connects right up with) this is THE best drive in San Francisco! Forget everything that you know about traffic and city rush - Skyline Boulevard offers stunning views of the ocean as it slowly creeps up the hill to offer equally fantastic views of the Bay. On a foggy day, the area is chilly and lovely, and on a sunny day, it is one of the rare occasions where you actually associate San Francisco with the rest of California and the beach culture.

Proximity to other cool things in the city is harder to come by - SF State and the zoo are not far, but these are not really the things that San Francisco is known for. While public transportation helps, it is not a solution and I would recommend owning a car if you live out here - or bringing your car, and heading back to your fun loft in SOMA or your townhouse in the Haight at the end of the day.

However, beachfront property like this is a rare find ANYWHERE in California, and there is no better place on a sunny afternoon (or a very rare sunny morning).
Pros
  • Beautiful views
  • Beach everywhere
  • Relatively affordable
Cons
  • Foggy
  • Barely in San Francisco
  • Limited dining/nightlife options
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Beach Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"The center of traffic..."

No matter where you are on the 101 in this part of the Peninsula, this always seems to have the absolute worst traffic during rush hour - and I haven't quite figured out why. The area is fairly densely populated, and the junction for the Dumbarton Bridge is here, but there aren't the same number of large corporations as there are further south in the valley.

Nonetheless, the traffic can be seen at most major intersections before even entering the on ramp, and the timed light system (which could be a help or a hindrance) prevents too many cars from getting on at a time. This is the case pretty much from 85 all the way up to 84.

The one up side of the road being so populated is that, unlike other parts of the Bay Area, the highway is actually very well-maintained - no bumps on the road here (that is, if you can actually move enough to feel them). At least the drivers are polite.
Pros
  • Close to everything
  • Well-maintained
  • Lights prevent too many cars from entering at once
Cons
  • Traffic is blocked
  • Noisy
  • Never near the best areas in town
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
Just now

"Nicest homes in EPA"

The whole complex of new developments behind IKEA is probably one of the best investments in East Palo Alto - but a lot of people know that already, because some of the condos have appreciated $100,000 since they have been bought. In the meantime, you really don't feel like you are in the town that was the murder capitol of American in 1992 when you are hanging out here.

Here is the fun twist though that I just learned: lately, some of the local gangs have been taking up residency here, because the area appears to feel safe under the radar of the police. Given that there are far worse problems, police pay little attention to this neighborhood, which could become problematic at some point in time.

Gates itself is on the east side of the neighborhood, which puts it a little further from IKEA and the interstate, but closer to Pulgas, which has a fair amount of traffic of its own. This is a very nice place to live that is very close to Palo Alto, but is also targeted as one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in EPA and is still in the corresponding school district. Great for a single gal or guy, but not necessarily for a newlywed couple hoping to start a family; unless they are able to petition to send their kid to the nearby Palo Alto schools, which can happen.
Pros
  • Good investment
  • Modern homes
  • Relatively affordable
Cons
  • Potential for gang activity
  • Poor schools
  • Still in East Palo Alto
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
Just now

"Housing developments, shopping plazas and gas stations"

These are the images that are conjured up when Vacaville is brought up. Home to a military base, the town is filled with housing developments and has an almost Midwestern feel to it. People come from far and wide for the shopping, particularly the outlets, which seem to be the main draw here. It's also a great place to fuel up before hitting raft country or Tahoe, because the gas is so much cheaper.

The other perk is that you get Bay Area (ish) living for Sacramento prices. It's about as far out as you can get and still be considered "SF Bay" by Craigslist standards, but there is water nearby, it is only about an hour from the city (and closer to Oakland, Berkeley and some East Bay hikes) and you are that much closer to the Sierras for a fraction of the cost. It could be worth considering if you want to move to the Bay Area and location is not a huge inhibitor.
Pros
  • Cheaper
  • Closer to Tahoe
  • Shopping outlets
Cons
  • Barely the Bay Area
  • Lacks culture
  • Crowded on weekends
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
Just now

"Great beach town"

Marin County doesn't have the same coastal access that Peninsula residents do, with towns like Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay and Pescadero all within a stone's throw, but Stinson Beach comes pretty close and just about scratches the itch for North Bay residents.

In addition to the cute beach town, the setup of the beach itself is great for standard activities - picnics, frisbee, tanning, and enjoying the sun. However, the area is also known for coastal rock climbing and clean surf breaks. The nearby hillside lends itself to great hiking with stunning coastal views.

The down side? There is only one of it, so everyone from the Presidio to Napa congregates here on nice weekend days.
Pros
  • Good beach town
  • Great outdoor activities
  • Proximity to Marin County
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Traffic bottleneck
  • Chilly in the winter time
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
2/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"The Maze..."

I wish there were a category for the entire "maze" of Oakland on here, but given that there is not, the report on the MacArthur section of the Maze will have to do. This area is the prime culprit of the confusion, anyway.

The "Maze," as is commonly referred to a little highway interchange in Oakland, right around the Bay Bridge. It is the junction of 580, 880, 980 and (you guessed it!) 80. It is very easy to get lost around here, and here are some fun facts to reinforce just WHY the area is so frustrating:

1. Most GPS directions will send you 580 to 880 southbound. The signage for 880 on 580 is terrible, and you can just stay on 880 instead.
2. 580 to 880 via 980, and 80 to 880 are completely interchangeable. There is no reason to get caught up on one over the other, although this is a very easy mistake to make.
3. If you accidentally take 80 westbound, you WILL get stuck on Treasure Island, and have to sit in line and pay the toll before you can turn around and recover your mistake.
4. 580, although considered an east/west freeway, runs completely parallel to 880 until Castro Valley, further contributing to the confusion.
5. 980 is actually 880 for part of the stretch, and 24 for the other part of the stretch. Simple, right?

The area certainly lives up to its name, and traffic reflects this quite well. I would recommend avoiding the area at all costs during rush hour, and take a look at a map and be fully aware of your surroundings before driving through. What a mess!

(Note: My "Safety" rating refers to driving safety, not necessarily neighborhood safety)
Pros
  • Convenient to every freeway
  • Close to downtown Oakland
Cons
  • Traffic
  • Bad roads
  • Horribly confusing
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"It doesn't get much more expensive..."

Search for Woodside on Google maps, zoom in closely enough, and you will observe that unlike other Silicon Valley towns there are few houses on the map that don't resemble mansions with private pools and tennis courts. Do the same search on any real estate website, and not surprisingly, you will find that almost every house lists for at least a million, and one in ten will reach eight digits, even in a down real estate market.

Such is Woodside, one of the most beautiful and wealthy towns in Northern California. Situated at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains, with the redwoods right at your fingertips, it is no surprise that the town retails so high; and the size of the homes throughout certainly helps. Accompanying the beautiful scenery is a great little downtown stretch with some cute cafes but little in the ways of nightlife. Nearby Redwood City and Palo Alto scratch that particular itch far better, and like everywhere else, the closer you are to the center of town, the more expensive the homes get and the less land you have surrounding your residence.

Of course, wealthy towns come with great schools, and Woodside is no exception - for the kids whose parents choose not to send them to private school, that is. And like every other town on the Peninsula, one of the wealthiest ares is directly adjacent to a fairly run-down part of Redwood City. Ahh, c'est la vie in an area known for a massive spread of wealth.
Pros
  • Beautiful houses
  • Great parks
  • Great schools
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Traffic near highways
  • Some parts are VERY remote
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Life doesn't get much better..."

Woodside Heights really has it all. Close to downtown, and even closer to 280 and 84, it is home to the beautiful mansions that this town for, and has some things that other parts of the town lacks: cell phone reception, grocery stores, interstates, and access to the rest of civilization. All of this is less than a ten-minute drive to the redwoods, on one of the few parts of 84 that experiences neither the traffic of Redwood City nor the nervous drivers of La Honda Road.

The only visible pitfall to living here, other than a price point that is obviously unachievable for most people, is that being closer to the rest of town comes at a price: while the houses are huge, the lots are smaller which means less room to build up or own a horse barn.

But at this point, if this is your price point in the real estate market, then it really has to do with personal preference and not whether one neighborhood is better than another.
Pros
  • Beautiful houses
  • Close to everything
  • Very pretty and leafy
Cons
  • Smaller lots
  • High prices
  • Could hit some traffic at peak hours
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"The private life"

There are certain streets that people turn up on 84 that make me go "Oooh, people actually get to LIVE there." And then there are streets like Patrol Road, that make THOSE people have similar reactions to what I just had. That's right, Patrol Road is so secluded that it actually gets its own, small access road (Entrance Way) in order to get here.

It's not completely engulfed in the Santa Cruz Mountains; far from it. Less than ten minutes will get you to downtown Woodside, a small but cute stretch of ritzy country town, and another ten will get you to interstate 280. But that is not why people choose to live here. This is a place where people can buy a lot and then build upon it, to build massive, hillside Northern California mansions complete with pools, athletic courts, and whatever else they may desire.

And with redwood scenery all around, there really is no better backdrop for a dream home.
Pros
  • Great scenery
  • Beautiful homes
  • Close enough to Woodside
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Not the easiest drive
  • Too secluded for some
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"So pretty..."

The upper part of this road, which leads to Huddart County Park, is so pretty that it could be a hiking trail. The canyon that it passes is filled with redwoods and waterfalls, and the narrow switchbacks make it reasonably exciting to drive on. In the winter, all of the foliage is shrouded in bright green moss, further contributing to the scenery.

The winter does, of course, tend toward flooding, and some portions of the road might be wetter than one would like. Closer to town, there are several mansions and estates here, filled with acres of land, modern homes, and even some horse stables. Don't even consider living here unless you come from money, but if you do, I can't imagine a better place to live. The homes are even close enough to town that you actually feel like you are living in a real town!

One fair bit of advice: Huddart Park is NOT right around the corner; it is several miles up the road, almost on Skyline. The scenery certainly makes it worth the drive, but the signage can be a bit deceptive if you are not prepared to drive on a challenge road, and places to turn around are few and far between. Nearby Wunderlich Park is your best bet if you would rather log miles on foot than by car, and best of all, parking there is free!
Pros
  • Very scenic
  • Residences are close to town
  • Easy to get to
Cons
  • Few places to turn around
  • Very expensive
  • Driving can be tough
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"Cute cul de sac"

It doesn't get much more average Palo Alto than this - the houses are cute and contemporary, comfortably sized but more understated and closer together than those in nearby Crescent Park. This block is not particularly near anything, but living in Palo Alto means that you are generally not too far from anything, either. Given that it is not off of any major street, the area doesn't experience the noise and traffic of the town, but does have the benefit of being enclosed in the green vegetative tunnel, just like everything else in town.

Perhaps the biggest perk is that the cul de sac setup means that commuters and visitors will not be using your street as a way to bypass Silicon Valley traffic. To be fair, this is a perk for residents, and potentially a drawback for everyone else here.
Pros
  • Well-protected
  • Great foliage
  • Minimal traffic for Palo Alto
Cons
  • Slightly removed from town
  • Houses are closer together
  • Expensive
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
Just now

"Standard business park"

Casey court lies in the odd amalgamation of real estate that is Menlo Park and East Palo Alto all rolled into one, with very few characteristics of either. The small road, and the area in general, lacks both the charm and wealth of Menlo Park and the affordable, somewhat run-down pre-gentrification of East Palo Alto. Rather, it is a spread of business parks that were built on a lot that was probably purchased well under market value.

With 101 and the Dumbarton Bridge right nearby, the perks are few and far between, but there are a few: the area is flat enough to bike on without sweating through your button-down shirt, and there is a shopping complex with a Starbucks nearby. But the most important aspect of this area is what it does for the rest of the neighborhood - raise the property area significantly.
Pros
  • Access to major roads
  • Raises property value
  • Decent real estate prices nearby
Cons
  • Lacks culture
  • Few eating options
  • Traffic galore to get here from anywhere
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"Literally on the edge..."

There are many things that make Edgewood drive "SO" Palo Alto - the huge, modern homes, the thick, leafy vegetation that acts as a buffer between the town and the rest of SIlicon Valley, the friendly neighbors, and the great schools and even better medical facilities nearby. This is absolutely one of Palo Alto's wealthier streets, as indicated by the size of some of the houses, the types of cars in the driveways and three-car garages, and the sheer number of swimming pools in the backyards (which, of course, I am only aware of thanks to Google maps).

Here is the big red flag with this street - it is a mere block away from Woodland Avenue in East Palo Alto, which is geographically close but worlds away on the income spectrum. Any time you have two such neighborhoods close together, one of them has a huge target on its back and a huge potential for depreciation in value. Take a guess which of the two streets I am talking about.

I am not saying that one shouldn't live here or even indicating that it is unsafe, but just be aware of what you are getting yourself into. And if you do live in Palo Alto, wouldn't you want to be closer to 280 than 101, anyway?
Pros
  • Very well-maintained
  • Great houses
  • Access to all of Palo Alto's amenities
Cons
  • Very close to East Palo Alto
  • Very expensive
  • 101 traffic and noise
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"Can't beat the location!"

With Chaucer Street being located as close to downtown as it is, the area is certainly one of the most desirable in town. Chaucer is one of the last streets to intersect University Avenue before hitting downtown Palo Alto, but the leafy, well-manicured streets, so characteristic of Palo Alto, make it seem worlds apart.

The road, and this entire area, bears semblance to a green tunnel, a feat that is quite remarkable given how business-minded and tech-savvy the whole area is, but such is Palo Alto. Chaucer does have the unique benefit/drawback of intersecting with both Palo Alto Avenue and Woodland Avenue, which contribute greatly to a higher degree of traffic than some of its nearby neighbors (let's be honest, I've used this as a way to bypass University Avenue traffic once or twice).

But with easy access to other neighborhoods and equally easy access to downtown Palo Alto's cafes, shops, and bars, who cares about a little bit of extra traffic?
Pros
  • Very pretty and leafy
  • Accessible to many neighborhoods
  • Close to downtown
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Can get traffic-y
  • Not for those seeking simplicity
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
Just now

"Sweet location!"

Mercy Street is one of those picture-perfect, seemingly suburban streets that is not only completely safe, but located adjacent to downtown Mountain View. Intersecting Castro Street and immediately paralleling California Street, the area really has it all: coffee shops, bars, ethnic restaurants, nightlife, nearby businesses, and a safe, comfortable suburban atmosphere. Even traffic here is a fraction of what it is on the nearby side streets.

The down side, of course, is price: living here means paying at least several hundred thousand for small, traditional California ranches - and significantly more for larger, newer homes. Frankly, given the location, the atmosphere, and the consistent appreciation due to the Google-opoly that exists here, I would just as soon invest in a fixer-upper here for a lower price rather than purchase a larger, more expensive, move-in ready home. Either way, you can't go wrong here - as long as you can afford it.
Pros
  • Close to downtown
  • Safe, comfortable street
  • Google wifi all over town!
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Not for hermits
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
Just now

"Not bad for gentrified Oakland"

Let's start by being clear about what Staten Avenue is NOT: It is not a place to raise kids. It is not without crowds. It is not comprised of cozy residences - and it IS a place where you will be on an eternal hunt to find a parking space. However, there are some great perks to living here as well. The area is close to downtown and even closer to Lake Merritt - easily walking distance. The renovated apartments around here are great, public transportation is even better, and across Bellevue Avenue, you will find a fraction of the crowds that are on this street.

Compared to the rest of the Bay Area, the prices are a fraction of the cost, especially the rentals and shares. There is no way that you could live in San Francisco and get the same kind of proximity to the amenities that you have here, and amenities (restaurants, bars, coffee shops) do exist within walking distance.

However, at the end of the day you are still in a crowded area in Oakland. At least it is a safe, crowded area with the lake nearby.
Pros
  • Decent culture in the area
  • Close to Lake Merritt
  • Great public transportation
Cons
  • Crowded
  • Impossible to find parking
  • In Oakland
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
Just now

"Nondescript Frontage Road"

There is nothing too terribly special about Miles Avenue - it is an industrial-feeling, frontage road that parallels highway 24 in Oakland's Rockridge neighborhood. This means that the street is in one of the town's best areas but maintains the gritty, industrial feel that is so common of Oakland. Houses here are average sized and older for the area, but are not terrible. The lawn space is limited.

Amenities here include Trader Joe's, a Montessori school, and a barber shop that is designed especially for children. Despite the proximity to the freeway and the lack of lawn space, the street seems oddly kid-friendly.

The biggest plus to living here is that, in addition to the town's own public bus line, the Rockridge BART is right around the corner. However, this also means that public transportation makes the area accessible WITHOUT having to live here.
Pros
  • Nearby dining and nightlife
  • Great public transportation
  • Access to interstate
Cons
  • Industrial feel
  • Highway noise and traffic
  • Maintains some of Oakland's grit...
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Hipsters
  • Students
StephenColes
StephenColes Hi! This is a reasonable review for the little stretch of Miles northeast of College, but most Miles Ave homes are southwest of College, which is very different than what you describe.
2yrs+
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2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
Just now

"WARNING..."

The good news is that the section of Newark that is closest to the Dumbarton Bridge is filled with business parks, and is not very residential at all. The better news is that Marshlands Road is even more uninhabited than the rest of the area; virtually empty save a few government buildings.

The bad news? The area is completely overtaken by a sewage treatment area that anyone driving over the Dumbarton Bridge can smell. It is completely potent, even with windows shut, and is extremely hard to miss. I always wonder how people manage to WORK in the area, and could certainly not imagine living here.

So if some real estate developer decides, down the line, to build a seemingly underpriced network of condos in the area, be sure to steer clear. If you are moving to Newark, head for the hills (literally!) and go as far east as you can so as to avoid this area.
Pros
  • Underdeveloped
  • Close to the bridge
  • Pretty scenery
Cons
  • Sewage treatment plant!
  • Terrible smells!
  • Did I mention the sewage treatment plant?
RonV
RonV Dumbarton flats: This is raw sewage. It is not mud flats decay or normal salt marsh action as some are saying. I've been near treatment plants many times in my life and NOTHING has been this bad. It's totally unacceptable. Who is responsible?
2yrs+
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4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Nicer interstate"

If you live in Menlo Park and have any choice at all, I highly recommend taking Junipero Serra Freeway when commuting along the Peninsula. It holds a fraction of the traffic, with exponentially more scenery, than its eastern neighbor (the 101).

This has quite a bit to do with the location - western Menlo Park is far more scenic and residential, with massive homes along the rolling hills. The eastern part of town is filled with businesses - and lots of them - stacked on top of one another. Residences here are smaller, closer together, and are often apartment or condo style - meaning higher population density all around.

Junipero Serra (aka 280) might not quite be the magic bullet to levitate your car above all other traffic, but it does serve as a nice reprieve.
Pros
  • Less traffic
  • Great scenery
  • Friendly Bay Area drivers
Cons
  • Further from businesses
  • Less consistent cell phone reception
  • Very expensive area
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
Just now

"Sweet downtown street"

Juniper Lane is one of Saratoga's finest - massive houses close to downtown make this easily one of the most expensive streets in the area. While it is not quite walking distance to the nightlife, it is still fairly close, and the ground here is flat enough that biking is fairly easy.

The houses resemble those on MTV Cribs in almost every regard - modern, clean, high-tech, with pools in the backyard. There is but one glaring exception to this - they are extraordinarily close together, like many residences in the Bay Area and all over California seem to be. This doesn't seem to be a problem for those who drop $1 million plus on these homes.

Aside from this, the only true down side is dealing with Saratoga traffic. But hey, it's Silicon Valley. If you can afford a house like this, you are probably used to commuting to your tech job, anyway.
Pros
  • Beautiful houses
  • Close to downtown
  • Great town, great schools
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Houses are close together
  • Some traffic on Saratoga Avenue
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Downtown condos"

Okay, to be fair, not everything is a condo here, but the places that aren't condos are small, modern ranches. We've all heard the term "location, location, location" in the world of real estate, and in Silicon Valley, this translates to proximity to the downtown areas. Franklin Street is just far enough that it avoids some of the noise and traffic, but close enough that one can walk to the many coffee shops, bars and ethnic restaurants nearby.

The houses here are either smaller or are condos, but that doesn't really affect the price. It's not San Francisco, but it's cool enough to warrant higher real estate prices for less space.
Pros
  • Great nightlife nearby
  • Great ethnic food
  • Access to public transportation
Cons
  • Smaller houses
  • Expensive for home size
  • Busier street
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5
Just now

"The frame of the campus"

Campus drive, so aptly named, is truly the gateway to Stanford University. Circumnavigating the entire campus, it is a welcome change from Palo Alto's consistent congestion - but be prepared to pay hourly for parking on weekdays. That being said, the road can also be used as a through street to give a driving tour if you don't want to stick around. But where's the fun in that?

Fortunately, Campus Drive is also home to the visitors' center, your ticket to make the most of your trip here. Stanford really is one of the best college campuses to visit - steeped in history, but with a modern feel, it has everything from museums to sculpture gardens to sports fields to unique architecture - all with the Stanford name attached.

True to college campus form, everything to do here is free or cheap. This is a great resource for locals and tourists alike, and Campus Drive will get you here no problem.
Pros
  • Easy to drive on
  • Access to everything on campus
  • Green and scenic
Cons
  • More through street than pedestrian
  • Paid parking on weekdays
  • Could be a bit uptight for some
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"Residential Stanford"

Serra Street begins at El Camino Real and runs through the Stanford campus, first passing the residences, followed by the campus itself. The former is a driving road; the latter is pedestrian-friendly. Compared to the rest of Palo Alto, driving on the commuter streets on the Stanford campus is a joy, as the traffic is a fraction of what it is in the rest of the town. However, driving around Stanford also comes at a price (literally!) - it is one of the few places in town that actually has paid parking on weekdays.

But few people come visit Stanford to drive around. It is the beautiful green lawns, the unique art sculptures, the architecture, the history, and the museums that draw people here. Serra Street truly is at the center of it all, passing Hoover Tower and the Oval Park, among other Stanford icons. If you come visit the University, you will probably walk here, and driving on this road will get you back out faster.
Pros
  • Center of campus
  • Lots to see and do
  • Easy in and out
Cons
  • Paid parking on weekdays
  • Slightly further from the visitor center
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"Palo Alto Luxury"

Maple Street is the last cul-de-sac on the north side of Palo Alto's Crescent Park neighborhood before arriving downtown, which has some perks attached to it. It is further from the interstate but still protected from any through traffic by being a dead end. The houses are essentially mansions that just happen to be closer together, but it is still close enough to downtown that one can walk or bike. And, oh yeah, it is in one of Palo Alto's most desirable neighborhoods.

Given the size of the houses and the location, this neighborhood is indeed family-oriented - if you are a wealthy, hip, tech-savvy family. Palo Alto is unique in that it is comprised more of new Silicon Valley dollars than traditional old money, but that is still a certain niche role. It is very hard to get into, given how expensive it is, and the houses are still abnormally close together for residences of this size and affluence - but such is California.

Overall, probably one of the nicest places in town - if you can afford it.
Pros
  • Great houses
  • Close to downtown
  • Family-friendly
Cons
  • Not the best for students
  • Very expensive
  • University Ave. traffic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"Very nice, private neighborhood"

Leland Manor is definitely one of Palo Alto's finest - although there are many neighborhoods in Palo Alto that could classify under this category, depending on what you are looking for. It's not the closest neighborhood to downtown, but it's close enough that one can still walk and flat enough that one can bike. Proximity to Embarcadero and Oregon Expressway make it easy to get to, without having to contend with the nightmare that is University Avenue traffic.

The houses are beautiful and well-manicured, although a bit close together (standard for this town). The neighborhood is more family-oriented and working adults, rather than young professional or student-driven, as is indicated by the nearby middle school.

Be prepared to pay Palo Alto prices to live here, but if you can afford it, this is a great place to raise a family.
Pros
  • Great schools
  • Great place for kids
  • Central location
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Not the best for students
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"Lake Tahoe Scene"

Located on the California/Nevada state line, Crystal Bay is one of the most common lodging options for Bay Area weekend commuters. It offers the best of all worlds - casinos, gambling, nightlife, proximity to some of the best resorts in the Tahoe area (Squaw Valley, Northstar, Alpine Meadows, and Sugarbowl), and of course, stunning views of the lake all around.

Unlike the south shore, where the casino and ski populations seem far more segregated (I haven't a clue what the skiers down there do at night), visitors here tend to mingle more, and many daytime riders moonlight as gamblers. The locals are friendly, the tourists are psyched to meet and greet, the table minimums are low, and the ski homes here are some of the nicest in the area.

If you want come up from the SF Bay and do the Lake Tahoe scene, with the freedom to go to any mountain that you choose without feeling segregated at a resort, I recommend this fun ski/gambling town.
Pros
  • Great ski scene
  • Great nightlife
  • Beautiful views of the lake
Cons
  • Chintzy casinos
  • Poor dining options
  • Dicey driving during snowstorms
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"Decent"

For a major interstate that runs through an even more major city, 280 is not so bad. Daly City is just about the last suburbia stop before hitting San Francisco, and is quite busy as well. Normally, even during rush hour, it is not too crowded coming in. If you are avoiding downtown SF and just trying to get to the western part of the city, this is the place for it. If you are a downtown commuter, you can get to work from here, too.

Traffic always seems to be worse going southbound, for some reason. Even when it is not a traditional rush hour time, 280 south seems to get hit with the standard congestion that one would expect. It is also slightly more industrial and less scenic here than in neighboring stretches of highway down south, but it is a manageable freeway nonetheless.
Pros
  • Decent northbound traffic
  • Accessible to all parts of SF
  • Polite commuters
Cons
  • Southbound traffic
  • Not as scenic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Hipsters
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
Just now

"Has Potential...Someday"

The more I look at nice areas in other questionable towns (Rockridge, Lake Merritt, Berkeley Hills, East San Jose Foothills), the more I realize that East Palo Alto has no such thing, making it, in some ways, the worst town to live in in the Bay Area. Notre Dame Avenue really isn't a huge standout one way or the other - it is simply a decent, understated, moderate street in the northeast quadrant of East Palo Alto.

Someday, if this town grows up into the gentrification that it is so well set up for, Notre Dame Avenue will be one of those great streets to live on. The relatively modern, 1950s ranchers are perfectly fine and no different than houses in other Bay Area towns, and even the worst ones offer a ton of potential. Proximity to University Avenue and access to the rest of the neighborhood mean that the road gets a little more TLC than some of its neighbors, and has amenities like stop signs and street lights (do NOT take these for granted).

In the meantime, it will continue to be plagued with noise, overcrowded homes, no parking on the street, and a shoddy school system that requires kids to be bussed to neighboring districts to get their education. Invest here, but certainly raise your family elsewhere.
Pros
  • Cheap(ish)
  • Decent investment
  • One of the more well-maintained streets
Cons
  • Terrible schools
  • Gang activity
  • Dumbarton/101 traffic nearby
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"Student Central"

There are several Oakland neighborhoods that make you think "wow, I'm not actually in Oakland," and Rockridge, particularly eastern Rockridge, is definitely one of these places. The dining options on college avenue could entertain even the most eclectic of foodies for days, and with its fair share of bars and pubs, the area provides some nightlife as well.

The homes, while not as fancy as some in the Berkeley Hills, definitely have that certain scenic je-ne-sais-quoi that only the Bay Area foothill homes truly embody. Public transportation is abundant here; you really don't need a car to get around (although walking and biking can be tiring given the pitch of the hills around here). BART will take you anywhere that you want in the Bay Area, without ever needing a vehicle.

This is a good thing, because parking here can be a nightmare. I actually know of several people around here who rent apartments and don't have cars, so they rent out their parking space and end up breaking even on their monthly rent. Let's just say that parking here is in high demand.
Pros
  • Nice homes
  • Great Restaurants
  • Nice Shopping Area
  • Pleasant Leafy Streets
Cons
  • Traffic
  • Oakland location
  • Crowded
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
Just now

"Better Oakland Highway"

While it is still part of the cluster of highway in Oakland that some genius traffic planner created, highway 24 is definitely one of the better ones. The main reason? It is actually well-maintained and easy to drive on. This could very well have to do with the fact that it is in the nicer, eastern part of Oakland, or could be because it is not part of 880, which feels like a dirt road and is practically unmanageable if your car has no shock absorption. Either way, it offers a nice reprieve.

I have only driven here late at night or early in the morning, so I cannot speak to the traffic situation here compared to other interstates. It has always been more than fine for me.
Pros
  • Decently maintained
  • Takes one to the nice parts of Oakland
Cons
  • It's a highway
  • It's in Oakland
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
Just now

"The "Good" Part of Oakland"

Oakland still has a rap for being a sketchy town - which is, in some ways, accurate - but this is the place where you want to live. College Avenue, and Rockridge in general, feels more Berkeley than Oakland and has a much safer reputation.

The street lives up to its name in amenities alone. Among other things, there is a yoga studio, a Crepevine, a taqueria, and an insane amount of cafes, pubs, and other restaurants. The other huge convenience factor here is the Rockridge BART station, which allows you public transportation to anywhere in the Bay Area. They even have free parking on weekends, and $1/day parking on weekdays. I've left my car here overnight and felt completely safe doing so.

Rent is a bit more expensive here than other parts of Oakland, but overall, totally worth it.
Pros
  • Great food
  • Great public transportation
  • Good nightlife
Cons
  • It's still Oakland
  • Not super-clean
  • Not a great place to raise kids
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Hipsters
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
Just now

"A bit of a paradox"

Here is what is funny about Mission Street. Despite the fact that it has an entire, major San Francisco neighborhood named in its honor, this major road is anything but symbolic of what the neighborhood now represents. What was once a neighborhood of immigrants, many of whom were first-generation from Mexico, is now a community of hipsters, trendsetters, and young people trying to just "get by" in the city. Gentrification is practically symbolic of the neighborhood, but Mission maintains its traditional roots.

Chain establishments are about as common as coffee shops (read: NONE), but nonetheless, there are still some great finds. Here are a few:

Yoga to the People, just off of Mission on 16th Street, offers donation-based yoga multiple times a day. The studio is sprawling, the teachers are great, and the views of the city are a reminder of the great place we are in.

Taqueria Cancun, just north of 19th Street, has the absolute best Mexican food I have had north of Santa Barbara. I have at least two friends who agree. It is the greasy spoon, down-home food that is emblematic of late-night dining. So good!

And hey, you can probably still find a relatively cheap place to live here, too. If you are looking for nightlife, head over to nearby Valencia.
Pros
  • Great Mexican food
  • Preservation of neighborhood culture
  • Reasonable SF real estate prices
Cons
  • A little dirty
  • Noisy
  • Can be sketchy at night
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Great nightlife"

If there is a single icon in San Francisco that Harland Place is known for, it is the Irish Bank, which offers the biggest, loudest, most crowded, and greenest St. Patrick's Day party in the city. It is loud. It is crazy. There are at least three different forms of music playing at the same time. And it is a blast.

They open up the entire alley for most of the day and charge a $5 cover in exchange for the dance floors, the great company, the rented port-a-potties (good call!) and the thrill of doing something crazy on a holiday that is essentially designed for drinking. If I were a resident here, this is the one night a year that I would certainly adopt the "Can't beat 'em, join 'em" attitude.

The rest of the year, this is still a fairly vibrant spot at night. Located in the Nob Hill area, this little alleyway is not far from plenty of other bars, restaurants, and late-night food spots worth their salt. It's not for those seeking peace and quiet, but it is a fun spot!
Pros
  • Great restaurants
  • Great nightlife
  • Once-a-year St. Patrick's Day party
Cons
  • Very expensive area
  • Noise
  • Not much parking
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Hipsters
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous..."

You would think that one of the wealthiest streets in the Bay Area would not be quite so close to a major road, but when real estate holds the value that it does here, you take what you can get. Hacienda Drive doesn't have a whole lot, but it is near downtown Woodside, which includes a few very nice, quaint restaurants and cafes.

Here is what it does have: stupidly large mansions that are afforded acres upon acres of space for the residents to spread out in. We're talking pools, wineries, tennis courts, the whole nine. Even some of the neighboring, equally wealthy streets don't have the sprawl that Hacienda does.

The road is definitely a blink-and-you-miss it spot, but once you are on the property, you would have to be blind to miss these homes. Is there a "beyond super-wealthy, enough net worth to own a small country" category?
Pros
  • Beautiful houses
  • Close to downtown Woodside
  • Great climate
Cons
  • Highly overpriced
  • Near a traffic-dense area
  • Snobbery
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"So THIS is where they live..."

I have often driven through La Honda on 84 and Pescadero, interchangeably, and scratched my head, wondering where people actually live in this town. Granted, there are not all that many residents here, but the ones who do live here certainly must live somewhere, right? It wasn't until looking at a map that I realized that Entrada Way, adjacent to the well-known Apple Jack's Inn, is the gateway to the actual residences and amenities in town.

Surprisingly, many of the houses here are more modest than one would expect for this town. Some are bigger, some are smaller, many look like farm houses, and all of them are dramatically overpriced. Unless you work for one of the camps, this is a tough town to get into.

One thing is for sure: if you are looking for peace and quiet, you have come to the right place.
Pros
  • Very quiet and peaceful
  • Scenic
  • Great small-town community
Cons
  • Very few amenities
  • Very expensive
  • Spotty cell phone coverage
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
Just now

"Only services around for miles"

Sears Ranch Road is not exactly the hip happening Bay Area spot by anyone else's standards...but for La Honda, it absolutely is. Home to the post office, the market, the elementary school, and Sullivan's bar, it is just about the best that the town has to offer.

On any given weekend night, you can find locals of all ages convening here (yes, the kids are allowed in the bars!) and like many hillside Bay Area towns, there is this phenomena of really good music being played at the local hole-in-the-wall bars. La Honda is no exception. Of course, the small town feel is accompanied by the beautifulness of the redwoods. Perhaps even better, this is just about the only spot in town where you will get ample cell phone reception. Not bad, indeed.
Pros
  • Decent bar scene
  • Many of the necessary amenities
  • Great small-town feel
Cons
  • Middle of nowhere
  • Very expensive
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"You thought it was quiet in Pescadero..."

...but La Honda is even more quiet and remote. Closer to Silicon Valley but further from the ocean, Pescadero Creek Road in La Honda is about as back woods as one can get in the midst of one of the most populated areas in the nation. It really is a bit of an anomaly.

The beautiful redwoods and other trees make for great hiking, and road bikers with a death wish seem to enjoy zipping down these twisting, winding streets. Motorcyclists here are in heaven as well, it seems.

Houses here are ridiculously overpriced due to La Honda's population cap. It takes a really unique person to want to live ten miles from the nearest grocery store, but the peaceful, quiet, remote nature in the redwoods certainly has appeal for some.
Pros
  • Beautiful
  • Quiet
  • Great hiking and biking
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Not much nightlife
  • Minimal cell phone reception
Recommended for
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"More beautiful stretches"

Coming up from Cabrillo Highway, it is hard to beat the peaceful views of untouched beaches - but Pescadero Creek sure is comparable! The road winds up through the hill, first in the shrubbery, then in Douglas firs and madrones, and finally into the redwoods. Heading westbound, the road offers a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean (is it possible to use the word "stunning" too much?)

To be fair, there is very little in the town aside from a few county offices, cottage-like residences and overpriced gas stations. Cell phone reception goes away really quickly as you head up the road, and residents here (all five of them) pay a lot for a place that has virtually nothing there. But there is something about the nothing-ness that makes it so unique, and so beautiful.
Pros
  • Beautiful and scenic
  • Great parks and recreation
  • Peaceful
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Little to do
  • No cell phone reception
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"WOW"

In my opinion, few highways in the Bay Area are more pleasant to drive on than this one. This virtually untouched stretch of Pacific coastline offers picturesque, stunning views of the ocean on the whole drive. The long, clean breaks are a surfer's dream, and the expansive vistas are perfect for every photographer.

Traffic is surprisingly light, which could have to do with the fact that few work destinations or residences are located along this remote stretch. As a result, cell phone reception is complete out in places, which means that you will have to wait until Pescadero or Santa Cruz to upload your cell phone photos to Facebook.

If you are okay doing a little bit of driving and want to escape the crowds, this is a great place to find peace and solitude in an otherwise heavily populated area.
Pros
  • Great views
  • Solitude
  • Minimal traffic
Cons
  • Little in the way of restaurants or nightlife
  • No cell phone reception
  • Not for urban dwellers
Recommended for
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"The start of a great stretch"

Cabrillo Highway, running from Santa Cruz north to Pacifica, is one of the most beautiful, untouched stretches of coastal road in the Bay Area. To be honest, I can't believe that the area hasn't been overdeveloped. Santa Cruz has the unique positioning of having the road start off as a pretty significant commercial/restaurant/nightlife spot, but it quickly turns into the massive, beautiful stretch of coastal highway that continues some 70 miles up toward San Francisco.

Few spots on the California coast have what Cabrillo Highway does - peace and quiet, aqua-blue water, clean, remarkable, large breaks...and stunning views, all within what is arguably the most under-populated spot in the Bay Area. This could easily turn into Malibu Beach meets Silicon Valley, but something has kept it virtually untouched.

Minimal traffic, coastal views, AND sunsets? This has to be one of California's best drives!
Pros
  • Beautifully scenic
  • Good nightlife closer to downtown
  • Good restaurants in the southern part
Cons
  • Crowded closer to the city
  • Expensive
  • Spotty cell phone coverage in places
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Beach and boardwalk"

It doesn't get much closer to the action than this - 1st street is practically on top of both the boardwalk and the beach, adjacent to both. While quieter in the winter, the action is really there in the summer time. The area is a blast to visit, but might get a little crowded to live in, particularly with the severely limited parking options.

There appear to be a few residences here (older homes that are surely rented by many), but living here kind of equates to living on top of a bar in New York City's East Village - it's a little dirty, you won't get much space, and you have to love it. The plus side is that even if the boardwalk doesn't float your boat, the beach is literally right there and the surf spots are right nearby. And of course, nothing here is too far from the downtown bar scene.

I wouldn't want to live here, but I can see why others would.
Pros
  • On top of the beach
  • Adjacent to the boardwalk
  • Near downtown
Cons
  • Noise
  • Small houses, big money
  • Lack of parking
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Students
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Ritzy Santa Cruz"

While Santa Cruz is not inherently known for its sprawling mansions so much as its hippie, student, stoner and surfer residents in this beachside town, West Cliff Drive is about as close to Malibu beaches as one will get around here. The entire road runs along the ocean, and many of the houses here absolutely qualify as mansions and resembles the ones that one would see closer to Los Angeles (or on the other side of the hill, for that matter).

The Spanish-style layout homes are closer together but still offer their share of well-manicured lawns, swimming pools, and of course, beachfront property. They don't exactly fit in with the rest of the town culture, but every beachfront city in California needs a place like this, for those who can afford it.
Pros
  • Beachfront!
  • Nicest houses in Santa Cruz
  • Nice parks in the area
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Indirect driving route
  • Paid parking in some spots
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"Very Nice and Residential"

While modesty is key in Santa Cruz real estate, Chestnut Street certainly houses some nicer homes and condos. The beach is within walking distance as is downtown, and there is a park that is even closer. All of the houses on the southern part of the street are condo-style, which means consistency and cleanliness but far less privacy.

Certainly the biggest benefit of this street is the location, but its simplicity could be a draw for singles, couples, beach lovers of all shapes and sizes and even retirees. It is relatively quiet for being so close to so many things (except for the extension up north) and is certainly a viable, appealing Santa Cruz option.
Pros
  • Quiet
  • GREAT location
  • Consistent residences
Cons
  • Can feel crowded
  • Expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Students
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"Beachfront Living"

It doesn't get any closer to the beach than this - Cowell Street IS full-on beachfront property. Unlike its southern neighbors in this overpriced state, Santa Cruz beaches are filled with modest residents and residences, college students, professionals, burnouts and surf bums alike. True to form, the houses here are smaller, closer together, and could potentially house multiple families.

But with the convenience of the area, who cares? Being close to the ocean and the boardwalk means proximity to sun, surf, great food, and great nightlife. The ocean here is quite a bit colder than it is in Southern California, and summers can absolutely be cool and foggy, but the trade-off is living in a normal, understate, diverse town with lots to do and little snobbery. This is a great value.
Pros
  • Beach!
  • Boardwalk and nightlife
  • Modest residences
Cons
  • Expensive, for small houses
  • Can get touristy
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Students
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"Great Condo Complex"

No matter how cold it is when I come here, I always feel like I am visiting my grandparents in Florida. Without the old people, with better surf, and with more partying. The condos here, while small for three bedrooms, are nice, modern and clean enough in a gated complex, complete with pool, hot tub, and plenty of parking. All of the units are owned, not rented, so tenant turnover is quite low.

Perhaps the better part of this area is that the complex is a short walk to downtown, and an even shorter walk to the beach and the boardwalk. Convenience meets functionality and comfort at this great set of residences. The biggest downside is thin walls, but there are far worse things in similar condos.
Pros
  • Safe (gated community)
  • Walking distance to beach AND downtown
  • Lots of parking
Cons
  • Not for those who want their own home
  • Central - not for country lovers
  • A little expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Retirees
  • Students
  • Beach Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
Just now

"Decent Santa Cruz living"

While Hubbard Street is not exactly on the beach, it does have the privilege, like everything else in Santa Cruz, of at least being near the beach. The houses here are older and appear to be multi-family, like many of the modest residences in Santa Cruz, but in an oceanfront town with a boardwalk, a university, and great nightlife, this doesn't seem to bother too many people.

Finn's Coffee, a very average, surfer-inspired coffee shop without wifi, is right on the corner, but most of the other public establishments are diners and chain motels, more suited for budget-conscious visitors than trendy locals. It's not the center of downtown Santa Cruz, but it is not too far from anything else in town, either.
Pros
  • Reasonably priced
  • Near beach
  • Near redwoods
Cons
  • Minimal dining options
  • Road noise nearby
  • Homes are not that great
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Students
  • Beach Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
Just now

"It has...stuff..."

I am not even sure how else to describe Encinal Street. The nondescript look, combined with the randomization of services (goodwill store, school, dive bar, credit union) gives it a decent following and simultaneously takes away any defining thread. The road actually feels somewhat barren and dead-end when arriving (which it is).

The single greatest highlight here is Bocci's Cellar, a fun, divey bar that is not a cellar but has Bocci courts and a decent menu. The food is good for the type of bar that it is, the owner is a little creepy, but this is a fun place to bring a group of friends. Highly recommended, if you can find it.

Street parking is okay - be careful of the red lines, and you probably won't get ticketed.
Pros
  • Good bar
  • Decent parking
Cons
  • Lack of culture
  • Barren at night
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
Just now

"Park here at night"

Prior reviews have sung the praises of downtown Mountain View not being as crowded as downtown Palo Alto. While this may be true during the daytime when French Cafes are more up to peoples' standards, the roles are reversed at night and downtown Mountain View's sprawl of ethnic restaurants and sports bars seem to draw the crowds in.

Bryant Street provides a bit of a reprieve from it all - especially when it comes to parking. While it is not necessary to come here during the day, at night it is the place to leave your car. If you cannot find parking on the street, surely the major parking structure will meet your needs. Best part? It's all free.

And for the lucky residents who get to live here, they have the benefit of being a block away from all the action, but without having to live on top of a restaurant. Quite the opposite; the townhomes here are clean and modern, perfect for young professionals, whether single or coupled. Even raising kids here could work out just fine, given that it is just removed enough from the action.
Pros
  • Good parking
  • Nightlife without the noise
  • Can walk to Caltrain
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Considerable downtown traffic
  • Not for country lovers
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
Just now

"Bring your snow tires"

Like Livermore, I-580 has some of the worst road conditions that I have ever seen - and I don't just mean traffic. With the amount of potholes, bumps, and generally gritty terrain, you would think that Dublin saw snow as often as Massachusetts (for those of you who are unaware of climates, it may see snow once a decade as a phenomenon). As an owner of an old car, this is especially challenging.

Aside from this, 580 is fine. Sure, traffic is busy during rush hour, but considering Dublin sees the 580-680 junction, it could be considerably worse. The heat in the summer can be a shock for those who are not from here, but turn on the air conditioner in your rattled car and you will be fine. Overall, there are worse interstates. I just wish they would do something to smooth this one out.
Pros
  • Central location
  • Good town
  • Acceptable traffic
Cons
  • Terrible road maintenance
  • Not for the young and hip
  • Not much nature
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Decent Main Drag"

Like its neighbor, Amador Plaza Road, San Ramon Road in Dublin does a great job of doing its job - being a main drag. The street parallels 680 right at the 580/680 junction, and its name changes several times as it moves through town. It serves several schools, shopping plazas, and nearly every suburban street.

The town that it runs through is a decent place to raise a family in the Bay Area - far enough from the city to have a suburban feel and not be completely hit with San Francisco prices, but close enough to have the options and the benefits, including great hiking nearby.

It's not exactly a cultural center, but it does its job just fine. Unfortunately, I cannot speak for the traffic because I have not driven through during rush hour, although I can imagine it getting quite busy.
Pros
  • BART Station nearby
  • Access to shopping
  • Nice suburban homes nearby
Cons
  • Very hot in the summer
  • Highway noise, highway traffic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"Shopping Center Land..."

Amador Plaza Road is another typical shopping plaza area, a standard in this part of the East Bay. Convenience trumps culture, with stores like Target, Toys R Us, and Safeway as the centers of attention. Chipotle and Panera are joined by some slightly nicer Mexican restaurants to round out the dining options here. And here is a genius design idea: because the plazas are OFF the main drag, traffic seems to be far more well-managed.

It is the East Bay, which means that it is blazingly hot here in the summer, but if you are here you will likely be indoors, so who cares? It's not exactly the cultural center of the Bay Area, but it does a good job of doing its job: serving the Dublin population as a competent shopping center.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
Just now

"I hope your car has good shocks..."

Past Dublin, 580 traffic isn't too bad. Sure, there is the standard out in the morning, in in the evening stickiness, but that is true of any populated area like Livermore. Shopping options are available and accessible from the highway, and there is even a downtown scene not far off. This is the road to Yosemite, to Kirkwood, and an alternate route to Tahoe.

The downside is that this is one of the most poorly-maintained stretches of freeway that I have ever scene. The bumps equate that of a dirt road, and can be felt by any driver at all times. It is absolutely a nightmare for all old car owners, and seems to stretch as far west as Dublin, and north and south on 680. What a mess.

However, unless you want to take back roads the whole way, there is no avoiding it for some trips...
Pros
  • Lots of shopping plazas
  • Relatively reasonable cost of living
  • Access to many areas
Cons
  • Terrible roads
  • Can get backed up
  • Noise
4/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"The "Good" Highway"

There are certainly perks to living in one of the most expensive zip codes in the country, and frankly, having access to the better interstate is one of them. Unlike it's cross-peninsula neighbor, the 101, 280 gently winds through the foothills, avoids the majority of traffic in all but the worst of rush hour, and still gets you to San Francisco in a manner that is at least as timely.

Perhaps the most unique feature, other than the lack of traffic, is the stunning hillside scenery. Surely this is the interstate that they film in movies, the scenic shots of the massive hillside homes, the highway that has the best views of the sunset this side of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the spot that screams "THIS is Northern California." It is truly idyllic, or as idyllic as a highway can get that has the number "80" on its blue sign.

I wouldn't buy a home that is adjacent to here just because of the noise and the views of the interstate, although there is something to be said for convenience...
Pros
  • Scenic
  • Minimal Traffic
  • Good recreation nearby
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • It's a highway...
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
Just now

"Unbelievable views!"

The stretch of Skyline Boulevard adjacent to La Honda is one of the best in the Bay Area! While it is a bit challenging to get to, it accesses a great open space preserve that is filled with hiking trails of all levels. Best of all, Windy Hill Summit, only a half-mile hike from one side of the parking lot and .2 miles from the other, offers views of both the Pacific Ocean and the entire bay.

Unfortunately, the best way to get there is up the seemingly never-ending switchbacks of Woodside Road. It is tough as a driver and even tougher as a passenger, if you have any history of carsickness. Not surprisingly, cell phone reception is in and out. But I wouldn't use a cell phone for any purposes other than taking pictures.
Pros
  • Beautiful views
  • Great hiking
  • Far-removed enough
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Challenging drive
  • Poor cell phone reception
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Very nice and well-developed"

San Andreas Road is the perfect, new, modern, development community, with one extra bonus that differentiates it from similar, more culturally void areas in other parts of the nation: it is near the beach. Seascape Village is right around the corner, and the Pacific Ocean is less than a five-minute drive away (depending on where you are coming from). With the 1 right there, it is almost as easy to get to hip and happening Santa Cruz as it is to get to the lovely, seemingly remote beaches in Aptos.

The down side, of course, is that large, modern homes in affluent beach communities are going to be expensive. San Andreas is certainly no exception. While nearby Seascape Village is cool, with a couple of great food options and delicious margaritas at the Mexican restaurant, it is no substitute for the nightlife of other nearby towns. I could see kids here being bored if they do not go to the beach all the time, and young adults being even more bored unless they choose to go into Santa Cruz. But if nightlife is what you are seeking, why not just live in the thick of it? There are plenty of people who would kill to live here.
Pros
  • Near beach
  • Near major highway
  • Gorgeous homes
Cons
  • No true nightlife
  • Not for those seeking history and charm
  • Very expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
Just now

"Pretty, dead-end redwood road"

Santa Cruz (and the surrounding area) is known for two major nature phenomena - the beautiful, surfer-friendly beaches and the spectacular towering redwoods. Paul Sweet Road encompasses the latter, perhaps better than any other street in town.

The road leads to Dominican Hospital and the lovely Chaminade Conference Center before eventually turning into Tahmik Trail and dead-ending. It feels about as back woods as one can get and still be in Santa Cruz, but the twists and turns are a fraction of what they are in some of the other coastal towns. Cell phone reception is minimal but the lovely peaceful feeling of being in trees is abundant. And fortunately, there are great delis and an abundance of services on nearby Soquel Drive.
Pros
  • Peaceful
  • Scenic
  • Not too far from the beach
Cons
  • Terrible cell phone reception
  • Not for urban lovers
  • Far from downtown SC
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
  • Beach Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"Through Street"

Soquel Drive is a decent street in Santa Cruz, but by no means is it a cultural hub of the city. Rather, it is more of a main drag with some auto shops, a nearby hospital, and a couple of deli-style eateries. Traffic never seems to get too bad here, even during rush hour and with such close proximity to the 1. The gas station right off of the exit seems to be a little bit cheaper than some of the other area options, at least on the other side of the hill.

My personal favorite standout here is Garden Deli, a mom-and-pop sandwich shop that serves mediocre coffee and GREAT breakfast sandwiches, subs and wraps. The veggies are fresh and the portions are abundant. It's not much in terms of fine dining, but it is the one family-owned establishment on this drag that is worth supporting, in my opinion.
Pros
  • Decent traffic for a major road
  • Good deil
  • Not far from beach
Cons
  • Kind of void of culture
  • Not very residential
  • Far from SC nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
Just now

"Tiny dead-end side street"

If suburbs had alleyways, Kirkwood court would be it - this street is nothing like the mountain. In any regular town, it would be a standard cul-de-sac street, but in East Palo Alto this type of road has more of a dead-end feel. The houses are okay by the standards in this town, and being on a side street yields less traffic than other roads see, but less traffic also means less police activity in a place like this.

The positive thing about Kirkwood Court is that it is right on the border of Menlo Park, which means it has some of the normalcies of other towns, like the fact that it is within walking distance of Starbucks and a gas station (this is a big deal for EPA). If you do choose to buy in this town, this could potentially be one of the better streets to buy, although I wouldn't make this your primary residence if you have kids.
Pros
  • Cheaper
  • Decent investment
  • Quieter than some EPA streets
Cons
  • Kind of removed from the public eye
  • Questionable safety
  • Some run-down homes
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
Just now

"Another big one in EPA"

Kavanaugh Drive is one of the fairly major streets in East Palo Alto - in size and quantity of traffic, especially because it is a through street that connects Willow Road to University. In most respects, it is like the other residential streets in EPA that are not primarily condo developments. The homes are ranches of varying degrees of quality that have a lot of potential.

Because this is a bigger road and sees slightly more traffic, it is not as run-down as some of its neighbors, making it a better place to invest. But, as is the cases with every street here, East Palo Alto is just that - an investment (and not a short-term one, either). If you are single, and cool with living in roommates in a questionable neighborhood near some great areas, then by all means go for it. Otherwise, I would probably still do some serious research before buying.
Pros
  • More affordable
  • Good investment
  • Better EPA street
Cons
  • Traffic
  • Sketchy area
  • Schools are not great
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Students
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Another residential Western SF Street"

45th Avenue is a fairly nondescript, residential road that runs through the Outer Richmond and Outer Sunset districts, and comes with the same perks and pitfalls of other nearby streets. The area is near the beach and Golden Gate Park, but is more susceptible to fog and chilly weather. There is less traffic and more parking, but far less nightlife.

Overall, this is a safe, comfortable area to raise a family and is considerably less expensive than other parts of the city. As a young person, I would prefer to live further east where the nightlife is abundant and the sun even shines sometimes.
Pros
  • Near the beach
  • More affordable
  • Less traffic
Cons
  • Far removed from the city
  • Foggy and chilly
  • Poor nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
2/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
Just now

"Kind of a mess"

Here is the problem with 580: it intersects with absolutely everything else. Located in a highly populated area to begin with, traffic is often a nightmare around here, and the signage at the 880 intersection is incredibly easy to miss when heading westbound.

Drivers here can be a bit sketchy, especially during high traffic. The area is really not well laid-out at all, nor is it well-maintained. Traffic is generally blocked heading westbound in the morning and eastbound in the afternoon. Even the nearby gas stations are expensive for Oakland. I would avoid it at all costs.
Pros
  • Central location
Cons
  • Horrible traffic
  • Poorly maintained roads
  • Bad signage
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Good for a remote street"

Skyline Boulevard, while not that physically far from San Francisco, feels worlds away. The road runs along the ridgeline of the Santa Cruz Mountains, allowing for stunning views of the bay and the ocean at times, and towering forest tunnels otherwise. Bikers are outnumbered perhaps only by motorcyclists, all of whom congregate at Alice's restaurant.

The area is very expensive, especially considering how far it is from civilization. The surrounding redwoods are beautiful and the drive is a pleasure (if motion sickness isn't an issue), but the lifestyle is not for everyone, particularly those who don't choose to live 20 minutes from the nearest grocery store.
Pros
  • Scenic
  • Decent restaurants
  • Plenty of recreational opportunities
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Remote
  • Spotty cell phone reception
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"Middle of Nowhere"

I give Placerville points for several reasons - it is cute, western, railroad-style, and has a really good Mexican restaurant. The downtown scene is small and it is easy to walk from end to end, and they have an abnormal amount of karaoke bars (which is always a good thing, in my mind). The Cary House is a decent in-town hotel that has the second oldest elevator in the country, so there is some fun history there.

But perhaps more importantly, none of this matters if you show up after 8 PM on weekdays, maybe earlier. The town has been entirely shut down almost every time I have been here, weekends or weekdays, daylight hours and after dark. This presents a problem for Tahoe weekend traffic, which is the majority of the traffic in this town. But I suppose it works for some, because enough people seem to populate the local Starbucks every morning...
Pros
  • Good food
  • Rich history
  • Cute downtown scene
Cons
  • Shuts down at night
  • A little sketchy after dark
  • Ski traffic on weekends
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Industrial..."

...but what do you expect from a street called "South Airport Boulevard?" This road is home to SFO's Long-Term Parking, which isn't exactly on-site but is a reasonable alternative to the overpriced local airport shuttles. Several of the airline headquarters seem to be located here, although I'm not sure exactly what they do other than park planes (do they even park planes?)

The airport, the cars, and the 101 are all major causes for noise, and as a result of the 24/7 traffic, the area never really rests. Not so great for locals (although I don't know of anyone who actually lives here), but FANTASTIC for anyone parking their car here. There are cheaper places off-site that are more convenient for South Bay residents, but I have never had to wait for a shuttle to or from the parking lot here.

Other than that, there isn't a whole lot to say about this street.
Pros
  • Good parking
  • Operational 24/7
  • Close to the highway
Cons
  • Noisy
  • Industrial
  • Nothing else to do
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Airport noise, but best airport parking..."

East Millbrae Avenue may seem like a place to stop you in your tracks at a glance - it pretty much on top of the 101, one exit from the airport, and home to several corresponding hotels. Let's just say noise is a little bit of an issue.

But East Millbrae Avenue has something else - the cheapest long-term airport parking at SFO. Prices somewhat depend on the day and timing, but as the southernmost offsite parking at SFO, it is great for any and all well-traveled South Bay residents. As long as you are there five days or fewer, the cost is cheaper than a round-trip Super Shuttle (which could merit its own review based on prior experience).

Shuttles are advertised to run every twenty minutes, although I have never waited longer than ten. If you are traveling anywhere from the Bay Area and don't have a consistent ride or immediate access to public transportation, this is a great option.
Pros
  • Great airport parking
  • Close to SFO
  • Close to 101
Cons
  • Noise
  • Geared toward visitors
  • Expensive area
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
Just now

"Train Station Street"

Serra Avenue is nothing all that special - although there are a few standout restaurants there. Aside from the seafood place, the French place, the bar and the Taco Bell, there isn't too much to do here, but there is one standout factor with this area - the adjacent train station serves both BART AND Caltrain!

As a result, the area sees a lot of through traffic. In addition to the two corresponding transport lines, the Millbrae station happens to be connected with SFO airport, which means that travelers here come from far and wide. Fortunately, the train station is fairly well laid-out, in that it is easy to navigate, with plenty of seating and plenty more trains passing through. And it's nice to have food options nearby.
Pros
  • Several good restaurants
  • Excellent public transporatation
  • Close to SFO
Cons
  • Expensive area
  • Can be crowded
  • Noise from highway, trains, airport...
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Tourists
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Sunny beachfront California, without the sun"

If Los Angeles had a satellite in San Francisco, this would almost be it, aside from one glaring oversight - the sunshine here is at a minimum. However, this is as close to a beachfront community as you will get in San Francisco. With the Pacific Ocean right there and clean, perfect breaks, this is actually a fantastic place for surfers who do not mind the cold and the fog. Be forewarned, however, that the water is ALWAYS cold here.

Aside from the beach, the fog, and the zoo (located in the southern part of the area), there is not much to report back on the area. The homes are pretty similar, block-by-block, in their unique, only-in-San-Francisco-will-you-find-this-architecture kind of way. The area is actually fairly modest as a whole, with more families than young trendsetters.

And on that one rare day in mid-September where you get sunshine, it is like hitting a goldmine - the area becomes the beaches of Southern California with the charm of San Francisco, all rolled into one. And that is always a good day.
Pros
  • Beach
  • Decent homes
  • Zoo
Cons
  • Not much nightlife
  • Not much sunshine
  • Harder to get to
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Students
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"Safe and Mundane"

Let's be honest: if you know the Sunset district, you know 26th Avenue. It is nice and residential, but not necessarily a place that you would send tourists to. The weather is foggy, the people are kind and modest, the houses are reasonably sized but modest, and the neighborhood is somewhat residential while still maintaining the integrity of a city.

A few of the intersections - Taraval and 26th, for one - have some great food, but overall, this street is fairly quiet and residential. Traffic is never too bad although stop signs will slow anyone down, parking is abundant (relatively speaking), and the area is pretty safe and quiet at night. No superlatives here, but plenty of peace of mind for residents and locals.
Pros
  • Safe
  • Reasonable prices
  • Subdued
Cons
  • Not that exciting
  • Cool, foggy weather
  • Far from western SF
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
Just now

"Hidden Gem"

Taraval Street is the place that you send your tourists friends who are looking for a cool "local" spot in San Francisco. Starting at Ocean Beach and running through the Sunset district, it is not exactly a place that tourists are likely to find on their own. However, the authentic cuisine (Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese, Sushi - you've got it) alone makes it worthwhile.

I can see this also being a great place as a resident, though I have never lived here. The location in the Sunset makes it more affordable, albeit a bit foggy and chilly, but the amalgamation of restaurants helps to remind you that yes, you are actually in San Francisco.

And for those tourist friends who care about this kind of stuff...they even have cable cars! Priceless.
Pros
  • Great food
  • Reasonably affordable area
  • Beach nearby
Cons
  • Cool and foggy
  • Slightly removed
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"Another nice one"

Lincoln Avenue, like all of the other streets in Crescent Park, comes with the same perks and pitfalls: It is beautiful, suburban, perfectly manicured, and designed not to be a through street. The schools are great, the medical facilities are even better, and downtown is less then a mile away, which probably matters most to the younger populations who don't care about either of the two aforementioned.

It is also highly overpriced, an unrealistic place for young people to live unless they are renting a room, directly adjacent to University Avenue and its accompanying traffic, and equally close to the somewhat impoverished East Palo Alto, where home break-ins (in nice homes...with money...and nice things to take...) are not unheard of.

Overall, a very nice spot, but these are some of the pitfalls to be aware of.
Pros
  • Great layout
  • Close to downtown
  • Great town amenities (schools, hospitals...)
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Close to EPA
  • University traffic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"Condos and Auto Repair"

Every town needs a Charleston Gardens. You know, that area right off the highway where people go to get their cars fixed, new businesses buy up empty buildings, and real estate developers build a new condominium complex in order to to create some more "affordable" housing options?

The problem is, nobody wants to live in their proverbial Charleston Gardens. There is nothing *wrong* per se, it just lacks the charm that other areas hold - the fun, young scene, the small mom-and-pop shops, the tree-lined sidewalks where kids can ride their bikes. But even Palo Alto needs a Charleston Gardens (in addition to a Mountain View), where people can run their errands.

Perhaps the best part of the area is Dave's Auto Repair. It is not often that one can find a trustworthy auto mechanic, but Dave and his team go well above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that their customers get the best value on their car repairs, every time. This shop alone makes the area worthwhile.
Pros
  • Great auto repair shop
  • Good for running errands
  • Accessible to 101
Cons
  • Noisy
  • High traffic
  • No culture
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"Very Nice Area..."

...if you can afford it. While once intended, in all likelihood, for modest homeowners, Crescent Park is anything but these days. The perfect, leafy suburban layout, combined with the close proximity to downtown Palo Alto and to Stanford, make it easily one of the most desirable areas to live in Palo Alto. The neighborhood is so well laid-out that some of the side streets actually dead-end right before hitting Woodland, for the sake of not turning into through streets. Great for the residents, maybe not so great for everyone driving through.

There are pitfalls, of course - and I'm not just talking about the astronomical price tags. University Avenue is a black hole for traffic, and the proximity to the 101 is not for everyone. Furthermore, East Palo Alto is only a stone's throw away, and at the risk of sounding like I am stereotyping, very rich area + very poor area + neighbors = trouble.

But if you are willing to take the small risk and bask in the glory of living in a beautiful, tree-lined suburb with a vibrant nightlife scene within walking distance, by all means, this is the place for it.
Pros
  • Leafy and well laid-out
  • Accessible to the highway
  • Walking distance to downtown
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Exponential traffic
  • Close to EPA
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5
Just now

"Luxury near downtown"

Palo Alto Avenue is a bit of a neighborhood anomaly in that it breaks the mold of the nearby grid-like section of roads. It winds around downtown, strategically circumnavigating the traffic, confusing enough that passerbys will not use it as a substitute to University Avenue, and residential enough that people will want to live here. Given that this is the first connector street on the north side of University Avenue, it is not quite as secluded and private as some of its neighbors, but is very nice nonetheless.

The houses here, while a bit close together, are very nice, and were surely once intended as modest residences until the Silicon Valley boom drove up the price of real estate, never to return to its original level. The major benefit of living here is the proximity to downtown, paired with the fact that the neighborhood still maintains shreds of a residential area. You probably won't be able to buy here unless you are working in technology and making six figures, but this could be a fun place to rent or to raise a family.
Pros
  • Nice, tree-lined street
  • Close to downtown
  • Reasonable traffic
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Some spillover traffic
  • Might be tough to park at times
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"It's streets like this..."

...that drive up the cost of real estate on the Peninsula. Palm Street, given its location, home size, and layout, has got to be one of the most expensive streets in Palo Alto - and that is saying something. There is a small stretch of homes that are located right off of University Avenue, close to downtown Palo Alto, that are so secluded that they do not even connect to Woodland Avenue. Technically, I don't think that through traffic is even allowed to drive through here (though this has not stopped me...)

The secluded air is matched by the secluded homes, massive in size but not in quantity. To call the houses mansions is not an exaggeration; the only way to see their true scope is via Google Maps, which will also indicate the swimming pools in many a backyard.

Like any other street around here, there are down sides, the most obvious one being the cost. Additionally, traffic is extremely problematic around here the second you leave to drive on University Avenue. The other challenge is that this part of Palo Alto is located extremely close to the largely impoverished East Palo Alto, which means that the area kind of has a target on its back. But for the closet millionaire that wants a secluded home in a cool area, this is truly a great place.
Pros
  • Secluded
  • Close to downtown Palo Alto
  • Great homes
Cons
  • Nearby traffic
  • Kind of a target for poorer populations
  • Highly highy expensive
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"Little alleyway in a great area"

At one block long, this may be the tiniest street that I have ever reviewed, but it happens to be in one of the most desirable areas in Silicon Valley. Located right in the heart of downtown Los Gatos, the road is within walking distance of shops, restaurants and bars galore. Don't be fooled by the million-dollar price tags on the homes - this is a fun, young scene.

The other fun feature of this area is the Los Gatos Creek Trail, a paved walking and bike trail that runs through the bulk of the South Bay. If this taste of nature isn't enough, road biking in the foothills is phenomenal and Castle Rock State Park, offering some of the Bay Area's best hiking and climbing, is only a half hour away by car.

There are maybe four residences on this entire block, and from the looks of it, they appear to be multi-family homes or condos. This wouldn't be a place to buy unless you have a couple extra million dollars lying around, but it could be a fun place to rent.
Pros
  • Great nightlife
  • Desirable town
  • Great parks nearby
Cons
  • Very expensive to buy
  • Not for the overly grungy
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"Closet Millionaires"

Here's the funny thing about Los Gatos: I don't think it ever wanted to be a town full of million dollar homes. The funky downtown vibe seems more catered to students and modern hippie artists than to posh fashionistas of New York City and Beverly Hills. But then again, young computers geeks didn't study computer science in college so that they could make six figures walking out the door. Sometimes, these things just happen.

That being said, Bancroft Avenue seems like it should be a normal suburban neighborhood in a nice suburban town, but the Silicon Valley boom and foothills proximity have launched Los Gatos into being some of the wealthiest zip codes in the country. And Bancroft Avenue has all of the key ingredients: it is close enough to downtown walk or bike, close enough to one of the key commuter streets to get anywhere in an instant, but without the hustle and bustle or noise of either. And the houses are all tucked back behind trees, a rarity in the Bay Area.

So while some of the long-time residents here may not have planned to be millionaires, it is unlikely that one can purchase a home nowadays without being one. And if you can afford it, it comes with all of the pleasantries that one would expect, and none of the posturing.
Pros
  • Great houses
  • Close to downtown
  • Safe, quiet area
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Tough to get into
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
Just now

"Very Nice Connector Road"

While technically part of highway 9, Los Gatos Saratoga Road is one of the nicer connector roads in the Bay Area, and hardly feels like a highway. The beautiful, tree-lined side streets feel like they could be part of a state park and are characteristic of the foothill towns, as are the two vibrant but charming downtown areas that the street runs through.

Given the location and the area's proximity to Silicon Valley, the Santa Cruz Mountains, and the two downtown areas, prices here are astronomical and homes on any of the streets off to the side can easily retail for over a million dollars. Traffic here does not seem too bad, but I never driven through here during rush hour.
Pros
  • Scenic
  • Beautiful homes
  • Great nightlife
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Still a connector street
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"Nice, Overpriced Suburban Road"

Bachman Avenue, located practically in the center of downtown Los Gatos, has all the symptoms of a classic foothill street of this kind: niceish homes that are near a great downtown area and are subsequently grossly overpriced. Sure, they are nice, suburban homes, and one can walk to the restaurants and bars located nearby in this highly desirable towns, but no one in their right mind would pay the half million dollars plus that it takes to own property here.

This is a neighborhood where it truly makes more sense to rent than to buy, especially given the young crowd that frequents the nightlife scene here. Los Gatos really is a great town and is worthy of a high price tag - but perhaps not quite as overinflated as it is.
Pros
  • Great restaurants nearby
  • Nice homes
  • Great parks nearby
Cons
  • Overpriced
  • Difficult to own a home here
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
Just now

"Hardly worthy of a review..."

I was astounded to see that Soledad was even on here; to be honest, I didn't think that anybody even knew about the town aside from people visiting the West Side of the Pinnacles from the Bay Area. While not as bad as neighboring Salinas, it is fairly characteristic of the inland towns of central California: quiet, sunny, warm, dry, lacking in culture, and built up from scratch.

There are definitely Mexican influences here, though perhaps not as strongly as some of the other nearby towns. One thing that my friend and I observed as we drove through is that there is nothing to do here - this could be a tough place to be a kid. But with new developments, proximity to the 101 and one of the best National Monuments that I know, this may not be the worst place, either.
Pros
  • Great parks nearby
  • Relatively affordable
  • Newer homes
Cons
  • NOTHING to do in town
  • Middle of nowhere
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Another Shopping Plaza"

With the exceptions of Castro Street and Google, it sometimes feels like Mountain View should be renamed "shopping plaza town." After all, the massive sprawls of Targets, Wal Marts, and other similar store seem to be the hub for errands for everyone in Silicon Valley. North Rengstorff Avenue (not to be confused with Rengstorff itself) fits the bill exactly. While it is a small street, its neighboring shopping plaza is not - and includes the ranks of Costco, Office Max, Verizon Wireless and McDonald's.

Additionally, North Rengstorff is close to the 101 and the Google campus, which equals a healthy amount of traffic for such a small road. On the plus side, it is easy to run any errand necessary with such a selection of shops nearby. Don't expect to be wowed by a comparable selection of dining options, though.
Pros
  • Good parking
  • Good for errands
  • Clean
Cons
  • Crowded
  • Lacks neighborhood culture
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"Shopping Plazas and Auto Service"

The above title can sum up Independence Avenue as just that - a nondescript industrial street that is home to a major shopping plaza, some auto service shops...and all of the services needed to sustain the aforementioned. Fast food chains are about the only eating options you will find here, although they fit the Silicon Valley mold of Starbucks and Chipotle.

The road is near Charleston and parallels 101, but because it is a small side street, traffic is not a massive issue until you hit the main road again. Like all Mountain View shopping plazas, the local human traffic is as diverse as the Peninsula itself.
Pros
  • Good parking
  • Good for errands
  • Not much traffic on the road itself
Cons
  • Crowded
  • Neighboring traffic is an issue
  • Limited dining options
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
Just now

"Diversity..."

Bay Road, in eastern Menlo Park, parallels route 101 and sees almost as many evolutions as its interstate counterpart. The road starts in the North Fair Oaks section of Menlo Park, an anomaly in and of itself in that it is a relatively poor section of one of the wealthiest towns in Silicon Valley. Working further east, the road goes into Flood Park Triangle, one of the nicer sections of town that also happens to be home to some of the medical facilities. True to form, the road ends in Belle Haven, which is an even rougher area than its genesis in North Fair Oaks.

Traffic will always be a bit congested on this road, given its proximity to the interstate, but it is not as bad as some of the neighboring streets. This is probably not a street that I would choose to live on, even in the nicer section, given how much of a main drag it is.
Pros
  • Some affordable areas
  • Diverse
  • Nice green patch in the middle
Cons
  • Some unsafe areas
  • Traffic
  • Close to 101
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
Just now

"Good at its job"

Let's be honest - Airport Boulevard is not a place where one would want to live - it is, after all, the main drag for Norman Y Mineta San Jose Airport. It is adjacent to major highways. It sees traffic 24 hours a day. And heck, even the airport restaurants aren't that exciting.

But Airport Boulevard is really good at one thing - living up to its name. I have never seen another airport in the world that runs so efficiently, and it all begins before you even step into the building. Signage is superb, traffic is nonexistent, and the split in the road signifying arrivals and departures is genius. I've never gotten in trouble for waiting on the side of the road, but then again, I've never had to sit around and wait for a passenger, as they always seem to be off of their flights on time.

It's not exactly a place where I would take up residence...but it does exactly what it is supposed to do.
Pros
  • Efficient
  • Easy to get to
  • Very little traffic
Cons
  • Not a place to live
  • Not a place to go out
4/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Best Bay Area Airport"

While the surrounding neighborhood is subject to noise and is fairly residential by comparison to the rest of the city, I stand by the fact, time and time again, that San Jose Airport is the best in Silicon Valley. Traffic is a fraction of what you will see at SFO, and accessibility is better than Oakland for all but North Bay residents.

But efficiency is truly what makes SJC stand out. Security checkpoints are down to a science, and I have never been stuck in traffic outside at any hour of the day or night. The Delta terminal seems to have better options than the United terminal, but considering you can get away with hardly any wait time if you time it right, it doesn't really matter. Flights are frequent, delays are rare, and certain aircrafts even let you board from both sides! Genius. Even the positioning near Guadalupe Parkway is supreme and avoids some obvious traffic malfunctions that could occur.
Pros
  • Great airport
  • Less traffic
  • Efficient
Cons
  • Not very exciting
  • Airport noise
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
Just now

"Major EPA Street"

Clarke Avenue, visually, looks like all of the other main streets in East Palo Alto, and it is not all that different. The street is dirty, the houses are run-down, and the traffic is pretty heavy. While Clarke Avenue does not have the through traffic of University, it is home to the IKEA traffic for everyone else in Silicon Valley. Further south, it parallels the newer condominium developments, which are nicer in nature but adjacent to the shopping complex.

Crime here seems to be prevalent throughout, regardless of where you live, at least relative to East Palo Alto standards. Like most major streets in this town, it is not uncommon to see cops pulling cars over. Like the rest of EPA, this is also a pretty safe bet for investment property - as long as you plan to hang onto it for at least ten years...
Pros
  • Good investment
  • More major street
  • Close to downtown Palo Alto
Cons
  • Marginal safety
  • Traffic
  • Dirty
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
Just now

"Affordable Menlo Park"

Henderson Avenue, in Menlo Park's Belle Haven neighborhood, is an affordable, more run-down street in a neighborhood just waiting to be gentrified. Given the Menlo Park zip code in the middle of Silicon Valley, I'm surprised that the area hasn't already had investors buy every property. But Henderson Avenue still maintains some of Belle Haven's grit.

That being said, it is still better than neighboring East Palo Alto. Gang activity is slightly less prevalent, the streets are cleaner, and there are nice little touches like stop signs and sidewalks. This is probably a better place to invest than its next-door neighbor, though there is still a ways to go.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Good Investment
  • Better than East Palo Alto
Cons
  • Questionable safety
  • Run-down
  • Poor school system
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Great Niche Neighborhood"

I am surprised that this fun, trendy, unique young peoples' neighborhood doesn't have higher marks overall, but I realize that the area is VERY niche role in that it caters to people who:

1. Are between the ages of 21 and 35
2. Are rich (which maybe makes 1. closer to 25 and 35)
3. Enjoy art
4. Eat out all the time
5. Live in lofts

The neighborhood is almost equivalent to New York City's post-gentrified SoHo or TriBeCa, even in its oddly-capitalized-based-on-location-abbreviations name, but almost seems to be a newer, fresher version. The people here are a little younger. There is still some grit. And the restaurants are small, trendy, and excellent.
Pros
  • Great food
  • Great art
  • Great nightlife
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Maybe a little too trendy
  • Some run-down areas
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"I saw a guy doing pull ups on a "Walk" sign..."

It's true. Fitness freaks can have a great time enjoying the waterfront jogging trails, with beautiful views of the bay and lots of, err, convenient walk signs to do pull ups while they are waiting. And the rest of us can enjoy beautiful waterfront views as well. While the area is not quite as vibrant as the northern part of the Embarcadero, it is still offers plenty of dining options near the stadium.

On the flip side, the reason why I could see this phenomenon so well had everything to do with the fact that I was sitting in traffic for twenty minutes trying to get to the highway. Traffic here is chaos, and south of the interstate immediately gets worn-down and industrial, as is the case with so many neighborhoods near athletic stadiums.

Parking here is a nightmare near the stadium and north of the highway, but that is to be expected. South and east of the highway is slightly better, but good luck finding parking for more than two hours.
Pros
  • Great views
  • Great jogging trails
  • Baseball stadium
Cons
  • Parking
  • Traffic
  • Some industrial areas
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Underrated"

Central Richmond is not a neighborhood where many San Francisco visitors will visit, but it is fairly busy and buzzing. Geary Boulevard has plenty of bars and nightlife to go around, without the airs or pretenses of some of the other San Francisco neighborhoods. Ethnic food, particularly Chinese food, is prevalent, but this is no Chinatown - the area is safe, clean, and far more residential.

That being said, houses here are more reasonably priced than some other neighborhoods in the city, but are still fairly close together. Parking is decent and free, but this is no suburb by any stretch of the imagination. Like most of the western part of San Francisco, the fog looms large and the weather is chilly.

Overall, this is a nice little neighborhood. My only recommendation is to stay away from Hong Kong Lounge, which has great Yelp reviews and crowds to substantiate them, but food that makes die-hard Dim Sum lovers nauseous.
Pros
  • Good restaurants
  • More reasonable real estate
  • Close to many good areas
Cons
  • Less sunshine
  • Crowded
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Pretty and Chilly"

Maybe this is largely due in part to the fact that I work outside when I am here, but I am not as enamored with the Outer Richmond as some of the other reviewers. The neighborhood is fine - reasonably priced for San Francisco, with plenty of parking and relative proximity to the beach. Nightlife isn't spectacular but there are a few venues, and the Inner Richmond certainly offers the activity that city dwellers may need.

Sunlight isn't great out here and it seems to be chilly and foggy all the time, although the beach is quite beautiful, rain or shine. I wouldn't want to live here without a car but I suppose that with the availability of public transportation, it is possible.
Pros
  • Less expensive than other neighborhoods
  • Great parks nearby
  • Proximity to the beach
Cons
  • Chilly and foggy
  • Far removed
  • Not much nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"Wow"

That is the only word that went through my mind when I mistakenly turned onto this street one day. Driving on University Avenue into downtown Palo Alto, it is easy to see the older homes on the busier road, but Crescent Drive is just the opposite. It is an idyllic, posh, comfortable Northern California neighborhood in a very residential area, with almost as many basketball hoops as there are minivans.

The catch, of course, is the price. Crescent has all of the key ingredients that make a neighborhood or a block expensive - it is close to downtown in one of the most expensive towns in Silicon Valley, on a secluded tree-lined side street with much larger homes than average, close enough to the highway that it is easy to get anywhere but far enough away that noise is merely an afterthought.

Overall, a beautiful place, but maybe not worth the price.
Pros
  • Great location
  • Great schools
  • Safe, quiet neighborhood
Cons
  • Very expensive area
  • Heavy traffic on University
  • Closer to East Palo Alto
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Best of the Northern California Ski Resorts"

Is it possible to be in love with a place? Maybe it's the rugged peaks above treeline. Perhaps it's the steep terrain and tree-lined gullies. It could be the night skiing. Or maybe, just maybe, it's the quaint village setup that is so accessible to families and apres-ski bums alike. But whatever it is, Squaw Valley seems to have something that the rest of the Tahoe resorts do not.

There is a magic in the air here of a high alpine environment that is prevalent both day and night. The mountain feels far more secluded, far more remote, and far more adventurous than its neighbors, even though it is closer to San Francisco than Northstar. Perhaps this is why they decided to host the 1960 Winter Olympics here.

Unfortunately, the quality of skiing is reflected in the price, and this is one of the first mountains to close when the wind gets bad. But there is something special about Squaw Valley that none of the other mountains can quite touch.
Pros
  • Remote environment
  • Great parking
  • Great nightlife
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Fairly crowded
  • Highly exposed to the elements
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"This is the East Bay??"

Despite its proximity to Oakland and Berkeley and its distance from San Francisco and the Peninsula, Danville is probably one of the nicest, most posh, quaint, suburban towns in the Bay Area. Situated in the rolling foothills of the East Bay, the views are beautiful, the state parks are abundant, the schools are excellent, and with Mount Diablo looming in the background, there is no shortage of outdoor activities.

Consequently, the prices reflect all of these perks, While not quite as over-the-top as Saratoga and Los Gatos, Danville is the East Bay's version of the Western Foothills and is one of the most expensive towns in the Bay Area. Fortunately, the homes are clean and modern, although a bit close together (like most of Northern California).

And of course, being in the far east bay, the summers are hot, the winters are cold, the suburbs are close and the city is far. But for many wealthy families, this is the perfect place to live.
Pros
  • Safe
  • Great schools
  • Great parks
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Further from San Francisco
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"Funny Neighborhood..."

The East Foothills of San Jose have to be the best almost-nice neighborhood in the entire Bay Area. Like any other foothill area, the homes are beautiful, clean, and modern, and the further up the hill you go, the bigger the houses get. The area is well-maintained, the scenery is beautiful, and it is a nice cookie-cutter neighborhood with access to a great urban metropolis, pristine state parks, and all of the Bay Area's wonderful amenities.

However, in order to get to here from anywhere, you have to drive through Alum Rock and East San Jose, the picture of poor neighborhoods in the process of gentrification. Block-by-block, you could go from mansions to a developing country and back again, but either way, there is no way to avoid this area in order to get anywhere else.

All-in-all, the area is almost like a wolf in sheep's clothing and has a big target on its back for the poorer neighboring areas, but one thing is for certain: the investment opportunities around here are great.
Pros
  • Beautiful area
  • Good schools
  • Decent value
Cons
  • Near some poor neighborhoods
  • Questionable safety
  • Hard to get to
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"Worst of the Peninsula Traffic"

101 in San Mateo might as well be as bad as 880 in the East Bay - given the fact that 92 and the San Mateo bridge are right here, this is just about the worst of traffic anywhere in the Peninsula. Both directions experience it up to the 92 junction before it dissipates, but it is guaranteed to be crowded at any hour, or if there is any minor accident.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of this interstate is that it IS in the middle of everything. 92 and Half Moon Bay, the East Bay, San Francisco and San Jose are all within reach, making it one of the most crowded places in the Bay Area but also one of the most accessible.

Regardless of how you feel about it, you probably can't avoid it. At least the drivers in the Bay Area are very polite.
Pros
  • Near everything
  • Nice drivers
Cons
  • Crowded
  • Road Noise
  • Terrible traffic
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
Just now

"Shopping Center Chaos"

Simply put, don't come here on a weekend. Nut tree road is home to one of the busiest, most chaotic shopping centers in the Bay Area, more characteristic of Sacramento than San Francisco. The complex is actually very nice - modern, clean, and easy to get to from the highway. However, beware...

Weekends here are absolute chaos, given that this is the only thing to do in Vacaville. The massive amounts of parking spaces are all taken, meaning that the venues are overcrowded. Food options are abundant, but Panera and Rubio's are about as exotic as you will get.

If you are an afternoon visitor or a stay-at-home soccer mom who appreciates chain establishments, this is actually a pretty good place to go. But that is about the only demographic that this area serves well.
Pros
  • Plenty of shopping
  • Easy to get to
  • Reasonably priced area
Cons
  • Crowded on weekends
  • Generic chain stores
  • Noisy
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
Just now

"Gaaah!!!"

This freeway and section of 101 is probably one of the worst, traffic-wise, in San Francisco - and that's saying something! The area around Duboce avenue where cars congregate underneath the freeway can be chaos during rush hour, non-rush hour - and even on weekends!

I have spent 20 minutes sitting under here before, waiting to move along, and gone all of 20 feet. The area underneath the freeway is dark and depressing, albeit well-protected from the frequent winter rain. The one true perk of this area is that the massive congestion is caused by the fact that it is in the center of many great areas in San Francisco
Pros
  • Friendly Drivers
  • Lots of great areas nearby
Cons
  • Crowded
  • Noisy
  • Traffic is blocked
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Conveniently close to Haight"

To be blunt, Waller is the street that you park on when you go out on Haight. It is a short, centrally located street that runs parallel to this bustling street, filled with fun bars, great restaurants, and a truly eclectic crowd.

You kind of get the best of both worlds here - Waller is near the fun, bustling Haight, but is residential, peaceful, near some great parks, and has some nice homes with an abundance of parking. There is not much else to be said, other than that the biggest drawback is the sheer cost of living.
Pros
  • Near Haight
  • Great parks nearby
  • Nice residential homes
Cons
  • Some noise spillover from Haight
  • Very expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Fun Hippie Neighborhood"

I wasn't so sure about this one the first time I saw it...and then I understood. Haight-Ashbury has the hippie, Summer of Love history that San Francisco is known for. It is not quite Castro and not quite Mission, but it screams East Village of NYC - with a more loving, comfortable, SAFE atmosphere.

The nightlife here is still fun - you can't really beat Toronado's for beer gardens here in SF. Parking off of the main drag is decent, and the Mexican food is great. But the neighborhood has something more, something unique - its jagged, funky shape is the missing piece of the big San Francisco puzzle that I have been trying to put together.
Pros
  • Great nightlife
  • Great food
  • Historic SF neighborhood
Cons
  • A little dirty
  • Expensive to live in
  • Not for the uptight
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Okay, the reviews make sense"

I've only hung out here once, and coming here, I couldn't quite grasp what this street was "about." It definitely has a bit of a gentrified, East Village feel, but I always reserved that analogy for the Mission District instead. But after taking a look and doing some research, it makes sense - it's not the gay capital, or the new gentrification neighborhood, but it IS the hippie capital of San Francisco.

That being said, today it is frequented by a far more diverse crowd - young professionals, immigrants, hipsters and rock wannabes alike populate the streets here. Toronado's is probably one of the best beer gardens in the city, and the strip of Mexican restaurants around here will provide the perfect post-drinking snack - or full meal, if desired.

Parking on this street is downright terrible, but it is literally one street of action with lots of side streets that are far more residential, so it won't be tough to find a place nearby. This isn't quite the hippie area that it once was, but it is certainly still indicative of the off-beat reputation that San Francisco gets.
Pros
  • Great nightlife
  • Great food
  • Nearby parking
Cons
  • Kind of dirty
  • Crowded
  • Not for the uptight
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
Just now

"You don't need to drive to Tahoe..."

...to experience chilly, wintry weather. Lincoln Park, situated on a hill, in the trees, next to the ocean, in San Francisco, will cover that for you quite nicely. This is one of the coldest places on the planet, perhaps because no one there is ever quite prepared for the chill, and the fog can coat it with an extra blanket of cool, moist air.

But this park is also beautiful and completely uncrowded. There are hiking trails, a ropes course that can be operated through SF State University, and, of course, there is the ocean. Plenty of beautiful, coastal ocean views that are characteristic of Northern California.

So if you can brave the cold, this is a great place to come for a visit and enjoy having practically to yourself.
Pros
  • Beautiful views
  • Quiet and secluded
  • Great parking!
Cons
  • Hard to get to
  • Very cold
  • Not much to do at night
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Don't Confuse it with NYC's Washington Square..."

...because you will be better off finding that scene at nearby Fisherman's Wharf. I have walked by Washington Square numerous times and have noticed a couple of patterns:

1. It always seems to be raining (probably just my own personal luck)
2. There is a lot of great Italian food nearby
3. There never seems to be a whole lot going on

You would think that a small piece of green in a busy area filled with tourists and locals alike would see more action, but for some reason, the park always appears to have little more than pedestrians sitting on benches.

To be fair, the park is about the size of a postage stamp, compared to some of its competitors in the city, AND they still manage to offer the occasional free movie night during the summer.
Pros
  • Near great food
  • Movie nights!
  • Walking distance to many things
Cons
  • Expensive area
  • Not much to do in the park
  • Not much parking
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Plenty to see"

As a semi-local non-tourist, I will tell you to avoid Fisherman's Wharf at all cost, but that is my own, personal, biased opinion. Many people love the area, and there is a reason why it gets so much action, that has as much to do with the droves of street artists and vendors as it does with overpriced restaurants and ferry tours. Admittedly, I do love the sourdough bread shop.

Luckily for the non-tourists, the street redeems itself quickly, bordering Ghiradelli Square, the SF Maritime Park (which I have already indicated as one of the most romantic areas, by night, that I have ever seen) and the western part of the Marina, known for its great restaurants and enough shopping to keep the entire cast of Sex & The City busy for days.

So while the street is inaptly named, unless you consider a couple of piers and a small nearby marina a "beach," it probably has more activity to offer than the real thing.
Pros
  • Great food
  • Great shopping
  • Great views nearby
Cons
  • Too many tourists
  • Not enough parking
  • Too many high price tags
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Views and Romance"

I admit it: I'm a view girl. I'm all about the mood, the ambiance, the romance - and the scenery in front of me. Maybe my experience here had more to do with being in great company, but on a perfect night, I can't imagine a more romantic place to be.

A magical thing happens in San Francisco at night: the fog burns off, the clouds lift, and the panoramic views open up to reveal bridges and skyscrapers, waterfronts and oceans. Few places offer better views of the Golden Gate Bridge than the SF Maritime National Historic Park, and with its grassy fields, numerous park benches, and paved walking path right on the water, it is a perfect place for couples to go at night. The cityscape quickly becomes yet another backdrop as you cannot help but be drawn to the oh-so-familiar, oh-so-gentle lapping of the bay waters just off the shore, although you will quickly be drawn back in by the prospect of a drink at one of the restaurant bars or an ice cream sundae at Ghiradelli Square.
Pros
  • Romantic
  • Great views
  • Break from the busier areas
Cons
  • Expensive area
  • Not much parking
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"A.K.A. Ghiradelli Square"

I am actually surprised that this San Francisco icon doesn't have its own personal page on here, but North Point Street is close enough. Filled with high-end shops and restaurants, Ghiradelli Square is a cute, sheltered shopping area within walking distance of Fisherman's Wharf but with a fraction of the chaos. Perhaps equally touristy, given its namesake ice cream shop, Ghiradelli Square won't attract too many locals, but it is a very nice place to come for an evening walk along the bay and an ice cream sundae.

Something about this area at night is actually quite romantic. Perhaps it's the Golden Gate Bridge peeking out through the fog, maybe it's the gentle moonlight over the water, or it could just be my own personal experience with someone special, but even amidst the shops that sell $30 pairs of underwear, something here resonates. With me, with young couples stealing away together, with tourists looking for something "different" from Fisherman's Wharf, and with the city as a whole.
Pros
  • GREAT food
  • Romantic at night
  • Adjacent to the bay
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Heavy on the tourists
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Views and Food"

Conveniently located within walking distance of Union Square, the Financial District, and Nob Hill, the Waterfront (Embarcadero) is a tourist haven that locals actually enjoy as well. With Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz ferries leaving from practically every pier, you can pretty much be prepared to be mobbed by tourists, but that's okay, because they are joined by joggers, bikers, and professionals grabbing a bite to eat at one of the many cafes, restaurants, and food stands nearby.

Perhaps it is the restaurants that attract the people, and the great views that keep them there. Or perhaps the views are what got the restaurants here in the first place. Either way, with Alcatraz (I know, twice in one review), the Bay Bridge, and the East Bay in the background over the water, many people are drawn here for a slight reprieve from the rest of downtown San Francisco. However, few of these visitors actually live here, as real estate is astronomically high.
Pros
  • Beautiful views
  • Great food
  • Must-see tourist stop
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Not for the claustrophobic
  • Poor parking
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Standard Western SF Street"

42nd Avenue, running through both the Richmond and Sunset districts, is a fairly residential street, standard of the area. This means cool morning air, a decent amount of fog, two-story residential homes that are fairly close together, and a low amount of traffic but with many stop signs. Real estate is slightly more affordable, there are more families than young professionals, and although the nightlife of the city is a bit far away, the public transportation will get you there.

The one point of significance is that it ends at the VA hospital at Fort Miley. It also happens to be about eight blocks away from the beach, and even a foggy, cool beach is still a good beach.
Pros
  • Near the beach
  • Good public transportation
  • More affordable
Cons
  • Far from nightlife
  • Cold and foggy
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Schools 5/5
Just now

"Nice Residential Street"

Like many of the streets near downtown Palo Alto, Hale Street is a quiet, residential street that would be far more quiet if it weren't bisected by the bustling University Avenue. The street is within walking distance of downtown, making it an extremely desirable location, and the leafy, tree-lined corners only add to the idyllic nature of this classic Northern California street that could belong in a movie.

All of the aforementioned factors turn these modest ranchers and two-story houses into million-dollar homes. Great for people who bought these two decades ago; not so great for Stanford students, service industry employees, and first-time homebuyers who wish to live here. Such is life in the Bay Area...
Pros
  • Nice homes
  • Close to downtown
  • Safe area
Cons
  • Surprising amount of traffic
  • Very expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Connector Street"

Whipple Avenue can almost be categorized into two segments - the stretch that runs from the 101 to El Camino Real, and the stretch that runs west of El Camino through the rest of the town.

The former is a bustling, traffic-laden (hey, look where it is!) industrialized street with a strip mall-esque slew of chain restaurants and car dealerships. Traffic is often heavy, U-turns are illegal, and car services are abundant.

The latter is comprised of beautiful suburban residences that get bigger and further apart as one moves west, a common phenomenon on the Peninsula. The street ends at a park and medical center. Given that it is a major road and has its own exit off of the 101, it is still going to see some traffic, but it calms down quite a bit after El Camino.
Pros
  • Nice homes
  • Shopping and food nearby
  • Good medical services
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • 101 Noise and traffic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
Just now

"Block-by-Block"

Like much of eastern San Jose, Penitencia Creek Road doesn't have a hard-and-fast good or bad, or even a defining factor to how the area feels. It sort of ebbs and flows between East San Jose bodegas, gentrified Alum Rock condos, and foothill mansions. What it doesn't have is a clear "I am in this neighborhood now" feeling - every block is different. You could go from being in the ghetto to being in a new development back to being in the ghetto in less than five minutes' time.

What this are does of is parks and recreation - and plenty of it. If the creek itself doesn't do it for you, then maybe Alum Rock Park, with its miles of hiking and mountain bike trails, will do the trick. Of course, many other people feel this way as well so the traffic can be a bit chunky at odd hours, especially on weekends.

One thing is for sure - with the up-and-coming developments, the good schools, and the beautiful parks nearby, this can't possibly be a bad place to buy real estate.
Pros
  • Good investment area
  • Some nice homes
  • Great parks!
Cons
  • Block-by-block safety
  • Still being gentrified
  • Weekend traffic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
Just now

"At the corner of dangerous and gentrification..."

Bell Street is located in the center of East Palo Alto, a town historically know for its high murder rate, higher crime rate, and more gang options than public school options. Slowly but surely, the town's Peninsula location and proximity to nearby affluent communities have helped to turn it into an investment opportunity for some. Bell Street is just that - home to the recently redone East Palo Alto YMCA, the senior center, and some clean, modern condos.

However, the EPA stigma is still there and further west, the street looks like a developing country again. It is literally "where the sidewalk ends" - in that the sidewalks disappear completely and the town's underdeveloped nature is apparent.

Maybe this is a place for first-time homebuyers to buy real estate...maybe not.
Pros
  • YMCA and other services are there
  • Close to 101
Cons
  • Traffic at intersection
  • Poorly maintained and unkempt
  • Not safe
4/5
Just now

"Yum!"

This classic San Francisco neighborhood, while not necessarily a "true" Little Italy, like the North End of Boston, offers some fantastic Italian restaurants all around. The Stinking Rose is a San Francisco garlic-tastic classic, but the other places should not be overlooked either, whether you are looking for a cannoli or a five-course meal. It lacks a bit of Italian culture beyond the restaurants, and much of the decor feels more antique shop than Italian streetside, but the food here is terrific.

Bars and nightlife are a bit hit-or-miss - while you will certainly not be lacking in things to do, the nightlife turns a bit "Jersey Shore" club feel on weekends, especially on Saturday nights. However, the area is also full of Irish pubs and fun, friendly dives that are not hard to find. Of course, beer snobs will enjoy the selection of west coast brews that many restaurants have on tap, and in bottles.

The late-night crowds are almost as annoying as the daytime tourists, but the food is good enough here that locals blend in well with out-of-towners, and you will rarely experience "sidewalk rage."
Pros
  • good lunch break street
  • great for walking
  • great for walking/peoplewatching
  • great night spots
  • great restaurants
Cons
  • Hit-or-miss nightlife
  • Lots of tourists
  • not for the uptight
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Great Views - I hope you like hills"

There are two ways to access Coit Tower, at the top of Telegraph Hill Boulevard. The first, and most popular, is to drive up. You will be faced with some uphill portions, which may be a bit disconcerting if you are not used to this, but not to fear - there is actually (miraculously) parking at the top, and you will most certainly be rewarded with gorgeous views of the city and the bay. You can even take the time to look into the binoculars that are set up there.

The second way, which is probably less popular but considerably more exciting, is to walk to the top. The roads are steep but relatively quiet, and while you will be greeted by a parking lot at the summit of your hike, you can truly look at the views and think to yourself, "I earned this."

Regardless of how you get here (public transportation is an option as well, but is relatively self-explanatory), the views here are astounding and it is well worth the trip.
Pros
  • Great views
  • Good parking
  • Peaceful
Cons
  • Steep to walk on
  • Difficult to drive on
  • Expensive area
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
Just now

"Iconic SF Views"

Telegraph Hill, a sneeze-and-you-miss-it neighborhood in the northeast corner of San Francisco, is known primarily for one thing: Coit Tower. Hike to the top and you will be rewarded with stunning 360 degree views of the city, the water that surrounds it on three sides, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Head downhill to the quiet, residential streets or the piers by the Embarcadero for more stunning views.

Getting here is a bit physically challenging for some, making it less crowded than other nearby neighborhoods, which the residents here appreciate. Of course, living in a place like this comes at a price, and in the case, the price is money - dollar-by-dollar, this is one of the most expensive neighborhoods to live in.

Unlike most similar neighborhoods, Telegraph Hill is still within walking distance to great restaurants and nightlife. It's a great place to live, if you can afford it.
Pros
  • Beautiful views
  • Quiet reprieve
  • Close to great restaurants and nightlife
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Difficult to walk to
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Busy but well-kept"

After nearly a week of staying here, I have come to the conclusion that this is a good spot to be in the city. Oftentimes, one hears "Financial District" and thinks boring tall buildings with bars that close at 7 PM (which is pretty on the mark for some cities), but San Francisco is different. Here, the clean, modern, artistic and laid-back vibe of this city carries through to its business center.

For one, the water is here, and the Embarcadero is right around the corner. This means great views, a great place to walk, and good daytime food. By night, this is not necessarily the best bar scene in the city, but with Union Square to the southeast and North Beach to the north, what more could you want?

Speaking of nightlife and nearby culture, Chinatown definitely fits the bill for ethnic food and a unique San Francisco experience, and is immediately adjacent to the Financial District. And of course, with the modern buildings, including the iconic Transamerica Tower, there is plenty to see in the immediate vicinity as well. Enjoy!
Pros
  • Great nearby food options
  • Iconic San Francisco sights
  • Nice waterfront views
Cons
  • Not at all residential
  • Paid parking only
  • Noisy
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
Just now

"On the border of everything"

Kearny Street gets a four-star rating from me because of its sheer proximity to anything and everything that is downtown San Francisco. Starting just north of SOMA, it runs up through the Financial District and Chinatown into North Beach. The street itself doesn't have the same features that some of the nearby streets do, and it can be a bit quieter than some of the neighboring streets, but it is definitely in the center of everything.

Some streets are better than others - the Chinatown section can feel a bit dicey late at night, and the Financial District dies down as well during that time. The lovely, four-star Hilton in this neighborhood feels a bit displaced, like it would be better off in Union Square. However, with all of these locations right nearby, this is not a bad place to be at all.
Pros
  • Good ethnic food
  • Great restaurants
  • Great shopping
Cons
  • Paid parking only
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Hidden Redwood Town"

Occidental, CA, nestled in Western Sonoma County near the coast, is a tiny, hidden gem for some and a nightmare for others. The roads to get here are windy and easy to miss, but the tiny downtown stretch has some great beer and even better music.

The town feels one part hipster, one part country bumpkin, and one part old, secret money - apparently there is a gentlemen's club around here that former U.S. presidents have been a part of, though no one seems to know exactly where it is. More visible are the farm co-ops, the locally grown food, and then sense of earth-loving community in this affluent wooded town.

Perhaps the single best feature is the Friday night market, where all of the local farmers, food growers, and wineries in the area congregate to feature their latest fares. Where else can you find Indian Kebabs, fresh goat cheese, Pinot Noir and jalapeno macaroni and cheese all in the same place?

So despite the strangeness and the estranged-ness of this town, there is something rather communal about this relatively affluent hippie farming back-woods community.
Pros
  • Very quiet
  • Beautiful scenery
  • Great food
Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Not for the mainstream
  • Terrible cell phone reception everywhere
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Country Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Sleepy Redwood Street"

Occidental Road is one of the few access points to get into Occidental from the more populated Sonoma Valley (the other one being Graton Road). Like the rest of the town, the road is quiet, peaceful, and lined in redwood trees. It is also somewhat scary to drive on (though nothing in comparison to similar roads on the Peninsula), poorly maintained, and has abysmal cell phone reception.

I haven't quite figured out yet where people in Occidental live, since the town seems to be mainly comprised of camps and through roads, but I think some of the residents live here in country homes nestled in the redwoods. Real estate here is surprisingly expensive, given how back woods this area feels.

But it is a beautiful, scenic drive and a lovely escape for those who live in nearby Santa Rosa.
Pros
  • Scenic drive
  • Quiet
  • Nature all around
Cons
  • Not for urban dwellers
  • Poor cell phone reception
  • Expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
Just now

"Beautiful Views, Beautiful Highway"

The views are great, the food stops are aplenty, and the sun is always shining - what more can you ask for from a major California interstate? The 101 stretch in Mill Valley offers beautiful hillside views, rivaled only by neighboring Sausalito. The quaint town offers plenty of food and fuel options, without even having to drive far off the highway.

Biggest drawbacks are the traffic congestion (obviously) and the fact that Mill Valley is one of the most expensive places to live in the country. But for an afternoon weekend drive that will give you great views without making you feel carsick (not an easy thing to find in the Bay Area), 101 in Marin County, also known as the Redwood Highway, is a great place to be.
Pros
  • Scenic views
  • Accessibility
  • Food and fuel options nearby
Cons
  • Expensive area
  • Loads of traffic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Students
  • Country Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
Just now

"Crowded Shopping Plaza"

Given that O'Connor Street borders the one and only shopping complex in East Palo Alto, it is safe to say that it is consistently crowded and filled with traffic. That said, it is also one of the safest places to live in this already dirt-cheap town. But is it worth it?

The shopping complex actually encompasses some pretty standard and good places, including a Best Buy, a Home Depot, a Nordstrom Rack, a Baskin-Robbins, a Starbucks and a chain-like brewery (and let's not forget IKEA across the street!) However, the one grocery store here is a Mi Puebla, a Mexican grocery store that has some staples, but not necessarily everything that one would need, a reminder of the town that the complex is located in.

Most of the shoppers here (aside from IKEA) are locals, but the area feels inherently safe. This always begs the question of whether it is better to live in a condo next to a noisy, overcrowded shopping complex because it is the safest area in this cheap town, or whether it's better to live in a less nice but less noisy area in the same town. You decide.
Pros
  • Safer area
  • Cheap real estate
  • Decent shopping
Cons
  • Lacks some basic essentials
  • Noisy
  • Lots of traffic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Students

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