Are you looking to move to the San Francisco Bay Area but want to live outside the busy city? The charming towns and neighborhoods surrounding San Francisco offer high quality of life with proximity to urban amenities. We’ll explore the top options for San Francisco suburbs based on factors like affordability, things to do, commute times, schools, and more.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The top suburbs near San Francisco with great schools, amenities, and reasonable commute times are Walnut Creek, San Mateo, Palo Alto, Danville, and San Rafael.
Overview of the Best San Francisco Suburbs
San Francisco is known for its vibrant city life and bustling urban atmosphere. However, for those who prefer a quieter and more suburban lifestyle, there are several excellent options just outside the city.
These suburbs offer a range of amenities, from upscale shopping and dining to family-friendly parks and top-rated schools. Here is an overview of some of the best San Francisco suburbs:
Walnut Creek – Upscale East Bay suburb with dining, shopping, nightlife
Located in the East Bay, Walnut Creek is a desirable suburb known for its upscale amenities. The downtown area is filled with trendy restaurants, boutique shops, and vibrant nightlife. The city also boasts several parks and outdoor spaces, providing residents with ample opportunities for outdoor activities.
With its proximity to BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), commuting to San Francisco is convenient. Overall, Walnut Creek offers a great balance between urban convenience and suburban tranquility.
San Mateo – Family-friendly Peninsula city with parks, events, downtown
Situated on the Peninsula, San Mateo is an ideal suburb for families. The city is home to numerous parks, playgrounds, and recreational facilities, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. San Mateo also hosts a variety of community events throughout the year, including art festivals and farmers markets.
The downtown area is lively, with an array of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. In addition, the city’s excellent schools make it an attractive choice for families with children.
Palo Alto – Affluent Silicon Valley town with top schools, tree-lined neighborhoods
Known as the heart of Silicon Valley, Palo Alto is an affluent town with a high standard of living. The town boasts beautiful tree-lined streets and a charming downtown area filled with boutiques and restaurants.
Palo Alto is also home to some of the top schools in the state, making it a popular choice for families. The town’s proximity to major tech companies and research institutions provides ample employment opportunities for residents.
With its combination of natural beauty, excellent schools, and thriving economy, Palo Alto is truly a desirable place to live.
Danville – Quaint East Bay town with highly-rated schools, family activities
Nestled in the East Bay, Danville is a picturesque town known for its quaint charm and family-friendly atmosphere. The town is home to highly-rated schools, making it a popular choice for families. Danville also offers a variety of recreational activities, including hiking trails, parks, and community events.
The downtown area is filled with boutique shops, cafes, and restaurants, creating a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere. With its strong sense of community and excellent amenities, Danville is an outstanding San Francisco suburb.
San Rafael – North Bay hub with natural beauty, arts scene, historic charm
Situated in the North Bay, San Rafael offers a unique blend of natural beauty, arts, and historic charm. The city is surrounded by stunning landscapes, including Mount Tamalpais and the Marinwood Open Space Preserve.
San Rafael is also known for its thriving arts scene, with numerous galleries, theaters, and music venues. The downtown area showcases the city’s historic charm, with Victorian-era architecture and quaint streets.
With its natural beauty, cultural attractions, and rich history, San Rafael is a hidden gem among San Francisco suburbs.
Key Factors for Choosing a San Francisco Suburb
Commute Time and Access to SF
One of the key factors to consider when choosing a San Francisco suburb is the commute time and access to the city. San Francisco is known for its traffic congestion, so finding a suburb that offers convenient transportation options can make a big difference in your daily commute.
Some suburbs have direct access to highways or public transportation systems that can significantly reduce travel time. For example, suburbs like Daly City and Burlingame have BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) stations, providing quick and easy access to downtown San Francisco.
Housing affordability is another important factor to consider when looking for a San Francisco suburb. The city itself has one of the highest housing costs in the country, so many people choose to live in the suburbs to find more affordable housing options.
Suburbs like San Mateo and Walnut Creek offer a range of housing options, from single-family homes to apartments, at more reasonable prices compared to San Francisco. Online platforms like Zillow and Redfin can help you explore current housing prices in different suburbs.
Quality of Schools
If you have children or are planning to start a family, the quality of schools in a suburb is likely to be a top priority. San Francisco suburbs have a variety of public and private schools, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
Websites like GreatSchools.org provide ratings and reviews of schools in different suburbs, helping you make an informed decision about which suburb has the best educational opportunities for your children.
Things to Do – Restaurants, Parks, Entertainment
When choosing a San Francisco suburb, it’s important to consider the available amenities and entertainment options. Suburbs such as Palo Alto and Berkeley offer a vibrant restaurant scene with diverse cuisines, while areas like Marin County provide access to beautiful parks and hiking trails.
If you’re looking for entertainment, suburbs like San Rafael and Oakland have theaters, music venues, and art galleries that offer a variety of cultural experiences. Online platforms like Yelp and TripAdvisor can help you discover the best restaurants, parks, and entertainment options in different suburbs.
Community Vibe – Family-Friendly, Upscale, Artsy
The community vibe is another factor to consider when choosing a San Francisco suburb. Each suburb has its own unique atmosphere, catering to different lifestyles and preferences. For families, suburbs like San Ramon and Pleasanton offer family-friendly environments with good schools and safe neighborhoods.
If you’re looking for a more upscale vibe, suburbs like Atherton and Hillsborough are known for their luxurious homes and exclusive communities. On the other hand, if you prefer a more artsy and eclectic community, suburbs like Berkeley and Sausalito may be more appealing.
Visiting different suburbs and interacting with locals can give you a better sense of the community vibe.
Profile of Top San Francisco Suburb – Walnut Creek
Located in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, Walnut Creek is widely regarded as one of the best suburbs in the area. With its picturesque scenery, vibrant community, and proximity to both urban and natural attractions, it’s no wonder why Walnut Creek is a top choice for many residents.
Overview of Walnut Creek
Walnut Creek offers a perfect blend of suburban charm and urban convenience. The city boasts a thriving downtown area, filled with an array of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. With its tree-lined streets, well-maintained parks, and access to outdoor recreational activities, Walnut Creek provides a high quality of life for its residents.
Housing Options in Walnut Creek
Walnut Creek offers a diverse range of housing options to suit various lifestyles and budgets. From charming single-family homes in quiet neighborhoods to modern apartments and condominiums in bustling areas, there is something for everyone in Walnut Creek.
The city’s real estate market has remained strong, with steady appreciation in property values over the years.
Top-rated Schools in Walnut Creek
One of the major draws of Walnut Creek is its excellent education system. The city is home to several top-rated public and private schools, providing students with a high-quality education. Schools like Walnut Creek Intermediate School and Las Lomas High School consistently rank among the best in the state, offering a strong academic curriculum and a variety of extracurricular activities.
Walnut Creek is a great place for families, offering a wide range of activities and attractions for all ages. The city is home to numerous parks and playgrounds, where children can enjoy outdoor activities and play sports.
The Lindsay Wildlife Experience, a local wildlife rehabilitation and education center, is a popular destination for families looking to learn about and interact with native animals.
Nightlife, Dining, and Shopping
When it comes to nightlife, dining, and shopping, Walnut Creek doesn’t disappoint. The city’s downtown area is known for its vibrant nightlife scene, with a variety of bars, clubs, and live music venues.
Walnut Creek also offers a diverse culinary scene, with a wide range of restaurants offering cuisines from around the world. Additionally, the city is home to several shopping centers, including the upscale Broadway Plaza, where residents can find everything from high-end fashion to unique boutiques.
For more information about Walnut Creek, visit the official website of the city.
Profile of Top San Francisco Suburb – San Mateo
San Mateo, located in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area, is often considered one of the best suburbs to live in. With its close proximity to San Francisco and Silicon Valley, it offers a perfect blend of urban amenities and suburban charm.
Let’s take a closer look at what makes San Mateo a top choice for residents.
Overview of San Mateo
San Mateo boasts a thriving economy, low crime rates, and a diverse community. The city is known for its beautiful neighborhoods, tree-lined streets, and well-maintained parks. Its strategic location provides easy access to major highways, public transportation, and the San Francisco International Airport, making it a convenient place to live for commuters and frequent travelers.
Diverse Housing Options in San Mateo
San Mateo offers a wide range of housing options to suit various budgets and lifestyles. From charming bungalows and mid-century modern homes to contemporary apartments and luxurious estates, there is something for everyone.
The city’s real estate market is highly competitive, but the investment is well worth it, considering the high quality of life and the potential for property appreciation.
One of the biggest draws for families in San Mateo is its exceptional school system. The city is home to top-rated public and private schools, providing children with excellent educational opportunities.
Some notable schools in the area include Aragon High School, Borel Middle School, and Baywood Elementary School. The commitment to education is evident in the high graduation rates and college acceptance rates of San Mateo students.
Parks and Recreation for Families
San Mateo offers a plethora of parks, playgrounds, and recreational facilities, making it an ideal place for families. Families can enjoy picnics, sports activities, and nature walks in beautiful parks like Central Park and Coyote Point Park.
The city also hosts various community events throughout the year, fostering a strong sense of community and providing opportunities for families to connect and have fun.
Downtown Dining and Entertainment
San Mateo’s vibrant downtown area is a hub of dining, shopping, and entertainment. The downtown boasts a wide variety of restaurants, ranging from casual eateries to upscale dining establishments. Whether you’re craving international cuisine, farm-to-table fare, or innovative fusion dishes, you’ll find it here.
Additionally, the downtown area hosts a range of cultural events, including art walks, live music performances, and festivals, ensuring there is always something exciting happening.
Profile of Top San Francisco Suburb – Palo Alto
Palo Alto, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, is widely regarded as one of the best suburbs in the San Francisco Bay Area. With its proximity to major tech companies and prestigious universities, it has become a desirable place to live for professionals, families, and students alike.
Overview of Palo Alto
Palo Alto is known for its beautiful tree-lined streets, charming residential neighborhoods, and vibrant downtown area. The city offers a mix of historic and modern architecture, with many well-preserved homes dating back to the early 20th century.
It also boasts an abundance of parks and green spaces, providing residents with plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities.
Housing Market and Options in Palo Alto
The housing market in Palo Alto is competitive, with a high demand for homes and limited inventory. The city is known for its upscale neighborhoods, featuring spacious single-family homes and luxurious estates.
However, there are also options for those looking for more affordable housing, such as apartments and townhomes. The median home price in Palo Alto is around $3 million, making it one of the pricier areas in the Bay Area.
Excellence in Public and Private Schools
Palo Alto is home to some of the top-rated public and private schools in California. The Palo Alto Unified School District consistently ranks among the best in the state, with highly regarded schools like Palo Alto High School and Gunn High School.
In addition to public schools, there are also several prestigious private schools in the area, offering families a wide range of educational options for their children.
Outdoor Recreation for Active Lifestyles
For those who enjoy an active lifestyle, Palo Alto offers a plethora of outdoor recreation opportunities. The city is surrounded by nature preserves, regional parks, and hiking trails, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers.
Popular outdoor destinations include the Stanford Dish, Arastradero Preserve, and the Baylands Nature Preserve. Palo Alto is also home to numerous sports facilities, golf courses, and tennis courts, catering to sports enthusiasts.
Vibrant Dining, Arts, and Culture Scene
Palo Alto boasts a vibrant dining scene, with a diverse range of restaurants offering various cuisines. From Michelin-starred establishments to cozy cafes, the city has something to satisfy every palate. In addition to its culinary offerings, Palo Alto is also a hub for arts and culture.
It is home to renowned museums, art galleries, and theaters, showcasing both local and international talent. The city also hosts a number of cultural events and festivals throughout the year, adding to its vibrant and lively atmosphere.
Profile of Top San Francisco Suburb – Danville
In the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area lies Danville, a charming suburb that offers residents a high quality of life. Known for its beautiful landscapes, excellent schools, and vibrant community, Danville has become a sought-after destination for families and professionals alike.
Overview of Danville
Danville, located in Contra Costa County, is a picturesque town with a rich history. Nestled at the base of Mt. Diablo, residents are treated to breathtaking views and a mild climate year-round. The town’s downtown area is filled with shops, restaurants, and art galleries, creating a lively and welcoming atmosphere.
Variety of Housing in Danville
One of the reasons Danville stands out as a top suburb is its diverse range of housing options. From spacious single-family homes to modern townhouses and luxury apartments, there is something for everyone in Danville.
The community is known for its well-maintained neighborhoods, tree-lined streets, and abundance of parks and open spaces.
Top-Performing Schools in Danville
Danville is home to some of the best schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. The highly acclaimed San Ramon Valley Unified School District serves the community, offering top-notch education from elementary to high school.
With impressive graduation rates and a strong emphasis on academic achievement, Danville’s schools provide an excellent foundation for students.
Family Friendly Activities
For families looking to enjoy quality time together, Danville offers a range of family-friendly activities. The town is known for its numerous parks and recreational facilities, where children can play sports, ride bikes, and enjoy the outdoors.
The annual Danville Summerfest is a highlight for families, featuring live music, food vendors, and a variety of fun activities for all ages.
Downtown Dining and Boutique Shopping
Danville’s downtown area is a bustling hub of dining and shopping options. From trendy boutiques to gourmet restaurants, there is no shortage of choices for food and retail enthusiasts. Whether you’re in the mood for a cozy coffee shop or an upscale dining experience, downtown Danville has it all.
For more information about Danville, visit https://www.danville.ca.gov/ for the official website of the town.
Profile of Top San Francisco Suburb – San Rafael
San Rafael is widely regarded as one of the best suburbs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Located just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, this vibrant city offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, excellent schools, and a thriving downtown scene.
Overview of San Rafael
With a population of over 58,000 residents, San Rafael is the largest city in Marin County. It boasts a rich history and a diverse community, making it an attractive destination for families and professionals alike.
The city is known for its charming neighborhoods, picturesque landscapes, and a strong sense of community.
Range of Housing Options in San Rafael
San Rafael offers a wide variety of housing options to suit every lifestyle and budget. From spacious single-family homes and elegant townhouses to modern apartments and condominiums, there is something for everyone.
The city’s real estate market is highly competitive, but with the right guidance, finding a dream home in San Rafael is definitely achievable.
Highly Rated Public Schools
Parents in San Rafael have access to top-notch public schools that consistently rank among the best in the state. The San Rafael City Schools District is known for its strong academic programs, dedicated teachers, and a commitment to student success.
Families can feel confident in their children’s education while living in this suburb.
Outdoor Recreation With Close Proximity to Nature
One of the biggest draws of San Rafael is its close proximity to nature. The city is surrounded by beautiful parks, hiking trails, and scenic open spaces, allowing residents to enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities.
Mount Tamalpais, China Camp State Park, and Marinwood Plaza are just a few examples of the natural treasures that are easily accessible from San Rafael.
Lively Arts, Dining, and Entertainment Downtown
San Rafael’s downtown area is a hub of activity, offering a vibrant arts scene, diverse dining options, and exciting entertainment venues. The historic Fourth Street is lined with charming shops, art galleries, and theaters, making it a great place to explore and unwind.
The annual San Rafael Art & Wine Festival is a highlight of the community’s calendar, attracting visitors from all over the Bay Area.
For more information about San Rafael and its offerings, visit the official city website: https://www.cityofsanrafael.org/
With excellent schools, family-friendly amenities, reasonable commute times into San Francisco, and vibrant downtowns, Walnut Creek, San Mateo, Palo Alto, Danville, and San Rafael are among the top options for San Francisco suburbs. Choosing the right suburb depends on your lifestyle, budget and priorities. We hope this outline gives you a head start in researching the many excellent suburbs the Bay Area has to offer.