Potrero Hill is a neighborhood tucked away from the rest of San Francisco, a sunny district home to many longtime residents. The residential haven has the feeling of a small town but is alive with steady sidewalk traffic from dawn till dusk. Commercial strips run along 18th and 20th Streets providing shopping hubs where the neighborhood is packed with cafes, restaurants, bookstores, and bars around every corner.
The steep streets are a price the locals are willing to pay for the sweeping downtown skyline views, reminding them they are indeed in San Francisco. And if you ask anybody in Potrero Hill where the crookedest street in the city is, they will point you in the direction of Vermont Street, where the neighborhood celebrates its curves with an annual Big Wheel Race.
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Bernal Heights is a sprawling neighborhood atop one of the steepest peaks in San Francisco. While it is not an obvious tourist destination, nor heavily visited by San Franciscans in general, the community within its borders keep a bustling small-town feel equipped with all of the essentials of life.
Curving down the center of the neighborhood is Cortland Avenue, the main commercial thoroughfare as well as Mission Street in its southern quarter. The entire neighborhood is a hotbed for artists, restaurants, and small-business owners putting down roots around every corner. It is no exaggeration that the community resembles a small town; they even have their own newspaper, the Bernal Journal.
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Noe Valley is a picturesque neighborhood that is located almost directly in the center of San Francisco. Thanks to adjacent Twin Peaks, it is sheltered from the coastal fog and winds that tend to blanket the rest of the city, giving it a unique microclimate that is warmer and sunnier than many other districts.
Noe Valley is also home to the highest concentration of row houses in San Francisco, lending it an overall striking appearance. The neighborhood is lined with classic Victorian and Edwardian residential architecture, along with friendly, high-end retail and hospitality businesses, making the district feel like a small town. The shape of the neighborhood is also a result of the few major thoroughfares that come into the area, keeping the streets free from the usual heavy city traffic.
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Glen Park is one of San Francisco’s most impeccably balanced neighborhoods, with just the right amount of everything to satisfy the essential needs of city dwellers in a suburban oasis.
With the city’s public transportation lines stopping throughout the neighborhood, including its own major Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station, residents can reach every corner of the city at a moment’s notice.
A majority of the homes in Glen Park were built prior to the 1920s as development began in the late 19th century. Bungalow-style walk-ups line the hills with newer homes up at the highest points boasting large panoramic windows to take in the views.
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The West Portal neighborhood has set the bar for a suburban experience within a bustling big city. While some people move to San Francisco for the hyper-speed of living, trendy nightclubs, and internationally-famed destination restaurants, it is the lack of these things that make West Portal a gem.
Once you arrive via the Muni streetcar tunnel, the beat of the city slows down a notch to help residents appreciate the highly residential, self-reliant, walkable district. With one main drag down West Portal Avenue, residents have access to a few dozen restaurants, a first-run movie theater, several book stores, hardware stores, jewelry stores, banks, pubs, and toy stores, a number of which have had roots in the neighborhood for decades.
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Burlingame was brought into being by wealthy San Franciscans who wanted more space in a pleasant climate. It is now a community of affluent residents, beautiful homes and more than 18,000 trees that are owned, protected and maintained by the City.
Burlingame’s “Think Green” philosophy has resulted in successful reduction of carbon emissions, water consumption and energy usage. Bicycling and recycling are also important here, and the Burlingame Trolley is free, operating throughout the shopping and dining districts and providing a great alternative transit option. Transportation to the employment hubs of San Francisco and Palo Alto is offered via subway, train and bus as well as nearby freeway connections.
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The City of San Mateo, namesake of its county, is located between Burlingame and Belmont, and is the largest city in the county. In the heart of Silicon Valley, it is about 30 minutes from San Jose and 25 minutes from San Francisco (depending on traffic, of course), and offers a bit more affordability than its more populous urban neighbors.
The flourishing downtown area, between Tilton and Ninth Avenue, is a historic gathering of retail and dining options, while the Hillsdale Mall is a major shopping center with upscale retailers and a variety of boutiques, both local and international.
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Situated just two miles from SFO, Millbrae is easily accessible to San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Those major urban areas, though, are a world apart from the relaxed and suburban atmosphere of Millbrae. The lovely Mediterranean climate, picturesque downtown and local commerce combine to make this one of San Mateo County’s jewels.
Millbrae dates back to the mid-19th century as a Spanish ranch for Darius Mills. Millbrae takes its name from the Mills family, and the Scottish word for rolling hills, “brae.” Today, it’s a flourishing town with local businesses, good schools and safe communities.
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Hillsborough is situated 17 miles south of San Francisco on I-280 and El Camino Real, said to be part of “the most beautiful freeway in the world.” Some of the Bay Area’s most affluent folks live here, with one of the highest median household incomes in the country.
Real estate comes at a premium price due to the town’s minimum lot size requirement of one-half acre, and a minimum house size of 2,500 square feet. Ergo, there are no apartments or condominiums in Hillsborough. In fact, one of the national landmarks is the 65,000 square foot estate of Harriet Pullman Carolan, rumored to be the largest residence in the country.
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Also known as “The City of Good Living,” San Carlos is a pleasant peninsula city with lots to offer including a quaint downtown, local museums and plenty of open space. A central location between Silicon Valley and San Francisco combined with lovely weather make San Carlos a lovely place to live, and very in demand.
San Carlos sits between Belmont and Redwood City and boasts a modest population of about 30,000. It was the first city in California to open a charter school, and is noted for its high-ranking school system.
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