9 Amazing Small Towns in the Bay Area Suburbs

Aug 25, 2022

Truly escape the hustle and bustle in these must-see towns

Living in a big city has its perks – but sometimes when you’re ready to go you’re ready to go. And if that’s the case, these small towns in the Bay Area suburbs could be exactly what you’re looking for.

#1. Sebastopol

This small, artsy community in Sonoma County is home to less than 8,000 residents. But don’t let that number fool you – there’s always something going on in Sebastopol. Outdoor summer concerts are held in Peacetown and The Barlow is an entertainment destination complete with high-end shops, farm-to-table eateries and breweries, like the beloved Crooked Goat. While this town was once known for its apple and plum orchards, locals can still pick up fresh produce at the weekly farmers market. Plus there’s a Whole Foods in the heart of town for all of your other grocery needs.

#2. Fairfax

Fairfax is equally small, and known as a hub for cyclists, outdoor lovers and culture enthusiasts. Visit the Marin Museum of Bicycling for a glimpse into Fairfax’s cycling culture. In the heart of town, you’ll find the recently renovated Fairfax Theater, plus tons of restaurants and bars like Barefoot Cafe and Gestalt Haus(a favorite with local cyclists). Throughout the year, the town puts on community events like an annual Fairfax Festival, Halloween Parade, Town Picnic and more.

#3. Clayton

Clayton is a safe small town with a country club and a walkable town center. The community calendar is packed with a variety of events like free summer concerts at The Grove, outdoor movie nights, bocce tournaments, BBQ cookoffs and more. Active residents appreciate how easy it is to reach the trails at Mount Diablo State Park from town. 

#4. Sunol

With less than 1,000 residents, Sunol is a tiny town. But if you are looking for a quiet community where everyone really knows each other, add this one to your list. The town puts on a bunch of community events including movie nights, an annual potluck picnic and the Train of Lights – a beloved holiday tradition. When locals want to go hiking or camping, they can easily head to Del Valle Regional Park in the neighboring town of Livermore. 

#5. Saratoga

Saratoga may be one of the bigger suburbs on our list, but with 31,000 residents it still feels much smaller than the neighboring city of San Jose. This is a favorite with people looking to leave the hustle and bustle without giving up all of the amenities they love about city life. There’s a Safeway, a few fitness studios, great access to hiking trails and tons of top-notch restaurants, like Pasta Armellino and Plumed Horse. Residents of all ages can also sign up for recreation programs and Wildwood Park hosts concerts during the summer.

#6. Felton

Felton is a charming town with good schools and lots of opportunities to hike through redwood forests (consider exploring Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park during your town tour). There’s a seasonal farmers market on Tuesdays, plus a Safeway and Wild Roots Market for everything else you need. Locals can catch live music at the Felton Music Hall and if you’re into wine consider becoming a member of the Hallcrest Vineyards wine club.

#7. Scotts Valley

Scotts Valley is near Felton — so if you’re out exploring why not combine the two visits? About 12,000 people live in Scotts Valley and it holds on to its small-town feel. It’s a safe community with good schools and easy access to the beach and the mountains. Locals can grocery shop at Nob Hill Foods, Safeway or Scotts Valley Market. Since it’s not a tourist destination town, it feels quieter than some in the area. Residents can get to Santa Cruz for more entertainment but Scotts Valley has some great global restaurants and a movie theater.

#8. Los Gatos Hills

Living in Los Gatos Hills means you could enjoy beautiful mountain vistas from your windows. It’s a quiet area that offers lots of privacy. The heart of Los Gatos has everything you need – from Trader Joe’s to Ace Hardware. Along North Santa Cruz Avenue, you’ll find tons of dining options like Oak & Rye and The Lexington House. When you want to grab a drink with friends, Loma Brewing Company is the place to go.

If you love exploring the great outdoors, you’ll appreciate how easy it is to hit the hiking trails in St. Joseph’s Hill Open Space Preserve or you can head a bit further out to the equestrian-friendly trails in Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve.

#9. Capitola

Looking for a laid-back beach town? Consider Capitola. Situated on Monterey Bay, this small town of about 10,000 residents features beautiful sandy beaches complete with colorful condos. While it may be small, Capitola offers plenty of retail and entertainment options. There’s a Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Nob Hill Foods, Target and a movie theater in town. And foodies will appreciate Capitola’s variety of eateries, including the highly-rated Shadowbrook Restaurant. The community-focused town also puts on a few events throughout the year including the Beach Festival and Art and Wine Festival

With so many amazing small towns to explore, where should you start? Let us help! Schedule your FREE Suburbs Strategy session and we’ll map out a town tour that fits your priorities.

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