6 Bay Area Towns That Feel Like a Vacation

Jul 9, 2020

Live in these Bay Area suburbs and it’s like being on vacation every single day…


In these towns, Bay Area residents get the best of both worlds. Not only can they bask in the buzz of vibrant city life that’s chock-full of places to go and people to see, but they’re conveniently located close to some of California’s most sought-after beaches. Paired with strong schools and a quick commute to the city, and it’s easy to see why these towns are favorites among families making the move to the ‘burbs.


#1. Tiburon

Resting on the north side of San Francisco Bay directly across from the city, this serene seaside town is an absolute oasis.


Arguably the best parts of Tiburon are its spectacular views, from the sprawling sea skyline to the rolling, flower-covered hills. Residents love taking strolls and biking down the Old Rail Trail which offers up breathtaking views of the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge. To eat, Tiburon Tavern is a must—you’ll find tons of New American cuisine from locally-sourced ingredients on their menu. Both locals and visitors alike rave about it. Another go-to: Sam’s Anchor Cafe, which has an amazing deck on the water. You can even dock your boat at Sam’s, and hop off for a bite.


#2. Sebastopol

If R&R in the heart of the wine country sounds like your idea of a getaway, then Sebastopol is the place for you. The hidden gem sees a smaller influx of visitors than Napa, meaning you’ll get all the charms of wine country without the crowds.


Locals love indulging in the fine wines and artisanal cheeses at the local Paul Hobbs Winery. And when they’re in search of something a bit more laid back, they stop in for a tasting at the Spirit Works Distillery for house fermented, distilled, and bottled handmade vodkas, gins, and whiskeys.


One of Sebastopol’s most unique places is The Barlow, which is a 12-acre open-air market filled with local food, wine, beer, and crafts by local artisans. And, between July to mid-August, you get first access to Sebastopol’s famous Gravenstein apples. Another perk? Live here and you’re just 20 minutes from Bodega Bay.


#3. Pacifica

Imagine endless access to some of the most stunning seaside vistas you’ve ever seen—that’s what residents love about Pacifica. Plus, this community has a decidedly laid back vibe and, compared to neighboring towns, is relatively inexpensive—and there’s so much to do.


On weekends, you’ll find local families horseback riding—Lessons With Denise, offers lessons for all riding levels. And for surfers, Pacifica is a must—whether you’ve surfed before or just want to give it a try, stop into NorCal Surf Shop for gear and lessons.


Arguably the most beautiful place in Pacifica is Mori Point, which is a 32-acre wetland park next to the ocean that’s full of walking trails and wildlife. Local families love to end their day with a relaxed walk in the park, or a slow-paced, sunset walk on the beach. What could be better?


#4. Half Moon Bay

Named after its crescent-shaped coastline, Half Moon Bay is popular with active families who prefer a quiet, small-town setting. Plus, there’s no shortage of restaurants, coffee shops, and parks to enjoy.


This town is incredibly picturesque and has so many places for families to walk and bike along the ocean and enjoy nature, like the California Coastal Trail or the two-mile-long Half Moon Bay State Beach. Locals who prefer exploring from the water can rent a kayak from Half Moon Bay Kayak Co. and get up close and personal with the seals in the water. And to top off a great day, local families usually pick up a delicious lobster roll from the famed Sam’s Chowder House.


#5. Carmel-by-the-Sea

There’s no shortage of things to do in Carmel-by-the-Sea—the town is brimming with vacation- like vibes and activities, including popular Carmel Beach. While it’s a bit on the far side from San Francisco—it’s just under two hours each way—with more and more people working from home, this beachy community is drawing added attention from San Francisco families.


Both locals and visitors agree that being in Camel-by-the-Sea—frequently voted one of America’s Top Beach Towns—feels like they’re not in California at all. One of the most popular—and fun—things for families to do is explore the village, which spans about one-square-mile. It boasts a charming, fairytale-like atmosphere that draws in visitors and locals alike—probably because it gives off the vibes of a mini-Disneyland. The village is filled with boutiques, restaurants, and shops, as well as hidden nooks, crannies, and passageways that children love to meander through. Also popular: weekends in nearby Big Sur or days spent at the Monterey Aquarium.



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