Town Spotlight: Alameda

Sep 10, 2018

A bustling city with A+ schools, amenities, and easy SF access

Our Local Amanda Reiss loves living in Alameda—and with a quick visit to this sought-after suburb, you’ll see why. A city on its own, Alameda has everything families are looking for, especially those who are ready to make a move but still want the urban experience.


Located in Alameda County, Alameda is situated on Alameda Island and Bay Farm Island, next to Oakland and just east of San Francisco, across the bay. The area is often described as the “Mayberry by the Bay” for its charm. If you’re looking for a great suburb that’s still has a solid city vibe, living in Alameda could be a great fit.


An easy-to-understand school system

One of the things people love about living in Alameda is the easy-to-understand neighborhood school system. If you opt for public school, your child will be assigned to your “neighborhood” school along with everyone else on the block—a huge plus for making friends and building community.


That said, special request transfers for a certain public school can often be accommodated as space allows, Wherever you’re assigned, though, your kids are in good shape. The Alameda elementary schools are solid—all schools scored “A” and “A+” rankings in Niche’s latest roundup. And, beyond making the grade, most kids can walk or bike to school, a huge benefit of island city living.



Woodstock Child Development Center



Bay Farm School (K-8)
Earhart Elementary
Edison Elementary
Franking Elementary
Haight Elementary
Maya Lin School
Otis Elementary
Paden Elementary
Ruby Bridges Elementary


Middle School:

Bay Farm School (K-8)
Encinal Jr. & Sr. High School (6-12)
Lincoln Middle
Wood Middle


High School:

Alameda High
Alameda Science & Technology Institute
Encinal Jr. & Sr. High School (6-12)
Island High


Charter Schools:

Nea Community Learning Center (K-8)
Academy of Alameda (K-8)



Private schools and preschools

No surprise, the private school landscape gets an A+, too. There are tons of options in and around the greater Alameda area, including Montessori, religious, international, language immersion and prep schools, among others. Some go-tos for local families?


Montessori Elementary School of Alameda
Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School
Bayhill High School
Bentley School
College Preparatory School
The Crowden School
Escuela Bilingue Internacional
German International School
Head Royce School
Park Day School
Redwood Day
The Renaissance International School


And, of course, beyond the district’s preK program, there are also great private preschool options, Popular schools in and around Alameda include:


Berkeley Hills Nursery School
The Child Day Schools
Child Unique Montessori School
Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley
Fountainhead Montessori School
German International School
Happy Days Learning Center
Jewish Community Center of the East Bay
Le Port Schools
Nomura Preschool
Quarry Lane School
Renaissance International School
The Saklan School
Shu Ren International School
Treehouse Preschool


Getting into and out of San Francisco

While there’s no BART service on the island, there are nearby stations in Fruitvale, West Oakland, and Lake Merritt. Many living in Alameda opt to bike to the Fruitvale BART so they can take advantage of the free bike valet service there. If you drive to the BART, you’ll pay for parking. There are also buses that will take commuters to BART.

Though Alameda lacks its own BART connection, there are two ferry services which are ideal for commuters—the Alameda Main Street Ferry and Harbor Bay Ferry. The 20-minute ferry ride is an incredibly relaxing commute and takes people right to the San Francisco Ferry Building. It’s slightly more expensive than BART and doesn’t run as frequently but, again, many people prefer the overall commute. Parking is free at both ferry terminals but somewhat limited at Harbor Bay. For both BART and ferries, assume 50 to 60 minutes door to desk.


In addition to the ferry and local BART service, some residents use AC transit buses and casual carpool commute. A casual carpool could easily get commuters across the Bay Bridge and into the city in 25 to 30 minutes.


Beyond the commute, Alameda also has good proximity to Oakland International Airport making air travel convenient. If you’re a boat owner—or aspire to be—Alameda has a few local marinas as well.


Local can’t-miss activities and amenities

If you’re living in Alameda, you’ll really never have to leave the island! In Alameda, we’ve got a lovely restored Alameda Theater, Rhythmix Cultural Works, Rockwall Winery, USS Hornet and Museum, Faction Brewing, and Crown Memorial State Beach and park.


For kids, Aquatech Swim School is a great go-to and extremely popular for lessons. Alameda Recreation and Parks has a robust schedule of events, activities, and classes for children. Indoor play space, Twirl, is popular with the preschool set. And, of course, we have tons of parks and playgrounds perfect for all ages.

And when you do leave the island? Just across the bridge in Oakland is Pump It Up with party spaces and open play. Children’s Fairyland is about 15 to 20 minutes away and the Oakland Zoo is about 25 to 30 minutes away. Families can also join the Alameda Swimming Pool Association, Harbor Bay Club and Bladium for more active extracurricular options.


Eating, drinking, and dining in Alameda

Again, Alameda is a city in its own right and not just a San Francisco suburb—and it’s got LOTS of great restaurants as a result. Many of the independent restaurants are along Webster and Park Streets—Park Street is the “Main Street” of Alameda, so there are lots here.


If you’re looking for more chain options, head to Southshore Center and Alameda Landing for restaurants plus a local Target, Safeway, Nob Hill Grocery, Trader Joe’s and farmer’s market plus, nearby, a Costco.


Annual events for families

Alameda is well-known for its annual 4th of July parade as well as annual events and activities including the Sandcastle Contest in June and the Park St. Art and Wine Faire in July. On the first Sunday of every month, check out the Alameda Point Antiques Fair.


Ready to search in Alameda and other Bay Area suburbs? Get in touch with our San Francisco Strategy Team and start exploring the suburbs now!



Niche 2019 School Rankings

Amanda Reiss (interview)

Alameda Point Environmental Report

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