Unleash your adventurous side in these outdoorsy towns
Whether you’re a surfer, hiker, biker, or just love to get out and explore, there’s a Bay Area town for you. Here are a few of our faves to kickstart your search.
#1. Portola Valley
Portola Valley is a small Santa Cruz mountain community known for its impressive network of trails – there are almost as many miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding as there are roads in town.
The Portola Valley Woods and Los Trancos neighborhoods are especially popular with nature lovers. Windy Hill Preserve offers incredible views of both the Bay and the ocean and is a perfect place to squeeze in a sunrise hike before your first conference call of the day. Locals also love hiking in Los Trancos Open Space Preserve and the dog-friendly Pearson-Arastradero Preserve.
#2. Scotts Valley
Scotts Valley offers the best of both worlds for outdoor enthusiasts. The town is just a few miles from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Seacliff State Beach – perfect if you love to spend time on the water but want to live in a smaller community. Scotts Valley is also home to coastal redwoods and locals enjoy hiking in the forested Lodato Park. (On-leash pups can join you for hikes here.)
Mountain bikers and hikers both use the beautiful Glenwood Open Space Preserve, which is especially colorful in the spring when wildflowers bloom along the trails. Two other pluses: good schools and the homes here are more affordable than other parts of the Bay Area.
#3. Los Gatos Hills
If you want to feel like you’re in the great outdoors without even leaving home, consider Los Gatos Hills which offers a small-town feel and impressive views of the Santa Cruz Mountains. And, when locals do want to get out, they have plenty of options in and around town. Los Gatos Hills is home to Vasona Lake County Park, a favorite for fishing and row boating, and St. Joseph’s Hill Open Space Preserve, which offers plenty of scenic trails for bikers, equestrians and hikers.
#4. Mill Valley
Mill Valley is a playground for adventure seekers. This town is surrounded by some of the Bay Area’s most inspiring protected landscapes, including Muir Woods National Monument, Mount Tamalpais State Park and the Golden Gate Recreation Area. Cascade Falls is a popular hiking trail in town, especially for families with small kids or pups. Locals can also head to nearby Tennessee Beach or Muir Beach for a waterfront hike or picnic. Mill Valley also hosts America’s oldest trail run known as The Dipsea Race. If you move to town, consider signing up and racing the 7.4 miles from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach. Mill Valley’s downtown is home to several quaint shops and sought-after restaurants, and the community events calendar is packed with fun family activities.
Although it’s one of the larger towns on our list, locals enjoy Danville’s small-town charm. Active residents have plenty of opportunities to get outside with the Sycamore Valley Regional Open Space Preserve in town and the rugged Las Trampas Regional Wilderness Park nearby. Mt. Diablo State Park is just a few miles away and this makes for a perfect day hike destination or camping staycation.
Part of the 32-mile Iron Horse Regional Trail also runs through Danville, which is a huge perk for resident cyclists. The downtown is lively and the San Ramon Valley Unified School District receives top marks.
While Oakland is a big city, not a suburb, we’re including it on this list because it’s close to San Francisco and offers plenty of opportunities to explore the outdoors. Locals have easy access to trails, lakes and the Bay (which is especially popular with kayakers and sailors).
Lake Merritt is a beautiful spot in town, perfect for boating or taking a scenic waterside stroll. If you love woodland hikes, you’re in luck. Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park, the dog-friendly Joaquin Miller Park and Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve are all great options in town. And the University of California Botanical Garden in neighboring Berkeley is nice when you want to go for a more relaxed nature walk.
#7. Linda Mar
This stunning beachfront neighborhood in Pacifica offers views of craggy cliffs and rugged surf. Surfers really love this town because it’s home to Pacifica State Beach. Even if you don’t like riding the waves, this is a beautiful spot to go for a hike or picnic. Hikers will also want to try out the trails in San Pedro Valley Park. On a clear day, you may even be able to see the ocean from here. Bike trails are found throughout Linda Mar and the rest of Pacifica if you want to explore the area on two wheels.
Whether you want to hit the bike trail or the beach, we’ll help you find a community that fits your active lifestyle. Get in touch today to get started!