The San Francisco Bay Area, or simply the Bay Area, is renowned for its natural beauty, booming high-tech industry, liberal politics, and diversity. Anchored by 3 main cities (San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland), it is home to approximately 7.15 million people. The city of San Francisco’s surrounding areas can be broken down into four subregions, consisting of the South Bay, Peninsula, East Bay, and North Bay; each with their own nuances and attractions – providing something for everyone. The Bay Area’s nine counties are Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma.
San Francisco is the cultural and financial center and is famous for its colorful residents, distinctive skyline, steep hills, cable cars, and such attractions as Fisherman’s Wharf, Lombard Street (“the crookedest street in the world”), Gold Gate Park, Haight-Ashbury, Coit Tower, and, of course, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.
Because the hills, mountains, and large bodies of water produce such vast geographic diversity within this region, the San Francisco Bay Area offers a significant variety of microclimates. The areas near the Pacific Ocean are generally characterized by relatively small temperature variations during the year, with cool foggy summers and mild rainy winters. Inland areas, especially those separated from the ocean by hills or mountains, have hotter summers and colder overnight temperatures during the winter.
Well known for its outdoor lifestyle, the Bay Area boasts access to some of the finest sports and recreation areas in California. Surfing, sailing, fishing, and whale and dolphin watching are popular pastimes along the beautiful coastline. Historic Monterey, famous Pebble Beach Golf Club, and picturesque Carmel anchor the south end of the protected Monterey Bay marine reserve while bohemian Santa Cruz can be found closer to Silicon Valley at the far north of Monterey Bay. A 3-4 hour drive north east from the Bay Area will take you to the many ski resorts of the Sierra Nevada mountain range near Lake Tahoe. There’s skiing terrain to suit everyone ranging from smaller ski areas with limited facilities to huge resorts like Heavenly with extensive and challenging runs. Skiers, snowboarders and cross-country skiers are accommodated throughout the Tahoe area.
A shorter drive north will plunge you deep into the heart of California’s famous Napa and Sonoma wine country. Renowned for the quality of its wine, the passion of the winemakers, spectacular wineries, sprawling vineyards, and world-class dining, it’s an easy day trip from anywhere in the Bay Area. Closer to home there are many excellent wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Morgan Hill/Gilroy area and in the Livermore Valley in the East Bay.
Home to major league sports teams such as the San Francisco 49ers, the San Francisco Giants, the Oakland Raiders, the Oakland Athletics, the San Jose Sharks, the San Jose Earthquakes, and the Golden State Warriors, there are plenty of opportunities for sports fans to take in a game. College sports are also prominent with both Stanford and UC Berkeley (Cal) Universities located in the area, as well as a number of other universities and colleges throughout the Bay Area.
Youth activities are numerous, ranging from every sport imaginable to international organizations such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Adventure Guides and many others. Being a very cosmopolitan area there are a wide variety of cultural and religious organizations, festivals, events, and celebrations. Family support is extensive with numerous publications, such as Bay Area Parent, as well as organizations like the MOMS Club, Las Madres, and so on.
If you have a particular hobby or passion there’s a good chance someone else in the Bay Area shares it with you. Meetup.com is a great resource to connect with like-minded people and search thousands of groups and activities around the Bay Area.
Recreation and protected areas abound with great hiking, beaches, redwood groves, and wildlife. California has actively protected much of the state and, despite the large population in the Bay Area, large areas of land are undeveloped and you can quickly feel like you are a million miles away from anyone else.
With a temperate climate, many outdoor activities can be planned year-round and playing on the beach on New Year’s Day is a common occurrence. Skiing one day and a trip to the beach the next? That’s the Bay Area.
Contact us with any questions about living, working, and playing in the Bay Area, that’s what we’re here for!