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San Francisco/Bay Area:

The San Francisco Bay Area consists of 9 counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma. The three major cities that anchor the area are: San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland. The region is especially diverse in cultural landscape, geological layout, and climate. The Bay Area includes mountains, marshes, beaches, valleys, and cityscapes. The southern regions average 15 inches of rain annually; whereas, northern Napa sees about 30 inches of yearly rain. This collection of microcultures includes California’s famous wine country, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, one of California’s most important habitats. While San Francisco is the cultural and financial center, San Jose is actually the largest city in the Bay Area, both in population and land size. Spurred out of the 1848 gold rush, the San Francisco Bay Area has become an important cultural and political site of action.

The Bay Area provides educational, cultural, and environmental establishments that are frequented by residents and attract tourists. Home to several prestigious universities, including University of California-Berkeley, University of California San Francisco, and Stanford, there is a vibrant, youthful intellectual subpopulation that imbues the area. Additionally, museums such as the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, provide centers for cultural and historical engagement. Ocean Beach, Baker Beach, and China Beach are the perfect places to enjoy the Pacific Ocean in all its grandeur, and the San Francisco Zoo allows visitors to interact with more than 225 animal species!

Beyond its cultural attractions, the San Francisco Bay area is a thriving economy, home to Silicon Valley. Finding their home base in the Bay Area are some of the industry’s leading technological companies, including Google, Yahoo!, and Apple. Moreover, Craigslist actually started up in San Francisco! Approximately 7.5 million people live in the Bay Area, and public transportation is ready and waiting to transport them over the entire region. Buses, railways, cable cars, and street cars are constantly renovated and updated to provide feasible, accessible transportation to and from the cities and suburban areas. To really understand the Bay Area, check out information about the sub-regions, as they are extremely diverse and varied.

Marin County:

Marin County is the most affluent sub-sect of the San Francisco Bay Area. It sits across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco and has the 5th highest income per capita in the entire United States! Water covers 308.4 square miles of the county leaving 520 square miles of land. Some of the incorporated cities include Corte Madero, Fairfax, Tiburon, San Rafael, San Anselmo, Mill Valley, Novato, Stinson Beach, and Larkspur. There are 19 total school districts, and in the 2008-09 school year, Marin County had a 92.4% graduation rate and only 1.4% drop out rate.

Since 1964, the Marin County Transit Directory has been hard at work to connect the county with the larger Bay Area. It teamed up with Golden Gate Transit, Marin Airport, Mill Valley Transportation, and Whistlestop Wheels in order to provide buses, trains, and trolleys to effectively move people around. Marin County also has its own airport, Gnoss Field, available for personal and business travel.

Marin County provides ample opportunity for active living. Its many beaches allow for a serious connection with a marine ecosystem. Stinson Beach is a quiet beach community, Abbotts Lagoon Beach is a great spot for bird watching, and Wildcat Beach is a beautiful, white sand beach miles from developed towns. An inside attraction in the area is the Marin County Civic Center, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

With gorgeous scenery engulfing the county, Marin is an ideal place to connect with nature right in your own backyard. Many properties are located on larger lots of land that include beautiful forest and cliff views. Close to urban centers yet privatized within impeccable landscape, Marin County is an extraordinary place to live.


The San Francisco Peninsula separates the bay from the Pacific Ocean. Several of its prominent cities include Palo Alto, Daly City, Belmont, San Mateo, South San Francisco, Pacifica, and Redwood City. Splitting the peninsula down the center are the Santa Cruz Mountains. East and north of the mountains are the populated, suburban areas of the peninsula; whereas, south and west of the mountains are primarily rural, unincorporated areas. Consequently, the peninsula is known for its hiking trails and camping sites. The San Francisco Trail Center publishes the Peninsula Parklands map, detailing the whereabouts of open space preserves, parks, and public access lands. Some of the most notable hiking occurs in San Bruno Mountain County Park, Big Basin Redwood State Park, and Castle Rock State Park.

The peninsula has several large thoroughfares that connect it with the Greater Bay Area, including US-82, US-101, and Interstate-280. As a result of the Pacific Ocean’s plentiful presence, numerous bridges have been constructed throughout the last century to enable easy access to all sub-sects of the Bay Area. The 3 most noteworthy bridges in the peninsula are the Dumbarton Bridge, originally constructed in 1927 and updated in 1982, the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, opened in 1967 and widened in 2003, and the historic San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, built in 1936, the largest bridge of its time. The peninsula area is also serviced by the San Francisco International Airport, located in San Mateo County. This airport is one of the largest in the world, and serves as a hub for both United Airlines and Virgin American. Not only has it made headlines for progressive air service, the San Francisco International Airport is also home to the Aviation Museum and Library, an interactive learning experience regarding the history and science of commercial aviation.

The Greater Bay Area receives much of its news from the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club, which manages a collection of newspapers, television news channels, radio news stations, internet sites, and magazines. Every year it hosts the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club’s Professional Journalism Awards Competition Dinner. The peninsula is also known for its Peninsula Ballet and Theatre, which hosts a non-profit ballet school.

Ultimately, the San Francisco Peninsula offers fantastic suburban living with easy access to beaches, mountains, wineries, and city. Its economy is on an upswing, and the rate of unemployment is quickly shrinking due to a recent influx of businesses looking to hire. Thus, the peninsula remains a prominent part of the economy of the Bay Area and a great place to find a home.

San Francisco City:

San Francisco sits on the northern part of the peninsula and takes up approximately 46.7 square miles. With a population of 805, 235, San Francisco is one of the most densely populated cities in the entire United States. The economy is primarily driven by tourism and the financial industry. With more than 30 international finance institutions located within the city, San Francisco has become one of the largest banking centers in the world. Also, San Francisco is a hub for pharmaceutical research, genetic engineering, and medical science.

Due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco has a relatively cool climate with little temperature variation throughout the entire year. It is often called the Foggy City, a nickname which refers to the area’s cool, foggy summers. Ocean Beach and Baker Beach line San Francisco, providing easy access to the ocean. Another primary tourist attraction is Alcatraz, or “The Rock.” Alcatraz is a small island located about 1.5 miles off the San Francisco coast and historically has served as a lighthouse, military fort, military prison, and federal prison. As a federal prison, Alcatraz hosted several noteworthy prisoners, including Al Capone.

San Francisco is known for its left-wing politics and ethnic diversity. Varying neighborhoods, situated throughout the city, encompass a span of differing cultural spaces. Perhaps the most famous of these neighborhoods is Chinatown. San Francisco’s Chinatown is not only the largest, but the oldest Chinatown in the United States. The Chinese Culture Center, a non- profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Chinese-American culture, sits between the financial district and Chinatown. Within Chinatown are the busy produce markets of Stockton Street and the Chinese shops on Grant Avenue. Throughout the year, Chinatown hosts numerous celebrations, including the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, held in September, and the Chinese New Year, a two-week celebration that features an exciting street parade! Other expressive neighborhoods include The Castro, the West coast center for the gay rights movement, and Little Saigon, a center for Vietnamese-Americans.

San Francisco burst into life, in large part, due to the 1848 gold rush, and has since steadily grown into one of the country’s most prominent cities, both economically and culturally. Its location in the Bay Area makes it an ideal place to both live and work, close to the ocean and close to wine country. Its unique style welcomes characters of all sorts to partake in the cultural conglomeration that infuses the city.

South Bay:

South Bay encompasses Silicon Valley and Santa Clara County and includes the cities of Campbell, Los Altos, Mountain View, San Jose, and Santa Clara. Silicon Valley and San Jose are the primary economic centers within the area.

Prior to World War II, Silicon Valley was an agriculturally based economy. However, in an effort to generate revenue, Frederick Terman, the Dean of Stanford’s engineering school, began leasing out land in the valley to various tech companies. Silicon Valley quickly gained a reputation as the center for the electronics and technology industry. It has earned its status as the 3rd largest high-tech hub in the country with approximately 225,300 jobs available for mathematicians, engineers, scientists, computer scientists, and other high-tech personnel. Important companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Twitter, Netflix, Sun Power, and Cisco Systems established their home bases in Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley has recently created its own university in the area, catering to computer science, computer engineering, and business administration degrees.

San Jose, the county seat of Santa Clara County, is the largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area with a land area of 178.2 square miles. Surrounded by mountains on three of its sides, San Jose has a mild, Mediterranean climate with an average temperature of 73 degrees and over 300 days of sunshine annually. San Jose has its own airport that is primarily serviced by Southwest and Alaska Airlines. The city offers culturally diverse neighborhoods, such as Japantown, which is home to the Japanese American Museum of San Jose. Despite its size, San Jose provides all the amenities of city living within a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere.

The South Bay is a great place to experience marine life and participate in environmental studies. The South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Study, a study being conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding the preservation and restoration of eco systems, is particularly active in the South Bay area. Also, theaters, such as the Montgomery Theater, the American Musical Theater, the San Jose Repertory Theater, and the San Jose Children’s Musical Theater, are prevalent institutions within the artistic landscape.

The progressive economy of the South Bay area provides incredible career opportunities for people of all ages. Its low-key culture allows for easy living in the midst of a groundbreaking technological industry.

East Bay:

East Bay is located across the bay from San Francisco. Its two main cities are Oakland and Berkeley. It encompasses the counties of Alameda and Contra Costa. East Bay is connected to San Francisco by BART, Bay Area Rapid Transit, the 5th busiest rail transit system in the world. East Bay also supports and encourages bicycling through the EBBC, East Bay Bicycle Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to the cultivation of cycling culture in the area. The East Bay Express is a free, weekly newspaper which details political and cultural phenomena, and the East Bay Monthly is a magazine that focuses on cultural and commerce in the area. The main employers in East Bay are University of California-Berkeley, AT&T, and Wells Fargo Bank.

Berkeley, sometimes referred to as the “Athens of the West,” is home to approximately 100,000 people. Known for its political radicalism in the 1960s, Berkeley has become a hub for thriving intellectualism and artistic spaces. There are countless galleries, museums, book stores, and libraries located throughout the town. Berkeley is also keenly interested in green technology. In 2008, the town launched FIRST, Financing Initiative for Renewable and Solar Technology, a program dedicated to the promotion of solar power.

Oakland is the third largest city in the bay area and has a population of roughly 400,000 people. It is an important west coast port city and the county seat of Alameda County. The Oakland Unified School District has 19 high schools and 59 elementary schools throughout the city. Oakland is divided into diverse neighborhoods, including downtown, the central business district, and the Oakland hills. It has a beautiful climate with temperatures that generally sit somewhere in between those of San Francisco and San Jose. The Oakland International Airport provides direct access to the city from almost anywhere in the world, and the Oakland Tribune keeps citizens informed as to the regional happenings in culture, politics, and business. The Oakland East Bay Symphony is the principal musical organization in the area providing access to amazing concerts throughout the year!

The East Bay has a diverse geological identity, covering both hills and flatlands. The University of California-Berkeley is world-famous for its rigorous academic programs and keeps the East Bay an effervescent, progressive, youthful community.