San Carlos is a city of almost 30,000 people, located almost exactly halfway between San Francisco and San Jose, that combines a small-town atmosphere with the perks of sophisticated living. When San Carlos calls itself the “City of Good Living,” it’s not bragging. Good living is easy to find here.
Once part of the Rancho de las Pulgas, San Carlos was incorporated in 1925 after years of growth led by Frederick Drake, a San Francisco banker-turned-San Carlos real estate promoter and developer known as the “father of San Carlos.” Drake’s real estate office, at the corner of San Carlos Avenue and El Camino Real, still stands, but don’t go there expecting to buy real estate. It’s now home to Parrot Cellular.
San Carlos’ oldest neighborhoods, White Oaks and Howard Park, are now among the city’s most desirable, with tree-lined streets, easy access to downtown and schools ranked among the best in California. Looking for an example of San Carlos’ community spirit? Search no further than Eucalyptus Street in Howard Park, where residents go all-out for Halloween and the Holidays. Each year the street closes October 31; each December, visitors come from hours away to see the holiday lights.
Eucalyptus Street is within walking distance of downtown’s Laurel Avenue, where you’ll find unique family-owned shops, boutiques, services and a variety of restaurants including destination spots like 888 Ristorante, Spasso and Town. Like many cities, San Carlos has recently turned its focus toward its downtown, encouraging new businesses and creating a full slate of annual community events. You’ll find plenty of fairs and festivals there, including Hot Harvest Nights, a farmer’s market running every Thursday between May and October and the Friday downtown Summer Concerts series.
The biggest event is the San Carlos Art and Wine Faire. Held for the past 23 years the weekend of Columbus Day, the Faire draws visitors from around the region, eager to see the works of 275 artists, listen to some music and enjoy some food and wine.
But Laurel Street isn’t all about what’s new and flashy. Some businesses, like Bianchini’s Market, have been there for decades. Many are owned by San Carlos locals, complementing new businesses to create a downtown that’s a destination for shopping, dining and just strolling.
Close to downtown is Burton Park, created in 1938 and named after former San Carlos Mayor Edward Burton. Burton is one of several parks within the city limits. The two largest, Eaton Park and Big Canyon Park, are located in the rolling hills west of Alameda de las Pulgas, where the town takes on a more spread out, rural flavor. Residents of the San Carlos hills enjoy great views of canyons, hillsides and, in some cases, San Francisco Bay.
San Carlos is a place of diverse neighborhoods. Secluded Devonshire Canyon, with its narrow, winding roads and funky homes, couldn’t be more different than classic pre-war White Oaks. The modest cinderblock homes of the Murphy Tract don’t have much in common with some of the western hills’ spectacular newer construction.
So maybe there is something for everyone in San Carlos, halfway between two of the biggest job hotbeds in California, a place that delivers a little bit of small town and a little bit of big city. San Carlos doesn’t lie; it is truly a “City of Good Living.”