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Old 01-16-2012, 09:21 AM
 
Location: Nevada City, California
355 posts, read 649,965 times
Reputation: 442

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Hello,

I have spent hours researching the threads here, and they have been extremely helpful. However, I still need your help in picking the best area for us. We are a couple in our 40s, no kids, 2 dogs, enjoy the outdoors but also good restaurants, theater, etc.

Here is my wish list:

- Hiking trails and parks (especially ones that allow dogs)
- Places to kayak
- Beautiful views
- Walkable downtown with character
- Budget: 2 bed $2500-$3500
- Ideally an hour or less to SFO and Redwood City
- Not too hot in the summer

I'll be coming out in the next month or two, so I'm hoping to compile a list of areas to check out. I know the Peninsula or South Bay would be the most convenient, but I am really drawn to the North Bay, and I think the East Bay would be worth checking out, too. Thank you for your help!

Last edited by la_cavalière; 01-16-2012 at 09:56 AM..
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Old 01-16-2012, 10:31 AM
 
Location: Dimond, Oakland, CA
109 posts, read 290,110 times
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I think Marin Open Space allows dogs, but any of the state parks around there will not. Sonoma County Regional Parks do too. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that many of the Marin parks are pretty busy, so you may not have the solitude you are looking for.

I live in Oakland and love it. Your budget will get you a nice home. Downtown is nice, but so are a lot of other neighborhoods. But, one of my favorite things about Oakland is it's parks. There are several huge regional parks inside or just outside city limits. If you are just hiking, there are tons of hiker only trails in Redwood, for example, where you will find solitude for 8+ mile hikes. This past weekend, I did a nice long hike in Anthony Chabot park... it was empty and open space was viewable everywhere. I think the parks are one of my major reasons for loving Oakland as much as I do. They are very large, not too busy, so close to the urban core, and friendly to dogs (most trails are even off leash).
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Old 01-16-2012, 11:51 AM
 
Location: Nevada City, California
355 posts, read 649,965 times
Reputation: 442
Thanks! The parks sound lovely. Do you know of places to kayak?
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Old 01-16-2012, 11:58 AM
 
Location: Dimond, Oakland, CA
109 posts, read 290,110 times
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I don't kayak, but see people doing so on Lake Merritt in downtown Oakland. also, there is the estuary between Alameda and Oakland, not to mention the bay. Also, Cabot Rservoir in the hills behind Oakland/San LEandro has kayaking. Many options... year round! Also, river kayaking can be had many places in North Bay (Marin and Sonoma), plus in the Sierra and foothills... a mere 2 hour drive from Oakland.
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Old 01-16-2012, 12:38 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
28,234 posts, read 35,047,274 times
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I love Oakland! I am not as outdoorsy as you guys, but I'll chime in on the other stuff. I live in the Piedmont Avenue area. In the neighboring city of Piedmont, there is an actual dog park about 4 blocks from my home. I also live about 2 blocks from the Oakland Rose Garden (its huge, and a great place to relax), there is another park about 3/4 of a mile away along the Temescal Creek, and another exposed section of the creek about 4 blocks from my place. These are the parks I visit most. There is also Lake Merritt. It is not all "park" but the lake has a 3.2 mile trail around it to walk bike or whatever. There is also a public bird sanctuary and bonsai garden. I live about 1 mile from the Lake, and 1 mile from downtown.

You should also be able to Kayak at Lake Temescal (which is in the hills around the Rockridge area in Oakland.)

Downtown Oakland, is an up and coming zone. In the past 2 years, I can think of at least 20 restaurants and bars that have opened up. It isn't a 7 day a week area yet, but it is making headway. Most of the vibrant areas of town are actually spread out. There are easily a dozen "walkable main streets" all over the city, each with different character. Based on your "personality" you'll find one that suits you from posh, eclectic, trendy to all-american.

There are tons of great restaurants in town. I did a very informal count, within a 3 mile radius of my apartment there are at least 300 restaurants or cafes or bars. Every thing from american, pizza, burgers, french, special occasion, thai, vietnamese, ethiopian, burmese. Pretty much every cuisine is available in Oakland at all price points, but what really stands out for me is the level of quality and technique at the mid-range. Mid-range places will give you unique ingredients sourced locally and interesting techniques. But don't worry, there are plenty of cheap eats too. There aren't that many super high-end ($30+ entrees) places in Oakland (about 6 or so that I can think of, one with a Michelin star), but a ton of variety in the $15-25/entree range.

So back to the "main streets," neighborhoods with walkable main street:
Temescal
Piedmont Ave
Glenview
Rockridge
Grand Lake/Lakeshore
Cleveland Heights
Trestle Glen
Montclair
Dimond
Laurel

Every where in Oakland has different housing stock, there is a really big range of architectural styles available so if you have a "style" in mind you could find an appropriate neighborhood. Some areas of Oakland have hill views, other areas have bay views and some have lake views. So it should suffice.

Another city to check out is Alameda, kayaking might be a bit harder, you'd need to head next door to Oakland. (Alameda is across the bay from Oakland, and connected to Oakland with a few bridges and a tunnel). There are lots of parks, and the island is really small so it is easy to walk or bike. There are a few main walkable commercial areas in Alameda -- Park Street and Webster.
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Old 01-16-2012, 09:06 PM
 
Location: South Korea
5,242 posts, read 12,630,430 times
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People kayak on the Bay and Lake Merritt but if you want to do river kayaking you'd probably have to drive a few hours inland--north or east.
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Old 01-17-2012, 04:34 PM
 
Location: Nevada City, California
355 posts, read 649,965 times
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Thanks, Mayor. We happen to have sea kayaks.

Anyone willing to make a pitch for the Peninsula, North Bay or South Bay?
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Old 01-17-2012, 05:17 PM
 
Location: Floyd Co, VA
3,513 posts, read 6,083,737 times
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The East Bay Regional Park system is huge and dogs can be off leash in most areas.

East Bay Regional Park District | Embrace Life!

I used to take my dogs to Lake Anza up in the Berkeley hills for hiking and swimming. (plus getting skunked once, but don't let that stop you). They can ride the steam train for free but people have to pay.
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Old 01-17-2012, 10:39 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
9,899 posts, read 5,540,633 times
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From the sounds of it I live near Jade and I'd agree with all her recommendations. There are tons of dog parks around.

I'd think carefully about your commute though. My husband works in south San Francisco and it takes him more than an hour on the return journey. (35 mins in the morning as he leaves early.)
We narrowed our choices down to Burlingame/San Mateo or Oakland/Piedmont partly down to the old but beautiful housing stock both areas have. There are a range of all sorts of styles from Craftsman, English Tudor, a few Colonial and Victorian etc as I cant bear modern cookie cutter styles. In the end Oakland won because you can get something equally as nice for a lot less money than you can on the peninsula. Burlingame has two very nice downtown areas though, slightly more upscale (Pottery Barnville!) than say Piedmont Avenue but Piedmont Avenue, Montclair and College Avenue in Rockridge/ Berkeley have some great independent stores.
The East Bay has the advantage that its easier to get to places like Tahoe etc if you are into that.
I would do the commute yourself though in rush hour as its not pleasant.
My other thought would be to look at Half Moon Bay. We have some friends who are into sailing and live there and love it.
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Old 01-17-2012, 11:23 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
28,234 posts, read 35,047,274 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kentmum View Post
Burlingame has two very nice downtown areas though, slightly more upscale (Pottery Barnville!) than say Piedmont Avenue but Piedmont Avenue, Montclair and College Avenue in Rockridge/ Berkeley have some great independent stores.
Oh good point. Oakland and Berkeley are kinda anti-chain. So if you want to do "mall shopping" you need to head to SF or Walnut Creek (or Pleasanton). On the flipside you get lots of indie stores, some with locally made stuff and lots of unique items. Chain restaurants are pretty much a non-entity in Oakland and Berkeley these days. Emeryville has 4 or so, and other than that you need to go 15 miles.
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