For people who haven’t grown up in or lived in the Bay Area for an extensive amount of time, it is very easy to confuse the “Bay Area” as just being San Francisco (which is not just a city but an entire county as well). And that logic is easy to justify, given that San Francisco is the most well-known and iconic city in the Bay Area. However, did you know that San Francisco isn’t even the most populated county in the Bay Area? Although this iconic city does represent a lot of the Bay Area, it does not represent all of the Bay Area in the slightest. Here I’ll give you a “no frills” guide to (some of) the rest of the Bay Area’s counties, for anyone looking to venture outside the limits of San Francisco and see what the rest of the Bay Area has to offer.
To start, we’ll talk about Santa Clara county, which houses the city of San Jose (the city that is more populated than even San Francisco). This county is the true “Silicon Valley” and where a lot of tech companies reside (along with San Francisco). San Jose has a large Mexican population, meaning you can plenty of good Mexican food in San Jose in particular.
San Mateo county is situated between San Francisco and Santa Clara counties, whose highways are very well utilized for commuters who travel in between San Francisco and San Jose to get to and from work. Along the coast there are plenty of scenic locations to visit, including Half Moon Bay, a beautiful coastal city with no shortage of breathtaking views.
Alameda county constitutes the “East Bay”, and in all honestly doesn’t have any big landmarks there except perhaps the University of California at Berkeley. However, there is great Indian food in and around the city of Fremont, and if you are a fan of the Athletics, they play their baseball games in the city of Oakland.
The county of Napa is a bit of a drive compared if you are situated somewhere in San Francisco, the peninsula or even the east bay, but it is well worth the drive fi you love wine, as Napa Valley is recognized around the world for their vineyards. Not only are the vineyards beautiful sights to see, but the wine itself is not half bad (an intentional understatement for those who may not have caught onto my sarcasm).
Although a lot less popular overall, the remaining counties of Marin, Sonoma, Solano and Contra Costa are ripe with beautiful landscapes and vibrant people to boot. If you are visiting the Bay Area as a tourist, I definitely would assume you are not visiting anything in these four remaining counties in particular, but if you are staying the Bay Area for an extended period of time, it may well be worth your time to check out what there is to offer in these less often visited counties.
In conclusion, the Bay Area is most definitely a whole lot more than just San Francisco. So even if you are primarily situated in San Francisco, do not hesitate to explore the rest of the amazing counties that make up the iconic Bay Area!