Most people aren’t surprised when they hear that San Francisco is one of the most walkable cities in the U.S. With a walk score of 86, the city of S.F. is chock-full of charming neighborhoods, trendy restaurants and loads of amenities, but, with a median sale price of $1.25 million, it also happens to be the most expensive place to live in the nation. So, Redfin set out to see how neighborhoods in other smaller (and often more affordable) Bay Area cities compare when it comes to walkability.
According to our calculations based on Walk Score data, Berkeley is the winner among Bay Area mid-size cities, when it comes to having the most walkable neighborhoods. Not only did downtown Berkeley nail first place, with the high Walk Score of 96, but it also had two additional neighborhoods land in the top 10. After ordering the list of neighborhoods based on their Walk Score ratings, we had our local Redfin agents chime in with insights on what makes these neighborhoods unique. We’ve also included median sale prices, so you can see how the neighborhoods compare when it comes to affordability, too.
Here are the 10 most walkable neighborhoods in the Bay Area:
1. Downtown, Berkeley: Walk Score of 96
Median Sale Price: $681K
“Downtown Berkeley is a unique area in that it is a fully functioning downtown with a large university just one block off the main strip. Having the University of California, Berkeley so close to downtown offers many amenities for people there such as the UC Botanical Garden, and the UC Berkeley Art Museum. Shattuck Ave. is the main street and houses many loved restaurants and shops such as the top rated New Orleans inspired Cajun Kitchen and Pegasus Bookstore Downtown. This area is especially unique because of the culture, the access to everything within walking distance and the combination of housing offered; from student housing through the university, to apartments, to traditional single family homes,” said Redfin Agent Tom Hendershot.
2. Downtown, San Rafael: Walk Score of 93
Median Sale Price: $863K
San Rafael is known for being the oldest, largest and most culturally diverse city in Marin County. According to the Visit San Rafael page, the central plaza has become a community gathering place for events such as their Thursday night farmers market. “There are about four blocks wide, and 10 blocks long with all kinds of different amenities in the downtown area. Locals enjoy the Puerto Rican restaurant, Sol Food and going to State Room Bar or the local movie theater for a night out on the town. Downtown San Rafael is centrally located, making it easy for locals to walk to the grocery store, the transit system or anything else they might need,” says Redfin Agent Benjamin Faber.
3. Downtown, San Mateo: Walk Score of 93
Median Sale Price: $974K
“A major perk of this area is that it’s an affordable neighborhood, with great access to the Caltrain station. Transportation is everything here; it is an easy walk to the main station from any point of Downtown San Mateo,” says Redfin Agent Matthew Weller. “People enjoy going to Three Restaurant and Bar for brunch, or dinner and drinks. There are classic old shops that have been here for more than 30 years mixed in with many brand-new places, making it a great place for diverse and unique shopping options. In the midst of change, San Mateo has preserved its old culture and family roots.”
4. Southside, Berkeley: Walk Score of 93
Median Sale Price: $1.02M
“One of the major benefits of Southside Berkeley is the easy access to transportation. There is a BART station centrally located that is close to most houses. This neighborhood has all of the bonuses of being in Berkeley, but still has some affordable options compared to other parts of the city. Southside’s many parks, like Willard Park, make it very enjoyable to walk in on a sunny day. The neighborhood is full of young professionals, and is an up-and-coming place to live,” according to Redfin Agent Tom Hendershot.
5. Downtown, Burlingame: Walk Score of 90
Median Sale Price: $1.09M
“Burlingame’s main street, Burlingame Ave., offers many options to people looking for shopping, such as J. Crew, Pottery Barn and Lululemon. Plus lots of places to eat like Blue Line Pizza, Peet’s Coffee and more. The area has a rare combination of beautiful large homes, highly ranked schools, a low crime rating and easy walkability to the downtown area,” said Redfin Agent Mia Simon. “The convenience of being able to live in a small city, and walk to a lot of commercial places makes Burlingame a destination for people to live.”
6. North Berkeley, Berkeley: Walk Score of 89
Median Sale Price: $1M
“Northside Berkeley has easy access to The Gourmet Ghetto, which is just along Shattuck Ave. and Vine Street. Here you can find a collection of unique shops, sidewalk cafes, bakeries and popular restaurants like Cheese Board Pizza. The Gourmet Ghetto offers endless options for locals. The convenience factor, classic architecture, parks and highly ranked schools make this a great place to live without having to own a car,” according to Redfin Agent Tom Hendershot.”
7. Staumbaugh-Heller, Redwood City: Walk Score of 89
Median Sale Price: $820K
“Redwood City is known for its great weather, because of its high number of sunny days and for not having the San Francisco fog. The Staumbaugh-Heller neighborhood has recently invested in revitalizing the area and improving the infrastructure. One of the recent changes was to the park, Jarden De Ninos. The park now has a selection of play structures, swings and picnic tables that locals can reserve for parties or events. Just a short walk from the neighborhood is the downtown Redwood City area, where you can find a variety of shops from small antique stores to larger brand-name stores. All the nearby amenities make this a popular place for families,” said Redfin Agent Kalena Masching.
8. Downtown, Concord: Walk Score 89
Median Sale Price: $367K
According to the Downtown Concord website, the city is working to make some changes to the area and make it great place for its residents to live. The Downtown Concord Specific Plan Project is working with long term and short term projects to integrate housing, jobs, retail and transportation into the area to make it a better and thriving downtown.
Redfin Agent Chris Amsden says, “Downtown Concord is in the midst of change, but still retains a lot of history. The homes here have been around for a long time, and show a lot of history because of it. There have been many changes over time and I suspect that we’ll continue to see this neighborhood evolve.”
9. West Washington, Albany: Walk Score of 88
Median Sale Price: $905K
“This area has a nice price point, potential for great views of the city and highly ranked schools. The transit station is centrally located and is just a short walk from most houses here. West Washington is a very family oriented neighborhood and has great nearby schools, which is a huge draw for this area. Locals can easily walk to a variety of restaurants and grocery stores like Trader Joe’s,” according to Redfin Agent Tom Hendershot.
10. Centennial, Redwood City: Walk Score of 88
Median Sale Price: $950K
“The Redwood City Centennial neighborhood shares the same great weather, and same downtown area as the Staumbaugh-Heller neighborhood. In addition to a plethora of sunny days, locals can access all the downtown amenities within a five minute walk. The Centennial neighborhood itself has a good mix of housing options, from bungalow-style homes to contemporary condo developments. The neighborhood also has some nearby schools including a high school and a Marin Day school. With the Stanford Medical Campus being in Redwood City and an abundance of government jobs being added to this area, more people are starting to consider Centennial as a possible place to live,” says Redfin Agent Kalena Masching.
Walk Score Methodology: Walk Score analyzes hundreds of walking routes to nearby amenities to determine a neighborhood’s Walk Score, which is a number between 0 and 100. Points are awarded based on the distance to amenities in each category. Amenities within a 5 minute walk (.25 miles) are given maximum points. A decay function is used to give points to more distant amenities, with no points given after a 30 minute walk. Walk Score also measures pedestrian friendliness by analyzing population density and road metrics such as block length and intersection density. For this particular list, Walk Score analyzed the most highly ranked neighborhoods in cities in the Bay Area with populations under 300,000.