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From the foothills with panoramic views of San Francisco Bay to the tree-lined residential streets near downtown, this small-town haven boasts a delightful mix of boutiques, shops and sidewalk cafes.

Dining and nightlife flourish here, especially in recent years as young professionals have flocked to the downtown’s many shops and restaurants. Stroll along Laurel Street on a summer evening and you’ll hear a lively cacophony of conversations from outdoor diners sampling the town’s 50-plus eating and drinking establishments. Some restaurants feature live music, and even the choosiest eaters will easily find the combination of ambiance and cuisine they’re seeking, whether it be a casual sushi bar or elegant European fare. A recent Mediterranean-influenced influx has bolstered the clutch of established Italian bistros with others offering the flavors of Turkey, Greece and Spain.

A weekly farmers’ market­ takes over a two block section of Laurel on Sundays, 10am–2pm. In addition to the vast selection of fresh local produce and culinary delicacies, live music and a sidewalk dining scene make this one of the most popular farmers’ market on the Peninsula. Hang out on a Friday night in the warm months and you can take in free entertainment at the Summer Concert Series, starting at 5 p.m. at Burton Park, two blocks west of Laurel Street at Brittan Avenue. The town’s signature events are Hometown Days in mid-May and the Art & Wine Faire in early October.

History buffs will find two points of interest. The Hiller Aviation Museum, just east of Highway 101 next to San Carlos Airport, celebrates a century of manned flight with imaginatively designed displays, while the San Carlos Museum of History, located in the city’s historic firehouse on Laurel Street, features early technology and lifestyle exhibits dating back to the city’s incorporation in 1925.

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