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El Granada

Welcome to El Granada

California is a state full of historic cities and storied locations. They feature prominently in the cultural history of the state or in the popular culture of the country. However, for every city that realized its full potential there is a community that remains frozen in time. For every bustling, driven community, there is an equally laid-back and satisfied population. For every San Francisco there is an El Granada.

Lay of the Land

Located on San Mateo County’s Pacific Coast, El Granada is approximately 40 miles south of San Francisco. Sitting along the northern curve of Half-Moon Bay, El Granada is boxed in by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Santa Cruz Mountains to the east. While the area in general lacks major urban development, El Granada does have several close neighbors, including the city of Half Moon Bay, and the communities of Montara and Moss Beach. El Granada lacks a formal governmental organization and is technically identified as a census designated place. However, it is larger and more affluent than most comparable locations in the area. The community features 5,467 residents with average household incomes of $113,802 and median home values of $839,791.


El Granada’s geographic isolation limits its public and private transportation options. State Route 1 moves along the edge of the Pacific Ocean between the city of Pacifica in the north and the city of Santa Cruz in the south. It also serves as the primary means of transportation between the tiny coastal cities in the area. SamTrans also operates limited bus service in the area. The bus lines in the area begin in Pacifica and make a loop as far south as Pescadero before returning to Pacifica. Luckily, the city of Pacifica features numerous options with regards to connecting to the rest of San Mateo and the Bay area. The Half Moon Bay Airport is also located a short distance to the south.

Local Highlights

Historically, El Granada was a city designed on potential. It was seen by the Ocean Shore Railroad as potential major west coast destination, an upscale tourist location comprised of fine dining and luxury resorts. The original intention of the area can be seen in the unusual layout of the town itself. Designed by well-known architect Daniel Burnham, the oldest streets in the town radiate outward from the bay in a half-circle of concentric rings. Unfortunately, the railroad eventually collapsed and El Granada became just another beautiful location along the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

While El Granada never realized its full potential, it has continued to grow, despite its lack of formal government. El Granada features several seaside resorts and hotels, ranging from quaint bed and breakfasts to the luxurious Oceano Hotel and Spa. It also features unique dining and shopping locations. Most of these locations are modest, local establishments that serve as a foil to the dedicated commercial and retail industry of the city of Half Moon Bay which occupies the southern end of the geographic Half Moon Bay.

However, El Granada does feature several microbreweries, including the Hop Dogma Brewery and the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. Both of these locations are relatively small breweries that began more as hobby businesses than dedicated commercial ventures. They have since expanded into larger scale ventures, but have still maintained a strong sense of community and small-town charm.

Finally, the relaxed atmosphere and laid back attitude of El Granada has made it a residential destination. Many wealthy Silicon Valley executives have chosen El Granada as their home, leading to an array of palatial houses dotting the hillside overlooking the bay. The town also features its fair share of residents dedicated to the historic architecture of the area. They have worked to painstakingly restore many of the area’s oldest summer cottages to their original form.