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Welcome to Hillsborough

The city of Hillsborough is what most people envision when they think about an affluent and historic California city. Hillsborough doesn’t have strip malls or chain restaurants. Hillsborough doesn’t have apartment complexes or condominiums. What the city does have however is history and prestige. The city has the region’s largest and most beautiful houses and a school district recognized nationally for their performance. This is a place of sleepy neighborhoods and aesthetic perfection.

Lay of the Land

Located in San Mateo County of the San Francisco Peninsula, Hillsborough is bordered by the cities of Burlingame, San Mateo, and Interstate 280 on its western edge. The city is comprised almost entirely of large, residential locations. The only nonresidential locations within the city are schools, governmental buildings, and a golf course and country club. Hillsborough is an extremely affluent area that constantly ranks at the top of “wealthiest cities in America” lists. The approximately 11,732 residents of the city enjoy median household incomes of over $200,000 while the median home value for the area is well over 1 million dollars.


The city is located directly next to Interstate 280 which makes ground travel to other regions of the peninsula relatively easy. However, public transit within the city itself is so limited as to be almost nonexistent. This is an intentional design intended to maintain the small town ambiance of the city. Fortunately, several Bay Area Rapid Transit stations as well as a CalTrain commuter train stations are located within the borders of surrounding towns. The city also does have limited SamTrans bus services that operate at a single station at the edge of town.

Local Highlights

The primary focus of the city of Hillsborough is maintaining what the citizens consider the “nature of Hillsborough”. For the most part, this means the bare minimum amount of nonresidential buildings and a strict enforcement of local regulations regarding the size, appearance, and general maintenance of existing homes. All homes within the city must be for single family use with a minimum lot size of a half-acre. As a result, the city is dotted with beautiful classically designed and modern homes.

One of the most well-known examples of a classical home is Carolands, which is also known as “The Chateau” within the community. Built in 1915 by an heiress of the Pullman railroad car fortune, Carolands was constructed using French Classical architecture. The 98 room estate sits on an approximately 554 acre plot of land. Aside from the classical exterior aesthetic, the site also includes many landscaping features common to the style, including extensive gardens and manicured grounds. After changing hands numerous times over the years, Carolands has been painstakingly restored and is now managed by a local nonprofit organization as a California State Landmark.

Hillsborough is also a community that is extremely dedicated to programs that enrich and benefits the town as a whole. The Hillsborough Beautification Foundation is an organization dedicated to raising funds in order to transform various public locations, such as empty lots or traffic islands, into formally landscaped areas. The foundation’s duties include planning projects, working with developers, and ensuring maintenance of completed projects.

Finally, the Hillsborough School District is one of the single highest performing districts in the country. This is in large part due to the efforts of the Hillsborough Schools Foundation (HSF). The HSF is a nonprofit organization that works to raise funds for the local school district. The foundation has raised a total of 51 million dollars since 1980, making it one of the single most successful foundations in the country. Funds are raised primarily through private donations but also in large part through numerous community events.