Lower Bal – San Leandro, CA

Many Bay Area locals who enjoy San Leandro and who want to live in a fairly affordable neighborhood choose Lower Bal. With ranch houses, apartments and proximity to a hospital and shopping, Lower Bal brings the whole package. Because the neighborhood is just 20 minutes from Oakland and 30 minutes from San Francisco, folks can easily get to Old San Leandro and urban attractions. Both professionals and singles like to live in Lower Bal, also known as Halcyon Foothills South. They can go down the street for great food and pubs and return to a middle-class area.

Restaurants & Nightlife

Dining options in Lower Bal include Mexican and Asian cuisine. Most bars and restaurants sit along Highway 185 and San Leandro Boulevard, the main thoroughfares in Lower Bal. Locals travel to Oakland, Castro Valley and Hayward for music, but they can stay in San Leandro for some dancing. Many residents like to start the night near Lower Bal. Puerto Bello Restaurant differs from many area taquerias with its hefty taco sampler and savory tortilla soup. A mango margarita goes great with any menu combination. Harry's Hofbrau, which specializes in fresh meat, appeals to locals who want a meal packed with meat. Order the roast beef sandwich in brown gravy or the pastrami dinner. If you enjoy beer, pair your meal with local craft beer. Those out in San Leandro during the day stop by Bara's Grocery & Deli for a freshly made lunch sandwich. Grab the Bay Area Special, a sandwich locals really love. Stacked with ham, turkey and roast beef, the special satisfies many cravings. Try the tuna sandwiches for a lighter, equally tasty option. Visit the Englander Sports Pub for more flat screens then you can handle. The bar makes it easy for you to catch your favorite team while enjoying a cold IPA, draught or other drink of choice. Club Caliente on East 14th Street/Highway 185, attracts dancers during weekend nights. For more live music and bars, some locals go to Old San Leandro or travel to the bigger East Bay cities of Oakland and Hayward.

History & Culture

Like many towns in the East Bay, San Leandro started as an agricultural center and rancho. Settlers arrived during the gold rush, and San Leandro continued to prosper via farming. It became known as the “Cherry City” until the 1940s, when the population doubled and the city became more industrial. Now, San Leandro’s reputation is as a blue-collar town that keeps developing and innovating. On the weekends, travelers visit Casa Peralta to learn more about the history of Mexican and Spanish settlers in San Leandro. Art teachers can pick up supplies at Lakeshore Learning Store, and theater fans go to the Historic BAL Theatre for local performances and comedy. You can stay in town for the San Leandro Cherry Festival and partake in food and fun.


Lower Bal’s location between Interstate 880 and Highway 185 enables some residents to walk for errands. The locals who live closer to Halcyon Drive can walk to several restaurants and shops. However, those who need to get outside the neighborhood usually take their cars. Most people find parking in San Leandro, though Old San Leandro can become busy with tourists. Many commuters find Lower Bal a great place to live. A few bus lines run through the neighborhood, but more notably, the BART Bay Fair station lies just outside the area, and the tracks run through Lower Bal. Commuters easily get to San Francisco or down south to Fremont with BART trains. Drivers can also get to work quickly, since Interstate 880 lies a few miles outside of Lower Bal. Call San Leandro Taxi Cab for a ride or use Uber and Lyft’s ridesharing services to find a car. Bicyclists also like San Leandro for its bike lanes and wide roads. The city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, laid out in 2010, includes ways to incorporate walking and biking as healthy alternatives to driving.


San Leandro has a higher cost of living than the national average but is more affordable than many other cities in the Bay Area. Renting a one-bedroom apartment in Lower Bal costs an average of $1,473 a month. A one-way ride on BART from Bay Fair to Civic Center in San Francisco costs $4.60. The prices of monthly and weekly passes on BART depend on use and location. Lower Bal residents pay about 10 percent more on a tank of gas than the national average, and the typical glass of beer at a pub costs $4.


For major shopping, Lower Bal residents like to go to Marina Square Center, an outlet mall on Marina Boulevard. The center houses many retailers and factory stores that include Ann Taylor, Nike, PacSun and Gap. Get a bite to eat at Panda Express, and shop for higher-end clothes at Nordstrom Rack. Locals warn about the parking, so try to come by early for shopping. Nearby boutiques and specialty stores in San Leandro include Wax and Things, an aromatherapy center. Residents and tourists buy candles, oils, soaps and bath products. Plus, everyone loves the smell Nearby, skateboarding and piercing fans have a home at Orbit Skate & Boutique. Pick up a new longboard or find a replacement lip ring or plug. Grocery shoppers go to Safeway and Grocery Outlet in Old San Leandro for food, produce and more. Pak ‘n Save Foods in Lower Bal also functions as a grocery. Supermercado Mi Tierra in downtown San Leandro gives residents a chance to go to a Mexican grocery and pick up fresh produce, such as mangoes. The San Leandro Farmers Market also sells fruits, vegetables, hummus, BBQ and more.


Lower Bal’s neighborhood park, Halcyon Park, draws many residents during nice weather. Kids enjoy the two playgrounds—one for smaller children and another for older ones—and families can play volleyball on the park’s concrete volleyball court. Bring your dog to this free park, but keep him leashed while you lounge on the clean, grassy knolls. Groups may reserve picnic areas for a nice barbecue during the summer. Lake Chabot Regional Park attracts Bay Area locals in the summer. This massive park lies around the 315-acre Lake Chabot. With 20 miles of hiking trails and 12 miles of bicycling trails, exercise fans can spend a day out and about in nature, and groups can spend a few days camping. Families can also go fishing and boating on the lake, but officials do not allow swimming. You must pay separate fees for parking and bringing dogs. San Leandro and nearby East Bay residents don’t find events or festivals at these parks, but the city’s Chamber of Commerce works hard to put on events and mixers every month.
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