San Carlos, “The City of Good Living”, aims for a “small town” feel. Its main downtown area is composed mostly of small shops and restaurants. San Carlos was the first city in California to open a charter school (San Carlos Charter Learning Center), and its schools rank consistently well in state-wide lists.
San Carlos is home to San Carlos Airport and two museums. Located downtown, the San Carlos History Museum is dedicated to the display of the history of the town from early native American history to the space age. This museum is open every Saturday from 1pm to 4pm. The Hiller Aviation Museum, a museum specializing in helicopter and aviation history, offers interactive exhibits and more than forty aircraft including a replica of the first aircraft to fly, a spy drone with a 200-foot wingspan, and the nose section of a Boeing 747.
Transportation options include membership in the SamTrans (San Mateo County Transit) bus system and a Caltrain station. The administrative headquarters of both agencies are located at 1250 San Carlos Avenue. As of 2003, the city began experimenting with a free shuttle bus service named S.C.O.O.T to help with transportation difficulties for those living in the hills of the town, and especially to make up for a lack of school buses. However, voters rejected a parcel tax which placed 100% of the financial burden on property owners and the S.C.O.O.T program was dismantled on June 17, 2005.
City Hall was once located at 666 Elm Street. The address number was later changed to 600 Elm Street due to pressure from residents.
San Carlos was also once home of the Circle Star Theater where performers such as Richard Marx and Richard Pryorperformed. It was torn down and replaced by office buildings. San Carlos also once boasted the 2,500 student San Carlos High School which was closed in 1982 due to declining enrollment. Today, students travel to Belmont’s Carlmont High School or Redwood City’s Sequoia High School to receive their public secondary education.
Every May, the town hosts the “Hometown Days” carnival in Burton Park, the city’s largest park. In October, the Chamber of Commerce hosts the San Carlos “Art & Wine Festival”. Thursday evenings during the summer Laurel street is home to a weekly farmer’s market known as “Hot Harvest Nights.” However, most people call it “Farmer’s Market”.