May 04, 2016 04:28PM
● By Cale Finta
SARANAP This semi-rural, unincorporated neighborhood that straddles the Walnut Creek-Lafayette border—is like the land that time forgot. Properties are large and private, streets are perfect for long strolls and median home prices remain within reach at $775,000. Saranap popped up in the early twentieth century around a regional rail line.
Since then, residents have largely resisted change, content with the country environment. Two major projects have the potential to change this sleepy in-between neighborhood: Sufism Reoriented, a local religious group, is building a 66,000-square-foot domed sanctuary on Boulevard Way; Hall Equities Group has proposed a wide-scale overhaul of a section of Boulevard Way including condominiums, a gourmet market and new retail space, and updated infrastructure. saranap.org
PARKMEAD Living here offers residents the best of both worlds-a city feel and a great place to raise a family. Parkmead's 620 households are minutes by foot, bike or car from downtown Walnut Creek. The neighborhood has the usual suburban amenities: tree-lined streets, excellent public schools and a diverse landscape of homes.
Like the architectural styles, home values range from $800,000 to over $2 million. Three grocery stores, incredible fashion, spa treatments, dining, and performances at the Lesher Center are all within easy reach. Best of all, Las Lomas High School is just across South Main Street. But traffic woes plague this neighborhood, with speeding cars and cyclists on its main thoroughfare, Newell Avenue, prompting residents to post signs to slow down. parkmead.org
WALNUT KNOLLS A hidden enclave, the Walnut Knolls is tucked away in a serene setting off of San Miguel Drive, in unincorporated WC. Many of the original homeowners from the 1940s still live in the Knolls adding to the character of the neighborhood. Whole Foods Market and the bustle of Broadway Plaza are within easy walking distance, but you would never know it living here.
The rural environment provides refuge for its residents, and wildlife, as more and more creatures lay claim to this woodsy community-turkeys, deer, opossum, squirrels, raccoons, and skunks. Children are safe to roam the streets and old-timers take long strolls with their dogs. Homes of diverse architectural styles ramble on half-acre lots and retain high real estate values ranging from $700,000 to over $1.5 million.
WALNUT HEIGHTS A south Walnut Creek neighborhood, this area butts against the foothills of Mt. Diablo, best known for its sprawling properties, elementary school, and popular WHO swim team.
Most of the homes are off two main arteries: Walnut Boulevard and Mountain View Road next to the Shell Ridge Open Space. With the hills and lack of sidewalks in some areas, this is not the easiest neighborhood to navigate on foot. But that doesn't stop many of the residents who can be seen on runs up and down Mountain View Drive. The architecture is an eclectic mix of old Walnut Creek bungalows and new, high-end construction (prices range from $700,000 to $2 million. walnutheights.net
LAKEWOOD Winding tree-lined roads open to hills and mostly modest 1940s ranch homes. One of Walnut Creek’s oldest neighborhoods, Lakewood is so full of traditions and neighbors who socialize and volunteer together, it seems like a town from another time. And in a sense it is. Although bordered by busy Ygnacio Valley Road and Homestead Avenue, this hilly 400-home neighborhood is quaint and rural.
There’s a blend of old timers who have aged in place and new families, and lots of children. In the middle of the neighborhood, sits its namesake – Lake Lakewood. Envisioned a century ago as the nucleus for a resort community, the lake is now the private enclave of a handful of homes built around it and barely visible to passersby. The Lake’s original house was designed by architect Julia Morgan. Homes range from $700,000 to $1.5 million. walnutcreeklakewood.info
RANCHO SAN MIGUEL It was in 1954 when Joe Eichler first brought his plans to Walnut Creek for 563 houses on 176-acres across from the Heather Farm racetrack. Since then, Rancho San Miguel has been notable not only for its Eichler architecture, but for the community it has forged.
Nestled between San Carlos Drive and Walnut Avenue, off Ygnacio Valley Road, the subdivision is anchored by the Rancho San Miguel Swim Club as well as an active community association dedicated to preserving the Eichler homes. Good schools, a neighborhood park and access to Heather Farm Park make it a desirable locale. Homes here range from $600,000 to the high $700,000s. ranchosanmiguel.org
RANCHO PARAISO NORTHGATE Residents in the Northgate area of Walnut Creek often share the road with horseback riders and bicyclists. Located around Castle Rock Road, and near the North Gate entrance to Mt. Diablo State Park, the area is a wide array of single-family homes and neighborhoods, horse ranches and stables, and a burgeoning winemaking community.
It's also home to Rancho Paraiso, a popular executive subdivision, just up the street from the newly refurbished Arbolado Park. Home to much-used sports fields, the City of Walnut Creek recently renovated the play structures at the park. With the oak-studded rolling foothills of Mount Diablo as a backyard, many neighbors say they can't believe they live in such a thriving suburban community where home values range from $800,000 to more than $2 million.
WOODLANDS It's all about community in this tight-knit neighborhood wrapped around Citrus Avenue, Oak Grove Road and the Lime Ridge Open Space. Young families are attracted to the great schools, and popular Woodlands Cabana Club, which offers summer social events in conjunction with the Woodlands Swim Team.
But older and original owners give the neighborhood a depth that adds to its charm. Many residents who grew up in the Woodlands, move back to raise their own families. It's no wonder it was voted "Best Neighborhood" by readers of Walnut Creek magazine. Home values here range from $700,000 to $900,000.woodlandsassn.org
BUENA VISTA Set back from the hustle and bustle of downtown, the Buena Vista neighborhood sprawls west of the Walnut Creek Bart station to the Pleasant Hill border on Geary Road. Outdoor recreation thrives here with an Olympic-sized community pool and playgrounds at Larkey Park plus a network of paved trails for walking, hiking or biking.
Every neighborhood has a crown jewel and Buena Vista is home to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum. A community favorite for getting up close and personal with local wildlife-the museum captivates both children and adults. Architectural stylesin Buena Vista tend to be from the 1950's ranch era with single story layouts and large yards for entertaining. Homes here range from $660,000 to over $1 million.