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Walnut Creek Magazine

Make Memories With Our Summer Fun Guide

May 25, 2022 10:35AM ● By Harper Klein
(Photograph above by Tiffany Fong)

The world outside your doors, summons you to go explore. You’ll be glad you did. Because even if you've lived in the Bay Area for several years, you honestly cannot say you’ve done it all. There’s always more. So kick it up a notch and check a few more adventures off your list.

DANCE AT CARNAVAL SAN FRANCISCO. Eat, drink, and revel during the West Coast’s largest multicultural celebration of Latin American, Caribbean, and African Diasporic cultures at this two-day Mission District block party. May 28-29, Harrison Street between 16th and 24th streets.

HIKE SHELL RIDGE. You’ll quickly forget about the bustle downtown on a hike in the open space surrounded by native grasses and valley oaks. Marshall Drive dead ends at the trail head next to Indian Valley Elementary School. Follow the trail straight out as it gently dips and curves. At the top of the steep ascent, turn left and check-out spectacular views of Benicia.


BIKE OFF-ROAD. Extensive trails, distinctive rock formations, and a 3,849 foot summit, Mt. Diablo State Park welcomes cyclists with off-road challenges. Enter at North Gate Road in Walnut Creek or through the South Gate in Danville and cycle one of the Bay Area’s ecological treasures.

GATHER IN THE GARDEN. Bliss out in a peaceful ode to the flora and fauna of desert lore at Ruth Bancroft Garden, renowned for its massive Mediterranean plants and fascinating collection of succulents. A visit to this Walnut Creek hidden gem will leave you inspired and ready to dig in the dirt.



HIT AN A’S GAME. Sure the San Francisco Giants have Oracle Park and all its splendor, but the real deal for hard core baseball fans is happening at Oakland A’s games. Wear anything green and cheer on the home team chomping coliseum dogs and garlic fries. Free giveaways, fireworks, craft brews, plus the National Anthem.


 

EXPLORE A MAGIC FOREST. One-hundred-foot-tall redwoods hover over Jurassic ferns and protected native trout in Oakland’s Redwood Regional Park where miles of trails wind through the foggy forest. There’s plenty of space for peace and quiet in the tranquil landscape of this 1,830-acre park, ebparks.org.


 

GET SOME AIR. It’s physically challenging and a great form of exercise. Designed for both beginners and experienced boarders, the Skate Park at Heather Farm has good obstacles, rails, ledges and bowls for gnarly drop-in action. Helmets and pads are required.


 

NOSH AT MORUCCI’S. This Italian deli attracts all kinds—suits, punks, construction workers, athletes, seniors—who come from miles around for the food. A Saranap neighborhood landmark, Morucci’s claim to fame are delicious deli sandwiches. Everyone has a favorite here. 

TOUR A NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE. America's only Nobel Prize-winning playwright, Eugene O'Neill, lived on a 158-acre ranch near Danville where he wrote his most memorable plays. Today his Tao House is a national park that attracts visitors from all over the world. eugeneoneill.org. 

 

COMPETE IN A SANDCASTLE CONTEST. Alameda’s Crowne Memorial State Beach hosts its 54th Annual Sand Castle & Sculpture Contest on June 11. Bring your family to this fun, free event equipped with creative ideas, shovels, and buckets. It’s also one of the best destinations in the East Bay for windsurfing, kayaking, or lounging, ebparks.org.  

 


DO THE DOG PARK. The pooch-friendly playground in Heather Farm is an oasis of furry fun divided into areas for big and little pets. Chances are you’ll see a lot of dogs joyfully zooming across the lawn, unfettered by a leash, lapping up the scene. It’s pretty social for people too.

GO ON AN ANIMAL ADVENTURE. Meet Penelope the Porcupine, visit the outdoor Rapture Redwood Grove, and go behind the scenes at the wildlife rescue hospital at Walnut Creek's Lindsay Wildlife Experience, lindsaywildlife.org. 


 

HOP ON A TROLLEY It only takes $8 to ride up and down San Francisco’s city hills in a cable car. When you’re done, stop by the San Francisco Cable Car Museum to learn more about their inner workings and view cable cars dating back to 1873. Museum admission is free.


 

PROMENADE PIER 39. Sunsets are glorious here, especially with a glass of chardonnay, sourdough bread bowl of chowder, and a plate of cracked crab. Popular tourist attractions, like Aquarium by the Bay and the San Francisco Carousel, can also be found here, but it’s the hordes of barking sea lions that steal the show. Since 1989, the Pier 39 marina docks have been home to thousands of sea lions, pier39.com.

 

EAT LIKE A LOCAL. Sample artisan foods and farm fresh cheeses inside the historic Ferry Building. Fill a pink box with dim sum in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Grab an Irish coffee at the Buena Vista Café. Eat pizza and pasta on Columbus Street. Take home fresh fish from the mongers at Fisherman’s Wharf. The options are endless in the City By The Bay.


 

SNAG TICKETS TO OUTSIDE LANDS. San Francisco’s food, wine, beer, technology, and social cultures meet at this magical three-day musical extravaganza. This year’s line-up includes: Green Day, Post Malone, Weezer, and Jack Harlowe. August 5-7, Golden Gate Park, sfoutsidelands.com.

 

 

WALK ACROSS THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE. You may have driven it hundreds of times, but to really experience its grandeur, take a stroll across the 1.7 mile span. Considered one of the seven wonders of the modern world, it was built in one of the country’s most unforgiving stretches of water—where the San Francisco Bay connects to the Pacific Ocean. 

CELEBRATE STERN GROVE'S 85TH SEASON. The longest-running outdoor music festival in the San Francisco Bay Area returns June 12 for an eclectic musical mix of free weekend concerts in the historic meadow at 19th Avenue and Sloat in the city’s Sunset District, sterngrove.org. 


 

KNOW YOUR LOCAL HISTORY. Join docents from the Walnut Creek Historical Society on a 90-minute downtown tour and learn about Dr. Claude Leech, who delivered the city’s babies for 36-years, from the house that is now Modern China. All this information and more comes on monthly tours spotlighting some of the city’s 60 heritage sites, wchistory.org.


 

GO ON A FOODIE BIKE CRAWL. There's nothing better than finishing a ride on the Iron Horse Trail with a beer or a great meal. Whether you're biking finesse is that of a daily commuter, an intense tourer, or a weekend dabbler, between Walnut Creek and Danville there are some great spots—Peasant’s Courtyard, Sideboard, Rooted—to stop for a bite to eat. 


 

CIRCLE THE RES. A walk around this man-made lake is open enough to give you a sense of the wilderness, and suburban enough to get the kids home in time for their naps. The 2.7 mile paved trail that circles Lafayette Reservoir is easy for strollers. For a little extra adventure, pack a picnic or rent a paddleboat. 


 

EXPLORE PUBLIC ART. Not only does Walnut Creek host world-class art exhibits at Bedford Gallery, but a distinctive public art collection of more than 30 works. On 90-minute monthly public art tours, get up-close and personal with dramatic sculptures and vibrant murals. You can also download an app and wander on a self-guided tour, bedfordgallery.org.

DISCOVER BENICIA. Located on both the San Francisco Bay Trail and the Bay Area Ridge Trail, Benicia is a nature lover's paradise. Rent a bike (or bring your own), grab a scooter or walking shoes and explore the trails, waterfront, and expansive outdoor areas. 


 

BREAK THE WAVES. Even when shrouded in fog, Stinson Beach is Marin County’s go-to sandy retreat. Once you survive the hairpin turns on Highway 1, this quaint town rewards surfers, sunbathers, and their dogs, with three and half miles of sandy beach and ample free parking. Insider tip: head out early to avoid heavy weekend traffic.


 

GET CULTURED. The art world pivoted when the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) opened its doors in 2016. Considered the largest modern art museum in the United States, the $305 million building boasts 170,000-square-feet of galleries filled with contemporary works, media art, and a collection of post-war German masterpieces. Free admission for 18 and younger.


 

CHECK OUT HEAVENLY VIEWS. If you’ve never been to Angel Island, it’s time to go. The San Francisco Bay’s most famous island—the one that isn’t a prison—is a treat. The ferry ride alone is worth the trip, but the island itself is full of history, beauty, and wonderful treks. Be sure to bring binoculars for views of all five bridges and San Francisco’s striking skyline.

WALK THE BAY BRIDGE. This is one for your bucket list. The east span of the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge is 4-miles each way. Access the pedestrian path on Shellmound Street in Emeryville, near the IKEA store or at the corner of Maritime Street and Burma Road, just outside the Port of Oakland. Pack a backpack with plenty of sunscreen and water.


 

VISIT A COASTAL CARNIVAL. With its throwback charm and population of surfers, students, hippies, and Silicon Valley refugees, Santa Cruz is a great escape. From the tip-top of the Ferris Wheel at the Beach Boardwalk, you can hear the rickety rumbles of the 1920s wooden Giant Dipper and see the sand below quilted with bright towels.


CHILL IN A ROWBOAT.
Pack a backpack for a picnic on Stow Lake in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The boathouse lets you choose from their fleet of rentals: rowboats, pedal boats, and electric boats. Whether on a date or a family outing, gliding around the calm waters is a lot of fun. You’ll float under a couple of bridges, past the waterfall on Strawberry Hill, and along the way see turtles and other wildlife. stowlakeboathouse.com.

TRAVEL UP SATHER TOWER. Known to most as the Campanile, this is probably UC Berkeley's most famous symbol. Visible for miles, it stands 307 feet tall, accessible by an elevator ride or climb up 38 stairs, to the observation platform for spectacular views of the entire Bay Area and of the campus. 

STILL LOOKING FOR THINGS TO DO?

Make plans to go to Burning Man.

Ice skate on the rooftop at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco.

Treat yourself to a Ghiradelli Chocolate hot fudge sundae.

Tour San Francisco in a GoCar. With over 200 points of interest loaded into the GPS, these little yellow two-seaters point the way and tell stories while you’re driving.

Learn to surf. Take a lesson or two in Pacifica and get a grasp on the basics—how to paddle, how to pop up on the board, and how to lean into the ride. You'll be hanging ten in no time.

Taste the heart of Tomales Bay by slurping up its sustainable oysters.

Catch the dollar Sunday races at Golden Gate Fields.

Grocery shop at Berkeley Bowl.

Snag a seat for craft cocktails at Rooftop. Check out the views of Mt. Diablo and the town below. You'll feel like you're above it all.


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