Walnut Creek is a city in Contra Costa County, California, it is situated in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, 16 miles east of the city of Oakland.
Walnut Creek links San Fransisco, Sacramento, Oakland, and San José. It is recognized as the most populous city in the region at an estimated population of 70,166.
Playing host to unique attractions and activities, these gives quite some fun things to do in Walnut Creek, CA during a visit.
Its museums, ancient landmarks, special sculptures and arts, serene parks, notable trails, beaches, and farms are quite a take. Notable Walnut Creek activities amongst many is attending a show of the California Symphony, exploring the Contra Costa Canal Trail, and a tour through Lindsay Wildlife Experience.
For a fun trip, here are the best things to do in Walnut Creek.
Things to Do in Walnut Creek
1. Shell Ridge Open Space
Shell Ridge Open Space occupies an extensive open space of 1,420 acres covering the foothills of Mount Diablo and Walnut Creek’s downtown district.
This was named in recognition of the massive marine fossils deposits found in the region, following the withdrawal of ocean waters during the prehistoric times.
There are over 31 miles of trails for hiking, horse-riding, and biking with extra trailheads providing a good space for parking of cars in this public space.
You will also find the cattle ranch of the historic Borges Ranch and the Howe Homestead Park (former orchard and estate of A.P correspondent James P. Howe) which are preserved in this place too.
You can come with your dog into the open space, but do take note of the cattle, coyotes, and wildlife.
Address: 1035 Castle Rock Rd, Walnut Creek, CA 94596
2. The Ruth Bancroft Garden
The Ruth Bancroft Garden was initially opened by Ruth Bancroft to serve as a private garden collection at the Bancroft Farm, it was relocated to its current spot in 1972.
The Ruth Bancroft Garden is a 3.5-acre botanical garden facility that is well-recognized around the world. In 1989, this garden became the first official garden facility in America to be protected by the Garden Conservancy.
Since 1992, the garden has been made open for free public access. This garden exhibits a lauded collection of drought-tolerant and succulents plants grown in the entire California and the world at large.
You will see over 2,000 cacti and succulents exhibited alongside diverse shrubs and trees native to Africa, Australia, American West Coast, Mexico, and South America. Visiting the Ruth Bancroft Garden is one of the best things to do in Walnut Creek, CA, do consider this item for your checklist.
Address: 1552 Bancroft Rd, Walnut Creek, CA 94598.
3. The Gardens at Heather Farm
The Gardens at Heather Farm was established in 1968 which the aim of showcasing scenic beauty and awesome rewards of the Ygnacio Valley. This is not only a public garden but also a special event facility and an educational center.
The Gardens at Heather Farm makes its environment accessible for all residents of Walnut Creek. The public has access to the center during daylight hours, they offer free self-guided tours through over twelve cultivated garden areas.
Included are an All-American Seed select demonstration garden and a rose garden with more than a thousand royal blossoms.
You will love the landscaped area featuring a greenhouse, a waterfall garden (having 11 gorgeous waterfalls in it), and the Mediterranean-climate tree grove.
Visit the Gardens at Heather Farm, this makes what to do in Walnut Creek for nature lovers.
Address: 1540 Marchbanks Drive, Walnut Creek, CA 94598.
4. Civic Park
The Civic Park is an attractive public park in Walnut Creek, which occupies 16.7 acres of space.
It is open to the public every day from morning to evening. This park connects Iron Horse Trail to the Creek Walk, it is the habitat of a beautiful garden initially designed in 1996 by LandArt and John Northmore Roberts.
In cooperation with Lindsay Wildlife Experience, there are more than 25 species of butterflies maintained in this habitat.
You will see interactive signs in and around the garden which highlights their creation and numerical strength, also take to meet the over 126 species of native animals here.
More features of the park are day-use picnic areas, an arts studio, a community center, and playground areas (for both the older and younger children).
The world inter-season is very memorable with the park providing a nice area for ice skating
Address: 1375 Civic Dr, Walnut Creek, CA 94596
5. The Lesher Center for the Arts
One of the cool things to do in Walnut Creek, CA, is visiting the Lesher Center for the Arts.
This was initially opened in 1990 alongside the former Nuthouse gallery and performance complex established in 1967.
Today, the Lesher Center for the Arts has more than 900 performances and productions and every year it witnesses the arrival of over 350,000 attendees overall. These programs are taken care of by the City of Walnut Creek.
The center houses four different theatres. This includes the unique 297-seat Margaret Lesher Theatre, the 384-seat Del Vall, the private 133-seat George, Sonja Vukasin Theatre, and the impressive 785-seat Hofmann Theatre for corporate presentations and film screenings.
Side attractions are the music, comedy, theatre, and dance performances which are displayed all through the year.
Some local companies also include their performances and presentations too. You need to know that this center is the home to the Bedford Art Gallery and a host of cocktail lounge and dining options.
Address: 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.
6. Newhall Community Park
Newhall Community Park is located 126 acres to the east of Treat Blvd, this is also located in Concord, close to Walnut Creek, California.
You can gain entry from the Turtle Creek Road or the Clayton Road. Visiting this park should make your list of things to do in Walnut Creek.
It is an awesome park at approximately 30 acres of space and features amenities such as Bocce courts, a good play structure, turfed athletic fields, unique picnic areas, and nice ponds around the creek.
It’s never a dull moment in Newhall Community Park as the variety of features makes everywhere beam with excitement.
The Paw Patch Dog Park is a perfect example. This public dog park at the Newhall Community Park is a beautiful site for off-leash exercise ams canine socialization.
Having gained popularity amongst dog owners in the neighborhood, one can bring his pooch to play and associate with the many dogs in the park.
The dog park is near the pond, a walk away from the car lot. The park also has available nice conveniences for the public. You can contact them for a park reservation if you wish to have a group picnic or some special gathering.
Your day will be fun-filled in the Newhall Community Park, do plan a visit.
Address: 1351 Newhall Pkwy, Concord, CA 94521
7. All-Outdoors California Whitewater Rafting Day Trips
Chosen as the Best of the West attraction by Sunset Magazine, the All-Outdoors California Whitewater Rafting Day Trips allows its participants to explore ten of the best rivers in California as part of the experiences of whitewater rafting.
These experiences include that of Cherry Creek -the most difficult river in the United States- which is made accessible by commercial tours.
In 1962, George Armstrong founded this tour company which brings their wealth of experience to every tour. They boast of being the most experienced rafting company in the state.
There are tour guides assigned to lead groups. They head groups on over 25 types of excursions with professionalism and enthusiasm. These trips may be down the Scenic and wild Tuolumne River or the South Forks and middle of the American River.
The ranges vary in difficulty, from the easy beginner routes to advance rafters. You would enjoy this experience seamlessly.
Address: 1250 Pine Street, Suite 103, Walnut Creek CA 94596.
8. Calicraft Brewing Company
Another great place to visit in Walnut Creek is Calicraft Brewing Company. It is a cool craft brewery established originally by Blaine Landberg (a young beer enthusiast) in 2012.
Landberg used to work at the national beverage retail chain, Honest Tea and since his time at UC Berkeley as a college student, he has been into the crafting of spectacular beer-wine hybrid “sparkling ales”.
Today, this brewery provides this sparking ales in different varieties under the tree line, it includes its Rosé Sparkling Ale and its all-year Guava Trees Sparkling Ale.
Other chief brews of the company include Oaktown American Brown Ale, The Bay Double IPA, Coast Kolsch, and The City IPA.
Members of the public can access the company’s taproom all day of the week, while most days you could see parked on-site some of the food trucks.
Adding spice to the experience in Calicraft Brewing Company is the live music performances held every Friday evenings while extra trivia night and other special public events are organized intermittently.
Address: 2700 Mitchell Dr, Walnut Creek, CA 94598.
9. Soldiers Memorial Monument
Do not leave Walnut Creek without visiting the Soldiers Memorial Monument.
This monument is planted at 89th Street and Riverside Drive in Riverside Park in the Upper West Side of Manhattan and was put up in commemoration of sailors and the Union Army soldiers who served during the American Civil war.
It is just a bigger version of the Athenian Choragic Monument of Lysicrates. Its design was done by Paul E. M. DuBois and Stoughton & Stoughton and in 1902.
The monument has a height of approximately 100 feet tall and a depth of 50 feet. There was a for this monument to be rewarded with a statue of Peace “of heroic size” however this didn’t materialize.
For lovers of history and sculpture, this is a must-visit site, as one of the educational activities in Walnut Creek.
Address: Boyd Rd at Contra Costa Blvd, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
10. Lafayette Reservoir
The Lafayette Reservoir is an open-cut artificial water reservoir situated off Mt. Diablo Boulevard on the west end of Lafayette.
This reservoir was completed in 1933 with the sole aim of providing standby drinking water for the customers of the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD).
This 925 acres site with a 1.4 billion gallon reservoir was commissioned in 1966 as a public recreational area where visitors can come for hiking, boating, picnicking, and fishing.
It’s always fun at the Lafayette reservoir due to the variety of activities on the plate.
Fishing is allowing here with a daily fee and the regular state-licensed requirements.
Thousands of trouts, black bass, bluegill, black crappie, and other kinds of catfish are planted by the State Department of Fish and Game every year
Rowboats, kayaks, sailboats, and canoes owned by individuals are permitted in the reservoir. The recreation area is made open for bicyclists (you may prefer roller blades, scooters, or roller skates) on the road or paved Lakeside Trial.
Family and smaller groups can sit together in any of the 35 picnic sites surrounding the reservoir. While many of the picnic sites are spread around the reservoir, others are situated near the dam.
Parking spaces and annual passes are made available. So, come and have fun at the Lafayette Reservoir!
Address: 3849 Mount Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, CA.
11. The Lindsay Wildlife Experience
The Lindsay Wildlife Experience is one of the fun things to do in Walnut Creek, CA, as it provides you with a rare experience.
It exists as one of the oldest wildlife rehabilitation centers in the United States.
Alexander Lindsay initially started this center as the Diablo Junior Museum in 1955, in 1970 it began operations as a wildlife rehabilitation center.
The museum and center had its operations as an independent nonprofit organization since 1986, with over 6,000 injured and orphaned wild animals treated yearly.
The center is one of the premier family museums in the San Francisco East Bay Area and as such offers diverse special exhibits and experiences. These include a behind-the-scenes Wildlife Hospital experience which gives visitors the privilege of watching line veterinary care operations and procedures every day.
More specials exhibits are a discovery room for children, a live bee center, and an underground habitat area marked for exploration. Your kids would love the discovery room as it adds to the fun in Walnut Creek.
Address: 1931 1st Ave, Walnut Creek, CA 94597.
12. The California Symphony
Lovers of good music would not want to miss the California Symphony. This is an exciting activity to undertake while in Walnut Creek.
The California Symphony originally started in 1985 through the vision of Barry Jekowsky (founding director), it is one of the premier symphony orchestras in the San Francisco Bay Area.
This orchestra currently manned by the music director Donato Cabrera works constantly towards producing modern concert programs by blending extracts of living composers with classic works to give a unique 21st-century concert show.
You could still find some members of this orchestra performing with other arts organizations in the San Fransisco area. They include the San Francisco Opera, the San Francisco Ballet, and the San Francisco Symphony.
Also view regular season performances at the Lesher Center the Arts and some extra shows at other venues in the Napa Valley and the Bay Area.
Address: 100 Pringle Ave, Suite 540, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.
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13. Boundary Oak Golf Course
This is a unique 18-hole golf course in Walnut Creek used for Championship competitions, Boundary Oak Golf Course offers amazing panoramic views from the foothills of Mount Diablo.
This course is one of the most recognized public golf courses in Northern California and had its original plan designed by Robert Muir Graves in 1969. Currently, the course hosts over 60,000 rounds of golf every year.
It’s a massive one offering 7,100 yards of championship tees, as 5 putting greens for practice and a driving range having shaded stalls and grass tees.
They also have a pro shop where you can get golf lessons, clinics, and camps handled by professional instructors with a great wealth of experience.
Beside the Boundary Oak Golf Course is a restaurant which serves celebrated cuisine. The restaurant is also open for special personal event rentals such as banquets, cooperate events, and weddings.
Address: 3800 Valley Vista Rd, Walnut Creek, CA 94598.
14. Borges Ranch
How about visiting a ranch will in Walnut Creek?. This is one of the interesting Walnut Creek activities.
Borges Ranch is a regional park and public ranch which was established in 1899 by Francisco Borges. He was an early California settler who decided to set up this cattle ranch.
Though some of its structures are destroyed, the National Register of Historic Places preserved the rest of the initial buildings in this ranch since 1981. They include a blacksmith shop, original barns, and corrals.
Farm animals are still sheltered in this ranch and they are under the management of Pleasant Hill 4-H Club.
As a visitor, you can explore the ranch on a self-guided tour every day during daylight hours or go on a free guided ranch tour organized once a month.
There are picnic tables that are provided a the Patrick Hanna Grove Picnic Area, home to a seasonal pond and an amphitheater.
Address: 1035 Castle Rock Road, Walnut Creek, CA 94598
15. Contra Costa Canal Trail
During your vacation do not miss hiking one of the most renowned trails in this District.
The Contra Costa Canal Trail is a multi-use, heavily trafficked end-to-end trail having a total distance of 21.2 kilometers.
This paved pathway is loved by hikers, bikers, equestrians, and wheelchair users due to the beautiful wildflowers and friendliness to any skill level.
This trail was created following the collaborative efforts of the Park District, the Contra Costa Water District, and the Bureau of Reclamation.
It connects Pleasant Hill, Concord, Martinez, and Walnut Creek through a secure off-road corridor.
This trial is an integral part of the county’s non-vehicular locomotion as it meanders through the Contra Costa Canal linking schools and commercial areas.
Explore the many activity options offered by the Contra Costa Canal trail all through the year. You can bring your dogs along for the peak of fun, but keep them on leash.
The transportation opportunity and nice recreational experience makes it one of the best things to do in Walnut Creek.
Address: 3215 Willow Pass Rd, Concord, CA 94519-2314.
16. Redwood Regional Park
Hiding in the Oakland Hills, just a few miles past the ridge, downtown Oakland is a little redwood forest.
This forest has very peaceful groves where locals and city dwellers come in to get a nature fix away from the bustling city.
Redwood Regional Park which occupies 1,830 acres is included in the East Bay Regional Park District of the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2019, it was renamed to Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park to honor of Dr. Aurelia Henry Reinhardt.
The park features redwoods, chaparral, grasslands, and some rare wildlife species such as the Alameda striped racer and golden eagle. Raccoons, deer, squirrels, and rabbits are regular inhabitants.
There are over forty miles of trails running through the Stream Trail, the French Trail, and the Tres Sendas Trail.
Tres Sendas and the Stream takes you along the Redwood Creek while the French Trail takes you further into the park. You would find yourself in the company of madrones, ferns, redwoods and oaks on your way.
You will have the ecstasy of a magical scene watching the pattern of fogs hanging low through the trees.
At the beginning of every year, ladybugs gather in thousands at some spots along the Stream Trail. This is a great sight only if you are not squeamish about bugs!
There are four reservable picnic spots ( open grassy areas and secluded glades) are available for groups of 50 to 150. There is also a children’s play down Stream Trail. Come, enjoy yourself with your family and friends.
Address: 7867 Redwood Rd, Oakland, CA 94619-2435.
17. The Shadelands Ranch Museum
Visiting Shadelands Ranch Museum makes one of the best things to do in Walnut Creek, California.
The Shadelands Ranch Museum was home to an early settler Hiram Penniman. It is a mansion built-in 1903 in a Colonial Revival-style as an upgrade of Penniman’s ranch. Penniman’s ranch which was built in 1856 is among the first and largest farms within the Ygnacio Valley area.
This property was transferred to the Gospel Foundation following the death of the last manager of Penniman’s ranch. They managed it for quite some years before switching administration to Walnut Creek Historical Society for preservation and the City of Walnut Creek as a home museum.
Currently, this museum is listed by the National Register of Historic Places, it displays historic artifacts linked to the Penniman family and also an archive library containing the civic history of Walnut Creek.
Address: 2660 Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek, CA 94598.
18. Castle Rock Regional Recreation Area
The Castle Rock Regional Recreation Area is situated around Diablo Foothills Regional Park, granting entrance to the Walnut Creek Open Space and Mt. Diablo State Park.
The park is a day-use recreational area positioned in a canyon by the banks of Pine Creek, it provides diverse outdoor opportunities for visitors, including a large swimming pool, 30-by-70-foot having ADA-accessible accommodations, and an accessibility lift.
Feel free to enjoy the horseshoe pits and basketball, volleyball, and softball courts amongst other outdoor activities available for visitor use.
You also see four picnic spots with the tendency to accommodate 100 guests differently. These are aside three smaller spots available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Do not leave without visiting the Castle Rock Regional Recreation Area, it certainly makes one of the fun things to do in Walnut Creek.
Address: 1700 Castle Rock Road, Walnut Creek, CA 94598.
19. Valley Art Gallery
Here is one of the most prestigious art galleries in the East Bay.
The Valley Art Gallery opened originally in 1949 to host the Outdoor Art Shows in synergy with Walnut Creek City’s Park’s Walnut Festival.
Ever since, there has been growth in the gallery, with over 150 upcoming and established artists having their works showcased here. These artists come from areas including Lundy Siegriest, George Post, and Pam Glover.
The gallery is run and managed by volunteers. Despite being a non-profit organization, it is still the only gallery in East Bay to provide an opportunity of renting artworks before purchase.
Address: 1661 Botelho Drive, Suite 110, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.
20. Diablo Hills Regional Park
The Diablo Hills Regional Park is a public park which presents the catching Diablo Foothills serving as a gateway to Mt. Diablo State Park and the Walnut Creek Open Space.
Diablo Hills Regional Park sits on 1,060 acres and can be accessed through Interstate 680. It provides an unmatched panoramic view of the greater San Francisco Bay Region and the surrounding mountains.
Castle Rock Recreation area, a place that offers diverse day-use outdoor visitor recreational services is located in this park too.
You will also see seasonal wildflowers scattered around the park, providing opportunities for taking prime photos during the summer and spring months.
Though upgraded visitor facilities may not be found, you could venture into cycling, horseback riding, wildlife watching, or hiking.
If you are a large group or look to host some special events, picnic facilities can be arranged for that purpose.
Address: 1700 Castle Rock Road, Walnut Creek, CA 94598.
21. Brenden Theatre
Would you like some theater time during your visit? Brenden Theatre located in Concord close to Walnut Creek has got you covered.
They are a cooperation that offers motion picture entertainment.
This company runs theatres mainly indoor motion picture entertainment, and also make available showtimes, directions, upcoming promotions, special events, and movie synopsis.
They as well provide avenue to win free movie prizes and tickets.
Address: 1985 Willow Pass Rd, Concord, CA 94520-2564.
22. Iron Horse Regional Trail
The Iron Horse Regional Trail is a historical rail trail for horse riders, pedestrians, and bicyclists. This trial is situated in the Contra and central Alameda counties.
This trail goes through Dublin, Danville, Walnut Creek, Concord, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Alamo, and Pleasant Hill cities, covers more than 40 miles in distance and connect 9 communities.
This goes to highlight the economic significance of the trail to these two counties and even beyond.
To date, this trail is a major recreation and transportation passage and despite the earlier skepticism, over a million trips are made on this path yearly.
The Iron Horse Regional Trail is managed by the East Bay Regional Park District and more plans are already in place to add bridges.
23. Broadway Plaza
While you are in Walnut Creek, it of expedient you purchase some essentials, Broadway Plaza here to help you.
This is an outdoor shopping mall commission on 11th October, 1951 and situated in downtown Walnut Creek. The mall is managed and maintained by Macerich.
This mall features several brands like Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus. Some special retailers featured are Athleta, Kate Spade New York, P.F. Amazon Books
This makes what to do in Walnut Creek for some shopping time, do purchase some souvenirs to save the memory of your visit here
Address: 1275 Broadway Plz, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-5112.
Plan a Trip to Walnut Creek
Walnut Creek is an exciting, educating, and entertaining city. The historical sites and museums, parks and playgrounds, trails and pathways, rivers and reservoirs are some highlights of this special city.
While there are already existing specialties more are in the making, you would want to part of this script, be sure to visit during your vacation.
Start now to plan your trip, this article is always available as a guide as you plan your trip.