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A small suburban city with a friendly community, Pleasant Hill, CA is a great place to get outdoors and spend some time with family. Whether you’re a local or you’re just stopping through, enjoy our picks for the best things to see and do in Pleasant Hill.
Contra Costa Canal Trail meanders around Contra Costa County, connecting Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Walnut Creek, and Concord. It runs alongside the Contra Costa Canal, which has been supplying water to local crops since the 1930s. The paved trail is open for walkers, runners, bikers, skaters, people in wheelchairs, and even horses. It is four miles long, connecting to schools, shopping centers, public transportation, and quite a few local parks, including Las Juntas Park, Larkey Park, Heather Farm Park, and Lime Ridge. Take the trail to get a scenic tour of the Contra Costa suburbs, or use it to get to one of the regional trails it connects to, like the California State Riding and Hiking Trail, the Briones-to-Mt. Diablo Trail, the Iron Horse Trail, and the Delta De Anza Trail. See a map of the trail here.
Diablo Valley College is one of the best community colleges around, ranking among the top five transfer schools in California. The school hosts many events that are open to the public, including culinary events and live performances. The dance department hosts a winter and a spring production every year, and the music department puts on a series of evening concerts and free daytime concerts. The drama department also produces five shows each year, including at least one musical. Other reasons to visit include the chance to see the school’s Art Gallery, its Garden and Greenhouse, or one of its library exhibits, which are curated by students and may feature anything from art to historical items.
Paso Nogal Park is a popular spot to bring pups. It features plenty of grassy space for dogs to run around with each other, and benches for owners to relax on. There is a small fenced area for dogs under 25 pounds to play safely, and another fenced area for big dogs, too. The park has a decent amount of shade and a small parking lot attached. Trails lead off through the hills surrounding the park, leading to gorgeous views of Mt. Diablo. The park also features another side that is not open to dogs. People primarily visit Paso Nogal for its dog park, so if you choose to visit the other half of the park, you’ll likely find peace and solitude. Unfortunately, the park is not open on Sundays.
Pleasant Hill’s Art, Jazz, & Wine Festival is an annual fall event, featuring free music, lots of wine and beer, and arts and crafts. The festival is put on by the Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Merchants and the City of Pleasant Hill blocking off Downtown Pleasant Hill’s Crescent Ave for the two-day celebration. This year’s event will feature an expanded Kids’ Zone, including a rock climbing wall, live theater shows, water balls, a bouncy house, face painting, a clown, and a musician. Watch the recap video from 2014 and browse through past years’ photos for a taste of what to expect. If you want to get involved behind the scenes, reach out to volunteer at the festival.
One of the most popular places to visit in the city is Downtown Pleasant Hill. The downtown area features plenty of restaurants, shopping, and places to pamper yourself. Come downtown to see a movie at the Century 16 theater or browse through one of the area’s primary stores, including Bed Bath & Beyond, Golfsmith, Hyatt House, Michaels Arts & Crafts, Orchard Supply Hardware, and Ross Dress for Less. Downtown Pleasant Hill is the main location for the city’s events and holiday celebrations, including a summer concert series, car shows, the 4th of July 5K and parade, and the Light Up the Night winter holiday celebration. Watch this video for a taste of the downtown scene.