Nestled in the shadow of Mt. Diablo, Walnut Creek is Contra Costa’s leading cultural and commercial center. With miles of hiking trail and scenic vistas, the city is a nature lover’s paradise and a cultural hub. Visitors to Walnut Creek can enjoy galleries, theaters, and culinary delights. Here are the top ten things to see and do in Walnut Creek.
Downtown Walnut Creek has something for every shopper. From unique jewelry to items for your four-legged companion, downtown is the place to go. Stores range from high-end boutiques to popular clothing stores. Even if you are not looking to buy, downtown’s picturesque, tree-lined streets make it the perfect spot to spend a few hours window shopping.
Swan’s Books is a book lover’s nirvana. This bookstore offers a unique collection of used, collectible, and rare volumes. All books are carefully chosen by staff and vary in price. You can find a first edition fine press book or a hard to find tome on California history. Not sure what you are looking for? Swan’s staff is always happy to help you find the perfect book. The bookstore also holds evening events such as lectures and book club meetings.
Step into the Ruth Bancroft Garden and enjoy a relaxing afternoon surrounded by local flora and fauna. This dry garden features a drought-tolerant design that is as lovely as it is eco-friendly. The garden features an extensive collection of succulents and cacti. There is also a nursery on location which sells a variety of plants and offers gardening workshops, in case you get inspired to start your own eco-friendly garden.
Looking for something unique to do on an evening out with friends? Unleash your inner artistic genius while enjoying some wine at Canvas and Cabernet. Canvas and Cabernet is all about having fun – no artistic aptitude required. Classes focus on a different theme each evening. You will learn basic acrylic painting techniques while enjoying a glass of wine or beer. You can check out the class calendar and reserve your spot on the website.
Take a stroll back in time at the historic Old Borges Ranch. Originally built in 1899 by the Borges Family, the ranch provides visitors with a glimpse into an early 20th-century cattle ranch. The ranch is made up of seven original and restored buildings, including the Borges family home. There are also a number of animals living on the ranch that you can visit year-round. Moreover, the ranch is a gateway into the Shell Ridge open area, which features several hiking trails.
Enjoy a concert or a play at the Lesher Center for the Arts. The center stages a variety of theatrical productions in three intimate theaters. Productions feature local and traveling theater companies, musical groups, and dance troupes. The Lesher Center offers visitors a night of culture at a reasonable price. Check the Center’s website for upcoming shows and to book tickets.
Located inside the Lesher Center for the Arts, the Bedford Gallery puts on four to five art exhibitions each year and is one of Contra Costa’s best places to see contemporary art. The gallery also displays historic and modern artists. The Bedford Gallery is dedicated to providing public programs for the community. In addition to taking in great art, you can take a docent tour or participate in a panel discussion.
Indulge your taste buds at this scrumptious local bakery. A Sweet Affair offers fresh baked goods daily. All bread and pastries are made from scratch on site. The bakery also offers soups, salads, and a selection of sandwiches. Go for the food and stay for the ambiance. The bakery evokes an old-time feel, with vintage decorations and friendly service.
Mt. Diablo State Park offers dozens of trails that range from leisurely strolls to an arduous climb up Contra Costa’s tallest mountain. On a clear day, you can see up to 200 miles out from the summit of Mt. Diablo. If you are looking for a more relaxing adventure, take a scenic trail around the mountain foothills. For the best experience, visit the park during spring or fall, when the hills turn a resplendent green and the weather is mild.
Broadway Plaza is the perfect spot for an evening stroll. In summer you can take in live music as you make your way through this pedestrian shopping center. During the winter, the plaza buzzes with activity as shoppers fill the decorated streets. The plaza features shopping and dining, as well plenty of benches on which to sit and watch the world go by. Easily accessible by public transportation and offering valet parking, Broadway Plaza is a bustling city center.