Walnut Creek is a small, vibrant city in the San Francisco Bay Area of Contra Costa County.
It’s a city known for its outdoor recreation opportunities, breweries, museums, galleries, shopping, diverse dining scene, and much more. In short, there is always something to do in Walnut Creek, and you’ll never run out of things to see and do.
In this article, I’ll highlight the 12 best and fun things to do in Walnut Creek, California.
Things To Do In Walnut Creek
1. Watch Local Wildlife At Lindsay Wildlife Experience
Lindsay Wildlife Experience is a family museum and wildlife rehabilitation center founded in 1955.
Its goal was to provide care and rehabilitation to injured and orphaned wildlife, and it has since grown to include a variety of educational programs and exhibits for the public.
Today, there are more than 6,000 animals, many of which have been rescued and are being rehabilitated for release back into the wild.
Some of the most popular exhibits not to miss include Birds Exhibits, Mammals Exhibits, and Reptiles and Amphibians exhibits.
One of the highlights of a visit here is the opportunity to see the wildlife hospital in action.
The hospital is a state-of-the-art facility where staff and volunteers provide medical care to injured and orphaned animals, with the goal of releasing them back into the wild.
You can watch as the animals are treated and learn about the important work being done to protect and preserve wildlife.
All these make this museum one of the top attractions in Walnut Creek and an educational destination for animal lovers of all ages.
2. Admire The Flowers At The Gardens At Heather Farm
Founded in 1968, the Gardens at Heather Farm is a paradise for nature lovers visiting Walnut Creek.
Located on Marchbanks Drive, this beautiful garden has the sole purpose of enhancing the natural beauty of Ygnacio Valley.
A visit here will take you through various themed gardens, such as the stroll, waterfall, black pine, riparian, children’s, butterfly, meadow, and many more.
All these gardens are connected by winding paths and offer a peaceful escape from the city.
Spending an afternoon here is definitely one of the best things to do in Walnut Creek, as the environment here is very peaceful.
And with its recreational facilities, educational programs, and events, you’ll never get bored here.
3. Catch A Show At The Lesher Center For The Arts
Don’t let boredom take over you when visiting Walnut Creek. The Lesher Center for the Arts is a fantastic venue for live performances, offering a diverse lineup of concerts, plays, and dance productions throughout the year.
In total, this center has four different venues, which include the Hofmann Theatre, the Margaret Lesher Theatre, the Del Valle Theatre, and the George and Sonja Vukasin Theatre.
The Hofmann Theater is the largest venue and can accommodate up to 785 guests. It is a flexible space that can be used for various types of performances, including plays, concerts, and dance productions.
The Del Valle Theatre follows and can hold up to 300 guests. The Margaret Lesher Theatre and the George & Sonja Vukasin Theatre can hold 300 and 133 respectively, and are often used for smaller productions and events.
Therefore, the Lesher Center for the Arts should be high on your list when looking for fun places in Walnut Creek.
It is a hub for cultural events in the Bay Area and provides a diverse range of performances for all ages.
4. Tour The Shadelands Ranch Museum
Built in 1903, this museum is a historical landmark in Walnut Creek dedicated to preserving the home of Hiram Penniman.
Hiram was among the first settlers of Walnut Creek and built this ranch in the Colonial Revival architectural style.
Today, Shadelands ranch serves as a museum and event venue, showcasing the history and culture of the area.
You can take a tour of the ranch and learn about its history through displays, exhibits, a library of archives, and artifacts.
What’s more? The ranch also organizes a variety of educational programs and events.
These programs include lectures, workshops, and hands-on activities for people of all ages.
And since it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it deserves a spot on this list is it is one of the top Walnut Creek attractions.
5. Go Shopping In Downtown
Shopping is one of the things that Walnut Creek is known for. In fact, it has been voted one of the best shopping destinations in the San Francisco Bay Area’s East Bay region.
So it’s no surprise that the downtown area is filled with a variety of retailers, from high-end fashion boutiques to home goods stores.
Therefore, the best way to experience shopping in Walnut Creek is to start in downtown and explore the various stores.
These stores offer a refreshing change from the big chain stores and offer a more personalized shopping experience.
One of the most popular shopping malls in the downtown area is the Broadway Plaza.
This is an open-air shopping center with 80 specialty shops, Such as Lululemon, Apple, Macy’s, and Nordstrom.
Here, shoppers can find everything from designer clothing and accessories to home decor and beauty products.
And if you’re looking for something to eat or drink while you shop, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes to choose from.
Overall, the Walnut Creek downtown area is a great destination for shoppers as it has a wide range of items to suit every taste and budget. So be sure to include it in your list of exciting things to do in Walnut Creek.
6. Have Fun At The Castle Rock Regional Recreational Area
The Castle Rock Regional Recreational Area is a public park located within Diablo Foothills Regional Park.
It covers more than 18,000 acres of public land, making it one of the largest parks in the area.
This recreational area is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a variety of recreational activities and amenities.
The park has a number of hiking and biking trails that wind through the hills and valleys of the property, providing stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
The park is also home to several picnic areas, as well as sports fields and courts for activities such as soccer, basketball, and softball field.
In addition, it features 30 feet by 70 feet swimming pool, which is open to the public during the summer months.
The pool is surrounded by a deck with lounge chairs and umbrellas, making it the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun. There are also restroom facilities located near the pool.
There are also a number of educational and interpretive programs throughout the year, including guided hikes, bird-watching tours, and nature talks.
These programs are led by experienced staff and provide a great opportunity to learn about the history and ecology of the area.
So whether you are looking to hike, bike, swim, or just relax and enjoy the beauty of nature, Castle Rock Regional Recreational Area is one of the best places in Walnut Creek you should include in your itinerary.
7. Go Back In Time At The Old Borges Ranch
Another ranch worth visiting in Walnut Creek is the Old Borges Ranch. Located in the beautiful foothills of the stunning Mount Diablo, this historic ranch is a unique and fascinating piece of California history.
The ranch was originally founded in 1899 by the Borges family and was used for farming, ranching, and horse breeding.
Today, the ranch is open to the public and offers a variety of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy.
You can tour the ranch and learn about its history, including the original farmhouse and barns that are still standing today.
In addition to touring the historic buildings, visitors can also enjoy hiking trails, picnicking, and horseback riding on the ranch.
You can choose to take a self-guided tour or join a guided tour led by knowledgeable staff.
I recommend the guided tour as you’ll get to learn about the history of the ranch and get more information about the buildings and the Borges family.
8. Go Hiking At Shell Ridge
For nature lovers and hikers, Shell Ridge is a must-visit destination in Walnut Creek. This open space preserve covers more than 1,420 acres of land and is home to a variety of plant and animal species.
Hikers love this area, as it has a number of trails that wind through the hills and valleys of the preserve. These trails range in difficulty, so there is something for hikers of all levels.
The trails offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape, including the beautiful Mount Diablo and the rolling hills of the East Bay.
In addition to hiking, Shell Ridge is also a great place for picnicking, bird watching, and mountain biking.
There are several picnic areas located throughout the preserve, as well as a number of bird-watching spots. The preserve is home to a number of mountain bike trails, making it a popular destination for mountain bikers.
Want to know the best part? Dogs are allowed in the preserve as long as they are on a leash. This means that you can bring your furry friend along on your hike, provided they are well-behaved.
Overall, there’s much to enjoy in this beautiful and peaceful place, making it a scenic place for hikers and nature lovers to connect with nature. So be sure to include it in your list of the best things to do in Walnut Creek, California.
9. Explore The Ruth Bancroft Garden
The Ruth Bancroft Garden is a botanical garden located along Bancroft Road and covers an area of 3.5 acres.
It was founded by Ruth Peterson Bancroft, a pioneer in the field of water-conserving gardening, and is dedicated to preserving and showcasing a variety of drought-tolerant plants.
So, expect to find a diverse collection of cacti, succulents, and other drought-tolerant plants.
The garden is organized into a series of themed areas, each featuring plants that are adapted to specific growing conditions.
The highlight here is, of course, the Cactus and Succulent Garden, featuring a wide variety of spiny and colorful plants.
In addition to the plant displays, the Ruth Bancroft Garden also offers a variety of educational programs and workshops for visitors of all ages.
These programs cover topics such as plant care, garden design, and the history and culture of drought-tolerant plants.
10. Play A Round Of Golf At Boundary Oak Golf Course
It’s time to hit the links at Boundary Oak Golf Course in Walnut Creek. This beautiful 18-hole course boasts tree-lined fairways and well-manicured greens.
This golf course is located on the foothills of Mt. Diablo, thus providing stunning views of the surrounding area.
The course has a full driving range, practice green, and chipping area, perfect for those looking to improve their game.
The course is popular with both experienced golfers and beginners, with a variety of hazards and challenges to keep everyone engaged.
In addition, there is also a clubhouse featuring a pro shop and a restaurant.
The pro shop offers a selection of golf equipment, clothing, and other items, while the restaurant and bar offer a variety of food and drink options for golfers looking to grab a bite to eat after their round.
So if you’re looking for fun activities to do in Walnut Creek, playing a round of golf at Boundary Oak Golf Course is a must-do.
11. Have Fun At The Beautiful Civic Park
Civic Park is another popular destination in Walnut Creek, known for its beautiful surroundings and diverse array of recreational activities.
The park spans over 16 acres and features a variety of amenities, including a playground, picnic area, several art studios, and a community center.
The park is also home to a habitat garden, which is home to more than 130 species of native plants and more than 25 species of butterflies.
Therefore, take your time to explore the park’s many features and enjoy the beauty of nature.
Whether you’re looking to relax with a picnic or get active with games, there is something that will suit your taste.
12. Enjoy A Sip Of Local Beer At Calicraft Brewing Company
Calicraft Brewing Company was established in 2012 by Blaine Landberg, a veteran homebrewer. His goal was to create unique and innovative beers using locally-sourced ingredients.
Today, Calicraft Brewing Company is known for its wide range of beers, including The Bay Double IPA, Oaktown American Brown Ale, Coast Kolsch, and Guava Trees Sparkling Ale.
The brewery opened its taproom in 2016 for visitors to sample a variety of their beers before they purchase.
The taproom also has a rotating selection of food trucks, offering a variety of dining options to enjoy with your beer.
This makes it a great place to visit for beer lovers and those who enjoy a laid-back atmosphere.
So why not include it on your list of cool things to do in Walnut Creek? After all, this is the best way to end your day with a sip of a cold beer while mingling with locals and other tourists.