15 Best Things To Do In Walnut Creek, California

things to do in walnut creek california
Contributing Writer
| 5 min read

In the world, there are places you can go that only satisfy one flavor of your traveler’s palate. The high energy of a bustling city may cure your desire for a fast-paced environment, and the silent stillness of the quiet countryside may quench your longing for a peaceful respite. However, there are also hidden gems, where you can experience a combination of both calm and activity. Walnut Creek, California is one of those magical places.

As the doorstep to the clouds, Walnut Creek rests at the foothills of Mount Diablo, where you can revel in its mild Mediterranean climate, accentuated by the lush natural beauty of its 16 parks. In addition to its glorious green surroundings, Walnut Creek is rich with culture, glowing with a vibrancy of both its artistic atmosphere and historical landscape. This all-encompassing destination also caters to travelers who enjoy a variety of fine dining and shopping, with over 100 downtown restaurants and more than 200 boutiques and retail stores.

Whether you are a nature lover, art enthusiast, shopaholic, food connoisseur, or just a frequent wanderer, Walnut Creek has something for you! Read on to find out about the best things to do in Walnut Creek, California:

1. Relax in serenity at The Gardens at Heather Farm

Heather Farm Park - Walnut Creek, California
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Utilizer used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Gardens at Heather Farm is comprised of 6 acres (2.42 hectares) of lovingly maintained grounds. Boasting an oasis of colorful gardens, guests can relish an array of beautiful flowers from delicate daises to sweet-smelling roses. The Gardens at Heather Farm is an in-demand venue for weddings. If you want an in-depth view, an organized garden-walk tour can be arranged for a fee. Aside from the amazing sights of prominent Mount Diablo, this property also possesses a nifty greenhouse, a Mediterranean-inspired tree grove, and a tranquil waterfall garden.

The Gardens at Heather Farm

Address: 1540 Marchbanks Dr, Walnut Creek, CA 94598

Website: The Gardens at Heather Farm

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9am - 4pm; Sat - Sun: 9am - 1pm

Price: Free

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2. Explore a historic homestead at Old Borges Ranch

Old Borges Ranch - Walnut Creek, California
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Utilizer used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Tucked away in the foothills of Mount Diablo, Old Borges Ranch affords visitors an intimate look at an early 20th-century cattle ranch that includes an authentic blacksmith shop. Constructed in 1899, Old Borges Ranch is an enticing 15-acre (6.07-hectare) property comprised of 7 original and refurbished structures. A multitude of farm animals resides on the premises. Picnicking is allowed and there’s a shimmering seasonal pond. If you’re a hiking enthusiast, take advantage of the numerous scenic hiking trails in Shell Ridge area nearby.

Old Borges Ranch

Address: 1035 Castle Rock Rd, Walnut Creek, CA 94598

Website: Old Borges Ranch

Opening hours: 7am - 6pm (daily)

Price: Free

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3. Spend a lazy afternoon in Civic Park

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

One of Walnut Creek’s prime community parks, Civic Park is a well-maintained space awash in natural splendor. Deep-green grass fills the space and tall leafy trees dot the landscape. This park is home to more than 25 species of colorful butterflies as well as over 130 kinds of indigenous California fauna. A collection of picnic tables offers a terrific spot to dine al fresco on a sunny day, and a standard playground is available for the little ones. In winter, visitors can strap on their skates and enjoy a splendid ice skating rink.

Civic Park

Address: 1375 Civic Dr, Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Website: Civic Park

Opening hours: 5am - 10pm (daily)

Price: Free

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4. Sample culinary delights at Telefèric Barcelona

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

A popular Spanish eatery with a whimsical style, Telefèric Barcelona serves a genuine tapas menu of buzzworthy eats: yummy pintxos, perfectly seasoned paella, and fresh seafood. Be sure to wash it down with a glass of flavorful sangria. For a sweet treat, order the luscious Torrija for dessert: French toast topped with Catalan cream and vanilla dressing! The sophisticated ambiance is irresistible with attractive exposed brick walls and wood beams, towering ceilings, and miniature cable cars circling above on a suspended track in the central dining space.

Telefèric Barcelona

Address: 1500 Mt Diablo Blvd, Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Website: Telefèric Barcelona

Opening hours: Sun - Wed: 11:30am - 9:30pm; Thu - Sat: 11:30am - 10:30pm

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5. Uncover intriguing art at Valley Art Gallery

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Too many functionally fun and amazing crafts to list, plus a multitude of artwork in every medium under the sun!

Posted by Valley Art Gallery on Saturday, November 14, 2020

One of the most esteemed galleries in the Bay Area, Valley Art Gallery is committed to bringing compelling artwork to Walnut Creek. This space offers over 150 well-known and emerging artists from throughout the region. The gallery provides a rare opportunity to rent art pieces before potentially buying. This affords customers the chance to live with a particular piece for a period of time before making a final decision. It is this no-risk option that makes Valley Art Gallery a go-to place when you’re seriously considering decorating your home or office with refined flair.

Valley Art Gallery

Address: 1661 Botelho Dr # 110, Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Website: Valley Art Gallery

Opening hours: Thu - Sat: 12pm - 5pm (closed from Sun - Wed)

Price: Free

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6. Experience countryside bliss at Shell Ridge Open Space

Shell Ridge Open Space - Walnut Creek, California
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Utilizer used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Situated between the city of Walnut Creek and Mount Diablo Foothills, Shell Ridge Open Space is an expansive park made up of 1,420 acres (575 hectares) of rolling green hills. This gently sloping landscape features dramatic valleys and ridges plus no less than 31 miles (50 kilometers) of picturesque nature trails. The area is ideal for biking, hiking, and horseback riding. Wildlife can be spotted as you explore this wondrous terrain just moments from the center of Walnut Creek.

Shell Ridge Open Space

Address: 1035 Castle Rock Rd, Walnut Creek, CA 94598

Website: Shell Ridge Open Space

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: Free

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7. Pamper yourself at The Woodhouse Day Spa - Walnut Creek

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Receive royal treatment at The Woodhouse Day Spa - Walnut Creek. Don a luxurious robe, slip into a pair of comfortable reflexology sandals and listen to soothing music while sipping herbal tea. And that’s just a portion of this indulgent journey of relaxation and replenishment. This stellar spa offers a full range of treatments from head to toe. Signature services include beauty-enhancing hydra facials, four-hand massages, and seaweed leaf pedicures. The highlight is The Woodhouse Signature Hand Retreat: exfoliation, massage, and a warmed Atlantic seaweed wrap followed by a nourishing hand cream.

The Woodhouse Day Spa - Walnut Creek

Address: 1636 Cypress St, Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Website: The Woodhouse Day Spa - Walnut Creek

Opening hours: Mon: 12pm - 5:30pm; Sat: 10am - 2pm (closed from Tue - Fri & Sun)

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8. Try rare vino blends at Calicraft Brewing Company

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

#throwbackthursday Buzzerkeley was the beer that started Calicraft! A California Sparkling Ale, Blaine and Thomas spoke...

Posted by Calicraft Brewing Company on Thursday, January 7, 2021

Ever wonder how it would taste if you blended beer and wine together? Calicraft Brewing Company gives you the chance to find out. A unique brewing place in Walnut Creek, Calicraft Brewing Company offers a wide range of rare beer-wine mixtures known as sparkling ales. Sample standouts such as Guava Trees Sparkling Ale and The Bay Double IPA. This brewing establishment is a must-visit for any diehard beer and wine lover. The place also features live music acts and there are handy food trucks outside serving delicious grub.

Calicraft Brewing Company

Address: 2700 Mitchell Dr, Walnut Creek, CA 94598

Website: Calicraft Brewing Company

Opening hours: Sun: 12pm - 8pm; Mon - Wed: 3pm - 7pm; Thu: 3pm - 9pm; Fri - Sat: 12pm - 10pm

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9. Trek along the Bay Area hiking trails

Mount Diablo California from Concord
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user U.S. Army Corps o... used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Escape into nature and find yourself in any of the 16 outdoor parks and trails of Walnut Creek. Each park has its own diverse wildlife to compliment the stunning panoramas of mountainous terrains and clear horizons. A lover of nature will surely never find boredom in this city, at the foot of the mountain. From hiking trails to picnic areas to breathtaking scenery, the parks of Walnut Creek will ensure that your visit gives you outdoor space, ideal for relaxing and unwinding.

Mount Diablo State Park, in particular, is essential for any first-time Walnut Creek visitor. The park includes nearly 20,000 acres (8093.7 hectares) of rich geology, as well as a range of hiking trails, from moderate to difficult. Visitors who would like to gain more knowledge about the park’s array of plants and wildlife can take a trip to the Mitchell Canyon Interpretative Center. Aside from just hiking, horseback riding is offered to those wishing to discover more secluded areas of the park, along with biking trails, spiraling around the mountain’s rock formations.

For those with an insatiable traveling spirit, a trail can be hiked to the park’s 3,849-foot (1173.2-meter) summit. A vast view of the surrounding area, including the Farallon Islands, can be seen from the observation deck at the Summit Visitor Center.

Mount Diablo State Park

Address: 1250 North Gate Rd., Walnut Creek, 94598

Website: Mount Diablo State Park

List of Walnut Creek Parks

Website: Visit Walnut Creek Parks

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10. Explore culture at the Lesher Center for the Arts

Lesher Center for the Arts - Walnut Creek, California
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Utilizer used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Known for its charming blend of nature and art, Walnut Creek ascends the ranks of both natural and man-made beauty, making it an overall aesthetically pleasing location. A visit to this urban oasis will soon uncover art to be found in every corner of the city, from its verdant outdoor trails to its abundant indoor performance halls.

Hosting over 350,000 guests every year, with more than 900 productions, the Lesher Center for the Arts has certainly become beyond reputable, since its opening in 1990. With three separate theaters, dining options, and a 3,500 square-foot (325.2 square-meter) gallery, offering walking tours, the Lesher Center for the Arts is any art aficionado’s dream.

Lesher Center for the Arts

Address: 1601 Civic Drive Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Website: Lesher Center for the Arts

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11. Discover the beauty of the Ruth Bancroft Gardens

Ruth Bancroft Garden
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Terrariad used under CC BY-SA 4.0

A prime example of how the city of Walnut Creek manages to delicately integrate nature with art can be seen at the Ruth Bancroft Gardens. A plant gallery of sorts, the 2.5 acres (1 hectare) of land, features an exotic assortment of xerophytic plant life (such as cacti and succulents), collected from across the globe. Over 2,000 species of plant life, originating from Mexico, Chile, Africa, Australia, and California, are craftily exhibited throughout the garden.

Aside from being an enchanting place to gaze at plants, the Ruth Bancroft Gardens offers visitors the chance to participate in workshops, witness art installations, and attend author events. These gardens undoubtedly showcase the city’s harmony between nature and art.

Ruth Bancroft Gardens

Address: 1552 Bancroft Rd, Walnut Creek, CA 94598

Website: Ruth Bancroft Gardens

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12. Uncover history at the Shadelands Ranch Museum

Shadelands Ranch House (Walnut Creek, CA)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Sanfranman59 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

A more comprehensive perspective on the history of Walnut Creek can be found during a day-trip to the Shadelands Ranch Museum. The museum features an exhibition of historical artifacts belonging to the original 17th-century owners of the Shadelands house, along with preserved antique documents, such as newspapers, records, and photographs. For those wishing to conduct more extensive research of the city’s history, the Sherwood Burgess Room, in the museum, is open Wednesdays from 1 to 4 pm, and provides a place where curious visitors can sort through local archives. The Shadelands Ranch Museum is an ideal place to spend a quiet vacation day indoors.

Shadelands Ranch Museum

Address: 2660 Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek, CA 94598-3445

Website: Shadelands Ranch Museum

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13. Go shopping at Broadway Plaza

Broadway Plaza Shopping Center - Walnut Creek, California
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Utilizer used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Voted as the best shopping center in San Francisco’s East Bay area, Broadway Plaza is perfect for travelers who enjoy finding nifty items to keep as memoirs of their adventures. The outdoor shopping mall features over 200 boutiques and classic retail stores, making it highly likely for shoppers to collect treasures, to keep forevermore, from the charming city of Walnut Creek.

Aside from just shopping, the area is also known to host various events, be they store-related company events or outdoor concerts. Broadway Plaza is an essential place to visit, to acquire a taste of the urban scene in Walnut Creek.

Broadway Plaza

Address: 1275 Broadway Plaza Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Website: Broadway Plaza

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14. Dine like royalty downtown

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Walnut Creek Downtown on Monday, 1 May 2017

Another way to seek contrast from Walnut Creek’s quiet, nature-centered atmosphere, is to dine in the extravagance of the city’s downtown area. Featuring global cuisine from more than 12 different countries, any craving can be satiated in this more urbanized area of the city. In the mood for traditional Korean bibimbap and barbecue? Head over to Mixed Grain. Hoping to satisfy your craving for steak and wine at the same time? Try Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar. Looking for a place to enjoy live music and mixed drinks in a beachy ambiance? Experience the nightlife at Tiki Tom’s Hukilounge.

After a long day of shopping, hiking or both, downtown is an excellent place to sit down and enjoy a meal, made with the finest expertise.

Downtown Dining

Address: 1666 N. Main St. Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Website: Downtown Dining

Mixed Grain Korean Cuisine

Address: 1546 Bonanza St., Walnut Creek, CA, 94596

Website: Mixed Grain

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar

Address: 1685 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Walnut Creek, CA, 94596

Website: Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse

Tiki Tom's Hukilounge

Address: 1535 Olympic Blvd., Walnut Creek, CA, 94596

Facebook: Tiki Tom’s

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15. Visit the Lindsay Wildlife Museum

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

CHUCK SAYS HAPPY SUNDAY! Our Chuckwalla is named Chuck. Chuckwallas are the second largest lizard native to California...

Posted by Lindsay Wildlife Experience on Sunday, 28 May 2017

Another extension of Walnut Creek’s eco-centric pursuits, the Lindsay Wildlife Museum is a natural history museum and environmental education center, dedicated to inspiring visitors to realize the importance of respecting nature. Featuring an exhibit hall with scheduled performances daily, from Wednesday to Sunday, the Lindsay Wildlife Museum is an exquisite place for families to experience wildlife like never before.

From an engaging Raptor showcase to an outdoor owl exhibit, to a wildlife hospital behind-the-scenes presentation, visitors to this museum will experience the magic of Walnut Creek’s outdoors.

Lindsay Wildlife Museum

Address: 1931 First Avenue Walnut Creek, CA 94597

Website: Lindsay Wildlife Museum

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What are you waiting for?

The charms of Walnut Creek lie in its seamless integration of both the urban scene, with a refreshing natural undertone. This city has the best of both worlds – the bustling chaos of a city and the soothing calmness of the countryside. Any trip to Walnut Creek will be filled with different outdoor activities and dining experiences that will remain memorable, long after departure.

Every traveler has a story. Write yours in Walnut Creek, California.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Izza Qureshi is a creative writer and artist residing in the Washington, D.C. area, but her mind is likely floating somewhere in the cosmos. Fascinated by the mysterious of the unknown world, she...Read more

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23 Things To Do Alone In San Francisco  - Updated 2024

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