How to Spend 50 Perfect Hours in Walnut Creek
Never been as far east as Walnut Creek? Both Walnut Creek and Concord (only about 30-40 minutes away from San Francisco) are filled with fun attractions for the whole family including top-line restaurants and beautiful outdoor activities.
8:00 a.m. – Wake up in a chic room at the Walnut Creek Marriott, a 338-room hotel conveniently located right off I-680 and less than a mile from downtown Walnut Creek. Brew yourself a cup of joe from the in-room coffee maker and get ready to head out. You will be spending a fair amount of time outside today, so be sure to wear some sturdy walking shoes, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
9:00 a.m. – Drive four miles east and park at 2280 Oak Grove Road. Get out of your car and walk into Denica’s Real Food Kitchen. This place is a solid breakfast option with superb burritos (try the Noah G’s Green Burrito with eggs, spinach, mushrooms, potatoes, green onions and Monterey Jack cheese) and omelets (get the Pesto Florentine with spinach, tomato, inion, pesto and provolone). If you’d prefer not to go with eggs this morning, try the French toast or Bella’s berry waffle.
10:30 a.m. – Back in your car, drive five minutes down the road and stop at The Ruth Bancroft Garden, a sprawling dry garden and treasure to the residents of Walnut Creek. The origins of the garden date back to the 1880s when historian and publisher Hubert Howe Bancroft settled in Walnut Creek and built a 400-acre fruit farm. The farm was passed down through generations until it was given to Phillip Bancroft, Jr., who married a teacher named Ruth. Ruth lovingly cared for the garden and planted succulents. The garden was open to the public in the early 1990s. Admission is $10 for adults and free for kids under 12 years old.
12:00 p.m. – Ready for more flora and fauna? If so, drive a mile down the road to The Gardens at Heather Farm, a six-acre plot of land with 3.5 acres of gardens. This is a great place to play catch or throw a Frisbee between checking out the 1,000 rose bushes. Self-guided tours are available, but for the best experience try a docent led tour for $7 per person. Call ahead to ask about availability and make a reservation.
1:00 p.m. – Sufficiently hungry, drive into downtown Walnut Creek and park near 1411 Locust Street. Grab at table at 310 Eatery, a restaurant that serves Los Angeles-style street food. Order the Little Tokyo Po’Boy (soft-shell crab sandwich, spicy coleslaw, tomatoes and aioli), the Pork Toro Taco Trio (pork, cheese, salsa and kimchi coleslaw) and the Melrose sandwich (eggplant, Portobello mushrooms and spicy coleslaw). You will not be disappointed.
2:00 p.m. – The Lindsay Wildlife Experience is next up on your tour of Walnut Creek. This place is an animal rehabilitation hospital for native Californian wildlife. The museum and animal interaction part of the facility is open to the public Wednesdays through Sundays with a variety of animal education programs and tours. Check online for an updated calendar of events. Admission is $8.50 for adults and $6.50 for kids 2-17 years old.
4:00 p.m. – Drive back to the Marriott, shower and change into some dressier dinner clothing. Then, head downtown and park near the corner of Civic Drive and North Main Street. Downtown Walnut Creek offers tons of activities including outdoor movies and First Wednesdays with live music and arts and crafts. Walk the streets of downtown, people watch and duck into some of its cute shops.
6:00 p.m. – Walk to the corner of S. Main Street and Mt. Diablo Blvd., down a cute little alley and into Va de Vi Bistro & Wine Bar, arguably one of the most popular places in town (reservations are recommended). This is a small plates restaurant, so make sure to order several dishes including the heirloom tomato panzanella, bloomsdale spinach, roasted summer squash, grilled lamb merquez meatballs, pork schnitzel and rock shrimp cazuela. Ask your server for the best wine parings and finish off your meal with a helping of molasses stout cake.
7:30 p.m. – Walk up to 1601 Civic Drive and into the Lesher Center for the Arts for an evening of live theater. Check online before you go—this place offers musicals, concerts and more year-round.
9:00 a.m. – Wake up, throw on your swimsuit and pack a bag with a change of clothes, beach towel, sunscreen, hat and flip-flops. Drive five miles north to Sunrise Bagels Café in Concord. With 36 different types of freshly baked bagels, this is the place to load up on your carbs. Order a few varieties and some homemade whipped cream cheese. Wash them down with a tasty shot of espresso. If you are hankering for something healthy, grab a fruit cup from the fridge against the wall.
10:30 a.m. – Time for some fun in the sun at Waterworld California! The largest waterpark in the Bay Area, Waterworld is a blast for the whole family with raft slides, a lazy river and the new “Break Point Plunge,” which allows participants to dive six stories inside a tube before reaching the pool below—only for those unafraid of heights, of course.
Spend several hours here. Grab lunch at Surfside Grill (the hot wings and cheese sticks are delicious) and relax under the West Coast sun.
3:00 p.m. – Drive back to the Marriott, take a short nap and change into some casual dinner clothes. From there, head back up to Concord and park at 1202 La Visa Avenue. Walk into the Markham Nature Park and Arboretum, a 16-acre park where you can visit a gorgeous garden and even go on a self-guided “tree walk” to see 45 different species of trees.
5:30 p.m. – Most likely starving from a full day of physical activity, settle in at a table at Fiore, an Italian restaurant in Concord (advance reservations are recommended). Take your time by ordering a bottle of wine and reminiscing about the past two days over some Moroccan steamed artichokes and Tuscan melon to start. From there, move on to a beet salad and then Tilapia, fettuccine carbonara and veal parmesan. Ask about specials and finish off with the cheesecake and tiramisu. You will want to lick your plate.
9:30 a.m. – Wake up slowly at the Marriott, relax with a cup of coffee in your room and start packing. If you are lucky enough to end your trip on a Sunday, be sure to drive to 1342 Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek. Walk into Corners Tavern (opens at 10:30 a.m. for brunch) and order the lobster and crab omelet, brioche French toast and shrimp roll. For an extra treat, try the cranberry spritzer. This is the perfect way to end your 50-hour getaway in Walnut Creek and Concord.
This article comes to us courtesy of the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee. Each week the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee features a #Perfect50 Hours series detailing how to spend 50 hours in a different San Francisco Bay Area city. See more here. by Katie Morell Sep 01, 2015