Things to Do in Walnut Creek

Things to Do in Walnut Creek, CA

The arts play an important role in Walnut Creek, as residents take an active interest in the city’s cultural community. A world-class arts center and the chance to participate in a wide range of arts programs are a source of special pride in Walnut Creek.

The Lesher Center for the Arts in downtown Walnut Creek attracts over a quarter of a million people each year for more than 900 performing arts events. Featured events include Broadway musicals by the Contra Costa Musical Theater and Diablo Light Opera Company; dramas and comedies provided by the Center Repertory Company; and concerts by the California Symphony, Diablo Symphony and the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra. There are also professional productions by the Diablo Ballet and the Festival Opera each season.

The 130-seat Knight Stage 3 in the Regional Center joins the elegant 800-seat Hofmann Theater and contemporary 300-seat Margaret Lesher Theater, allowing for both intimate and large-scale productions.

Before attending a performance at the Regional Center, patrons may enjoy exploring the Bedford Art Gallery located just off the lobby. The gallery schedules a diverse selection of exhibits “from contemporary trends to folk art” sometimes co-sponsored by local businesses.

For a special treat, the huge outdoor Sleep Train Pavilion in Concord brings world-class entertainment to the area April through October. The Pavilion also hosts an annual jazz festival that draws jazz enthusiasts from around the globe.

For those who prefer a hands-on experience, Civic Arts Education offers northern California’s largest community arts program with more than 600 visual and performing arts classes. Classes such as ceramics, photography, painting, sculpture, dance, drama and music are offered for adults and children.

Broadway Plaza and the 1330 California building have picturesque fountains adorning their plazas, and many buildings have been recognized with the Chamber of Commerce beautification award. Corporate offices often have collections adorning their walls. The city of Walnut Creek has a broad array of public art throughout its streets, helping to locate sculptures and murals in parks and other public areas.

1% of all new development costs is dedicated to city art.

Shadelands Ranch Historical Museum offers an historical perspective and a wealth of information on Walnut Creek. The museum is located in a turn-of-the-century house built by Hiram Penniman, one of Walnut Creek’s founding fathers.

Train buffs can get their ticket punched at the Walnut Creek Model Railroad Society, where Diablo Valley Lines opens to public viewing twice a month.

For nature enthusiasts, Walnut Creek is home to two bountiful garden museums.

The Ruth Bancroft Garden, internationally recognized as one of the finest private gardens in North America, was the first to be sponsored by the Garden Conservancy. It features succulents and has been noted for its beautiful design.

The Gardens at Heather Farm provide an active environment with a children’s adventure area. In addition, visitors may enjoy ten landscaped gardens, including meadow, sensory, rose and rock gardens, all with self-guiding walkways.

Lindsay Wildlife Museum is one of Walnut Creek’s most popular attractions. It cares for more than 6,000 injured and orphaned animals yearly, returning 40 percent of them to the wild. One of the largest wildlife rehabilitation centers in America, the museum uses 75 species of unreleasable wild animals to teach children and adults respect for the balance of nature. Lindsay Museum’s educational programs and exhibits are a treat for the whole family.

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor is located in nearby Concord. Cool off on one of the many water slides.

The Lawrence Hall of Science located in Berkeley provides an exciting hands-on experience for people of all ages.

Chabot Space and Science Center, in nearby Oakland, includes an observatory, planetarium, exhibits and a natural park setting that inspires and educates people of all ages about our Planet Earth and the Universe.

Outdoor Recreation near Walnut Creek

The city of Walnut Creek’s Recreation Division coordinates the use of 22 city parks, 13 playfields, 33 tennis courts, two community centers, two swim centers and two gyms.

The Tice Valley Gym, built by the city in partnership with the Jewish Community Center, is equipped with state-of-the-art aerobic studios, classrooms, basketball courts and outdoor facilities.

The Aquanuts Synchronized Swim Team, whose members were 1996 Olympic Gold Medalists, train at the Clarke Memorial Swim Center in Heather Farm Park. Each year, thousands use the aquatic facilities as a regular part of their fitness regime.

Horse lovers enjoy the Equestrian Center of Walnut Creek, a six-acre public riding and training facility. Castle Rock Arabians, an Arabian horse ranch, also has riding lessons and summer horse camps providing fun for the whole family. Golfers find plenty of action in a stunning setting at the 18-hole Boundary Oak Golf Course with hilltop views of Walnut Creek.

For those interested in taking their lunch break on the links, Diablo Hills Golf Course has a 9-hole course a short chip shot from downtown.

The Contra Costa Canal Trail provides miles of greenbelt, linking Walnut Creek with surrounding cities. Although the trail passes through the urban heart of the county, it gives hikers, bicyclists and rollerbladers a rural change of pace.

The Iron Horse Trail provides the county with an important form of recreation and an alternative commute. The trail connects parks, neighborhoods, and urban centers, and is expanding its reach well beyond Concord to the north and Pleasanton to the south.

For the more adventurous, the city has preserved 2,704 acres of undeveloped open space divided into four areas. These natural preserves attract bird-watchers year-round and overflow with brilliantly colored wild flowers during the spring:

  1. Acalanes Ridge – 178 acres with many miles of hiking trails
  2. Lime Ridge – approximately 924 acres
  3. Shell Ridge – more than 20 miles of hiking and equestrian trials
  4. Sugarloaf Open Space – five miles of hiking trails, as well as one of the area’s few remaining walnut orchards

Visitors experience early-settler style living and learn about the environment at the Old Borges Ranch. An environmental program teaches children, students and civic groups hands-on ranching experience. Encompassing 20,000 square acres, Mount Diablo State Park is a natural wonder with 150 miles of hiking trails and breathtaking views. Picnic areas, campgrounds and a visitor’s center are located at the top of Mount Diablo.

Just minutes west by car or Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is San Francisco, a world-renowned travel destination.