East Bay Adventures for Summertime
From a thriving culinary scene and world-class cultural institutions to the breathtaking, diverse landscape, the East Bay offers countless reasons to extend your adventures beyond San Francisco’s city limits. Discover the can’t-miss things to experience this summer in the Tri-Valley, Berkeley and Oakland.
From the top of Mt. Diablo, you can see the region’s three valleys (hence the name) and four cities: Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin and Danville. Just 35 minutes east of San Francisco and graced with views of the surrounding golden hills, the Tri-Valley is full of events, restaurants, wineries and shops.
With more than 55 wineries in close proximity to each other throughout the area, you can plot out stops and make a day of wine tasting in the beautiful East Bay countryside. One must-see is Livermore’s Wente Vineyards, the oldest family-run winery in the United States. Boasting a variety of fantastic whites and reds, some featured only on-site, Wente has plenty of room in the tasting area to sample all the different options. Be sure to check their event calendar for upcoming concerts at the vineyard, too.
Though less well-known than Tri-Valley's wine country, Pleasanton's hop history is equally impressive. The Pleasanton Hops Community utilized 1,900 acres of wetland from the late 1800s until the first World War and Prohibition. The tradition lives on today through a great variety of local microbreweries and brewpubs. You can sample flights, learn about food pairings and chat with brewmasters on the Tri-Valley Beer Trail, which includes more than 20 stops from Danville to Livermore.
The Tri-Valley boasts some of the best hiking, biking, golf and water sports in Northern California. Get your heart pumping on the trail to Murietta Falls or take in an incredible 360-degree panorama of the area at Mt. Diablo State Park. The summit offers awesome vistas toward San Francisco and across the valleys.
Concord and Walnut Creek
If you're looking for an affordable and convenient place to stay while visiting San Francisco and the Bay Area, try Concord or Walnut Creek. Located in the East Bay, both cities are a short BART ride to San Francisco and provide easy access to major roadways. Concord is a hidden gem, with its welcoming downtown, burgeoning arts and culinary scenes, delicious craft breweries, scenic mountain trails and family attractions such as Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord. Walnut Creek offers over 100 restaurants and nightclubs, world-class shopping, the highly-acclaimed Lesher Center for the Arts, and plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities in a picture-perfect setting at the foot of Mt. Diablo.
Free speech and flower power are forever in Berkeley’s DNA, and the city has evolved into a modern and inspiring cultural hub. It’s home to the gorgeous UC Berkeley campus, as well as renowned visual and performing arts venues, local restaurants and outdoor recreation.
Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive
The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) makes for a fun field trip within easy reach—just one block from the BART station and 21 minutes from downtown San Francisco on the Richmond line. Opened in 2016, BAMPFA gives you an exhilarating taste of the eccentric and diverse spirit that thrives in the Bay Area. At the heart of it all is the museum’s collection of 19,000 works of art, dating from 3000 B.C. to the present. The film and video collection is one of the best in the nation, complemented by two state-of-the-art theaters screening more than 400 films a year.
You can extend your visit into the evening on Friday and Saturday nights, when BAMPFA keeps the galleries open until 9 p.m. Afterward, it’s just a quick stroll over to Tupper & Reed for a nightcap. The stylish two level bar and lounge is known for its delicious craft cocktails, handcrafted mixers and festive speakeasy vibe.
In Oakland, you’ll find beautiful views and historic neighborhoods, as well as art, architecture, music, restaurants and bars to rival those of its sister city across the Bay. Dynamic and diverse, Oakland is a destination in its own right.
If you like bars with character, you’ve come to the right place. Oakland has a bevy of watering holes that value history over trendiness. Exhibit A: Heinold’s First and Last Chance, a ramshackle saloon built in 1883 from the remains of a whaling ship. Heinold’s street cred is hard to beat, as a young Jack London hung out there working on "The Call of the Wild." On the corner of Telegraph Avenue and 66th Street, the otherwise unassuming White Horse holds the honor of being the oldest gay bar in the nation, with more than 80 years of continuous operation. Walk past the chichi bars and restaurants on Grand Avenue and step back in time at the Alley, one of Oakland’s few remaining piano bars, established in 1933.
Jack London Square Fare
Head over to Oakland’s Jack London Square to sample offerings from some of the city’s top culinary talent. You can do a self-guided tour of the square, including the expertly brewed java at Blue Bottle Coffee (300 Webster St.) or handcrafted pizza served around an intimate outdoor fire pit at Forge (66 Franklin St.). Indulge your sweeter side at Miette (85 Webster St.), an adorable pastry shop with irresistible cakes, cookies and confections. Don’t miss plank (98 Broadway), the one-of-a-kind entertainment venue and restaurant with 18 state-of-the-art bowling lanes, a beer garden and a patio overlooking the Bay.
For extra guidance navigating Oakland’s food terrain, check out Edible Excursion’s walking tours.
Further Oakland Explorations
Once you’re good and fed, work off some of those extra calories with a walk around Lake Merritt, Oakland’s lovely fresh- and saltwater lake. Clocking in at 3.4 miles, the perimeter is flat all the way around, making for a gorgeous, easy stroll. If you have kids in tow, walk on the wild side at the Bay Area's award-winning Oakland Zoo, home to more than 660 native and exotic animals.
For an indoor excursion, spend a few hours at Oakland Museum of California. OMCA brings together collections of art, history and science under one roof to tell the extraordinary stories of California and its people. With more than 1.8 million objects, it’s a leading cultural institution of the Bay Area. Stop by Friday Nights @ OMCA from 5-9 p.m. for a family-friendly take on a festive night market featuring Off the Grid food trucks, music and more.