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Explore Contra Costa County's Family-Friendly Towns
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Explore Contra Costa County's Family-Friendly Towns

Here's your guide to Contra Costa County, a conglomerate of largely suburban communities with sprawling natural spaces.

Margaret Flores

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4 min read

July 07, 2022

Situated in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, Contra Costa County is a conglomerate of largely suburban communities with sprawling natural spaces. Pear, walnut, and cherry orchards used to dominate the county, but over the years, most of the rural land was converted into housing developments, schools, and commercial centers. Contra Costa County has retained its heavy industry, however, due to its extensive waterfront along the San Francisco, San Pablo, and Suisun Bays; the region is still home to several active oil refineries and chemical plants. Despite their growth, the towns in Contra Costa County have maintained their charm and continue to offer residents and visitors alike acres of open space to explore.

Martinez

The incredible views of Mount Diablo are a sight to behold.

Martinez, the county seat, is a historic town where renowned naturalist John Muir resided for many years and where legendary baseball player Joe DiMaggio was born. Visitors can browse for antiques in the array of shops lining Main Street, play bocce ball, go for a walk at Waterfront Park, admire early 20th-century architecture throughout the town, and grab a bite to eat at one of the trendy restaurants. Mount Wanda, named for Muir’s daughter, is another popular Martinez attraction with meadows of wildflowers, oak trees, and hilltop views. It is the ideal place for a relaxing trip with the family.

Mount Diablo 

Also in Martinez is Mount Diablo mountain. Being the most notable natural landmark in Contra Costa County, it is a 3,849-foot mountain at the northern end of the Diablo Range. Visitors can easily spend a whole day at the 20,000-acre Mount Diablo State Park, whether it’s traversing the terrain on foot, by bike, or on horseback; admiring the remarkable view from the Summit Visitor Center, where parts of 40 of California’s 58 counties are visible on clear days; or taking a ranger-led tour or nature walk. Other noteworthy parks in Contra Costa County include Briones Regional Park, Shell Ridge and Lime Ridge Open Spaces, Los Vaqueros Reservoir, Marsh Creek State Park, and Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve.

Featuring expanses of open land and small towns with the comforts of large cities, Contra Costa County is an ideal destination for any type of visitor.

Walnut Creek 

Exploring the nature surrounding Walnut Creek guarantees a fun journey for all.

The upscale enclaves of Walnut Creek, Danville, and San Ramon also attract visitors from across the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Walnut Creek and Danville offer a bevy of chic eateries; and high-end boutiques selling the latest fashions, accessories, and home decor items.  Located at the base of Mt. Diablo, Walnut Creek offers the charm of hometown California that we all have come to love, vibrant and sunny with fun activities to partake in all around the area.

Visiting the many gardens and farms around the area is at the top of the list of things to do at Walnut Creek! The Heather Farms park has exceptionally beautiful gardens that you can discover, where newlyweds and nature lovers are attracted during the warmer months. Full of fragrant flowers, The Heather Farms always has something to be discovered. From educational programs to annual summer festivals, a visit to Walnut Creek will surely be a day to remember.

Brentwood 

Brentwood is always brimming with fun and entertainment, come find out what it has to offer.

Another one of Northern California’s hidden gems is the charming city of Brentwood, where there are endless things to see and do. From miles of scenic hiking trails to lively community events like concerts, artistic activities and so much more. 

The East Contra Costa Historical Society Museum is a great place to start for a brief overview of the city of Brentwood, with all sorts of preserved and maintained historical artifacts, exhibits, and educational information.

Visiting the Round Valley Regional Preserve is another one of the things to do in Brentwood, for the more adventurous families out there, the many hiking and cycling trails are exhilarating activities that will bring the whole family together. There are 2000 acres to be explored at this Reserve. If your thirst for adventure still hasn’t been quenched after an entire day out in nature, staying overnight is a very viable option, as there are multiple campsites you can choose from.

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Lafayette

Though quieter than other parts of Contra Costa County, the Lamorinda region has seen rapid growth recently, too. The town of Lafayette has a scenic reservoir with several trails as well as a bustling downtown with one-of-a-kind restaurants and shops. Known for its high quality of life, low crime rates, and charming environment, visiting this part of Contra Costa County is a no-brainer for every family on a trip.

The nearby hamlet of Moraga is best known for its Saint Mary’s College of California, considered to be one of the best Contra Costa colleges, which has such prominent graduates as actor Will Forte and basketball star Patty Mills. Neighboring Orinda has a small downtown but boasts a historic movie theater and an array of gourmet restaurants. The town also borders Tilden Regional Park, a 2,079-acre oasis for outdoor enthusiasts, offering myriad hiking and biking trails, a lake, a golf course, a botanic garden, and more.

San Ramon

The town of San Ramon is home to one of the most family-friendly towns of Contra Costa County, a great side of the Contra Costa area to visit and explore. San Ramon has boomed in recent years and enticed numerous tech companies to open offices there. City Center Bishop Ranch is the latest addition to the town, featuring 10-plus eateries, a craft brewery, a variety of posh shops, and even a luxury movie theater.

San Ramon also has one of the most fun neighborhoods for people who are visiting Contra Costa County CA, such as the neighborhood of Twin Creeks where there are endless family-friendly things to do. Visiting Tims Ford lake for a quick swim is a great way to spend the time while you are in San Ramon, you can also either rent a boat or bring your own for a ride on the refreshing water of the lake. Either way, whichever activity you decide to go for, Tims Ford will not let you down.

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