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Small-Town Spotlight: Walnut Creek
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Small-Town Spotlight: Walnut Creek

Here's a visual guide to Walnut Creek, a trendy East Bay destination home to chic boutiques, innovative restaurants, and cultural landmarks.

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5 min read

November 02, 2022

Nestled amongst the hills of the East Bay Area, about 30 minutes away from San Francisco, the charming town of Walnut Creek may not be very large, but it’s rich in riveting arts and culture, picturesque scenery, world-class restaurants, and high-end boutiques. 

While Walnut Creek was once a quiet Contra Costa County community, it has boomed in recent years thanks to an influx of new residents and posh housing developments. Now, the social scene is hotter than ever, and the town is quickly becoming a trendy destination for locals and tourists alike—and it’s easy to see why.

Whether you want to savor farm-to-table eats and innovative tapas, take in rooftop views, catch a theater show, enjoy a leisurely bike ride, treat yourself to a blowout, or indulge in some retail therapy at upscale shops, this suburban oasis with urban flair has you covered.  So, whether you’re looking forward to spending a day in Downtown Walnut Creek, or searching for all the fun things to do in this vibrant town, here’s a list of places to visit and things to do that will make your visit worth your while.

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More and more people leaving their cubicles in exchange for an afternoon outside in Downtown Walnut Creek.

Places to Visit in Downtown Walnut Creek

As with every other city in the Golden State, Walnut Creek’s Downtown Area is where life happens day and night. Early in the morning you’ll find people grabbing their morning cup of joe before heading to work. As the day progresses, you’ll see people leaving their cubicles to catch some fresh air, have lunch, or simply work outside for a while. Afternoons are dedicated to shopping, while nights are dedicated to meeting up with friends. A simple walk down the streets of Downtown Walnut Creek will show you all there is to do, but if you need a quick guide to where to shop, or where to have a quick bite, just scroll down for inspiration.

1500 Mt. Diablo Boulevard building is one of the most popular structures in Downtown Walnut Creek.

1500 Mt. Diablo

Created by local developer Brian Hirahira, the 1500 Mt. Diablo Boulevard building is a Walnut Creek hot spot. The building houses the town’s first ever rooftop restaurant, Rooftop Restaurant and Bar, a Spanish eatery, Telefèric Barcelona Walnut Creek, as well as an acclaimed pizzeria, Slice House by Tony Gemignani. It is also home to a collection of world-class retailers, which will make all your shopping dreams come true.

Walnut Creek offers big-city luxuries with a small-town feel that’ll leave you feeling fulfilled yet balanced.

Nordstrom Broadway Plaza


Walnut Creek town’s three-story Nordstrom Broadway Plaza features an array of designer clothing, shoes, handbags, cosmetics, and accessories — plus an outdoor cafe serving up mouthwatering fare. The shopping mecca features 80-plus popular retailers, including Banana Republic, J. Crew, Zara, Madewell, Lululemon, and Athleta. Upscale boutiques such as Saje and Brighton also line the sidewalks of Broadway Plaza. Do you need a break from all the shopping? You can take a break on a bench in the picturesque plaza, where you can admire the charming fountain, smell the fragrant flowers, and watch the passersby.

Unlike most other Anthropologie stores, the one in Walnut Creek features a bridal salon as well as a design center.

Anthropologie

Unlike most other branches, Anthropologie in Walnut Creek, CA is nearly three times the size of the average Anthropologie store. Spanning 30,000 square feet, the boho-chic store comes complete with a bridal salon and design center. If you’re an Anthropologie fan and have been into many of the chain’s branches, it won’t take you much time to realize that the best of them is located in this quaint little town.

From big name restaurants to charming mom-and-pop eateries, you can have the best of both worlds in the town that has it all.

Downtown Walnut Creek Restaurants

Aside from being a prime shopping destination, Walnut Creek also offers numerous fast-casual eateries, such as Ike's Love and Sandwiches, alongside more elevated dining options like Ruth's Chris Steak House. North Main Street will lead you past the awesome Walnut Creek restaurants, specialty food shops, and unique boutiques dotting the idyllic downtown Walnut Creek. What’s obvious is that you’ll never run out of good food in the city.

Not a single place in all of Walnut Creek beats the beauty of Diablo Foothills Regional Park, and its trails testify to it.

Hike the Trails of Diablo Foothills Regional Park

Diablo Foothills Regional Park is what hikers call a paradise. The 1,060-acre park in Walnut Creek, California, has at least a dozen of the best hiking trails in Contra Costa County, which range from easy to difficult, and with elevations going as low as 262 feet and as high as 2,867 feet. In short, this is a place where hikers of all levels and interests can find a trail that suits them - and with gorgeous vistas all around. Truth is, the simple fact that you’ll be seeing the striking Diablo Foothills is enough to attract you. Choose between the family-friendly Castle Rock Stage Road Trail and the difficult Orchard Staging Area and Rock City Loop, or anything in between for an authentic Walnut Creek experience.  

Attend a Performance at the Lesher Center for the Arts

What better way to appreciate the art scene of a specific city than by attending a performance at its premier arts venue. Now, if the city we’re talking about is none other than NorCal’s Walnut Creek, then the Lesher Center for the Arts is the destination of choice. As one of the best theaters in California for live performances, the Lesher Center welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors every year to enjoy over 900 performances. You’ll be able to enjoy theater, music, dance, comedy, and improv performances in one of the center’s four theaters year round, so hurry up and book your spot.  

Have a Picnic at Civic Park

Of all the Walnut Creek parks, the Civic Park stands out as the chillest and arguably the prettiest. The 16.7-acre park is home to beautiful habitat gardens, which house over 25 species of butterflies. In the park’s beautiful gardens, you’ll also find over 130 species of native California fauna. Still, touring the breathtaking gardens isn’t the only reason people visit the park in flocks. Here you’ll also find a community center, art studios, playgrounds for kids of all ages, and of course, awesome day-use picnic areas. So, it’s mandatory that you pack a basket and make a day out of your visit to Civic Park. 

If you feel like you need more, you’ll love to know that this Walnut Creek Park connects to the 31.77-mile Iron Horse Trail, a NorCal favorite, connecting eight East Bay cities. Need we say more?

With all the fun you’re promised in Walnut Creek, you’ll soon find yourself visiting the quaint Northern California town regularly.

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