Places To Go In Central California





 Contra Costa County
Includes Walnut Creek & Concord



Buchanan Field Viewing Plaza
John Glenn Drive, Concord, CA 94520
Buchanan Field Airport

The Buchanan Field Viewing Plaza includes an airport control tower, ticket counter, and airplane play structures. There are picnic tables under two umbrella shade structures and another area with benches and bleachers where the public can hear the communications between the Air Traffic Control Tower and aircraft movement overhead. The paved plaza is enclosed by a fence with two gates, it has a 50 foot diagram of the airfield runways painted on the ground, and has become a popular location with local play groups who enjoy the aviation activities of the airport and the additional advantage of a place where their children can bring and use their own bikes, scooters and wagons.  [Submitted by Julie Conti]. 

To access the plaza, turn into the airport on John Glenn Drive and follow the road to its end.  The plaza will be on the left, near the Air Traffic Control Tower.




Heather Farms Garden Center
1540 Marchbanks Drive, Walnut Creek, CA 94598

Plant SalesEstablished in 1968, the gardens are a living museum, a wildlife habitat, an outdoor classroom, and a beautiful place for everyone to enjoy.  Check their website for education opportunities.  To volunteer call (925) 947-6712.






Lindsay Wildlife Museum
1931 First Ave, Walnut Creek, CA 94597
(925) 935-1978

Connect with wildlife and learn about the animals found in our backyards and open spaces. At Lindsay Wildlife Museum you can have close encounters with many live, non-releasable wild animals such as an eagle, hawk, fox, snake or coyote. An on-site wildlife hospital treats more than 6,000 native California animals every year. The museum also features changing art and natural history exhibits, classes for children and adults, and a discovery room with hands-on activities for children.  Please note, the museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Visit their website for hours, pricing, current exhibits, and a virtual tour!   Don't forget to check out their opportunities for volunteers!




Mount Diablo State Park
Oak Grove and Northgate Road
Walnut Creek, CA 94598
(925) 837 2525

A great jewel of the California park system.  Hiking, incredible views of the region, and an array of local flora and fauna.  Mount Diablo is a huge and rugged park, so do visit the website above to plan your time there according to your time and your fitness level.  Be sure to pack plenty of water to keep hydrated on the trails, and don't forget to pick up a trail map at the visitor center.  For information on park weather conditions up on the mountain call (925) 838-9225 Park is open 8am to sunset Monday through Saturday.  Summit Museum hours: 10am-4pm. 

Mount Diablo State Park Brochure (pdf file)

Park Location Map and Directions





Old Borges Ranch
1035 Castle Rock Road, Walnut Creek.
(925) 942-0225

For many people California history calls up images of the 49ers and the gold rush or of local Native American tribes in tule reed dwellings.  But the eras of Spanish, Mexican, and early American habitation in California saw the introduction and expansion of cattle ranching.  On the Borges Ranch, visitors can see a small working cattle ranch that encapsulates ranch life in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Here you'll find the original barns of the Borges Ranch plus a ranch house, wagonshed, woodshed, windmill, blacksmith shop, corrals, and antique farm equipment.   100 head of cattle still graze here, and kids and will especially enjoy the farm animals.  Besides living history, the ranch emphasizes environmental education and land preservation.

Open daily from 8 am to sunset.  Admission is free.  The ranch is situated in, and serves as ranger headquarters for, the 1400 acre Walnut Creek Open Space and Shell Ridge Recreation Area.  For more information about hiking here visit the Borges Ranch Hiking Page Picnickers will enjoy the ranch's Hanna Grove Picnic Area.  Note that the Borges Ranch Holiday Hoedown is held on the first Saturday in December and Borges Ranch Day happens on the first Saturday in June.  Both events are free.

To volunteer, call supervising ranger Nancy Dollard, (925) 943-5899, Ext. 135.





Shadelands Ranch Historical Museum
2660 Ygnacio Valley Road
(925) 935-7871

Shadelands Museum todayIf you have older kids who are learning about California history, you might enjoy a visit to this Walnut Creek landmark built by pioneer Hiram Penniman in 1903 for his spinster daughter.  The grounds feature gardens and outbuildings that represent the era's way of life on a working farm.   And the redwood-framed house showcases numerous historical artifacts, including local newspapers, photographs and government records.   For individuals wishing to do research on local history, the Sherwood Burgess Room is open Wednesdays from 1 to 4 p.m.

Penniman home, circa 1903Please note that the museum is closed each year from the beginning of November until the first Sunday in February to allow for refurbishing -- as well as the hosting of the Walnut Creek Historical Society's Holiday Faire and Victorian Teas.

Hours: Wednesday and Sunday (tours offered) - 1 to 4 p.m. Closed late November through early February.  Admission: $3, adults; $1, students ages 6-17, free; children under 6 and WCHS members. Reservations for 10 or more by appointment.   Office hours: Mon-Thurs, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Call Director Hannah Clayborn at 925-935-7871 to ask about volunteer opportunities. 





Sugarloaf Open Space
2161 Youngs Valley Road, Walnut Creek CA 94596
(off Rudgear Road)
(925) 944-5766

Picnic and group barbecue areas, rest rooms, extensive hiking and equestrian trails (with trail connections to Rudgear Park and Shell Ridge Open Space).   Camping available.  Dogs okay on leash. 





Summit Museum
96 Mitchell Canyon Rd
Clayton, CA 94517
(925) 837-6119

Get directions

Part of the Mount Diablo State Park Visitor's Center. The summit museum is located in the historic stone building atop Mt. Diablo's highest peak.  The tower was constructed during the late 1930's of fossiliferous sandstone blocks quarried in the park.  The Visitor Center highlights the cultural and natural history of Mt. Diablo State Park.

Impressive exhibits chronicle the history of the mountain and capture its majesty. A rock wall with instructional video examines the geological forces which created the mountain. Panels describe the native American history of the region. A diorama, complete with native sounds, offers an overview of the park's ecosystems. A model of the mountain acquaints visitors with important park locations. Splendid photographs enhance the visitor's experience. In addition to the exhibits, the summit museum features a gift shop and audio-visual room.  

Open Daily - 10am to 4pm


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Walnut Creek Model Railroad Society

2751 Buena Vista Ave., Walnut Creek, CA 94597-2503
Off Geary Road - In Larkey Park
(925) 937-1888
Get directions

Whether you love Thomas the Tank engine or collect scale model HO train sets, you'll enjoy a visit to see the miniature world lovingly laid out in this picturesque 1,800 square foot HO scale model.   No, you won't see Thomas and Bertie or any of their friends.  But you will see an amazingly detailed landscape of mini mountains, docks, towns, plus a plethora of working trains and trolleys that is sure to fire the imagination.  And with some 4,300 feet of track a single train circuit takes 15 minutes!  (View the video below for more info.)



Hours:  In general the display is open the last Friday of the month from 8-10 pm, however they do offer the occasional Saturday and Sunday from 11-6 so that kids can come for a visit as well, so check their calendar or visit their website for more information about hours of operation.  If you are visiting from out of town and don't want to miss a showing, give them a call to see if these kind and accommodating folks might have a member on hand to show you around. 



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