Walnut Creek, Calif.: Weekender

A suburban town tucked at the foot of Mount Diablo in the East Bay is full of charm, sophisticated eateries, theater, and wildlife.

Mount Diablo State Park hills, Walnut Creek, Calif., image

Some 30 square miles of hills, flowers, and oaks roll across Mount Diablo State Park.

Hawk with trainer, Lindsay Wildlife Museum, Walnut Creek, Calif., image

A female Harris's hawk gives a flap at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum.

Roe, urchin, quail egg at Sasa, Walnut Creek, Calif., image

Sasa, a Japanese restaurant, poses colorful roe, urchin, and quail egg.

Blue stuffed animal, Five Little Monkeys, Walnut Creek, Calif., image

Five Little Monkeys offers a wide array of unique, high-quality toys.

Bikers on Iron Horse Regional Trail, Walnut Creek, Calif., image

The Iron Horse Regional Trail runs through Walnut Creek on an old Southern Pacific Railroad route.

IF YOU'RE GOING...

Take advantage of the area’s local amenities and services:

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Tree-lined streets in a chic downtown complement must-see natural attractions around Mount Diablo to make this East Bay city a lively, friendly getaway.

Area code is 925.

to do and see
Iron Horse Regional Trail A flat, paved path extends from leafy neighborhoods in Concord through Walnut Creek to Dublin and beyond. Join bikers, hikers, skaters, and strollers on the carfree trail accessible from several BART stations. Download a detailed map at ebparks.org/parks/trails/iron_horse. Lesher Center for the Arts Three stages host live music, theater, dance, and a speakers series. 1601 Civic Dr., 295-1400, lesherartscenter.org. Lindsay Wildlife Museum A rehab center for hurt or orphaned eagles, gray foxes, and other critters teaches as it respectfully entertains. 1931 First Ave., 935-1978, wildlife-museum.org. Mount Diablo State Park Drive to the summit of the 3,849-foot landmark for 200-mile views. Download a free audio guide to the geology and history of the peak from audiblemountdiablo.com/amd/Mary_Bowerman_Tour/Mary_Bowerman_Tour.html. Ruth Bancroft Garden A dry garden celebrates desert plants such as golden barrel cacti. Sign up for spring tours and how-to-grow workshops, or buy plants and local honey. 1552 Bancroft Rd., 944-9352, ruthbancroftgarden.org.

shopping
Athletic Outpost Advice, gait analysis, and a careful shoe fit. 1528 Bonanza St., 943-6453, athleticoutpost.com. Five Little Monkeys Cheery store stuffed with toys, games, and kids’ costumes. 1366 N. Main St., 939-4411, 5littlemonkeys.com. Kitchen Table One-of-a-kind salad bowls made of maple, candy-colored glassware, and a wall of unusual cookie cutters. 1373 Locust St., 937-8888.

eats
Sasa Japanese pub-style small plates made with sashimi-grade seafood. Try the spicy ahi parfait and tasting flights of premium sakes. 1432 N. Main St., 210-0188, sasawc.com. Va de Vi Classy bistro serving dishes such as duck confit and herb-crusted lamb chops. Finish with a Guittard chocolate soufflé. 1511 Mt. Diablo Blvd., 979-0100, vadevi.com. Walnut Creek Baking Company Need a four-layer fudge cake filled with whipped ganache? If not, stop anyway for coffee and a slice of green chili and cheddar quiche, or a gingeroo cookie. 1686 Locust St., 988-9222, walnutcreekbakingcompany.com.

sleeps
Embassy Suites Four-person suites. 1345 Treat Blvd., 934-2500, AAA.com. Holiday Inn Express 2730 N. Main St., 932-3332, AAA.com.

get going
Request the Northern California & Nevada TourBook and the Walnut Creek–Lafayette map at AAA.com or any AAA branch office. For more information, visit Walnut Creek City Hall: 1666 N. Main St., 943-5800, walnut-creek.org/thingstodo.

Photography by Brad Perks Lightscapes/Alamy (hills); Mitch Tobias (4)

This article was first published in May 2011 and updated in September 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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