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Three Reasons to Cross the Bay Bridge

Photo via Vici's Facebook

The further flung locales of the East Bay rarely get much love from city dwellers, but don't be too quick to turn up your nose at suburban Walnut Creek or industrial Richmond. These spots may not have quite as much going on as Oakland or Berkeley, but they're still home to many hidden gems. Here are three of our favorites worth checking out this holiday weekend.

Vici Walnut Creek: The most awesome way to avoid mall shopping this holiday season. Vici is a stylish showroom in Walnut Creek that provides a personal shopping experience without the high price tag. Shop founders Sandy and Aimee Dudum stock the showroom with all kinds of great picks, including trendy bags, jewelry and apparel, and help their customers pull together anything from a single outfit to a whole new wardrobe. Just make an appointment (they're open Tuesday- Friday 10-7 & Saturday & Sunday 10-5), show up, drink some champagne and let the girls style you. For the holidays, the shop is stocking its shelves with perfect gift items and offering private holiday shopping parties complete with champagne and cupcakes (and shopping credit for the host, so call your friends).

Corners Tavern: After an afternoon of shopping, refuel at Corners Tavern, the Walnut Creek home of San Francisco's prolific brothers Rosenthal (of Town Hall, Salt House, and Anchor & Hope fame). The menu is big on the sorts of California takes on classic dishes that have made the SF spots so popular–the housemade pretzel, seafood fettuccine with heirloom tomato sauce, and shrimp roll are all favorites–but without the long wait for a table.

Point Isabel: The last thing you'd expect to find tucked behind the Costco in Richmond is one of the Bay Area's prettiest parks, but there sits Point Isabel, defying all logic. Another surprise: There are likely to be more dogs here than people. It's the largest and most awesome dog park in the Bay Area, but in addition to being a little piece of dog heaven, with its rolling hills and open meadows, it's a pleasant spot for humans too, complete with stunning bay views, a few miles of trails, and an excellent little cafe with good coffee and eats.