How to Spend 50 Perfect Hours in Contra Costa County

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Contra Costa County encompasses more than 800 square miles, 1 million residents, and a dozen municipalities within its borders, among them Walnut Creek, San Ramon, Orinda, and Pleasant Hill. 


DAY 1

9:00 a.m. – Wake up inside the Lafayette Park Hotel & Spa, a high-end property that looks like a French chalet from the outside. Enjoy a beautiful courtyard view from your room before slathering on sunscreen, putting on your workout clothes and lacing up your most comfortable sneakers or hiking boots. Walk downstairs into The Park Bistro & Bar, the hotel’s on-site restaurant, for a delicious breakfast of huevos rancheros and lemon blueberry pancakes (the eggs Benedict are also tasty).

10:30 a.m. – Hop in your car and drive down Mt. Diablo Blvd. until you get to the Lafayette Reservoir. This is a scenic park where you and your family can walk the 2.7-mile Lakeside Nature Trail or the 4.5-mile Rim Trail. Bring your camera and be on the lookout for wild birds and cute dogs on leashes.

12:00 p.m. – After a nice walk, drive to Lunardi’s Market in the city of Danville. Belly up to the deli counter and order a few sandwiches to go. Make sure to grab a couple bottles of water on your way out. Then, drive to Mount Diablo State Park.

1:00 p.m. – Mount Diablo is one of the iconic mountains in the San Francisco Bay Area and definitely worth a visit for anyone who loves being outside. Drive down South Gate Road until you get to what is called Rock City. This are includes the picturesque Elephant Rock, Sentinel Rock, Fossil Ridge and the Wind Caves. Take out your sandwiches from Lunardi’s and settle in for a private picnic among the natural beauty.

Spend the rest of the day exploring. There are more than 150 miles of hiking trails within the confines of the park, so you will never get bored. Try taking the Juniper Trail to the mountain’s summit or the Falls Trail, which is six miles roundtrip and gives hikers access to incredible waterfalls.

If you’d rather not hike, check out the observation deck and notice the beacon above the rotunda, which is lit every December 7th to memorialize the lives lost during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

4:30 p.m. – Load back into your car and head to your hotel and straight to the on-property Spa at the Park. Luxuriate with a 90-minute massage or facial as a reward for your full day of exercise. Then, enjoy some time soaking in the spa’s hot tubs before getting ready for dinner.

7:00 p.m. – Drive five minutes down the road to Postino Restaurant, an Italian gem of a restaurant in an intimate setting. Don’t leave without trying the burrata, the short ribs, and the lasagna. Ask your server for the best wine parings and stay a while.

DAY 2

9:00 a.m. – Wake up, put on some fresh hiking clothes and head out to Millie’s Kitchen for breakfast, located just two miles down the road. This local favorite is known for its hardy portions; some of the tastiest menu items include the pancake/french toast combination and the belgian waffles.

10:30 a.m. – From Millie’s, drive to Alhambra Avenue in Martinez and the entrance to the John Muir National Historic Site, a nine-acre park that celebrates the life of one of history’s most celebrated naturalists. The park includes Muir’s former home as well as picnic areas. Ranger-led tours are available, or you can do a self-guided tour with your smart phone. Be sure to start your visit by watching A Glorious Journey, a 20-minute film about Muir’s life. It will help put the destination into perspective.

12:00 p.m. – Now that your brain is filled with knowledge about John Muir’s legacy, it's time for lunch. Drive into Walnut Creek and stop at 1516 Bonanza Street. Walk into Havana, a fun Cuban-inspired lunch spot and don’t leave without taking a bite of the Cuban Reuben and the chicken tortilla soup. Delicious.

1:00 p.m. – Take a ride north along Ygnacio Valley Road and stop at the entrance to the Ruth Bancroft Garden, a sprawling garden featuring a variety of desert plants and succulents. The site offers children’s tours and seminars for gardening enthusiasts. Note: It is closed Mondays. 

3:00 p.m. – Make sure to put on sunscreen for your next stop: the Contra Costa Canal Trail. Located in nearby Pleasant Hill, this paved trail is perfect for people looking for a scenic way to enjoy nature. The path is quite long and connects the cities of Martinez, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek and Concord. Walk as far as you and your group would like (carry your camera) and then turn around and head back to your car.

5:00 p.m. – Shower and change at the Lafayette Park Hotel and then drive back to Pleasant Hill and settle into a table at Wence’s Restaurant. This eatery specializes in American fare and is known for its burgers, muscles, and oysters.

DAY 3

9:30 a.m. – Wake up slowly this morning and pack up your suitcases. Check out and drive over to Chow for breakfast. Order the organic chicken sausage scramble or the organic blueberry pancakes – both are fabulous options.

Once finished, drive over to Walnut Creek and enjoy taking in the flora and fauna (notice the different species of birds, too) at The Gardens at Heather Farm—a perfect way to round out your getaway in Contra Costa County.

 This article comes to us courtesy of the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee. Each week the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee features a #Perfect50 Hours series detailing how to spend 50 hours in a different San Francisco Bay Area city. See more here

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