Are you looking for a weekend getaway in the Bay Area? Consider the Tri-Valley area where there are a ton of great things to do in Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin and Danville.
I lived in San Francisco for almost a decade while my cousins and aunt lived in the Tri Valley area just across the bridge. I spent many a weekend and holiday exploring the area with my family, but now I’ve had the opportunity to revisit the area as a tourist. For someone who thought they knew the area, boy was I wrong!
Exploring one of California’s oldest wine regions (with more than 60 wineries!), finding wildlife in one of the many outdoor spaces while also filling your belly with delicious eats and treats is the perfect escape for couples, friends and families. The Tri-Valley provides everything you need and want in a weekend getaway excursion in the San Francisco Bay Area from wine festivals to acres of parks to explore.
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What is the Tri Valley?
The Tri-Valley is 35 east of San Francisco, but a world away. Urban landscapes melt away to sprawling neighborhoods with vineyards as the backyard, cows grazing on green rolling hillsides and hidden nature escapes teeming with wildlife.
The Tri-Valley area is comprised of Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin and the town of Danville. These cities encompass a large swath of East Bay real estate that crosses from Alameda County to Contra Costa County and quickly leads out of the Bay Area. While for many, these are towns to drive through on the way to Los Angeles or the Central Valley, this area holds great appeal for a staycation or fun filled family weekend getaway.
- Pleasanton offers an abundance of outdoor space, an adorable and vibrant downtown filled with delicious food. Don’t miss the weekend farmer’s market to stock up on produce for the week.
- Livermore is California’s oldest wine region with dozens of family owned and operated wineries. There are so many great things to do in Livermore, but wine tasting wins. This is *the* place to go to support locally owned businesses, without giving up the world class taste California fine wines are known for.
- Dublin is known for their festive St Patrick’s Day Festival (of course!) and a booming city teeming with family-friendly spots. From laser tag, bowling,traditional eateries and so much more, your family will surely find something fun for their weekend getaway.
- Danville is home to upscale dining, the looming hills of Mt Diablo and one of the best museums around town – the Blackhawk Museum.
Find the Fun with These Great Things to Do in Livermore
Livermore is the homegrown winery region of the East Bay. Considered one of the oldest wine areas of the state, this are is still surprisingly underrated. With dozens of wineries and options for wine tastings, that must be the top of any to do list in Livermore. But for those who want to shop or are with kids, don’t worry as there is something for them too! The San Francisco Premium Outlets are well known and worth the drive!
Visit Local Wineries
Go Wild with Dinosaurs
Lost Worlds Adventure is the best thing to do in Livermore for kids of all ages. This prehistoric themed activity center has a ton of kids activities for a day out – from a play structure, glow in the dark mini golf, laser tag and a ninja course. For the adults, you can spend plenty of time playing fun video games or wracking up your tickets with skee-ball! This is a popular attraction for those living in the Tri-Valley area.
Hit Up A Local Pub
Livermore’s First Street Ale House is a locals go to with delicious pub type food and more than 20 beers on tap. This place is a popular meeting place on the weekends, so plan in advance for a long wait or make a reservation. Don’t forget to check out their daily offerings as their famous grilled cheese sandwich changes often. During our visit it was a sage butter grilled cheese. The free lollypop with each of our meals was a hit. Not sure if this was due to Halloween or because we had kids with us, either way it was well received.
Spot Bald Eagles at Del Valle
Livermore is filled with beautiful rolling hills and vineyards stretching across front lawns, so it’s no surprise that there are an abundance of wild animals living the open space! Nature lovers flock to Del Valle Regional Park where visitors can spend their day lounging lake side while fishing for rainbow trout or inland chinook salmon or they can watch the skies above searching for the resident bald eagles who swoop into the lake for meal times!
This local park is a great place to escape city life for a moment (there is no cell service out here!), learn about the wild animals that still call this area home at the local nature center or even spend the weekend camping out. If you want to hike, check out the Ohlone Wilderness Trail. Del Valle is just one of the many beautiful parks in the area to explore.
Explore the Best Things to Do in Pleasanton
Downtown Pleasanton is where you can experience a classic Main Street and flourishing downtown area with a main street filled with locally owned shops. There are a ton of great things to do in Pleasanton including shopping, dining, famous soft serve ice cream and even a historic downtown tour. Apart from what we listed below, there are an abundance of adorable shops like American Harvest filled with holiday decor and a wide selection of great restaurants with plenty of outdoor seating. Read on to find read more about our top picks when exploring downtown Pleasanton.
Towne Center Books
There aren’t so many brick and mortar book shops these days, so when we see one, we have to go in! Towne Center Books is a locally owned shop that is full of knowledgeable staff and recommendations. During our visit we were offered amazing recommendations on kids books and adult books. Definitely worth a stop to check out their recommended list and chat with the employees when you are looking for new inspiration.
Gay Nineties Pizza
For a fun family night out, Gay Nineties Pizza is the place to go. With a huge outdoor seating area, this historic building is packed on weekends. We enjoyed the lively atmosphere which is perfect for celebrations of any kind. Excellent pizza, pasta and garlic bread options! Be prepared for a wait on the weekends as they do a ton of take out orders as well as serving the patrons in house which makes for a busy pizza oven.
The famous and iconic Meadowlark Dairy is a must visit when you are in Pleasanton. This local landmark was founded in the early 1900s and was the first certified dairy in California. Their claim to fame is the delicious soft serve ice cream in amazing flavors like orange crush, pineapple and strawberry along with vanilla and chocolate classics. If you are in town during the winter holidays don’t miss your chance to try pumpkin, peppermint or egg nog.
Go ahead friends, live it up and go for the large! It is massive, but oh so yummy!
Note: Are you an ice cream aficionado? The Tri Valley has an Ice Cream Trail with local ice cream stops throughout the area.
Pleasanton Farmers Market
If you are in town for a short bit or live nearby, don’t miss this fabulous Saturday Farmer’s Market to stock up on local produce. The seasonal offerings are colorful, tasty and reasonably priced! During our visit we couldn’t help but stock up on strawberries, persimmon and milk from a regenerative farm. This was our first time to see a stall advertising produce and dairy from a regenerative farm – we hope this is the wave of future.
If you are in town looking for good eats, Nonni’s Bistro is the weekend spot of choice for locals. From weekend breakfast, brunch or daily lunch and dinner offerings, you will find something for everyone here. We visited for an early breakfast where we were enamored with their french toast and mimosa offerings. If you plan to stop in during the day on a weekend, you might consider a reservation as the tables fill up quickly!
Stroll the Streets Listening to Live Music
One of the biggest surprises of downtown Pleasanton was the abundance of live music playing on a Friday night. With the move to outdoor seating, outdoor performances have popped up all over. From the local man who set up his own heaters and guitar station on the corner of Main to the singer songwriters brought in by the various restaurants, it’s nice to stroll the streets taking it all in. With the added value of live outdoor music, this is the spot to venture out on a weekend evening.
Eat Your Way Through Dublin
Dublin, with its Irish roots, is actually home to some of the area’s most delicious Asian food. Below are a few options to get you started on your eating adventure. You can start your eating adventure by trying authentic dumplings at Mayflower.
Set in a nondescript shopping complex, Mayflower is a hidden gem. This traditional Cantonese restaurants offers delicious dim sum and dumplings during the day and a huge variety of other Chinese offerings for dinner. We sadly missed out on the pork buns for lunch, but loved our dinner with an assortment of pot stickers, fried rice and shrimp. If you are missing out on great ethnic food, this is the place to go! For other Asian varieties, try Amakara for Japanese food and sushi or Koi Palace for dim sum and northern China dumplings.
Spend a Day in Danville
Start your day off at the Blackhawk Museum before heading to lunch at Revel Kitchen and Bar and end the day with a great hike and explorations at Rock City on Mt Diablo.
One of the best things to do in Danville is a visit to the Blackhawk Museum. This museum is a treasure trove of information for young and old. The Blackhawk Museum is a hidden gem, that locals seem to know well, but visitors often miss. With set exhibits on old timey cars and the Spirit of the West, there is much to see and explore. Rotating exhibits offer an enriching experience for those looking to learn more about China, African Art or animals found on our planet. The museum also hosts special events like special speaker series that are worth checking out in advance if you are in the area.
Revel Kitchen and Bar
Located in downtown Danville, Revel Kitchen & Bar is an upscale, yet relatable restaurant that welcomes guests of all ages. With delicious offerings like brie and pear compote for a starter and more unique pairings like fried chicken biscuit sliders, your tastebuds will be pleased from start to finish. For weekend visits, you might consider reservations as it can get busy.
11th Tiger Thai Street Cafe
Our favorite country for food is Thailand, so we were excited to run into the 11th Tiger Thai Street Cafe in downtown Danville. Unfortunately we had already eaten, but it is on our wishlist for our next visit to town. This restaurant serves up our favorite street food from Thailand with a menu of noodles and curries.
Scramble on Rocks at Rock City on Mt Diablo
One of the best places to get outdoors in Danville (and the entire East Bay Area!) is Mt Diablo. This 3,800+ foot mountain looms over the area beckoning for a visit. With an abundance of outdoor activities like hiking trails, biking routes, rock scrambling, camping or even day drives – there is something for everyone here. If you are short on time, drive up to the top for scenic views over the Bay Area stretching as far as Yosemite on a clear day. If you are with kids, then you must make a stop at Rock City to explore these fascinating rock structures that are fun things to climb and explore. (Note: Please do not add your name to the already heavily defaced rocks!)
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Where to Stay
There are a ton of different places to stay throughout the Tri-Valley region, you really can’t go wrong. During our visit we stayed at the AC Hotel by Marriott in Pleasanton. This hotel is a modern, chic establishment that is perfect for all travelers. Located across from the Stoneridge Mall area and a few minutes from the highway, it is convenient for exploring the entire area. We particularly loved that the rooms were revamped with wood floors making the rooms feel fresh and revitalized.
Have you been to the Tri-Valley area? What are your favorites?
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Thank you to Visit Tri-Valley for inviting us out. We had a wonderful time exploring our old stomping grounds.