The Diablo Valley region has a lot going for it every season of the year. Everywhere you turn, from Concord to Martinez, from Pleasant Hill to Walnut Creek and on to nature’s ecological beauty, Mount Diablo, with its sweeping panoramic vistas and lush grasslands, Diablo Valley does not disappoint. While still enjoying summertime’s bounty of arts and culture events, farmers’ markets featuring jazz and blues, along with Mount Diablo hiking, biking and nature walks, fall is definitely welcomed for its comfy weather perfect for outdoor adventures. Here are 10 reasons to visit Diablo Valley this fall, though you may find even more to add for a favored Northern California lifestyle.
Mount Diablo Interpretive Association
MDIA Events Calendar
The Mount Diablo Interpretive Association (MDIA) is a non-profit volunteer organization that works with the California Department of Parks and Recreation to maintain, advise and explain Mount Diablo State Park for its 700,000 yearly visitors. With an ongoing education program, sponsored activities and various publications, plus creating and managing the Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center, the MDIA is a vital part of the Mount Diablo visitor experience. Part of the MDIA offerings is its monthly Event Calendar, with evening hikes, sunset nature walks, wildflower walks, camp fires, ecological and astrological talks and other educational sessions. Reservations are required for some events. Check the MDIA website and Event Calendar for more information.
77th Annual Walnut Festival
Heather Farm Park
Walnut Creek, CA 94598
Twilight Parade: Sept. 13, 2014, 6 p.m.
Festival: Sept. 18-21, 2014
It’s that time again! The Walnut Creek Centennial spotlights Walnut Festival month for the 77th Annual Walnut Festival, two weeks of family fun and part of Walnut Creek’s year-long centennial celebration. The festivities include a twilight parade in downtown Walnut Creek and a four-day festival. The event features four days of family-friendly entertainment on two live music stages, a huge carnival with over 30 rides and games, 40 vendors, a kid zone, specialty food items, a beer garden and other beverages and a car show (Saturday only, noon to 6 p.m.).
Bay Area Blues Festival
Martinez, CA 94553
Dates: Sept. 27-28, 2014
The Downtown Martinez Italian Street Painting Festival and San Francisco’s Polk Street Festival emerge as the new Bay Area Blues Festival, to be held in Historic Downtown Martinez, California on September 27 and 28, 2014, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Featured at the new event are blues music on two stages and arts and crafts exhibitors. Expect gourmet food booths along with food from local restaurants, community booths, hands-on kids activities and rides, a farmers’ market with bistro-style dining areas, fine wines, craft beers and a street painting artist to create fabulous chalk art with a Blues theme plus the original, traditional Italian theme of the previous Italian Street Painting Festival.
There will be a great line-up of entertainment, similar to the 2013 schedule, although it is not set yet. This event will be one of the few free blues festivals remaining in Northern California, and it’s sure to receive a lot of press and excitement.
The festival will provide a complimentary shuttle bus to festival attendees from the North Concord BART Station. Check the website for additional details closer to the festival date.
12th Annual Art, Jazz & Wine Fest 2014
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
Date: Oct. 4-5, 2014
Here is a lively, entertaining weekend event, and especially enjoyable for the many wine aficionados in the Bay Area. The Art, Jazz & Wine Fest in downtown, sunny Pleasant Hill, California showcases over 70 arts and crafts vendors surrounded by free live music, a family entertainment area, wine, beer and, new this year, the Premium Wine Pavilion with a special Wine Tasting Experience. Enjoy the day on Saturday, October 4, and stay for the Saturday Evening Concert featuring East Bay Mudd at 6:30 p.m. View the bands and music line up here.
Main Street & Marsh Creek Road
Clayton, CA 94517
Dates: Oct. 4-5, 2014
The Clayton Oktoberfest is a jolly beer event that leaves first-time visitors pleasantly surprised. Though a much smaller beer festival than the one in Oakland, California, this suburban Clayton event does a good job of transporting a fitting Oktoberfest vibe. The Clayton business community invites one and all to experience this Oktoberfest “Munich Style” festival in picturesque Clayton, set under beautiful Mount Diablo, suggesting a feeling of Bavaria, small-town California style. There will be music by The Internationals who perform music from around the world, specializing in dance music from Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands and parts of Eastern Europe in addition to standard U.S. dance tunes, including rock and roll tunes. Food vendors serve mostly American food though there are sausage and sauerkraut stands, beer stands and a beer tent with tables and seating. Bring the kids along as there are kiddie rides here too. View the Clayton Oktoberfest 2014 Activities schedule here.
Dalis Garden Fall Festival – Craft Fair & Vendor Market
3161 Terraza Del Sol
Concord, CA 94520
Dates: Oct. 11-12, 2014
The Dalis Garden Fall Festival is a community, friendly event at Dalis Gardens Mobile Park that grows larger each year. Stroll among arts and crafts vendors indoors and outdoors, plus try your luck at the raffle with over 50 prizes donated by generous community vendors. This year, local businesses join in and add to the participating sellers. Local food vendors will offer a full assortment of options to satisfy all shoppers. Bring the kids along so they can enjoy the face painting and jumper rides. This is an enjoyable fall event that is sure to delight everyone.
Diablo Trail Adventure – Half Marathon/10K/5K & Family Hike
Castle Rock Park
Walnut Creek, CA 94598
Date: Sunday, November 2, 2014
Save Mount Diablo teams up with Brazen Racing again for another family-friendly outdoor activity called Diablo Trail Adventure. The races include a Half-Marathon, 10K, 5K and Family Hike and provide a wonderful day at Mount Diablo State Park.
For more than 40 years, Save Mount Diablo has been working to preserve and increase open space on Mount Diablo and its foothills, an effort that has paid off with increased open space from 6,788 acres to over 100,000 acres on and around Mount Diablo. To continue their preservation efforts, a portion of the event’s entry fees will go to Save Mount Diablo to carry on its work caring for the open space and trails for us all to enjoy.
All courses are on trails, and while you will encounter some hills, the event is kind to even first-time runners; experienced runners can register for the longer runs and enjoy some challenges along the way. Walkers and runners are welcome in all distances.
Concord Farmers’ Market
Todos Santos Plaza
Concord, CA 94520
Date: Tuesdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., year-round; Thursdays 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., April – Oct.
Plan on a farmers’ market visit this fall for the best of the season’s harvest. More than 70 farmers and other producers travel each week to the Concord Farmers’ Market to be a part of one of the Bay Area’s best outdoor markets, so you know this is something special. Pick up a healthy lunch to enjoy at historic Todos Santos Plaza or in the park, and bag the freshest fruits, vegetables, nuts and other delicious finds to take home. The Thursday market makes for a pleasant afternoon-to-evening market stroll, plus there is live musical entertainment through September 11. This is an enjoyable way to unwind after work or with friends.
Full Moon Walks – John Muir National Historic Site
4202 Alhambra Ave.
Martinez, CA 94553
Date: Sept. 9 and Oct. 8, 2014
There are many reasons to visit John Muir National Historic Site (NHS) and here is just another one to take advantage of through early fall. Attend ranger-guided Full Moon Walks on Mount Wanda, the hills where John Muir hiked with his two daughters, Wanda and Helen. This is a free, two-hour program that begins with a one-mile somewhat strenuous hike to watch the full moon rise over Mount Diablo. At the top of Mount Wanda’s 640-foot summit, visitors can use spotting scopes there to view more close-up, detailed features of the moon as they listen to a refrain of nature’s night sounds. While not required, reservations are suggested. Call the John Muir NHS visitor center at (925) 228-8860 to make your reservations and get further information. Wear comfortable clothing and bring a flashlight along.
Downtown Historic Walking Tour
Concord Historical Society
The City of Concord is blessed to have well-maintained historical homes, city buildings and gathering halls thanks to the efforts of Concord residents and city leaders over the years. The Diablo Valley’s comfortable fall climate invites you to the self-guided Downtown Concord Historical Walking Tour that is perfect for enjoying at your own pace. View or download a pdf of Downtown Concord’s Historical Walking Tour here.
The ConcordHistory.com website has a guided tour as well that you can listen to on your smart phone while navigating the selected tour locations. Another option is a tour of the Galindo House, a fully restored 1856 Victorian home of significant history. The tour is conducted on Sundays, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. For further information, contact the Concord Historical Society at (925) 827-3380.
Visit CBS San Francisco’s section Introducing Diablo Valley
to continue planning your next East Bay adventure
Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. She is also a member of an independent filmmaking group. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.