Oktoberfest: Not enough beer, but tons of fun!

I went to the Walnut Creek Oktoberfest at Civic Park a few weeks back – an event I’d recommended in a previous blog! It did not disappoint, however, I don’t think the people running the event had any idea what they were in for. They ran out of beer fairly quickly, and also didn’t have enough pretzels or funnel cake for the hungry and thirsty masses!

Overall, it was still an awesome event. There were a few people dressed up and the beer they did have was served from Brauerei Weihenstephan, which is apparently the oldest brewery in the world. They also had some local artisanal beer selections, as well as wine. The main issue (besides running out of it!) was that the drink lines were so long, that you had to wait for 20 minutes to get a stein or in this case a glass of beer and then you could only have up to two at a time.

So, even though the food and drinks were good, the crowd was large, and the Civic Park venue was much more appropriate than the old location on Locust St., there were some operational issues to work out for future events. There was a kids area, plenty of food vendors, art vendors, beer batter dipped french fries (What?!), music, and a bunch of new people to meet. I went towards the end, but the consensus seemed to be that it was a very successful event.

Oh, and did I mention it was dog-friendly? What a bonus! I would have brought Bodie if he would do well in crowds with dogs everywhere, but I didn’t want to risk it. Still, what a great event for downtown Walnut Creek that will surely be replicated in the Octobers to come and may surpass Clayton – just with more beer next time! Did you go? Let me know what you thought!

My new found sport: Pickleball!

I didn’t necessarily expect this new sport to jump out at me. I went the first time because I was interested in hanging out with the people who invited me – ok let’s be real, a cute guy. But now, I’m hooked! You have to give pickleball a shot next time you’re looking for a new, fun sport to play.

And, no, it has nothing to do with actual pickles. It’s basically a game of tennis, combined with badminton and ping pong, using wooden paddles and a wiffle-ball to go back and forth over the net. It’s a variation and combination of many other court-based net sports, but it’s really fun and fast-paced and a great workout!

Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the nation; for every tennis court, you can fit approximately four pickleball courts. There is strategy and finesse involved, and where you stand is huge. The game requires two teams consisting of two players each. If you don’t have enough players, you can always go to the Concord courts off of Olivera and pick up some games.

I met the coordinator of the Walnut Creek Pickle Ball group in the summer (they play at Rudgear Park), but as it gets darker, they move to Concord. I have now played three times and the last time with the Walnut Creek Group. I was told I should take a lesson or two to figure out where to be and the overall game – not bad advice, however, they did say my shots were good and have potential; probably because I have played a lot of racquetball and volleyball. I just bought a racquet and a couple of balls, now I just need to learn how to dominate and stay out of the kitchen…

Walnut Creek has a bunch of courts at Rudgear Park on the corner of Stewart and Dapplegray, some indoor at Tice, and Concord has around 14 courts which are lit for night play. If you want more information, send a reply and I will hook you up!

Best dive bar in town? Dan’s!

We’ve covered lots of bars, restaurants, and businesses in Walnut Creek, but we have yet to touch on one of the oldest, most popular institutions downtown. It’s a bar known for its themed nights and general debauchery in an otherwise fairly tame city.

When you go downtown, Dan’s is the place to be, especially if you are young, or older and single. They have everything from drink specials, to an outdoor patio, to pool tables, to live cover bands. They actually attract quite good musicians from around the area, and usually have one of the larger crowds at the bars on the weekends.

I’ve been there plenty of times, love to listen to live music and dance. They charge a cover on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights of $5 after 9 pm to cover the music. The place doesn’t really get busy until after 10 and last call is around 1:30. I haven’t been in a while, but I went with a friend about a month ago, and it is a great place to people-watch and listen to music. Careful though: if you are dancing out on the floor, a beer may get jostled and the floor can be sticky.

If you haven’t yet popped into Dan’s when you’re downtown, you have to give it a chance. All ages are there! It’s just around the corner from Skipolini’s and Ol, so you can make a full night out of it without even leaving the block. Let me know what you think.  

This weekend is Pop Rocks and the Ripplers, and next weekend is a great line-up with Brodie Stewart Band, the Spazmatics (one of my favorites) and Mad Karma ready to rock in Halloween. Music starts at 10 and you can check out the events calendarIf you are not into music and like games, there is also Trivia Tuesday, along with some TVs for those sports fans.

Oktoberfest comes to Walnut Creek!

There’s one event – a holiday, even, if you stretch that definition – that takes place each Fall that all adult should take part in. It’s not Thanksgiving. Not Halloween. It’s the German beer event known as Oktoberfest! The festival has become so popular, that pretty much every town has their own version.

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Even here in Walnut Creek, we have an Oktoberfest event, and it’s taking place this coming weekend! This year, it will be held at Civic Park from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can head there to drink copious amounts of beer, eat great food, and meet fun people! This is the 4th annual Walnut Creek Oktoberfest and will span all 16-plus acres of the park.

At the Walnut Creek event, there will be a Biergarten, Microbrews, gourmet food, live music, Autobahn and vendors. All ages are welcome to the Kids Zone but the beer areas will be the main draws. Best of all, tickets are FREE.

Oktoberfest, of course, originated in Germany and is celebrated widely in cities like Munich and Berlin, where people dress up and stand on tables and drink beer all day. I actually had the pleasure of attending Oktoberfest in Munich back in my 20’s – lots of drinking, a carnival…and I really don’t remember much else.  Walnut Creek’s isn’t quite as celebrated, but it’s still a good time! Hope to see you there – lederhosen and dirndls not required, but encouraged!

Event Round-Up: Oct. 13, 2018

It’s finally that time of year, when the summer heat melts away and the brisk Fall air rides in on the San Francisco fog. Everything turns orange with Halloween and Thanksgiving on the horizon, and schools are in full force again. There are still heaps of fun activities to do this season, and I’ve chosen a few of the best:

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East Bay Walk to End Alzheimer’s: Walnut Creek (Sat. 10/20)

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event for fundraising for the disease, and supports the care and research of it. The East Bay chapter will do their run from 8-11 a.m. next Saturday, Oct. 20th at Heather Farm’s Park. Check out their Facebook event here.

Beach Blanket Babylon: San Francisco (Sat. 10/27 and more)

If you’ve never experienced the hilarity of Beach Blanket Babylon, now is the time. Tickets are still available for the Sat. 10/27 show, and you don’t want to miss the artful, gut-busting show that pokes fun at politicians, celebrities, athletes and more. A fun family outing, especially if you have older kids.

Boo at the Zoo: Oakland (Sat. 10/27 & Sun. 10/28)

From 10 am to 3 pm on these days, bring the kiddos out for a fun pre-Halloween stroll through the Oakland Zoo! Costumes are encouraged, and the kids can trick-or-treat, ride a train, join a dance party, get their face painted, and more. Not to mention, you’re at the zoo watching the animals play! More info here.

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Warren Miller’s “Face of Winter”: Walnut Creek (Tue. 11/6)

There is truly no better way to get fired up for the skiing and snowboarding season than watching the latest Warren Miller film. It’s an annual tradition for serious snow-goers, and this year’s version is bound to be just as awesome! Check it out at The Lesher Center downtown.

Her Room/Her World: Walnut Creek (thru 12/30)

Her Room/Her World is an exhibit at the Bedford Gallery that showcases prints, video, paintings, and installations by New York artist Portia Munson, who does feminist art. The key attraction is an installation called Pink Room that specifically appeals to women and girls. Check it out!

Art Town: AVE Apartments

New luxury condos and apartments are springing up all over our little town! One of the recent ones is the AVE Apartment complex across from Target. It is a really nice little apartment community that allows you to utilize their rooftop pool area, decks, rent bikes, and is even pet-friendly.

AVE Apartments definitely cost a lot to rent, as they are some of the newer, nicer apartments in Walnut Creek. However, you get what you pay for. They worked hard down to the last detail to make the complex livable and beautiful. One of my favorite aspects is, of course, the art!

On the doors surrounding the front and the pool deck, they’ve etched a bunch of trees that look kind of like shadows and give it a real natural feel. For being a huge complex cramped into a small space in a rapidly-growing town like Walnut Creek, I love what the tree art brings. Check out these pictures. I especially like the one with the sun coming through:

Event Round-Up: Sept. 15

It’s that time again, folks! School is back in full swing, and we’re on a holiday drought until Halloween. But that doesn’t mean the well of fun activities in the Bay Area has completely dried up. That’s one of the best parts about living here – there is always something to do!

Here are five fun events around the Bay Area for the next month or so to tide you over:

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Exploratorium After Dark (San Francisco – every Thursday)

The Exploratorium is a super interesting, cool museum no matter the time of day. But make it adults-only, serve drinks, cut the lights, and give us a mind-bending cache of exhibits to wander through from 6-10 pm every Thursday? Sold! Don’t miss it!

National Public Lands Day (All Parks – Sept. 22)

It’s one of the best days of the year for outdoor enthusiasts. All National Park Service sites that normally charge an admission fee will have free entrance for the day. If the one excuse for not exploring this beautiful place we live has been a desire to not pay the fees, well, now’s your chance.

Autumn Beer Tasting with Anchor Brewing (San Francisco – Sept. 26)

Anchor Brewing is one of the better local breweries to come out of the Bay Area, and now you have the chance to taste autumn beers right as the season turns. It’s only 20 bucks, 90 minutes of your time, and you get generous helpings of newly released beers from the head honcho brewer at Anchor!

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Movies Under the Stars: The Jungle Book (Civic Park – Sept. 28)

There’s nothing better than laying out under the stars and catching an outdoor movie with the family. On Sept. 28th, the Movies Under the Stars series in Walnut Creek comes to a close with The Jungle Book, playing at 7 p.m. on that night. There is a little music for about an hour beforehand too, if you want to come out early!

Grease Sing-A-Long at Sundown Cinema (San Francisco – Sept. 28)

Well, sorry Walnut Creek. San Francisco took your outdoor movie idea for this date and went all-in. You can go to the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater in San Francisco and watch Grease on the big screen outside for free! Food trucks and vendors will be there early, and the best part about this is you get to sing along to the catchy tunes of this movie classic!

Art Town: Fish Benches

No, I’m not being koi, this piece of art is really titled Fish Benches! It’s located just downstream, er, across the street from the Walnut Creek BART station in Ygnacio Plaza. You can see them when you wander through the plaza at the corner of N. California Blvd. and Ygnacio Valley Rd. in downtown Walnut Creek.

When you’re trout and about in Walnut Creek, and you need to rest your legs a bit, you can always cross over from BART or Target to take a seat on these bronze benches designed by Judy Kensley McKie in 2003. They are surprisingly comfortable for being flat, metal benches, but you have to admire the artwork itself!

They truly look like fish swimming, and that must have been the goal from the start: to tuna public space into a relaxing retreat for pedestrians. I can’t say it’s the most impressive, attractive, or exciting piece of art in downtown Walnut Creek, but it deserves recognition nonetheless. Don’t flounder and go check it out!

Gotta love Mr. Green Bubble!

It’s just fun to say this new tea shop’s name, but it also happens to be a great place for a quick pick-me-up! Boba tea shops and poke places seem to be the new craft cocktail and food crazes, respectively. Tea shops are popping up all over Walnut Creek, and Mr. Green Bubble is one of them.

Located on Locust St., Mr. Green Bubble serves mainly boba teas, but also has bento boxes, egg puffs, mochi waffle treats, and smoothies. I found out about this place when I was visiting my friends Todd and Jocey to see their new baby. Todd came rushing into the house with a package of diapers and two teas from Mr. Green Bubble. I asked about the chewy balls at the bottom called boba – it is a tapioca gelatin that comes in different shapes, like sharks (not sure how they fit through the straw). So I went in and tried the tea in a passion fruit flavor, which can be adjusted for sweetness at 25%, 50%, or 100%. I have since been back three times and have found a preference for the green tea. They have a fancy machine that puts a plastic seal on the cup and you push the large straw through which helps suck up the boba!

I thought the interior was cute, and it’s a place with friendly, fast service. If you’re out shopping or wandering Walnut Creek and are craving something new or love the refreshing taste of the freshly brewed tea with your choice of flavoring and boba, check out Mr. Green Bubble – and try not to giggle when you say that out loud!  Todd says one of his favorite bubble tea joints is in San Ramon, but I am not going to drive that far to find out!