As we (very) slowly creep back towards normal with more people getting vaccinated, we are allowed to go back to some of our regular social activities – especially those ones that are outdoors and naturally socially distanced. Baseball games come to mind, for instance. But so does music in Broadway Plaza!
Every summer, Broadway Plaza hosts a summer concert series on Thursday nights in August. They are back in 2021, with two of their shows remaining. Tomorrow night, Briefcase Blues Brothers will take the stage at 7 p.m.
The following (and final) Thursday (Aug. 26), Tainted Love will play at the same time, in the same place. They encourage concert-goers to bring their own chairs, as there is only limited seating provided, and drinks and food will be available for purchase at the show and at the surrounding eateries.
I’ve been to a few of these in the past and they are always such a blast! And it feels great to get back out there and do something social, even if we are still under some COVID restrictions.
There are tons of new pieces of art popping up around Walnut Creek all the time. Thank goodness, otherwise we’d run out of content for this monthly feature on the blog! In all seriousness, it’s sometimes fun to look back and remember art that has been around town for a lot longer than most.
Take, for example, the fountains at Broadway Plaza. The one above is a lionhead statue with a scaly column and small streams pouring into the base. It’s always been a favorite of mine as you stroll through the shops and just outside of Nordstroms and was kept during the complete revamp of the Plaza!
Similarly, this large, round fountain has seemingly adorned Broadway Plaza (across the street from the first one, basically!) through thick and then, renovations and all. I’m sure every resident of Walnut Creek has sat on those steps, or thrown a penny into the water at some point.
I remember when my son Jackson was at a young age, always running around (“Action Jackson,” we called him) and we were standing by the fountain. Next thing I know, Jackson was in the fountain and a very tall man was pulling him out. My husband at the time said, “Do you know who that was? It was Chris Mullin!” (when he was GM of the Warriors – such an interesting memory of the fountain)
So it is nice to see these timeless fountains still churning away and making our little town a beautiful sight to see (and in my case a fun memory!). And yes, Jackson was okay. He was playing in the fountain the minute I turned my back!
You can walk around Broadway Plaza anytime, and between the masses of people and the high-end stores, you’ll discover some truly stunning works of art. This has always been the case, but even more so now that have remodeled the entire plaza.
Not long ago, I was wandering downtown and found this elegant deer sculpture in the bushes on one of the main roads of the Plaza. As you can see from the placard, it is aptly-named “Bronze Buck.” It’s a nice, nostalgic piece in my opinion – I don’t know about you, but I regularly get deer running around my neighborhood! It’s kind of a staple of the suburban areas of Walnut Creek! This statue is almost life-like.
Across the street from the bronze buck, I discovered this gorgeous mosaic on the side of the building next to L’Occitane. It looks like there is a string of flowers coming from each side of the frame and wrapping around the trunk of a luscious tree. It won’t surprise you to hear that this reminded me of walking in the Open Space.
What kind of artwork have you found while exploring Broadway Plaza? What about the rest of downtown? There is never a shortage in this charming little city of ours!
We’re going to go a slightly different direction here today, as I usually pull from a larger list of events and compile them for you. Instead, I’d like to focus on the Broadway Plaza Concert Series which has started this month. First, a few thoughts on the series itself:
Since they re-did the mall and have moved these concerts into the event plaza by Macy’s, I don’t really enjoy these shows as much as I used to. It is too crowded and it is fenced off, so people can still walk through.
I really liked the casual area that was once next to Stanford’s and behind the parking structure. It never felt too crowded there. I was thinking it might be better to move it to the top of the parking structure by Macy’s in the future.
With all that said, this is a good opportunity to get downtown on a warm summer night and enjoy some music with family and friends. Even if the layout isn’t as good as it used to be, the music is still there! So, here is the schedule for this summer – go check it out and let me know how you like it!
(We’ve already had two of the shows go by, but there are still three more! You can bring blankets or chairs to the venue. Music always starts at 7 p.m.)
See what I did there? Gott’s Roadside officially opened in the old Fresh Choice space on S. Main St., across the street from The Container Store. I tried dinner there recently, and enjoyed it!
I went to Gott’s around 4:30 and there was a line out the door – the first sign that a place is new, and/or worth eating at in Walnut Creek! When we left after our meal, around 6:30, the line was just as long. The location is excellent – very easy and convenient, especially if you want a quick bite while you’re out shopping or before you go to a movie.
Some highlights of the Gott’s menu includes their milkshakes, salads and, of course, the burgers. I had a bacon cheeseburger with sweet potato and regular fries. Everything was really delicious, including the Mahi Mahi tacos my friends ordered. I also liked that they have roll-up garage doors for the summer, so you can order a wine or beer with your food and hang out in the warm months, too.
With its proximity to downtown and Broadway Plaza, as well as being walking distance to the movie theater, I think Gott’s will have staying power in Walnut Creek. Not to mention they have good food. I did find it to be a bit pricey for a self-serve restaurant, but they have to pay Walnut Creek rents. All in all, it’s a massive improvement over what used to be there, and should be a go-to spot for hungry locals and visitors alike!
Gott’s Roadside gets 4 out of 5 Mt. Diablo’s from me.
Everyone knows Amazon for being the world’s foremost e-retail giant. In fact, you probably ordered – or at least looked through – Amazon items for gifts this holiday season! As I mentioned in an earlier blog, they started building some brick-and-mortar bookstores, including one in downtown Walnut Creek.
I recently bought a gift at the store located in Broadway Plaza between Kate Spade New York and Aritzia. It was like any other bookstore, except for a few Amazon-specific twists. For example, you can pay with the Amazon app at the register as long as you are a prime member and you get the Prime discount. As a Prime user myself, I really liked that perk!
The books all have Amazon user ratings and reviews posted underneath them, which nicely combines the convenience of shopping on Amazon.com with the classic, enjoyable feeling of being at a real bookstore. I have to say, since Barnes & Noble was replaced, it’s felt like there weren’t any good places to browse or buy physical books downtown.
Now, you can go to the future of books – Amazon’s bookstore – right in the heart of the shopping district. You can buy a cup of Peet’s coffee right in the store and peruse books like the good old days or just take a break from the hecticness of shopping. Wait, isn’t that what you are doing at the Amazon bookstore? Maybe not? The concept is to have top sellers, a kids area, and, of course, a place to sell Amazon technology like Alexa.
Getting hungry while doing your holiday shopping? Not to worry! Nordstrom is right in the middle of Broadway Plaza, and has a great cafe that always hits the spot.
Nordstrom Cafe has quality food. I usually get their salads, but they have great entrees and always plenty of good choices for food to take on the run.
And it’s not your standard, run-of-the-mill, in-store cafe, either. They have items like tomato basil soup, shrimp and arugula salad, freshly-prepared pizzas, and delectable sandwich options. Don’t miss Chef Todd Nelson’s daily picks, either.
You really can find fine dining anywhere in Walnut Creek these days! Nordstrom Cafe will give you an easy, quick option for your holiday shopping, especially during rush hour.
I’d highly recommend the Mixed Berry Chicken Salad or the Chicken Apple & Goat Cheese Salad, but I’ve also tried their soups and salmon entree. It is reasonably priced for the food they serve, too. Can’t beat that!
Can one city have too many boutique stores? Not when it’s the holiday season, and definitely not when the newest redo boutique store in town is one of the coolest ones I’ve seen!
Filthy Gorgeous took over the space on S. California Blvd. and Botelho Dr. next to the Site for Sore Eyes and Jinny’s. It is a small corner that was previously vacant. It is just a few steps away from Broadway Plaza, where it had a store prior to the Broadway Plaza remodel.
Besides the ideal location, Filthy Gorgeous has some truly stunning home decor in their store. You can get anything from furniture, to art, to lighting to the basic home decor. They also run an interior design business, and you can see pictures of ongoing local projects on the website.
The brother-sister team of Jonathan and Tirzah created Filthy Gorgeous together and have grown it into a massive business that has been featured in multiple national outlets and on TV. And now they are back in Walnut Creek!
When I visited, I was really impressed by the style and choices in the store (my favorite items was a Buddha Goddess Head). Someday, I’d like to redecorate certain parts of my house with items from Filthy Gorgeous. Once you visit, you’ll probably want to do the same!
Filthy Gorgeous gets a perfect 5 out of 5 Mt. Diablo’s from me!
This weekend, you’ll be sure to see hundreds of little cats, vampires and ghosts running around Walnut Creek and the East Bay. It’s one of the most festive times of the year: Hallo-weekend!
Though the actual holiday is a week from today, there are plenty of events coming up over the weekend to take part in. For example, there’s a cool annual Candlelight Tour at the Winchester Mystery House. You get to tour the 160-room mansion with just a flickering candlelight to guide your way. The entire tour takes about 1 hour and tickets start at $20.
Another cool option is spending the night in a haunted jail cell in an underground dungeon on Halloween. For those of you who are really into scaring yourselves, the Ghosts of Alcatraz event by San Francisco Dungeon might be for you. Enjoy the darkness of an authentically reproduced Alcatraz cell for the night, and try not to faint from the terror.
For a couple more family-friendly, laid-back Halloween options, check out the pumpkin patch at Speer Family Farms in Alameda. It’s close enough to Walnut Creek but also worth the trek to see what they have available for you and the kids!
Lastly, on Friday from 2-5 pm, Walnut Creek Downtown is hosting a trick-or-treat for people of all ages! They ask you to bring your favorite costume and your own candy bag to collect treats from participating downtown businesses. Start at the Lesher Center and wind your way through from there. Broadway Plaza will host a similar event on the actual day of Halloween.
Whatever you do for Halloween weekend, make sure to be clever and creative with those costumes, not eat too much candy, and be safe while walking at night!
Walnut Creek has done a lot of cool things with the rebuilding of Broadway Plaza, but one of my favorite new additions is all the art that’s going in to complement the buildings!
Recently, I was wandering the Broadway Paseo near the parking garage and saw Joyce Hsu’s hummingbird statues in front of Tommy Bahama’s. I think they look awesome and really draw a pedestrian’s eye to the color and form (they look as if they’re in flight)!
After doing a little research, I discovered that it’s part of a larger art installation called “Rawr,” which will also consist of a large robot T-Rex and a dinosaur bench just outside Macy’s. They are meant as both art and as a place for children to take a break when shopping.
According to the official approval documents, Hsu has always been intrigued by childhood fables, because it’s a reinterpretation of how the “adult” society works. She created the sculptures to remind visitors to Broadway Plaza of the importance of fun, play and imagination when building a stronger community.
Here’s a fun fact that also inspired Hsu’s hummingbirds and helped make them an obvious inclusion in the theme of her overall project: hummingbirds are, in fact, the smallest living dinosaurs!