Wine tasting in the East Bay?

Wine tasting in the East Bay! It exists, it’s real, and it’s plentiful! Check out this image, shared by Anneta Tsapouklis of the Placer Title Company:

Those are all wineries in Livermore! That’s just a short jaunt down the freeway from Walnut Creek, and though you might not find Napa-level quality here, you’ll definitely find good value and still plenty of fun.

I have only been to Wente and that was to golf, so I might have to try some of these vineyards on a day off. I have also heard of a few people getting married at some of the venues. If you have any favorites, give me a shout out.

Also don’t miss the Wente Vineyards concert series, which has some legitimate names coming through the beautiful amphitheatre there: Daughtry, Matt Nathanson, and Styx to name a few. Who knew!

Event Round-Up: Aug. 10

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!

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(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.)

Aug. 15: The Cheeseballs

Aug. 22: The Unauthorized Rolling Stones

Aug. 29: Queen Nation

Get your music on!

Here’s a fun thing to do in the Bay Area summers: go see live music! I love going to Bottlerock Music Festival in Napa every spring, and if you’ve never been to a proper festival, you really are missing out on a cultural phenomenon.

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Sunshine, good music, unique eats and drink vendors everywhere? What could possibly go wrong? Here are some music festivals coming up in the second half of the summer in Northern California:

Stern Grove Music Festival 

I encouraged everyone to check out this free festival in San Francisco in a previous blog, and my urging stands! It goes through mid-August!

Festival Napa Valley

This takes place from July 12-21, so you still have time to squeeze it in! Opera, jazz, wine, food, and a gala hosted by Seal. Seriously! Check it out.

Guitarfish Festival

From July 25-28, you can enjoy live music in a family-friendly setting on the banks of the Yuba River near Truckee. What a scene! More info here.

Petaluma Music Festival

On August 3rd, you can benefit the Petaluma public school system by attending this one-day festival with four stages of music. Very cool!

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Outside Lands

This is the big one – the annual 3-day festival extravaganza in Golden Gate Park is worth every penny! This year, enjoy Paul Simon, Childish Gambino, Twenty One Pilots, and more! Visit the website here.

Event Round-Up: May 18th

We’re almost all the way into summer here in Walnut Creek! The kids will be out of school soon, and the days will keep getting longer and warmer, giving us ample opportunities to take advantage of some awesome Bay Area events.

Diablo Symphony – May 19th (Walnut Creek)

The Diablo Symphony presents Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and Bach’s Double Violin Concerto tomorrow at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek! You can get tickets at the door, preceding the 2 p.m. concert. The Symphony Orchestra will be joined by members of the San Ramon Valley High School orchestra for this performance!

Rooftop History Walking Tour – May 31st (San Francisco)

Real estate nerd alert! This sounds so interesting to me, and if you like rooftops with beautiful views, you’ll be amazed by which buildings in the city might have them. This is a really cool tour to take if you like history, as you’ll get into some of the more exclusive private buildings in SF. Tickets are just $35.

Art & Wine Festival – June 1st (Walnut Creek)

For the weekend of June 1st, you can take advantage of an awesome event right in our own backyard! Pair your wine and beer with food vendors, art, live music, a Kids Zone, and more! It’s time for the Walnut Creek Art & Wine Festival. More info here.

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Walnut Creek First Wednesdays – June 5th (Walnut Creek)

Did you miss out on last month’s First Wednesday celebration? Because they are a great time! You can make up for it by coming downtown on Weds., June 5th to take part in a small street fair right here in Walnut Creek. Get more info here – you won’t want to miss it!

Walnut Creek Uncorked – June 20th (Walnut Creek)

Sip, stroll, socialize. Walnut Creek’s Uncorked event is taking place on June 20th downtown! You can sip wines, eat local food, listen to live music, and just wander downtown with your wine. I’d recommend getting tickets in advance, as this event is popular every year!

Event Round-Up: Dec. 15th

I’m going to keep it super local for the December events this holiday season. After all, isn’t that what the holidays are for? Spending time at home with family and reveling in each other’s company? Well, that and lots and lots of food and cocktails. I’ve got you covered on all fronts here!

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Pic: Golf Advisor

Holiday Gala & Fundraiser: Boundary Oak Golf Course – Dec. 20th (Walnut Creek)

Take in a great night for an even greater cause at a premiere venue in Walnut Creek! For $50, entry gets each person a surf and tur dinner, a wine and beer sampling, access to live music, and entry into a live auction and gift boutique. If you bring a new book for ages 0-11, you receive a free raffle ticket! Proceeds go to the Bay Area Crisis Nursery. Register here!

80’s Prom New Year’s Eve Bash: Retro Junkie – Dec. 31st (Walnut Creek)

Now this is what I’m talkin’ about! On New Year’s Eve, you can enjoy live 80’s music all night. There will be a themed photo booth, a midnight countdown and balloon drop, a complimentary champagne toast, and a huge game room with pinball, arcade games, pool, and more! Pizza by the slice and a full bar top things off – but, hurry! Tickets must be bought in advance!

Widmer-World Holiday Fun: Widmer-World – Dec. 1st-31st (Pleasanton)

Everybody loves a good Christmas lights show! If you want a more family-friendly night in the month of December, pop on down to Pleasanton and take in the Widmer-World holiday extravaganza. Their light show is timed to music and the entire place will be covered in holiday cheer! It’s completely free!

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Free Admission Day: Bedford Gallery – Jan. 1st (Walnut Creek)

What better way to knock off the New Year’s rust than taking in one of Walnut Creek’s greatest artistic gems for FREE? It’s in the Bedford Gallery on New Year’s Day, which always has really cool, unique installations. I’d highly recommend going if you haven’t already! Take it in from 12-5 p.m. on the 1st.

Altered States Opening Night: Bedford Gallery – Jan. 13th (Walnut Creek)

That’s right! Back-to-back Bedford Gallery exhibitions here. It’s always fun to go to the opening night of a new exhibit, and this one will only run non-members $5. The guest curation from Heather Marx features “artists across generations living and working along the California coast who harness natural elements or the environment to create their artwork.” This sounds pretty neat!

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!

Get your groove on this summer!

There’s nothing better than a summer night in the Bay Area. We’re spoiled with perfect weather here, and it means we can spend every evening outside, enjoying the twilight with drink in our hand and a happy hour entree on our plates. It also means it’s time for Summer Concert Series season!

You don’t have to stray too far from home to get to the closest concerts. There will be four free performances outside The Lesher Center, starting with a show this Thursday at 5:30 p.m. All shows go from 5:30-7 p.m. and will sell beer, wine and snacks:

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Courtesy: http://www.lesherartscenter.org/summer-sounds-2018.html

  • June 21: Mariachi Mestizo
  • June 28: The Sons of the Soul Revivers
  • July 12: Tumbledown House
  • July 26: The T Sisters (highly recommend this one – love their sound!)

If you like what you hear in July at The Lesher Center, carry on that momentum into August with Broadway Plaza’s Summer Concert Series. These will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in Event Plaza, and they are also free to the public:

Courtesy: http://www.broadwayplaza.com/Events/Details/475005

  • Aug. 16: Kalimba (The Spirit of Earth, Wind & Fire)
  • Aug. 23: Caravanserai (The Santana Tribute)
  • Aug. 30: Bee Gee’s Gold (The Tribute)

Lastly, if you want to venture a bit outside of Walnut Creek, check out our neighbors’ Summer Concert Series in Pleasant Hill’s Plaza in front of Jack’s Restaurant & Bar. The shows take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and are, of course, free!

  • July 5: Fleetwood Mask
  • Aug. 2: Top Shelf Classics
  • Sept. 6: Illeagles

No matter which series you choose – or if you try out all three – you’re sure to have a good time jamming to some fun music! Let me know if you visit any of these shows, and how they are!

Event Round-Up: May 19

Welcome back to the next installment of Event Round-Up! Below, you’ll find five of the best events around the Bay Area for the next few weeks. If you attend any, please let us know how they were – you may even be mentioned in a future blog!

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Bay to Breakers (May 20, 2018 – San Francisco)

Look, if you’ve still never experienced Bay to Breakers in San Francisco, you’re truly missing out on a one-of-a-kind spectacle you can’t get anywhere else in the world. Take advantage of this “race” of usually around 100,000 people dressing up in ridiculous outfits, drinking mimosas, and enjoying the sunshine in the city. It’s an early start, but you can take part in the festivities without actually registering for the race. Be there tomorrow – you won’t regret it!

Civic Park Public Art Installation (May 26, 2018 – Walnut Creek)

This will be a super cool, unique event. The Bedford Gallery and City of Walnut Creek Public Art Department have a National Endowment for the Arts grant for a public art installation in Civic Park. It brings world-famous sculptor Patrick Dougherty to town and should continue to put Walnut Creek’s art on the map. He plans to install a huge project made of woven willow saplings, and he’s calling for the public’s help volunteering to assist. The project has already begun and ends on May 26th, when there will be a free celebration in the park for your viewing pleasure!

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Mission Mural Tour (June 2, 2018 – San Francisco)

If you’ve ever wandered through The Mission District in San Francisco, you’ve probably eaten amazing Mexican food, stumbled upon a few mind-boggling murals, and then eaten even more amazing Mexican food. But it’s the middle thing we’re focusing on here, as you now have the chance to join a public, professional walking tour of the murals in The Mission. It will give you information, history and context around some of your favorite murals in The Mission. The tours are free, but the guides accept donations and tips!

First Wednesday (June 6, 2018 – Walnut Creek)

Cypress Street in downtown Walnut Creek will have a lot going for it on Wednesday, June 6th. That will be the next installation of the First Wednesday event that shuts down a whole city block and invites live music, dancing, food trucks, adult drinks, a Kids Fun Zone and games. There will also be a Chef’s Demo (in partnership with the Contra Costa Certified Farmers Market) and chances to win free prizes. You can park for free after 5 p.m. in all downtown garages that day, and the festivities last from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. I can’t recommend it highly enough – it’s always a great time!

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Haight Ashbury Street Fair (June 10, 2018 – San Francisco)

Similar to First Wednesday (only bigger, better and more famous – sorry Walnut Creek!), the Haight Ashbury Street Fair will take place a few days later in San Francisco. This fair has been around for decades and seems to get better every time I go. There is a ton of live music, the best food, drink and craft vendors around, and – as is typical with any event in San Francisco – a TON of people. As if you need an excuse to enjoy one of the city’s most famous neighborhoods on a beautiful day, go check out the Haight Ashbury Street Fair!

Check out Boundary Oaks’ Harvest Block Party!

Are you looking for a fun, free, family-friendly event this weekend? Check out the Harvest Block Party tomorrow (Fri., Nov. 17) from 3-7 p.m. It should be a real hole-in-one!

via Boundary Oaks’ website

The Boundary Oaks Golf Course is hosting the party, which is free for Walnut Creek residents. They will have games for kids, a pie-eating contest, live music, pumpkin decorating, and food and drinks. Even if you don’t live right next door, you can swing on over to a beautiful venue to take part in the free (!) festivities (again, as long as you’re a Walnut Creek resident).

You don’t have to be a golfer, either, to appreciate Boundary Oaks. And you don’t have to be a neighbor to appreciate free events like this, just a Walnut Creek city resident! It’s a perfect way to keep your kids entertained for a few hours and mellow out before the weekend.

Boundary Oaks is at 3800 Valley Vista Rd., over by Arbalado Field and Northgate High School. For more information, you can call (925) 943-4775, or visit their website.

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New City Manager & the Walnut Festival is coming!

Walnut Creek has a new City Manager as of August 7th: Dan Buckshi. I attended a welcoming reception at Lesher last week. After 15 years in San Luis Obispo County and the last five as County Administrative Officer (similar to County Manager), Dan is excited to be in Walnut Creek.

He just wrote his first City Manager’s Update, including a nugget about the Walnut Festival …

via Patch.com

If you’re new to Walnut Creek  – or haven’t been in some time like myself – I recommend going to the festival! I especially have wonderful memories with my boys and as they got into their tweens. It was a safe place to drop them off for a couple of hours, allowing them to gain some independence. You’ll be amazed by the number of people who show up to ride the rides, test out the carnival food and play games.

There is also live music and performances, and the nearby glory of Heather Farm Park in and of itself. This is truly the biggest event of the year in Walnut Creek.

Don’t forget about the nostalgic twilight parade that kicks off the event is this Saturday at 6 p.m.  It will travel along Walnut Creek’s Main Street from Mt. Diablo Boulevard to Civic Drive, ending at Civic Park.

This year’s theme, “Through The Wide Eyes of a Child,” is all about imagination and whimsically-created costumes, floats, decorated cars, motorcycles, bicycles, bands, drill teams, cheer teams
and all others who will entertain us with their talents and creativity.  They are encouraging people to join in on the theme and attend the parade in costume.

The Carnival portion of the 81st Annual Walnut Festival will take place from September 21-24 at Heather Farms.

Did you know the original festival was held in 1911 and was called The Grape Festival? For more information and a little bit of history, you can visit The Walnut Festival Association website here.

Enjoy this wonderful Walnut Creek tradition!!!