Nestled just east of the Bay Area near Livermore Wine Country is the charming city of Pleasanton, CA. In 2010, Men’s Health named Pleasanton one of the country’s top ten happy and healthy cities. It’s great to see that things haven’t changed much since then, and in fact, there are plenty of unique and exciting things to do in Pleasanton CA.
If San Francisco’s high-rise buildings got you a bit tired and you need adrenaline, outdoor adventure, and recharge, hit the road toward the small town, Pleasanton.
I find Pleasanton to have not only big-name museums and popular attractions but awesome dining spots as well, and to a foodie, that is quite the staple for a great time. You can also taste amazing wines, watch live entertainment or listen to live music events and inhale greenery in the beautiful parks around.
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10 Most Exciting Things To Do In Pleasanton CA
603 Main St, Pleasanton // +19254622766
The Museum on Main Street is a Smithsonian outreach program located under the arch in historic Downtown Area in Pleasanton. It presents the history of the Tri Valley region from Native American occupation to the present day. The museum organizes exhibits in other local museums, libraries, and community centers.
If you’re interested in industrial archeology and local history, you will absolutely love the Museum on Main Street. During my visit, I felt like taking part in a multi-faceted history lesson that incorporates geology, biology, ecology, and historical community events.
In addition to permanent exhibitions, the museum also holds traveling exhibits that tell the story of the Tri-Valley area.
46 W Angela St, Pleasanton // +19258259090
Each Saturday, there is a farmers’ market in Pleasanton, CA that sells California-grown fruits and vegetables.
There are various products sold at the Pleasanton Farmers’ Market, including fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, honey, fresh flowers, prime cuts of meat, chicken, fresh seafood, artisan cheeses, almond butter, flavored nuts, and more.
I enjoyed going to the Pleasanton Farmers’ Market because it’s where a lot of local people can advise you on buying fresh local produce products, have a small talk with you, and just make your day. I did grab tons of fresh produce. It’s the best way to support small businesses.
The market also takes part in Open Heart, a food donation program that provides fresh produce to 3,500 meals each week in Pleasanton, Dublin, and Livermore. Although visiting a Farmers’ Market is not something I usually highlight, when it comes to great things to do in Pleasanton CA, this experience really won my heart.
400 Vineyard Ave, Pleasanton // +19259319463
Ruby Hill Winery is one of the best local wineries and is located in the heart of Pleasanton, California, and was established in 1887. A range of balanced and approachable wines are produced at this winery using traditional methods for growing grapes, blending, and fermenting Monterey County grapes, handcrafted to capture the essence of each varietal.
Ruby Hill Winery is one of the best places to escape the city. You will feel like you’re part of the wine world, a charming, relaxed setting with beautiful views of vineyards and oak woodlands, relaxing music, and wine tasting appointments available every day from 11 am-4 pm.
As soon as I arrived, I was offered a glass of sparkling wine, and there is a personal Wine Ambassado, to guide you through the whole experience, sharing all their knowledge on the winemaking and the history of the Winery. Of all the things to do in Pleasanton CA, this was my personal favorite.
2500 Stanley Blvd, Pleasanton // +15105443230
If you are looking for some fun things to do in Pleasanton CA, I recommend checking out Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area.
Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area is truly a family-friendly public park that has something to offer for everyone. Its newest feature includes the park’s first-ever youth climbing wall, constructed in 2014. The wall is still rock climbing so that it might be a bit challenging, but the beautiful view from the top justifies the sweat.
The short trail has spectacular views, and shadow cliffs are almost nonexistent from ground level. I would suggest getting there around sunset to take your perfect golden hour selfie before you move.
8200 Golden Eagle Way, Pleasanton // +19259313483
The Augustin Bernal Park is located at W. Bernal Avenue and June Lane a short drive from Bernal Avenue and Foothill Road. I think that it is one of the nicest parks in Pleasanton for various reasons, including fresh air, scenic views, plants, and trails.
Sundays are perfect for spending time in Augustin Bernal Park. With hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, it’s a nice medium-sized park. All routes follow the hillsides and are well marked.
There are also a lot of open lands that are perfect for taking pictures. You’ll see plenty of deer here. I managed to capture great photos with a bit of patience. The peak also provides a panoramic view of the east bay valley (including Mount Diablo). If you are not a resident, you can obtain a one-week permit at Pleasanton’s Department of Parks and Community Services and enjoy the great place multiple times during your stay.
3465 Old Foothill Rd, Pleasanton // +19259313479
There are many parks and open spaces available in the city of Pleasanton. But one of my favorites was The Alviso Adobe Community Park. It offers exhibits related to the cultural history of the Amador Valley and re-created living spaces of the dairy workers. Plenty of hands-on outdoor activities if you are visiting with kids, where you can borrow books and puzzles, free historic tours, picnic areas, and hiking possibilities.
The park is a hidden gem, in my opinion. I have visited it quite a few times. Once was simply not enough to experience the whole place. Undeniably, one of the best things to do in Pleasanton CA.
4501 Pleasanton Ave, Pleasanton // +19254267600
Alameda County Fairgrounds is a district filled with a wide variety of events. Every year, they host the Alameda County Fair in July. Known as the Pleasanton Fair, this event attracts more than 300,000 people every year. (and I recommend trying as many food varieties as possible).
I have attended a few horse racing events at the track in Pleasanton, and the view of the city is incredible from the top row.
The place is vastly big, offering live Bingo, big-screen cinema, a night market, old-timers exhibition, harvest festival, Quilt, Craft & Sewing Festival, and believe it or not, even more!
You can do so many things in Pleasanton, CA without even have to leave the venue. Memorable and worth visiting.
See The Granizo Tile Art Mural
There is something genuinely unique in Pleasanton, California. You can see it in one of the numerous public artworks that are scattered throughout this city. It’s the Granizo Tile Art Mural, and although this is not a specific piece of artwork, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t beautiful and impressive at the same time. When I first saw it, I was amazed!
It is one of the last pieces Granizo produced before he passed away, and it portrays five perspectives of the city’s heritage, including agriculture, culture, history, commerce, and movie making.
4444 Railroad Ave, Pleasanton // +19259314848
Pleasanton built the Firehouse Arts Center in 1928 as a firehouse, gas station, and municipal building. The arts center was converted in 1974 and has been used exclusively for that purpose ever since. People can use the venue for both private and public special events. Within the firehouse, there are six galleries, eight classrooms, five halls, and one courtyard.
My favorite shows included comedy. I’m a fan of the late Stuart Scott, and one of his daughters performed at the Firehouse Arts Center. She did a good job and had me laughing the whole time.
122 Neal St, Pleasanton // +19256009200
Although Pleasanton has a variety of restaurants to choose from my favorite one is Hap’s Original Steaks & Seafood. Because it is a classic New York-style steak house specializing in dry-aged cuts of beef, lamb, chicken, and fresh seafood and fish straight from the ocean.
Whenever I get the chance I always give Hap’s a visit. The interior of the restaurant is unique and has a casual yet classy feel to it. You should try this special appetizer called “Hand Cut Chips & Fry Sauce.” The fry sauce is delicious, and the hand-cut chips are crispy. My favorite dish would have to be their Dry Aged Porterhouse Steak, cooked perfectly with a great flavor and juicy on the inside. Truly amazing!
Wrapping up on the things to do in Pleasanton CA
Pleasanton has so much to offer, and due to it being smaller than Livermore, it might be tempting to think that there aren’t that many things to do here. But there are! It can be hard sometimes to find hidden gems, but this city has so much fun and vibrant energy, thanks to all of the restaurants and events they have all year long.
So if you are visiting the Bay Area, I strongly suggest visiting Pleasanton, where you will indeed have a pleasant stay.
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Igor Jovanovski is an aspiring digital nomad, travel blogger and graphic designer who really loves food. He also has a creative side, and he works as a freelance graphic designer in his spare time. He has traveled across Europe quite a few times since he was young and recently started his mission to visit every country in the world! Igor’s favorite thing about traveling is the way he gets to know new people, food, places and cultures.
This exciting experience helps him create his own stories and make memories that will last forever