Activities

The 3 Best Parks in Walnut Creek, California

One of the best things about the East Bay is the wide variety of excellent parks. California prioritizes parks and open spaces throughout the state, and the relatively spacious East Bay provides plenty of room for parkland to spread out and take over. Of those parts, which ones are the best parks in Walnut Creek?

If you’re heading to Walnut Creek or you live there already, you might be wondering where to go with kids, or where to take a nice walk with your dog. There are a lot of options in Walnut Creek and in neighboring towns like Moraga, but let’s look at some of the best Walnut Creek parks.

Heather Farm Park

Heather Farm Park’s massive lake

Heather Farm Park is one of the jewels of the East Bay. It’s one of the top parks in the whole region, and is my pick for the best park in Walnut Creek. The park has nearly everything. There are multiple sports fields, which means ample parking, especially on days where games aren’t happening.

There’s also an equestrian center and a dog park, both of which are located towards the back of the park. Heather Farm has easy access to the Contra Costa Canal trail near the dog park, which then leads onto the vast Iron Horse Trail and other trail networks around the East Bay. The park is also served by buses.

Heather Farm has an aquatic center and tennis, too. There’s a community center in the middle of the park, although options there are often relatively limited. There’s a huge artificial lake in the middle of Heather Farm with giant, dramatic fountains. It’s stocked with fish, and people love to set up and fish along the edges. I’ve also seen people use remote control sailboats on this lake, and there are ducks, although you’re asked not to feed them.

For kids, there’s a huge all-abilities playground in the middle of the park. It’s massive and was built very recently. Heads up, though: the playground is very popular, and can get quite crowded, especially on weekday mornings. I tend to avoid it during busy times because it can be a little much. Still, it’s got a ton of different parts for kids of all ages and abilities.

Another great thing about Heather Farm park is the Gardens at Heather Farm. They’re run by a separate nonprofit, and they have event spaces, beautiful trails you can wander around, greenhouses, a rose garden, and more. They’re free and open to the public.

Heather Farm really does have it all.

Visiting Heather Farm Park

Address:

N. San Carlos Dr Walnut Creek, CA 94598

Parking:

Parking is free throughout Heather Farm, and there’s tons of parking available.

Civic Park

Civic park has wonderful fields

This is another of my top picks for Walnut Creek parks. Civic Park is nice because it’s very central to downtown Walnut Creek. The park is located just a block from downtown, so it’s easy to get a picnic from a local store on Main Street and then take it to the park.

Services at this park are more limited, but there are nice fields to hang out in, and a small playground with a cool train-themed climbing structure. One of the best features of Civic Park is the Walnut Creek Library, which opens onto the park. It’s a nice, LEED-certified green building and has a great selection of books.

While in Civic Park, you can also see the actual creek that gives Walnut Creek its name. The park has public restrooms, but they’re often on the dirtier side. Civic is convenient, but its downtown location also gives it a more citified feel than the more placid Heather Farm.

During the Winter, Civic Park is also home to Walnut Creek on Ice, an outdoor skating rink that locals love.

Visiting Civic Park

Address

1375 Civic Dr, Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Parking

There is a dedicated lot off of Civic by the community center. You can also park in the library lot. Street parking is available but it’s metered.

Larkey Park

Larkey Park

Larkey Park is one of the hidden gem parks in Walnut Creek. It’s located near the Pleasant Hill border. You can access it near Geary Road. Larkey Park is smaller and much more manageable than the massive Heather Farm park.

Still, it has some great features. There are two playgrounds for kids of different ages. One has Adirondack chairs for adults to hang out in while watching their kids, which is a great feature. There’s also an aquatic center that’s open during the Summer and has an animal-themed splashpad.

Speaking of animals, Larkey Park is also home to the Lindsay Wildlife Experience, an awesome local animal museum. You can stop by to visit local wildlife like birds of prey, or you can stop by and visit the museum’s turkey vulture out front.

Larkey Park is smaller than other Walnut Creek parks, but it’s still very much worth a visit.

Visiting Larkey Park

Address:

Buena Vista Ave at First Ave Walnut Creek, CA 94597

Parking:

Park at the south end of Larkey park by the aquatic center. Parking is limited, but it’s free.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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