Many people know Walnut Creek best for its outdoor, upscale shopping center in the downtown area. If you’re up to explore, however, Walnut Creek has quite a list of family-friendly treasures (beyond shopping) to do with kids that merit the drive. Among other things, you can find a custom mini golf course, a Barn Owl, desert flora, outdoor movies, and delicious ice cream.
Places to Play in Walnut Creek
Civic Park and the Walnut Creek Public Library
Just on the outskirts of downtown is Civic Park, a 10-acre grassy park surrounded by shady trees. There’s a water-sand area, multiple climbing rock structures, and a train to sit and pretend on. If you venture past the rock structures, there is an exercise area with some exercise equipment (think leg press and elliptical) that kids also oddly love.
In the wintertime, Civic Park is home to the Walnut Creek ice skating rink.
We prefer Civic Park to the uber-popular Heather Farm Park because of its shade, size, and usually fewer people. I’d say it’s better for the toddler and young school-aged crowd.
We often combo Civic Park with a trip to the Walnut Creek public library (in the same space). The library has a great kids’ nook with rows of children’s books, a play area, and a cafe with hot cocoa.
1375 Civic Dr, Walnut Creek
Larkey Spray Ground, Pool, and Park open seasonally
Larkey Spray Ground is why people live in the suburbs. Larkey has interactive water features that allow little ones to get wet without forcing their adult companions into the pool. Game for the pool? The adjacent swimming pool welcomes you. A traditional playground and well-kept lawn sits in Larkey Park. Read our take on Larkey Spray Ground >
2771 Buena Vista Ave, Walnut Creek
Lesher Center for the Arts & Bedford Gallery
The stage at Lesher Center brings a diverse lineup of performances to East Bay audiences, many of them family-friendly (Diablo Ballet’s Cinderella’s Wedding just wrapped up; Jack and the Beanstalk in March 2022). The building has multiple spaces dedicated to the arts, including the Bedford Gallery, where it often hosts impactful exhibitions. Current exhibition: Forced to Flee illuminating the global challenges facing refugees; Reclaimed: The Art of Recology arriving in Summer 2022).
1601 Civic Dr, Walnut Creek
Heather Farm Park
This park’s modern playground features engaging (and photogenic) play structures in addition to unique hills for sliding down. A pond and botanical garden invite stroller-pushers to walk around, while basketball courts and the Clark Memorial Swim Center make it worth the drive for big kids. The Gardens at Heather Farms is also a nice spot for a stroll. See our post about Heather Farm Park here >
301 N San Carlos Dr, Walnut Creek
Lindsay Wildlife Experience
This kid-friendly science education center is an animal rescue facility for wildlife in the area. There are live animals to observe and scheduled classes and feedings throughout the day. Check the schedule if your heart is set on touching something specifically creepy or cuddly. Lots more info about Lindsay Wildlife with kids >
1931 1st Ave, Walnut Creek
Putters Putt Putt
There’s nothing better than mini-golf to stir up some family-friendly competition. Putters Putt Putt is a unique, neighborhood mini-golf course near downtown Walnut Creek. Each of the holes was carefully built by the local owner. While it might not rival the large mini-golf spots like Scandia or Golfland, we enjoy the hometown feel of the course and we promise, some of the holes are a true challenge. See our post about Putters Putt Putt here >
Ruth Bancroft Garden
The outdoor botanical paths at Ruth Bancroft Garden are a true splendor for adults, children, and dogs alike. The grounds aren’t huge, but it’s just the right size to showcase a spectacular variety of succulents, cacti, and other desert-type plants. We love the kid-friendly scavenger hunt, checking out the koi at the koi pond, and pursuing through the nursery for plants to bring home. The annual Garden d’Lights during the holiday season is a local favorite. See our post about Ruth Bancroft Garden here >
Walnut Creek Model Railroad Society
I’m not sure what it is about kids and trains, but I feel like every kid has gone through an obsession with trains. For train-obsessed kids, the Walnut Creek Model Railroad Society is a delight. They put on a show a couple of times a month (usually a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday) where they simulate sundown, thunder, and lightning while the trains zip around the mountainous display. The miniature trains and buildings are quite adorable. More details >
Places to Eat in Walnut Creek
Tasty burgers and milkshakes plus a kids’ menu that won’t disappoint. Gott’s is good. The restaurant gets busy during weekend lunch hours. I’d recommend ordering online through their website for pick up. Gott’s also converted some parking spots into a large outdoor picnic area in the back that is great for kids and dogs. We also sometimes order Gott’s to-go and head over to picnic at Civic Park and get some playground time in.
1275 S Main St, Walnut Creek
Brunch Options: Sunrise Bistro and Main Street Kitchen
I’m more of a no-frills Mel’s Diner breakfast type of gal and so was heartbroken when the Walnut Creek location closed down, but Sunrise Bistro is a solid choice. They have something for everyone and I’m a big fan of their coffee cake. Note that there is usually a longer wait on the weekends and they don’t take reservations. If you have a fancier brunch type of crew, Main Street Kitchen might be more your jam. They have a lot of outdoor seating and often have live music on the weekends.
Sunrise Bistro: 1559 Botelho Drive, Walnut Creek
Main Street Kitchen: 1358 N Main St, Walnut Creek
Newcomer Tellus Coffee is a hip spot to get some coffee and pastries for a morning pick-me-up. Their plant wall in the back is a fun photo spot and they have a parklet patio for some outdoor eats. Want to make it worthwhile for the kids? Make a stop by the toy store, Five Little Monkeys, a few stores down N. Main St. from Tellus.
1410 N Main St, Walnut Creek
Ice Cream Choices: The Olde San Francisco Creamery or Lottie’s Creamery?
For a real treat, step into The Olde San Francisco Creamery for a mini-sundae to share. Always fun to stop here after a day of playing in the sun. For more artisanal palates, check out Lottie’s Creamery for flavors like coconut tangerine and roasted banana, vegan-friendly too.
The Olde San Francisco Creamery: 1370 Locust St, Walnut Creek
Lottie’s Creamery: 1414 N Main St, Walnut Creek
Family-Friendly Brewery: Calicraft Brewing
This one may be more for the parents than the kids, but Calicraft Brewing is kid- and pet-friendly and a prime hangout spot because of the ample outdoor space. They have a lot of picnic tables in a large blocked-off parking lot. We sometimes see kids riding their bikes and scooters around. On the weekends, there are also rotating food trucks for lunch (Calicraft doesn’t serve food). You can also bring your own lunch so we sometimes pick up sandwiches elsewhere to eat at the picnic tables. Tip: try the POG spritz.
2700 Mitchell Drive, Walnut Creek
Ongoing & Seasonal Kid-Friendly Events in Walnut Creek
Walnut Creek Farmers’ Market (Downtown)
Open year-round every Sunday from 9 am-1 pm, the Walnut Creek Farmers’ market is a great spot to pick up fresh fruits/veggies, grab a coffee and pastry (or lunch), shop some local vendors, and listen to live music. It’s kid-friendly, but no pets are allowed.
1737 Locust Street, Walnut Creek
Movies Under the Stars
The City of Walnut Creek hosts several Movies Under the Stars events throughout the summer, typically in Civic Park or Heather Farms. 2022 movies include the Muppets, the Bee Movie, and Ant Bully. Preregistration is online through Walnut Creek Arts & Rec.
First Wednesdays in Downtown Walnut Creek
The downtown area hosts many seasonal events, and historically for half the year, around April through October, First Wednesdays brings an evening program to families who want to stroll the vibrant shopping district. Live entertainment and special vendors come out to greet the crowds. In 2021, First Wednesdays returned in August and September. 2022 dates have yet to be announced.
Riding the Walnut Creek Trolly
Hop aboard the Free Walnut Creek Trolley for a free trip around the block. The route makes a complete loop and you can jump on/off at any stop. Hop off at Main and Duncan Street to find Five Little Monkeys, ice cream, coffee, street art and more.
Upcoming family events in Walnut Creek, from our calendar
While our event calendar is primarily dedicated to family activities in the Oakland and Berkeley areas, we do sometimes list great things to do in Walnut Creek. Any upcoming activities will be seen below.
Saturday, June 24, 2023
|12:00 pm - 7:00 pm||
Fiesta Cultural Street Fair
Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek