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Get Out: Easy East Bay Afternoons

Ruth Bancroft Garden, Old Borges Ranch, and Alameda Island

It’s no secret that the San Francisco Bay area teems with natural resources and outdoor activities. But East Bay has a charm all its own, especially when it comes to simple outings that don’t require superior levels of physical fitness. Here are a few “grab your jacket and go” things you can do on a free afternoon, with or without tag-along companions.

Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek

Stepping into the Ruth Bancroft Garden feels like discovering a Garden of Eden in the middle of a desert. Cultivated by its namesake, who lived to be 109 years old, the garden is eco-friendly and features drought-tolerant succulents, cacti and exotic plants from across the globe. The garden is open to the public year-round and puts on shindigs such as backyard folk concerts, bike challenges, wildlife programs, and even Tequila & Tacos with live music at sunset on third Thursdays.

It’s all outside in the fresh air, letting you enjoy nature in a simple, carefree way. Be sure to check out the garden Sculpture Show that runs through the end of August, featuring small works from local artists and larger collections from renowned West Coast sculptors such as Richard Starks.

Old Borges Ranch

Who knew there’s a circa-1899 cattle ranch just a short drive from Walnut Creek that welcomes visitors to stop by and poke around? The Old Borges Ranch offers a rare chance to roam through an early 1900s Central California ranch with antique farm equipment and original restored structures, seven of which are on the National Register of Historic Places. You’ll be tromping through barns, corrals, various outbuildings, a blacksmith shop and the original Borges family home.

The ranch animals welcome visitors year-round as well, so get ready for some bonding time with goats, chickens, pigs, and sheep. Just below Borges Ranch is the Patrick Hanna Grove Picnic Area where you can have a leisurely picnic, toss a frisbee on the large turf area, or read a book along the shores of the seasonal pond. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, reserve a spot for overnight camping or drive a bit further into the Shell Ridge open area for some short hikes on managed nature trails.

Alameda Island Beaches

Getting out and about in East Bay is easy when you have gems like Alameda Island, which runs under the radar of most tourists these days. Its past as the “Coney Island of the West,” with carnivals and prize fights has gracefully given way to ecologically protected beaches and preserves. Robert W. Crown State Memorial Beach (which most locals call Crown Beach) is a public park that’s home to marine reserves such as Crab Cove on the north as well as the Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary at the east side. About 2.5 miles of beaches stretch along the park’s coastline, ringed by dedicated barbeque pits and open grassy areas for lawn sports. Windsurfers dot the bay in the summer months, and you can rent sailboards or sign up for lessons.

When living in the East Bay of San Francisco, you’re never far from simple outdoor pleasures. Give us a call today to hear about our Walnut Creek and Alameda apartment communities and to schedule a private tour!