Unwind with a suburban campout. Energize on a bike ride. Renew with some museum culture and a taste of the city. Go fruit picking and enjoy the country. And refresh at a scenic lake. We’ve got great ways for you to kick back and enjoy your summer, with plenty of boosts to your health and well-being—and not a single plane ticket or hotel reservation involved.
For a full-on outdoor adventure without a long drive, head to Mount Diablo via the Southgate entrance off of Diablo Road in Danville. When you hit Juniper Campground, which is at about 3,000 feet of elevation, you’ll have two exciting hikes to choose from: a mile up Juniper Trail to the summit, or 6.5 miles (and about six hours) on the Summit Loop, which circles the entire mountain. Both offer amazing views—maybe even a new perspective.
When you get back from your hike, spend the night at Juniper, which is also all about the views—and the twinkling of lights in the valley as dusk turns to night. If you prefer a campground that feels more sheltered, drive down to Live Oak Campground, which has wooded canyons nearby.
Come morning, it’s time to hit Rock City—located right next to Live Oak—for some clambering over a Fred Flintstone landscape of boulder formations. All of the mountain goats in your group—and lots of kids are at least part mountain goat—will thank you.
Spending time outdoors and exercising reduce stress, which has been associated with a variety of health problems. FYI: Hikers can more safely navigate the trails on Mount Diablo by wearing hiking boots (loose rock is tough to navigate in sneakers) and keeping to the middle of the trail—there’s often a bumper crop of poison oak.
Lake Anza is that rare breed of swimming deliciousness: a freshwater lake. Located several hundred feet above Berkeley in Tilden Park, Lake Anza has a sand beach perfect for Frisbee or catch.
Follow a family day of swimming with a visit to Tilden’s vintage carousel; steam trains; or the Little Farm, where kids can feed lettuce or celery (BYO) to farm animals. Tilden is covered with beautiful picnicking spots, many of them with grills, so plan to keep enjoying those summer daylight hours with dinner in the great outdoors.
Other great swimming spots in the East Bay include Del Valle in Livermore, Strawberry Canyon in Berkeley, Roberts Pool complex and Lake Temescal in Oakland, plus public pools in cities throughout Contra Costa County.
Swimming is excellent aerobic exercise for all ages—and easy on the joints.
For more info:
This 20-mile bike loop starts in central Lafayette, at Mt. Diablo Boulevard and Moraga Road. Take Moraga Road past the Rheem Valley Shopping Center, and then go right on Moraga Way, which will turn into Camino Pablo. After passing through Orinda, look for the Bear Creek Road stoplight. Go right and follow Bear Creek about four miles, then go right on Happy Valley Road. Go straight until you cross under Highway 24, and turn left at Mt. Diablo Boulevard to get back to the start. As a reward, bliss out with a massage at the John Muir Women’s Health Center, and check out a class while you’re there.
Visit the newly renovated Oakland Museum of California, and get a peek at the soul of the state: from the documentary photography of Dorothea Lange to the fresh-as-ever abstract expressionism of Richard Diebenkorn.
Grab lunch at the museum or at a nearby restaurant. Afterward, take a 3.4-mile walk around the newly spruced-up lake. Up for more fun? Plan your Oakland visit to coincide with Art Murmur, held the first Friday of each month; some of the city’s art galleries stay open until 9 or 10 or so, and live performers and fun outdoor activities enliven designated streets.
Two hours of walking can burn about 400 calories.
Pack a picnic and head out to Brentwood to pick the most delicious peaches you’ll ever eat. You could also come across some late cherries, apricots, nectarines, corn, peppers or tomatoes. Go early, and dress in layers. It’s often hotter than blazes, but long sleeves and pants will protect you from the sun. Also bring a hat, gloves and shoes that cover up your feet. When you get hungry, look for a vendor with a shady picnic area—and sample your harvest on-site.
Studies show that people who regularly eat fruits and vegetables tend to be slimmer.
For more info:
Go to harvest4you.com