The city of Fremont may not be one of the best known areas of California, but it was actually one of the most influential in the development of Hollywood.
The reason for this is that Fremont was actually the first community in California to start to shoot and produce movies, and while other areas soon took over and became more famous, it is fair to say that it all started in this unassuming town.
Fremont was founded in the 1840s by settlers who came to the area and established a series of railroads in the region, and now the city is known for the Bay Area Rapid Transport System which ferries residents all over the region and into neighboring San Francisco.
The city is only 7 miles away from San Francisco Bay, and is nestled in historic Alameda County. As one of the founding cities in the area, Fremont has a whole host of historic gems to uncover, such as museums, landmarks, and period buildings that still stand proud to this day.
Lets have a look at the best things to do in Fremont:
1. Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum
Considering the pioneering film making history present in Fremont, it would be a shame to come here and not learn more about how movies were first made in this part of the United States.
The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum is dedicated to telling the story of film-making before it got to Hollywood and even the building itself is something of a historical gem.
The museum is housed in the former Edison Theater which dates from 1913, and you can expect to find a wealth of film memorabilia such as antique cameras and original movie posters.
There are also showings of silent movies here if you want to feel as if you have truly travelled back in time.
2. Shinn Historic Park and Arboretum
Shinn historic Park and Arboretum is one of the best loved historic parks in the city of Fremont.
The Shinn Historic Park is named after the Shinn “Big House” which is a Victorian farmhouse that was designed in the Bavarian style that still stands today, despite the various natural disasters such as earthquakes that have befallen the surrounding area.
Sadly the house can’t be visited but the area around it is open to the public who can enjoy the architecture of the house from the exterior as well as take in the gorgeous parklands and arboretum here.
3. Vallejo Adobe
Vallejo Adobe is known for being part of the Mission of San Jose and was built as the home of the mission administrator.
Vallejo Adobe dates back to 1842 when it was built, and although the interior is closed to the public, you can visit the outside of the building and marvel at this humble but beautiful style of ancient craftsmanship.
The adobe sits in the middle of scenic California Nursery Historic Park in the picturesque Niles district of Fremont, so there is still plenty to see on a trip here.
4. Central Park and Lake Elizabeth
Central Park is most well known for its signature feature, Lake Elizabeth.
The lake sits in the center of the park and encompasses over 40 acres of water.
Should you visit the lake, popular pastimes here include kayaking on the water, or you can rent a paddleboat at the weekends.
If you prefer to stay on dry land, then you can play golf or tennis here as well as stop at one of the many charming picnic spots set along the rolling hills.
Fishing is also possible on the lake, which is full of indigenous species of aquatic life, and there is a scenic hiking trail that stretches for over 2 miles if you fancy a workout.
5. Olive Hyde Art Gallery
The Olive Hyde art gallery was founded in the 1960s and nowadays is nestled in the historic area of Fremont known as Mission San Jose, which was the former home of the indigenous Ohlone Indians.
The gallery was actually built in 1940, but it was in 1962 that Olivia Hyde donated the building to the city of Fremont to use as a public art gallery.
The mission of the gallery is to support and nurture the talent of local artists from the region and to showcase the history of this part of the United States through art.
There are rotating exhibits that feature both contemporary and traditional works of art that change throughout the year.
6. Museum of Local History
For anyone who wants to learn more about life in Alameda County, a trip to the Museum of Local History is not to be missed.
The museum will take you all the way back to the start, when Fremont began to flourish in the 1840s, and will then walk you through time until the Second World War.
The building that the museum is housed in is actually the old Mission Fire Station of Fremont, which is something of a historical relic itself, and you can walk through galleries dedicated to the local schools, the filmmaking industry, and even exhibits about the resident flora and fauna.
These include fossils found in Bell Quarry that date back centuries.
7. Aqua Adventure Waterpark
To make a splash in Fremont, head for the Aqua Adventure Waterpark where you will find fun for all the family.
The park is open in the summer months from June to September when the weather is warm, and there are a huge array of different activities here to suits all tastes.
If you are a bit of an adrenaline junkie then you can head for the water slides, or there is a lap pool if you want to get in some serious exercise.
For something mellower, stick to the lazy river, where you can float around on a tube and take in the views.
8. California Nursery Historic Park
The California Nursery Historic Park is located on 20 acres of land and used to be a grand nursery in the days of old and was overseen by the California Nursery Company.
The company was started by Jose de Jesus Vallejo, the administrator of the Mission San Jose, whose official residence, the Vallejo Adobe, still stands in the center of the park.
Aside from the historical buildings in the park, there are hiking trails and grassy knolls here that are perfect for afternoon picnics.
9. Niles Farmers’ Market
For an authentic taste of Fremont, the Niles Farmers’ Market has been in operation for years, and if you come here you will find the best of the local produce in one place.
The market is conveniently located close to Main Street, and you will find fresh and locally grown produce like fruits and vegetables here, as well as a range of products by regional vendors.
Some of these to look out for include the famous Niles Pie Company, as well as artisan soap makers, Pamela Soap.
10. Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge was established in order to protect the fascinating wildlife and endangered species in this part of California, and is known for being the place to come if you want to commune with nature.
The refuge is covered with delightful hiking trails that take in all the local flora and fauna, and you can go kayaking or fishing here.
There are also educational programs that visitors can join to learn all about the history of the area.
11. Higuera Adobe
Higuera Adobe is found at the base of Mission Peak in the Warm Springs district of Fremont.
The adobe comes from a group of seven that were built in 1840 as part of Fulgencio Higuera ranch, but only Higuera Adobe remains intact.
The historic building is made up of a main room and two bedrooms, as well as an adjoining stable, and much of the style is simple in keeping with the local materials available at the time.
As such, the floors of the adobe are made of compacted dirt, but it has been lovingly restored and furnished with local redwood furniture to give you a taste of how it would have looked back when it was first built.
There are tours available that will take you out to the site of the adobe.
12. Quarry Lakes Regional Park
There are actually two distinct parts to Quarry Lakes Regional Park.
The first of these is known as the Recreational Unit which is made up of a sandy beach area where you can swim or hire a boat and take in the picturesque lake that way.
Fishing is also allowed here and you will find a huge range of indigenous species available all year round.
The second area of the regional park is the Natural Unit which has green areas such as Willow Slough, and where you can go hiking or biking.
There is an abundance of local wildlife in this area, and if you are a keen bird watcher than make sure to bring your binoculars so that you don’t miss anything.
13. Leland Stanford Winery Historical Landmark
Leland Stanford was a former Governor of California as well as being a United States senator.
He is also known for being the founder of the prestigious Stanford University, but what many people don’t know is that he also founded the Leland Stanford Winery all the way back in 1869. In days gone by, the winery was used as a resort by the rich and famous in the Fremont area, and the vineyards here were all planted by Josiah Stanford, brother of Leland.
Nowadays you can still visit this amazing historical landmark that set out to put Fremont’s wines on the map.
14. Mission San Jose and Cemetery
Mission San Jose was founded in 1797 and is known for being one of twenty-one Spanish Missions that were created in California.
For years the mission was in a state of disrepair until it was lovingly restored and reopened in 1985, although sadly only one period building survived, which was the former monastery of the mission.
Nowadays that monastery has been transformed into a museum, and if you come here you will find period antiques related to the mission, as well as vestments, and other historical items.
Outside the mission, in the neighboring grounds, you will find the local cemetery that still contains the graves of Spanish and American settlers to the region.
15. Coyote Hills Regional Park and Alameda Creek Trail
Coyote Hills Regional Park is made up of over 900 acres of marsh and grasslands and is known for its rolling hills and picturesque grassy knolls.
The park also runs along the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay in the northwest area of Fremont meaning that you can take in the breathtaking views in this area, and locals flock here for the cycling, walking, and bird watching opportunities that the lush landscapes here provide.
The Alameda Creek Trail is part of the Coyote Hills Regional Park and is so named as it skirts along the vibrant banks of Alameda Creek, and you can walk for 12 miles along the trail in the direction of San Francisco Bay.