Concord is a city of approximately 130,000 residents that’s located in central California’s Contra Costa County.
About 60 kilometers east of San Francisco, it was founded more than 150 years ago when the area was mostly wild and undeveloped.
Unfortunately, the days of inexpensive land and wide-open spaces are largely gone, but those visiting Concord will enjoy easy access to many of the state’s most iconic natural, cultural, and historical attractions.
The area is particularly well-known for its abundance of world-class universities, trendy cuisine, and hip art and music scenes.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in and around Concord, California.
1. Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial
NPS Photos: Luther Bailey
Near the end of the Second World War, more than 300 American dockworkers and service members were killed when two ammunition laden vessels docked at Port Chicago Naval Magazine exploded.
The event rocked homes and buildings dozens of miles away and went down in history as the largest stateside disaster during the war years.
Now there’s a national memorial on the site, and it’s just a few kilometers from downtown Concord.
The magazine is still an active military installation, so if you want to check it out, you’ll need to sign-up for one of the docent-led tours that are regularly offered.
2. Six Flags Hurricane Harbor
Located on Waterworld Parkway in Concord, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor is one of the area’s largest water parks. It’s generally open from late spring to early fall when the weather in central California is perfect for outdoor activities.
The facility includes a variety of rides appropriate for visitors of all ages. For those traveling with babies and toddlers, there are secluded dipping pools that are off-limits for older kids.
The park’s attractions include waterfalls, slides, pools, concession stands, and a gift shop. It’s one of those places that many families spend an entire day.
3. Markham Nature Park and Arboretum
Markham Nature Park and Arboretum was founded in the early ‘80s by a local organization dedicated to protecting the city’s ever-dwindling green spaces from development.
The arboretum is located on La Vista Avenue in Concord and is spread over multiple acres. Unlike many of its more cultivated counterparts, it has primarily been left in its untamed natural state.
It’s full of flowers, plants, and trees from all over the world. Due to its coastal location, it experiences less drastic changes in weather than is typical in inland California.
There are plenty of shaded seating areas and well-marked paths as well.
4. E.J. Phair Brewing Company & Alehouse
Featuring an impressive variety of beer options and hearty American grub like pizza, burgers, and sandwiches, E.J. Phair Brewing Company & Alehouse is a popular lunch, dinner, and happy hour destination for those who’ve spent a long day on their feet.
Located on Salvio Street in Concord, it’s known for its comfortable, laidback environment, friendly staff, and ample portion sizes.
Its brewed-on-site beers are perennial favorites too; they range from light ales and hoppy IPAs to smooth ambers and seriously malty stouts.
E.J. Phair offers indoor and outdoor seating and a takeaway service. Their seasonal beer offerings are listed on their website, along with their menu and hours of operation.
5. Todos Santos Plaza
Despite being home to some of the country’s most populated and chaotic urban areas, California’s residents are becoming increasingly interested in preserving undeveloped areas within city limits.
Todos Santos Plaza is a large green space that doubles as a venue for various activities and performances, ranging from food and wine festivals and concerts to holiday celebrations and carnivals.
Located in the downtown area between Willow Pass Road and Salvio and Mount Diablo streets, it includes walking paths, shaded seating areas, and a weekly farmers’ market.
The plaza fills up on the weekends, so consider visiting during the week to avoid the crowds.
6. aRt Cottage
Especially since the years after World War II, the San Francisco area has been like a magnet to artists, musicians, and misunderstood free spirits looking to break the chains that bound them to unappealing lives in other parts of the country.
Located on Mount Diablo Street in Concord, aRt Cottage is a popular gallery and studio featuring vibrant works done by local Bay Area artists.
The gallery was founded by a German immigrant who came to the country in the ‘50s. It now offers art-loving visitors the chance to appreciate fantastic art while rubbing elbows with artists at its regular open houses.
7. The Don Francisco Galindo House
The Don Francisco Galindo house is one of the Bay Area’s most well-preserved historic homes, and it’s conveniently located on Amador Avenue in Concord.
The Victorian ranch-style home was originally built in the mid-1850s. It’s set amidst nearly two acres of gardens and open spaces that are open to the public.
The home highlights the lives of its original occupants and includes original furniture, art, clothes, and housewares that give visitors unique glimpses into life in centuries past.
The facility is managed by the city’s historical society and offers docent-led tours available to those with prearranged appointments only.
8. Shiva Murugan Temple
Way back in 1957, when it was founded, the Shiva Murugan Temple was the only Hindu temple of its kind in the United States.
Though it was initially located in San Francisco and had a different name, the temple has stood the test of time. It now resides on 2nd Street in Concord.
It’s one of the city’s most unique cultural attractions, and previous guests have remarked that in many ways, their visit was like touring an exotic country.
The temple’s centerpieces are the numerous deity figures central to the Hindu faith, all of which take on mesmerizing, colorful, and surreal earthly forms.
9. Diablo Rock Gym
The central California coast is relatively flat compared to more mountainous areas in the north and south.
That being said, there’s an excellent option for those looking to brush-up on their mountaineering skills without taking a multi-day road trip.
Diablo Rock Gym is located on Diamond Way in Concord. It features a strong community of experienced rock climbers, who train together and offer indoor climbing instruction for those interested in learning about the sport.
Climbing is fun, exhilarating, and burns lots of calories in a short amount of time; however, age and physical fitness restrictions apply, so take a look at their website before heading out.
10. Concord Pavilion
With seating for more than 12,000 spectators, Concord Pavilion is large by community entertainment venue standards.
The facility is operated by a joint venture between the city and a national event planning company. It features stunning architecture designed by an internationally acclaimed architect.
The Pavilion has been open since the mid-‘70s. It hosts a variety of annual productions and performances ranging from live music and festivals to community programs and holiday events.
Concord Pavilion is located on Kirker Pass Road and posts their upcoming events on their website, so take a look to see what’s on their calendar for when you’ll be visiting.
11. Contra Costa Canal Trail
Mark Twain once opined that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.
The Bay Area can get downright chilly, but the iconic American author had a knack for exaggeration; for much of the year, the weather is perfect for outdoor activities.
The Contra Costa Canal Trail is a relatively flat, multi-use trail open to runners, walkers, cyclists, and horseback riders.
The paved trail runs between the towns of Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek. It offers links along the way to smaller trails leading to even more natural areas. It’s best to pick up the trail in Pleasant Hill, just a few kilometers southwest of Concord.
12. Mikuni Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar
For those looking for an international culinary experience without the hassle of an overseas flight, Mikuni Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar would be a worthwhile dining destination.
Located on Diamond Boulevard in Concord, it’s consistently ranked as one of the Bay Area’s best sushi restaurants.
Their menu features a large selection of sushi, sashimi, and rolls, and they offer curbside pick-up for those on the go.
Drink and food deals may be offered during happy hour, so if you’ve got a flexible schedule and are interested in saving a few bucks, check out their website or give them a call and ask about upcoming specials.
13. Concord Farmers’ Market
Concord hosts a weekly farmers’ market that’s centrally located, open year-round, and includes many individual vendors selling a wide range of products.
Though fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables tend to steal the spotlight, they’re just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Guests will also find artisan baked goods, arts and crafts, and prepared food items like salsa, cheese, and honey.
It’s also a popular lunch attraction on certain days of the week when prepared meals like turkey drumsticks and wood-fired pizza are offered.
There are also kid’s activities like face painting, so don’t leave the little ones behind.
14. Iron Horse Regional Trail
California residents tend to be more fit and active than average Americans. For those visiting the Concord area, there isn’t any shortage of convenient outdoor activity options.
The Iron Horse Regional Trail runs between Concord and nearby Pleasanton, following the route of the now-defunct Southern Pacific Railroad.
The Distance between the two cities is about 60 kilometers, which makes it a doable round-trip excursion for athletic bikers with a whole day to spare.
Along its length, the trail passes through relatively undisturbed natural, residential, and business areas. It’s common to see wildlife in the lowlight morning and afternoon hours.
15. Boundary Oak Golf Course
Bordering the scenic foothills of majestic Mount Diablo, Boundary Oak Golf Course has been a favorite stop for savvy golfers since it was opened in the late ‘60s.
One of the Bay Area’s premier courses, it was designed by a famous golf course architect to compete with the region’s private clubs.
From the blue tees, the course plays more than 7,000 yards, but for women, seniors, and kids, the length can be shortened significantly by playing from the forward tees.
The course is located on Valley Vista Road in Walnut Creek, about seven kilometers south of Concord. It includes a pro shop, restaurant, and tap house.