Like many of California’s coastal cities and towns, San Leandro was first explored by Spanish missionaries who came in the mid-18th century intent on spreading Catholicism.
San Leandro is located in Alameda County and had a population of about 90,000 residents at the time of the last census.
The city boasts a mild year-round climate and is surrounded by mountains to the east and large tracts of wetlands and coastline to the west.
Below are 15 things to do in and around San Leandro, California.
1. Casa Peralta
Casa Peralta is one of San Leandro’s premier historic attractions. It’s conveniently located on West Estudillo Avenue near the downtown area.
Built nearly 200 years ago, the home was originally the residence of descendants of many of the area’s original settlers of Spanish descent.
Casa Peralta is most well-known for its traditional mission-style architecture and the imported tiles depicting the adventures of mythical literary legend Don Quixote.
The home isn’t open every day, so check their schedule before making a special trip.
When it is open, docents offer tours of the home and grounds that usually last an hour or two.
2. Monarch Bay Golf Club
Though the weather in the Bay Area can get downright nippy during the winter, it’s nearly perfect for outdoor activities like golf for much of the year.
Located on East 14th Street in San Leandro, Monarch Bay Golf Club features two distinct courses, making it a popular destination for beginners and seasoned golfers alike.
Both courses feature stunning bay views from nearly every hole. The larger 18-hole Tony Lema Course was designed to mimic the links-style courses of Europe.
At more than 7,000 yards, it’s a bit on the long side, making it a challenge even for big hitters.
For seniors, novices, and those playing with kids, the par-3 9-hole Marina Course is a great option that generally takes about 90 minutes to play.
3. The San Leandro Farmers’ Market
The San Leandro Farmers’ Market is a popular family recreation activity that’s open seasonally from spring through fall.
It features the best locally and regionally grown produce, as well as other items like fresh flowers and baked goods, prepared food items, and arts and crafts.
The market is held downtown on Parrott Street. It frequently offers additional entertainment, including live music, wine and food tastings, cooking classes, and fun kid’s activities like art classes and face painting booths.
The season varies slightly from year to year, so check online or ask a local before heading out.
4. Take a Self-Guided Walking Historical Tour
Downtown San Leandro is chock full of historic buildings. For those who don’t mind hitting the pavement, many are easy to see in just a few hours.
In 1868, many of the city’s original structures were destroyed in a massive earthquake, but their original sites and memories are largely preserved by the local government and historical society.
The original County Courthouse served as the County Seat for more than two decades in the middle of the 19th century. Its former site is located on the southwest corner of Davis and Clarke Streets.
For a complete list of other nearby historic attractions, check out the city’s website.
5. Daniel Best House
Also located on Clarke Street, the Daniel Best House is one of the city’s most underrated historical attractions.
The home was built more than 150 years ago and was the childhood home of a prolific tinkerer and inventor named Daniel Best, who was responsible for a number of innovations in the budding tractor and farm equipment industry.
Best’s son went on to merge his father’s company with another local equipment manufacturer, and the resulting company went on to become Caterpillar.
Now, CAT is the world’s largest producer of mining, agricultural, and industrial machines, making the home a particularly unique bit of local history that’s worth checking out.
6. Marina Park
For those looking to experience the great outdoors without wasting time driving to remote stretches of coastline, San Leandro’s Marina Park is a great alternative.
The park includes nearly 30 acres located just off Fairway Drive and includes panoramic water views, built-in BBQ grills, covered seating areas, a playground, and wide-open green spaces perfect for energetic kids who need to stretch their legs.
Due to its convenient location, abundant amenities, and idyllic scenery, the park can get crowded on weekends. If you’d like to avoid the masses, consider visiting early in the morning or on a weekday when it’s generally less busy.
7. Cherry Festival
San Leandro’s Cherry Festival is a much anticipated annual event held on West Estudillo Avenue in the downtown area near Pelton Plaza.
Though it’s mainly a celebration of cherries in all their magnificent forms, in years past, the event has included a car show, food trucks, live music, a beer garden, and some organized kid’s activities.
According to locals, the event has been going strong for more than 100 years. It’s a big hit with city residents and out-of-state visitors alike.
Parking can be tricky, so consider taking public transportation if you’re staying within city limits.
8. Oyster Bay Regional Shoreline
Though it’s located just outside the downtown area, adjacent to a major landfill that was filled to capacity and officially closed in the ‘80s, Oyster Bay Regional Shoreline is now one of San Leandro’s most beautiful natural areas.
The area’s shores and wetlands are home to a diverse array of animal species. They draw a variety of outdoor recreation enthusiasts, including amateur photographers, bird watchers, artists, walkers, bikers, and runners.
The shoreline features several paths, from which it’s common to see animals and birds, especially in the lowlight morning and late afternoon hours when they’re generally most active.
9. Zscape Games
In recent years, escape rooms have become popular vacation activities. They’re often best experienced as part of a group of family, friends, or coworkers.
Zscape Games is located on Omega Road in San Ramon, just 15 kilometers east of San Leandro. It offers a number of distinctly themed rooms that allow participants to use their teamwork and problem-solving skills in a surprisingly exhilarating environment.
Escape rooms are also ideal for birthday parties, family reunions, and unique date nights, and they’re great options for when the weather isn’t conducive to outdoor activities.
Rooms often book quickly, so reserve yours in advance to avoid an all-full situation.
10. Coffee Time
Though its name may lead you to believe otherwise, Coffee Time on Doolittle Drive in San Leandro is just as well-known for its gourmet sandwiches as it is for its java.
Previous diners have stated that they’ve got the best sandwiches anywhere in the East Bay.
Pretty much everything is made fresh onsite daily using local ingredients. For moderate eaters, the servings are large enough to get two meals.
Perennial favorites include turkey and sun-dried tomatoes and loaded bagel breakfast sandwiches with bacon, egg, and cheese.
In case you were wondering, they’ve got great coffee, but due to its small dining area, it’s more of a takeout location than a dine-in one.
11. Kendejah Restaurant
Though San Leandro and Liberia couldn’t be more different if they existed in alternate universes, the city is home to one of the Golden State’s most authentic Liberian restaurants.
Kendejah Restaurant was established in 2017 and features a full menu of authentic West African dishes like meat kabobs, grilled chicken, split peas and gravy, and whole roasted fish.
Liberian cuisine is known for its vibrant flavors, healthy ingredients, and exotic spices that you won’t find in most other area restaurants.
The restaurant is located on Pelton Way. It is popular for its reasonable prices, efficient staff, and ample portion sizes.
12. Anthony Chabot Regional Park
Though it’s technically in Oakland, just 15 minutes north of San Leandro, Anthony Chabot Regional Park is a popular escape destination for visitors interested in engaging in a number of outdoor activities.
The park includes kilometers of multi-use trails that are open to walkers, runners, bikers, and horseback riders. They wind their way through a variety of diverse environments, including grasslands, treed areas, foothills, and lakes.
The regional park is a great place for a leisurely morning or afternoon stroll. It’s also popular with picnickers and those just looking to spend a quiet afternoon under a shade tree catching up with an old friend or finishing a good book.
13. The Hayward Japanese Gardens
Located on North 3rd Street in Hayward, about ten kilometers south of San Leandro, the Hayward Japanese Gardens are the oldest cultivated area of their kind in California.
The gardens incorporate traditional Japanese design elements like koi ponds, intricately trimmed trees, stone paths, massive boulders, and gurgling brooks, and they’re open year-round.
Though they’re located near one of the state’s largest urban areas, the garden’s idyllic setting and natural beauty have a knack for making visitors feel like they’re much farther away from civilization than they really are.
The gardens generally attract visitors looking for temporary solace, but they’re appropriate for those traveling with kids as well.
14. Sulphur Creek Nature Center
Also located in Hayward just a few minutes down I-580 from San Leandro, Sulphur Creek Nature Center is a wild animal rehabilitation center that focuses on returning injured animals to the wild.
The center’s staff engages in several educational programs aimed at teaching visitors about the area’s unique animal species and the importance of habitat preservation.
As part of a guided tour, guests will see many of the center’s animal residents up close and personally. For those who’d like to do their part to help, there are various volunteer options available.
15. Chabot Space & Science Center
When it was founded in the 1880s, the Chabot Space & Science Center was one of the West Coast’s first observatories.
Though it’s now a popular attraction catering primarily to families and field trips from local schools, its exhibits still focus primarily on astronomy, science, and technology.
In addition to interactive exhibits, the center offers a variety of regularly scheduled staff-led activities, including science experiments, hands-on workshops, and stargazing events that allow visitors to view distant planets, stars, and galaxies that are light-years away.
The facility is located on Skyline Boulevard in Oakland, about 25 minutes northwest of downtown San Leandro.