Union City is a small city of about 75,000 people situated in the San Francisco Bay Area in Alameda County. It’s known for its abundance of arts and culture venues, pleasant weather, and for being in a very central location close to the major cities of Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose.
While the larger cities of the area are home to some very well-known attractions, Union City also has its fair share of things to see and do in a picturesque setting.
Museums, parks, restaurants, and shopping areas, such as Union Landing and Union Square Marketplace, are some of the attractions and services you’ll find in the city.
Many festivals and events take place in Union City throughout the year including the Annual Adobo Festival, the Alvarado Fall Fest, and the Jibaro de Hawaii Festival.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in and around Union City, California.
1. Learn About local history at the Union City Historical Museum
A great introduction to Union City starts at the Union City Historical Museum where visitors can learn all about the history and culture of the city and its people. The main purpose of this museum is to collect, preserve, and share items related to history and culture.
You can choose to participate in a guided tour or walk through the museum on your own. As you make your way through, you’ll see many artefacts related to various aspects of life in the area including the natural history, historic buildings and businesses, the pioneers of the region, and a way of life the museum hopes to preserve.
2. Spend the day outdoors at Coyote Hills Regional Park
Coyote Hills Regional Park is the perfect place to spend a day relaxing or participating in a range of outdoor activities. This 978-acre park is home to some of the most stunning views around.
As you explore the park, you’ll see stunning vistas of the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco, the Santa Cruz Mountains, and three of the bridges that span the bay.
On site, there is a vast network of trails suitable for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. As you make your way along these trails you’ll pass through wetland areas that are home to birds, animals, and plant life.
3. Travel on the Niles Canyon Railway
The Niles Canyon Railway is a historic railway that crosses through Niles Canyon. It’s operated by the Pacific Locomotive Association and its main purpose is to preserve the history of the railroads and allow the public to experience what they were like prior to the 1960s.
Visitors can embark on a journey on either a diesel or steam locomotive along part of the First Transcontinental Railroad and a collection can be viewed at the Golden Gate Railroad Museum.
4. Indulge in authentic Cajun cuisine at the Backyard Bayou
When you dine at the Backyard Bayou in Union City, you sit down to a generous meal of authentic Cajun cuisine in a casual, friendly atmosphere.
Fresh seafood is the top draw but you’ll find many other tasty options on the extensive menu. Appetizers, salads, sandwiches, rice bowls, jambalaya, and Po’boys are just some of the dishes available.
5. Go back in time at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum and Theater
Before the high-tech movies of the last few decades came about, silent films were taking the world by storm. At the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum and Theater in the historic district of nearby Fremont, you can learn all about the history of these films.
Upon entering this century-old nickelodeon theater, you’ll see memorabilia from the silent film era and learn about the companies that were creating the films. On certain days of the week, you have the opportunity to watch a classic silent film.
6. Experience what it’s like to skydive at iFly
If you’ve ever wanted to skydive but don’t actually want to jump out of a plane, iFly is the place for you.
This indoor skydiving facility provides visitors with the opportunity to see what it’s like to skydive without actually doing it.
The way it works is you float on a cushion of air while being guided by an expert instructor. This exciting venture is safe and suitable for all ages and skill levels.
7. Pay tribute to lives lost at Sugar Mill Landing Park
On September 11th, 2001, United Airlines Flight 93 was en route to San Francisco when it was hijacked. The plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania and all passengers and crew died.
Sugar Mill Landing Park is a small park in Union City where you can see a beautiful memorial dedicated to the passengers and crew of the ill-fated flight.
8. Spend a day in nature at Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area
Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area in nearby Fremont is a great place to spend some time in nature and participate in a wide range of outdoor activities.
On-site, you’ll find two lakes that are popular for swimming, fishing, and boating. Hiking and biking trails are all around the area. Picnic areas are also located in various places around the park.
9. Check out the Hayward Fault Exposed
People who live in California are well-aware of the dangers they face when it comes to earthquakes. They’ve had many and will, no doubt, have many more in the future. In some places in the state, the dangers can actually be seen with the naked eye. These visible faults are reminders of the destruction that has occurred and could occur again at any time.
One particular fault, the Hayward Fault, is a cause for concern. A section of this fault is a visible 40-mile-long and eight-mile-deep trench known as the Hayward Fault Exposed.
Now a popular attraction, visitors can view this amazing natural marvel up close.
10. Escape the heat at Aqua Adventure Water Park
Aqua Adventure Water Park has been entertaining families with its fun and exciting water facilities since 2009.
The popular waterpark in nearby Fremont features several 40-foot water slides, a lazy river that winds around the park, a splash area with a variety of sprays and jets, and a large swimming pool.
When you are not in the water but still need an escape from the sun and heat, there are shade shelters situated around the park.
11. Play a Round of Golf at Fremont Park Golf Course
Fremont Park Golf Course is a nine-hole, par 32 course. Although it’s suitable for golfers of all skill levels, some challenging elements make for an interesting day on the green.
On site, you’ll find a practice area, grass tees, and a short game area. When hunger strikes, you can find a wide variety of snacks and beverages at the snack bar.
There’s also a pro shop on site where you’ll find an array of equipment and apparel. Private and group lessons are offered.
12. Escape into Seven Hills Park
If you find yourself wanting a mini escape from the noise and crowds of the city, Seven Hills Park is the perfect place to literally get away from it all.
Situated high in the hills above the city in a secluded area, this pretty, well-maintained park is the perfect place to relax in a natural setting.
There are many facilities on site including a walking trail, a playground, a volleyball court, a basketball court, and washrooms. Picnic tables are also located around the park.
13. Visit Ardenwood Historic Farm
Constructed in 1857 by George Washington Patterson, the Ardenwood farmhouse has since been transformed into the Ardenwood Historic Farm which has been open to the public since the mid-80s.
Today, the grounds feature the farmhouse and a railroad museum with an assortment of railroad cars and artefacts.
Many events are held on the grounds throughout the year including a renaissance faire and the Township Railroad Fair.
14. Spend time in nature at Vargas Plateau Regional Park
Whether you go there to relax, to hike in nature or to enjoy the spectacular views, Vargas Plateau Regional Park is a beautiful green space situated atop a 1,000-foot-high plateau that is a popular place for residents and visitors to enjoy a range of outdoor activities.
Hiking trails are on site and the stunning views of San Francisco Bay can be enjoyed around the park. As you wander around, you’ll see grasslands, ponds, forests, and canyons. Look closely and you may even spot some wildlife. Eagles, deer, bobcats, and hawks make their home in this lush ecosystem.
15. See a unique habitat at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Spread across 30,000 acres, The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge has been devoted to protecting and preserving this pristine, almost untouched area since 1974.
Wide-open bay areas, salt marshes, salt ponds, mudflats, and upland pool habitats are some of the unique natural areas you’ll see as you make your way through the refuge. You’ll also see a wide variety of plants, animals, and migratory birds.