Surrounded by the constant hustle of the San Francisco Bay Area, the East Bay city of Concord gives visitors the chance to unwind at a slightly slower pace. Concord boasts dozens of community parks, trails, and historic gardens that make a cinch to spend time in nature, without the hassle of loading up the car and driving for hours. Enjoying the outdoors around Concord is for everyone; you don’t need a pricey mountain bike or a backpack full of trendy camping gadgets. For those who love to spend time in nature without a ton of effort, these are the eight best places to appreciate the fresh air, greenery, and open spaces of Concord.
1. Markham Nature Park & Arboretum
In the heart of the city, this 16-acre oasis of greenery welcomes the public to stroll through its expertly designed gardens. With free admission 365 days a year from dawn until dusk, the park is an inviting place to explore groves of native trees, the active nursery, international garden full of unique plants, rose garden, and community vegetable garden. Don’t miss the self-guided Markham Tree Walk, which introduces visitors to 45 different tree species native to California and locations around the world with similar climates (print a map beforehand, or grab one from the parking lot kiosk).
2. Contra Costa Canal Trail
Open to cyclists, pedestrians, and horseback riders, the Contra Costa Canal Trail is a 14-mile paved route through Concord, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, and Martinez. Generally flat and entirely wheelchair accessible, the pathway connects with several other multi-use trails as well as local shopping centers and public parks. Easily accessible at various spots around Concord, the pathway is free to the public every day from 5 am to 10 pm. The west trailhead is located near the junction of Muir Road and Pacheco Boulevard, and the east trailhead is beside the Willow Pass Healthcare Center.
3. Newhall Community Park
Running along Galindo Creek east of Treat Boulevard, the Newhall Community Park provides a thriving public space for picnics, play, and recreation. This free park boasts features like bocce courts, improved natural ponds, a fenced off-leash dog park, and a reservable group picnic area beside the creek. Kids will love the playground and sports fields as well. The public can enjoy the park and its well-maintained facilities from dawn until dusk, with ample street parking on Newhall Parkway and Turtle Creek Road.
4. Todos Santos Plaza and Park
Most locals consider Todos Santos Plaza the heart of the Concord community. Restaurants, shops, and bars surround this 2.5-acre public park that hosts many of Concord’s year-round, seasonal, and annual events. Ready to browse the farmer’s market on a warm summer evening? Wondering where you can catch free outdoor concerts or a community holiday celebration? You’ll find it all right here. Even when the plaza isn’t bustling with events, its picnic tables, playground, and tree-shaded walkways make the park a top choice for leisure time in Concord. Located on Salvio Street between Grant and Mt. Diablo streets, the plaza is free and open to the public, as are many of the events held there.
5. Lime Ridge Open Space
This 1,226-acre park of quintessentially Californian grasslands and rolling hills is just the spot for hikes and bike rides. Situated along the southern edge of Concord, Lime Ridge Open Space is accessible via various trailheads in Concord and Walnut Creek (the closest trailheads to downtown are at the end of Court Lane and Lime Ridge Trail Run). The park’s 25 miles of established trails weave throughout the area, giving visitors the opportunity to hike or bike as far as they please.
6. Concord Community Park
Modern playgrounds, tennis courts, barbeque areas, and an Olympic-size swimming pool are just a sampling of what makes Concord Community Park such a superb place to spend time outside. Covering 30 acres, the park is a popular gathering place for Concord locals, especially for swim meets and family barbeques. Ample grass areas and well-marked walkways offer plenty of room to spread out or play a pick-up game of soccer. (The pool is currently closed for a renovation project.)
7. Galindo Home and Gardens
Built in 1856, this Victorian ranch house was one of few of its kind in the county at the time, and it was home to four generations of the Galindo. After being acquired by the Concord Historical Society in 2010, the property opened to the public for house tours and walks through the surrounding gardens. The gardens feature paved walking paths to admire the various trees on the grounds—from redwoods to palms to oaks— along with benches and arbors. Visitors can stroll through the gardens at any time free of charge, or tour the home most Sundays from 1-4 pm or by appointment by calling 925-685-5658 ($5 admission).
8. Ygnacio Valley Park
A sprawling field, playgrounds, gravel jogging loop, and picnic areas under the shade of lofty oak and eucalyptus trees make up this quaint city park. Situated at the corner of Oak Grove Road and David Avenue, this 9.5-acre park is free to the public 365 days a year. It’s a popular spot to exercise, play with kids and pets, or have a family party (one of the large picnic areas is reservable).