18 Best Things to Do in Alameda County, CA
Alameda County is one of the richest counties to visit when you’re going to the San Francisco Bay Area.
Directly connected to San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge, the beautiful cities of Alameda County are brimming with tourist attractions.
Some of the best things to do here are waterfront activities, but the bustling cities are also filled with iconic landmarks such as the University of California Berkeley, Oakland Zoo, and Coyote Hills Regional Park.
There are lots of downtown areas too to explore, particularly from big cities such as Oakland and Fremont.
While the Bay is the county’s primary attraction, there are also tons of upland attractions and wilderness areas on its eastern section.
To get you started with your itinerary, here are the 18 best things to do in Alameda County, California.
Go Trekking at Sunol Regional Wilderness
If you’re passing by the small community of Sunol, you may want to check one of the most popular outdoor attractions in Alameda County: Sunol Regional Wilderness.
This natural wonder is teeming with all sorts of beautiful things for you to explore, ranging from grassy hills to huge rock formations.
Some activities to do here include bouldering, hiking, and wildlife photography.
The place is also tranquil because of its prairies—it’ll give you vibes similar to traveling in the rural areas of New Zealand.
Lots of ranches are found here, so you can see cattle and all sorts of other farm animals—truly, it’s a scenic sight to behold.
Experience San Francisco Bay at Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach
Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach is one of the best ways to experience the San Francisco Bay in Alameda County.
Besides it being scenic, the state beach is a popular place for travelers as it’s brimming with all sorts of water sport activities.
Some things that you can do here are windsurfing, swimming, and fishing.
During the summer, the waters here are shallow which makes it a great spot for children to wade around; the sandy beach is also a great bonus.
Found in the city of Alameda, Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach is a must-visit for water enthusiasts.
Visit the Oakland Museum of California
A trip to Alameda County isn’t complete without visiting Oakland, with Oakland Museum of California being one of the best attractions in the city.
It’s a huge attraction that focuses on art, natural history, science,and many more.
Tons of interactive exhibits can also be found here, utilizing the latest technologies in sound and lighting.
The grounds are as pretty as the exhibits as well, making it great for photo opportunities.
Considering it’s one of the most visited attractions in Alameda, Oakland Museum of California is a no-brainer to see.
Take the Kids to Oakland Zoo
Oakland Zoo is another primary attraction in Oakland that’s famous for its huge sanctuaries and family-oriented activities.
One of the most exciting things about Oakland Zoo are its cable cars; it conveniently lets you traverse the zoo faster while also giving scenic views.
But of course, the stars of the show are the animals, and you’ll see tons of huge mammals and reptiles here.
You’ll see huge giraffes, camels, zebras while also encountering larger predators like bears, crocodiles, and wild cats.
Oakland Zoo also has a lot of sculptures and art which enhances the family experience.
Meditate at the Hayward Japanese Gardens
Another hidden gem in Hayward is the Hayward Japanese Gardens.
This is a serene place that has a lot of Zen Buddhism and Shinto aesthetics, paying tribute to two of the primary religions in Japan.
Brimming with ponds, trees, and Japanese wooden architecture, this is both a place for tourists and for those seeking respite.
Some awesome things here that are great for photos are its Japanese gate (torii), the Koi pond, and Japanese-designed gazebos.
If you’re a big fan of Japan, this is a great place to experience its traditional aesthetics.
Learn Animal Rehabilitation at Sulphur Creek Nature Center
Hayward is an underrated city in Alameda County, and one of the best things to do there is visit Sulphur Creek Nature Center.
A must for nature lovers and animal rights advocates, Sulphur Creek Nature Center focuses on animal rescue and rehabilitation.
This is a great chance for children to immerse themselves in the beauty of this work, especially at a young age.
It’s also exciting, as you’ll see various wildlife here similar to visiting a zoo.
Both educational and fun, Sulphur Creek Nature Center is a perfect way to spend time with the family.
Do Wildlife Photography at Coyote Hills Regional Park
While there are a ton of places in Alameda County to do wildlife photography, few can match Coyote Hills Regional Park in this regard.
It’s a huge nature area in the city of Fremont, located by the San Francisco Bay.
Because of this proximity with the ocean, Coyote Hills Regional Park has a complete ecosystem that allows it to flourish as a natural habitat for wildlife.
You can see tons of water fowls, wild turkeys, and other migratory birds in the park; plant life is abundant as well, as it has tons of wildflowers and trees.
The overall landscape of this is also scenic, combining hills with the serenity of the ocean—it’s one of the best places to experience Alameda’s true beauty.
Tour the Campus of the University of California Berkeley
The University of California Berkeley can be found in Alameda County’s Berkeley City.
It’s one of the most popular and prestigious universities in the world, and its campus is just as exciting as its education.
You can see lots of iconic architecture here, highlighted by the Campanile Esplanade, Sather Gate, and the Wheeler Hall Auditorium.
There are also a ton of libraries here for you to see, along with plenty of green spaces.
Top top it all off, the University of California Berkeley has a huge arboretum that doubles as a main tourist attraction in the city.
Visit the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is one of the best places to appreciate art in Alameda, conveniently found a few minutes from the University of California Berkeley.
It’s a huge museum mostly housing contemporary art from around the world.
While huge, the place doesn’t get cramped because of its spacious aisles that’s perfect for immersing yourself in art for countless hours.
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is also a great way to do art activities if there are ongoing events in the museum.
A great stopover during your trip, try visiting this museum for a memorable experience.
Go Hiking at Mission Peak Regional Preserve
Mission Peak Regional Preserve is another huge natural wonder in Fremont City.
The place is famous for its elevation gains, making this a popular site for hiking and intense biking.
You’ll definitely be working out a sweat here, so be sure to come in prepared and ready, as the hike is not for everyone.
Still, the rewards are amazing—Mission Peak Regional Preserve has one of the best vistas in the county.
With beautiful prairies and trees, this is a scenic way to hike the mountains of Alameda County.
Explore the Shinn Historical Park and Arboretum
The Shinn Historical Park and Arboretum is a gorgeous place in Fremont City that gives off 19th Century vibes.
That’s because the place was once the home and ranch of the Shinn family in the 1800s.
Today, it’s now a quaint place to immerse yourself in history via tours; you’ll see tons of preserved items in the historic home.
The surroundings of the area are also pretty, as there’s a Japanese-inspired arboretum as well.
A laid-back but substantial addition to your itinerary, this is a great way to diversify your plans in the county.
Watch a Comedy Skit at Tommy T’s Comedy Club
Tommy T’s Comedy Club is located in Pleasanton, another underrated city in Alameda County.
The interiors of this comedy club are intimate, making it a great late-night destination for small groups.
If you’re all about comedy shows, this is a great way to experience ones that aren’t mainstream.
Beyond that, the food and drinks here are amazing.
Tommy T’s Comedy Club also has a balcony area, giving it a nice aesthetic appeal.
Travel Back in Time at Ride Niles Canyon Railway
The Niles Canyon Railway is a neat historic attraction in Sunol because of its abundance of historic trains.
The railroad dates back to the early 1900s, when it was still operating throughout Alameda County.
Today, you can board one of their vintage trains and get a chance to experience the railroad tracks as you travel.
The ride doubles as a history tour as well complete with food and drinks.
Their train ride themes vary depending during the season, with Christmas being some of the best times to take children with you.
Spend Family Day at Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area
Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area is one of the best blends of city park vibes and nature aesthetics in Alameda County.
Found in Fremont, this recreation area acts as the main park to experience the Horseshoe Lake.
Tons of activities can be done here on top of relaxation, whether it’s boating or fishing.
Picnic grounds are also abundant, and there are tons of walking trails as the park is huge.
A great way to relax and spend time with loved ones, Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area is a must-see when traveling to Fremont.
Watch the Sunsets at Emeryville Marina Park
Emeryville Marina Park is a gorgeous place in the city of Emeryville, located by the San Francisco Bay.
If you have an affinity for marina aesthetics, this is the place to be.
Tons of small boats are docked here, and there’s a wide and unobstructed shoreline to observe the sunsets.
It’s also a pretty place to walk during the morning because of its tranquil atmosphere.
If you want to go on a chartered fishing trip, you can also find one here at Emeryville Marina Park.
Immerse in Space Science at Chabot Space & Science Center
Space enthusiasts will have a blast visiting the Chabot Space and Science Center that’s found in Oakland.
It’s a quirky museum that looks like a series of planetariums or domes from the outside.
They have tons of exhibits and shows inside, all focusing on the nature and history of outer space.
Touring the inside almost feels futuristic; it’s as if you’re venturing into the headquarters of NASA.
You’ll also see astronaut suits here, along with model rocket ships and space shuttles.
Watch Horse Racing at Golden Gate Fields
Whether you’re passionate about horse racing or you’re looking for a fun time, Golden Gate Fields is a great addition to your itinerary.
Located in Berkeley, the place is an ideal location to enjoy a horse race over delicious food and alcohol, so it’s a great destination for friends.
The horse races here are some of the best you’ll find in California as well.
There’s also a bingo game here to add variety to your visit.
One of the liveliest places in Berkeley, Golden Gate Fields is a neat way to enjoy the city.
Marvel at the Golden Gate Bridge at Cesar E. Chavez Park
Cesar E. Chavez Park is another beautiful recreation area found in Berkeley.
What makes this unique is that it’s aligned with the Golden Gate Bridge on the map; this makes it the perfect place in Alameda County to see it.
On top of seeing a world-renowned attraction, the park is also home to beautiful greenery that’s perfect to walk your dogs.
It’s actually very famous as an off-lease area for both locals and tourists.
Lively and scenic, Cesar E. Chavez Park is another fun experience by the San Francisco Bay.
Alameda County is overflowing with lots of tourist attractions that can easily accommodate an itinerary that’s several weeks long.
One of the best destinations after exploring San Francisco County, Alameda is a must-see in California.
It has all that you’d ask for in terms of attractions, as it has waterfront landmarks, bustling downtown areas, and rich nature preserves.
There’s a lot more to see, but this list of the 18 best things to do in Alameda County, California is a great way to start your adventure.