When in California, you might want to explore towns and cities that are not as popular but offer equally amazing sights and experiences.
We’re talking about Lafayette, California, in the county of Contra Costa.
Its name is pretty interesting, taken from the Marquis de Lafayette, a French war hero of the American Revolutionary War.
The city sits as part of the San Francisco Bay Area, featuring its own mass transit station on the BART system.
Lafayette is also culturally known as part of ‘Lamorinda,’ situated between Orinda, Moraga, and Walnut Creek.
Interestingly, the city is famous for its wealthy inhabitants, strong schools, and rolling green hills.
The city’s agricultural and residential area is east of the hills, with grassy hills that accentuate it, giving it a more domestic feel.
To its southwest is the Lafayette Reservoir, while to its north is the Briones Regional Park.
Wildlife habitats also abound in the city and feature oak and woodland trees.
Besides the green fields and hills, Lafayette also offers trails, city-managed parks, and a Community Park hiking network that can bring you closer to nature.
It’s worth visiting with family, so here are the 15 best things to do in Lafayette, CA, to help you organize your stay.
Enjoy Outdoor Activities at the Lafayette Reservoir
In 1933, the Lafayette Reservoir opened as a reserved drinking water supply for the East Bay Municipal Utility District customers.
You can find this reservoir off Mt. Diablo Boulevard on Lafayette’s west end.
In 1966, this 1.4-billion-gallon reservoir on a 925-acre site opened to the public for picnicking, boating, fishing, and hiking.
Today, you can see canoes, sailboats, and kayaks in the reservoir, with some pedals and rowboats for rent at the activity center.
If you want to go biking, rollerblade, or riding a scooter, there is also a 2.7-mile paved Lakeside Trail and roads.
You’ll see 35 picnic sites surrounding the reservoir that can accommodate small groups and families if you look around.
You can also go fishing in the reservoir.
It carries thousands of trout each year, joining the many other fish such as catfish, black crappie, black bass, and bluegill.
However, bait restrictions and state license requirements apply for fishing.
Escape the Day at the Lafayette Community Park
Bring the family out on a lazy day at the Lafayette Community Park, located on St. Mary’s Rd.
Here, you can find a diverse array of wildlife and recreation opportunities and other interesting features scattered all over this 68-acre site.
On the south end are two sports fields for baseball and soccer.
You can also use either the group picnic area or the single picnic table while letting the kids enjoy themselves in the Tot Playground.
This playground is close to the picnic area that features an adjacent lawn.
After your picnic lunch, burn the calories with a slow walk along a nature trail that goes through the park.
This park brings you as close as possible to nature with its open grassland and eucalyptus groves.
Explore the Outdoors and Conquer the Lafayette Ridge Trail
Love exploring the outdoors and admiring natural sights?
The Lafayette Ridge Trail offers this and more.
A 10.6-kilometer out-and-back trail, this trail is a moderately challenging route that takes 3 hours and 2 minutes to complete.
You can choose from the many different ways to conquer the Lafayette Ridge Trail, including biking, running, walking, or birding.
To get the best of the place, you can come here from May to September and even bring your furry friends as they are welcome to the site.
Take the Family Out on an Exciting Day at the Brookwood Park
Located on Withers Avenue, Brookwood Park is a 6.3-acre neighborhood the locals consider a 'hidden gem' for everything it lets you do here.
Bring your picnic basket and sit on the ground under the shade of some lovely, dense trees. You can also use the picnic tables for a day of relaxation and fun.
It features BBQ pits, a picnic area, a basketball court, and a playground.
One of Brookwood's strengths is that it is not clearly visible from the street, so it doesn't attract many people.
There is a grassy area where you can play with your kids, or you may opt to push your baby in a stroller on the paved path.
However, the park's main attraction is the Brookwood Park Labyrinth, completed in 2015 with the help of volunteers.
The labyrinth serves as a space for hosting the annual service for families with members who have undergone hospice treatment.
Admire the Art Works in the Lafayette College Art Galleries
Feed the art lover in you with a visit to the Lafayette College of Art Galleries.
Discover works that will totally stimulate your mind and delight your senses.
Explore the Williams Center Gallery and Grossman Gallery, featuring notable exhibitions.
If you want collections for personal enrichment and scholarly research, the Kirby Art Study Center is a can’t-miss.
You’ll be fascinated to know about the Art on Campus program that places artworks or public sculptures throughout the common areas of the campus grounds to create daily art experiences.
The opportunities for art encounters are endless in this part of Lafayette.
Eat Your Heart Out at the Cooperage American Grille
Dying to have a taste of some of the most famous American dishes?
Head out to Lafayette Cir, where the Cooperage American Grille serves some of the most delectable dishes you've ever tasted.
Also known as The Coop, it is a locally-owned restaurant located right in the heart of downtown Lafayette.
Each dish comes to your plate bearing mouth-watering food, paired with excellent service and unique cocktails.
Diablo Magazine has also named it 'Best New Restaurant.'
Indulge in Delectable Korean-Chinese Fusion Dishes at the Great Wall Restaurant
If you love Asian dishes, the Great Wall Restaurant should give your discriminating taste buds value for your money.
The Great Wall Restaurant offers excellent and authentic Chinese dishes like your favorite egg rolls, fried prawns, crab meat, Tai Chi Chicken, and more.
But an even better reason to come here is that it also serves Korean-Chinese fusion dishes.
Don’t just eat Black Bean Noodles—try their Korean Mixed Vegetables, Cold Jellyfish Salad, and stir-fried pork with Korean glass noodles.
Visit the First Neighborhood Park in Lafayette—Brook Street Park
Among the many parks in Lafayette, you shouldn’t miss visiting Brooke Street Park, the first neighborhood park in the city.
Here, you can see many families with young children letting time pass and friends lunching together.
The kids especially love the Pirate Ship, which engages children with its top deck, portholes, climbing ropes, and steering wheel.
Thanks to the low perimeter fence surrounding them, you can be sure that they’re safe if you have kids with you.
Get to Know the Lafayette Historical Society
Every city or town takes pride in its history.
The Lafayette Historical Society aims to stimulate thought, ignite imagination, and provide enjoyment to locals and visitors through the power of history.
So, in November 2009, this non-profit organization opened up the doors of the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, situated on Golden Gate Way.
Prepare to be swept away by its superb collections of artifacts that include Native American arrowheads and a restored 1920s Model TT fire truck.
That's not all. The society's archive contains almost 2,000 photographs, historical documents, and news clippings.
You can peruse their desk space for studying maps, books, and documents from the history library or take advantage of the workstations if you want to use your laptop.
If you get lucky, you might also catch a lecture or two.
Marvel at the Spectacularly Scenic Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail
You should come and see the Lafayette-Moraga Regional Trail, a 7.65-mile linear park for hiking, biking, or running.
This place is about two main things: fantastic scenery and history.
The trail links Lafayette and Moraga together through a logging railroad corridor that parallels St. Mary’s Rd.
And since the trail winds through the Moraga Valley, you’ll enjoy a scenic journey while admiring the sight of the homes and businesses throughout the two towns.
Indulge Your Sweet Tooth at SusieCakes
What’s the best thing to do after a day of exploring?
The second-best answer is getting your dose of sweets. (The first is getting into a hot tub.)
When you’re in Lafayette, SusieCakes takes care of those sweet cravings.
Susie, the bakery owner, creates some of the most delicious cakes and pastries out of the finest ingredients.
Her creations come from the recipes of Mildred and Madeline, her two grandmothers.
SusieCakes does not use artificial preservatives or shortening in its products.
Try their cakes and love them because they also ship nationwide.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Be Inspired About Planet Earth at the Chabot Space & Science Center (NOTE: How far is this place from Lafayette?)
The Chabot Space & Science Center, located in Oakland, California, is not your average science museum.
You can find this all-ages non-profit institution and community resource sitting on 13 acres of land inside Oakland's Redwood Regional Park.
Bring everyone to see the 241-seat full-dome planetarium, a Challenger Learning Center, a gigantic screen theatre, space artifacts, plus hands-on interactive exhibits.
Don't miss the only research-level and publicly accessible telescopes in the country's western hemisphere.
Every year, 189,000 visitors visit the place. Out of these numbers, 50,000 students come from the Bay Area, while 986 school groups come on field trips.
Explore the Ecological Jewel of this Side of California—Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve
Travel for about 16 minutes from Lafayette to reach the Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve on Pinehurst Rd and Moraga Rd.
Interestingly, you can't find the native plant community on this preserve elsewhere in the East Bay.
Come and see its year-round display of blooming plants unique to the Bay Area.
This 241-acre park represents a relic plant association found only in specific areas of California's coastal climate region.
Enjoy Magnificent Views from the Dinosaur Hill Park
Located in Pleasant Hill, California, Dinosaur Hill Park consists of 13 acres of open space and scenic views. Its nickname is Dino Park.
It's roughly 11 minutes away from Lafayette.
You can get to the hilltop via a staircase and railway tie steps from the small parking area.
Offering superb views of Mount Diablo, the park is a popular spot for many July 4th fireworks displays.
In terms of recreation, it offers wide-open spaces for wanderers to explore.
Before leaving Dino Park, visit the 'abandoned haunted house,' believed to be a two-story house whose stairs have remained unfinished.
The house's boarded-up windows and doors ratchet up the thrill factor.
Go Hiking at the Las Trampas Wilderness Regional Preserve
Travel 17 minutes from Lafayette via Bolinger Canyon Rd to reach the stunning Las Trampas Wilderness Regional Preserve.
A 6.8-kilometer loop that’s generally considered moderately challenging would take you 2 hours and 7 minutes to complete.
It’s an expanded trail system where bikers, hikers, and even horseback riders can bask in the ambiance of the rugged, remote areas.
With its size and terrain, the preserve is a perfect getaway for visitors from the hustle and bustle of urban life.
Escape the hectic pace of the metropolis and choose Lafayette for your next trip.
It’s a fantastic place for the family, offering various spots and stops for everyone of every age and background.
With this list of the best things to do in Lafayette, you’re all set for your big vacation!