Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Richmond, CA

  • Published 2022/10/03

Richmond is a port city located in California’s Bay Area region.

Like its neighbor, San Rafael, Richmond sits on the eastern shores of San Francisco Bay and San Pablo Bay.

Because of its geography, Richmond’s culture and economy are heavily centered on its coastal areas.

The city has several shorelines and parks that offer you a variety of activities.

However, since it’s near San Francisco, it is no surprise that Richmond is also highly urbanized as well, much like other cities in California.

If you’re visiting the area, look at this list of the best things to do in Richmond, California!

Visit the Rosie the Riveter World War II Park

Exhibit in Rosie the Riveter World War II Park

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If you’re already in the Richmond Shipyard District, visiting Rosie Riveter World War II, Home Front National Historical Park is a no-brainer.

Rosie the Riveter World War II Park is home to various historical landmarks in Richmond.

Check out the Rosie the Riveter Memorial, Ford Richmond Plant, and Lucretia Edwards Shoreline.

“Rosie the Riveter” symbolizes the thousands of female workers behind the massive ship production during WWII.

Hence, the Rosie the Riveter Memorial is an important symbol of women’s contributions during the war.

Display in Rosie the Riveter World War II Park

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Other places, such as Lucretia Edwards Shoreline, show historic bootprints of the workers during the war.

Contributing properties include buildings such as the Ford Richmond Plant and Kaiser Richmond Hospital.

Before going anywhere else, however, pay a visit to their Visitor Center to get a complete overview of the park.

You can reach the memorial by going to Harbor Way South, Suite 3000.

Interior of Rosie the Riveter World War II Park

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Spend the Night at the East Brother Light Station

Daytime view of East Brother Light Station

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There is a wide range of places to stay in Richmond.

However, if you want a truly unique experience, you might want to check the East Brother Light Station.

This bed and breakfast inn is located away from Richmond’s mainland.

Instead, it’s perched on East Brother Island, just a quick boat ride from the city.

Established in 1873, this inn will bring you back to the 19th century.

Exterior of East Brother Light Station

Frank Schulenburg, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Despite restorations, it still maintains its classic Victorian Design.

The inn is also well-known for its quaint environment.

It only has a few rooms, so the number of guests is small, and it prides itself on its gourmet meals, complete with wine and champagne.

Once you confirm a booking with East Brother Light Station, you can reach the island via the port at 1900 Stenmark Drive.

Explore the Richmond Shipyard District

Richmond Shipyard District is a historic site previously home to Kaiser Shipyards’ shipbuilding ventures during World War II.

The shipyards produced around 747 ships before WWII—the highest number for a single site worldwide.

While not exactly a tourist destination because its main areas are behind fences, the Richmond Shipyard District is a haven for WWII enthusiasts.

You can explore many WWII traces from the outside through the Shipyard Trail and Observation Point Trailhead.

Richmond Shipyard District will give you a glimpse of the city’s former life, once full of thousands of shipbuilders and laborers.

You can start your exploration by accessing the Shipyard Trail through Richmond’s Canal Boulevard.

Relieve History at the SS Red Oak Victory

Front view of SS Red Oak Victory

Dreamyshade, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The SS Red Oak Victory is a former WWII cargo ship that belongs to the Rosie the Riveter Park but also deserves mention for being a massive tourist destination.

Now a museum, the SS Red Oak Victory ship once sailed through the dangerous waters of the Pacific during WWII.

The ship used to transport ammunition and armory from Pearl Harbor to the Philippines.

It also served during the Vietnam and Korean Wars.

Side view of SS Red Oak Victory

Sanfranman59, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

SS Red Oak is now the last ship of the 747 ships built in Richmond.

Entering the museum will introduce you to the city’s rich shipbuilding and war history.

Besides its exhibits and displays, the restored interior of the ship is a great place to relieve the naval aspect of WWII.

You can visit SS Red Oak by driving along Canal Boulevard.

View from within the SS Red Oak Victory

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Cycle along Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Trail

Aerial view of Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Trail

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If you’re an avid cyclist, the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Trail is a must-see as it lets you cycle through one of the city’s architectural wonders.

Since 2019, this trail spans six miles along the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.

After opening, it is now part of the 500-mile San Francisco Bay Trail.

While you can easily cross San Francisco Bay via car, biking or walking this path is a breathtaking experience.

The road of Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Trail

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You will experience beautiful bay views here, especially during sunrise and sunset.

Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Trail is also spacious, ensuring safety for both cyclists and pedestrians.

You can access the beginning of the trail by going to its starting point located at Castro Street.

Daytime view of Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Trail

anderm /

Inspect the Stone Cats at Nike Missile Site

If you’re already in Wildcat Canyon, checking the weird but exciting Nike Missile Site may be something you want to add to your itinerary.

During the Cold War, this area in Wildcat Canyon was previously a Nike Missile launchpad.

It has become the site of an unnamed artist’s work—stone cats.

No one knows the meaning behind the weird stone cats, but it’s an exciting place nonetheless due to its history.

Radar operators worked on this site as they needed to monitor for potential Russian assaults.

This seemingly abandoned and forgotten area is a significant detour if you’re a quirky adventurer.

You can reach the Nike Missile Site by hiking to the top of San Pablo Ridge Trail.

Hike the Wildcat Canyon Regional Park

Landscape of Wildcat Canyon Regional Park

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Wildcat Canyon Regional Park is a massive expanse of land that spans 2,789 acres and reaches neighboring counties along the San Francisco Bay.

It also connects to Tilden Regional Park, located in the cities of Oakland and Berkeley.

Wildcat Canyon Regional Park is a paradise if you’re the type who loves outdoor adventures.

It has a variety of trails that you’d want to conquer.

Reservoir at Wildcat Canyon Regional Park

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Some famous trails are Wildcat Creek, Belgium, and San Pablo Ridge Trail.

If you want a more family-friendly itinerary at Wildcat Canyon, visiting the historic Alvarado Park is a great way to relax.

It has plenty of amenities and distinct features, such as its stone walls.

You can find the Wildcat Canyon Regional Park entrance at 5755 McBryde Avenue.

Have a Picnic at Miller Knox Regional Shoreline

A bird at Miller Knox Regional Shoreline

Becky Matsubara from El Sobrante, California, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Miller Knox Regional Shoreline is one of the many prominent shoreline locations in Richmond.

Well-known as a fantastic picnic spot, the grassy fields at Miller Knox Regional Shoreline are beautifully maintained to ensure the best picnic experience.

There are also areas where you can barbecue your food.

One of the best features here is a large pond called Miller Knox Lagoon.

Sitting near the shoreline, this pond gives off a fresh and cold breeze as you relax.

There are also several walking and hiking trails if you want to exercise and get a better view.

The Miller Knox Regional Shoreline is a great place to visit if you want a relaxing picnic or barbecue.

You can find it along Dorman Drive.

Visit the Richmond Art Center

Richmond Art Center is great for viewing the city’s local art and other exciting exhibits.

The art center is historic, dating back to 1936.

Throughout the decades, it’s become an icon for the city’s rich art culture that stems from its diverse communities and students.

There are a lot of exhibitions with varying themes throughout the year, so check them out on your visit.

Several events occur in Richmond Art Center, primarily art classes and other educational seminars.

You can visit the Richmond Art Center in the central part of the city, along Barrett Avenue.

Visit the Golden State Railroad Museum

Welcome sign of Golden State Railroad Museum

Cullen328, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Situated just across Miller Knox Regional Shoreline is the Golden State Model Railroad Museum, home to some of the best model trains in California.

Both kids and adults will enjoy the Golden State Model Railroad Museum, which offers a glimpse of the rich history of California’s railroad industry.

Around 70 East Bay Model Engineers Society members created the museum, which features various dioramas and model trains that simulate real-life railroads in the region.

There’s a lot of attention given to each train model and diorama.

If you take the right angles in your photos, people might think it’s the real thing!

You can visit the Golden State Railroad Museum along Dorman Drive, parallel to Miller Knox Regional Shoreline.

Take Your Dog to Point Isabel

View of the sunset from Point Isabel

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Bring your dogs on a mini vacation to Point Isabel in Richmond!

Residents commonly refer to Point Isabel as Point Isabel Dog Park.

That’s because it’s become a training and recreational park for dog owners.

Many dogs here are trained without a leash, as the spacious park offers a safe environment for dogs.

Trail at Point Isabel

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There are no busy roads, and it’s hard to lose your pet, thanks to the open grassy fields.

There is also a pet groomer and a pet-friendly cafe in the area.

Point Isabel is in the southern part of Richmond, close to Albany City.

You can reach it through Central Avenue.

Dine and Drink at Riggers Loft

Riggers Loft is a collective winery on the southern tip of Richmond.

Previously used for shipbuilding, the Riggers Loft location is now a wholly blown winery and cidery.

Visitors here can taste wines from several wineries and cideries, particularly Carica Wines, Prima Materia, Wachira Wines, and Far West Cider Company.

The place also offers exquisite food with an excellent view of San Francisco Bay.

Likewise, the site has a fantastic view of the city’s evening skyline at night.

If you are passionate about wine or want a fine meal, you can go to Riggers Loft by driving through Canal Boulevard.

See the Boats at Marina Bay Park

Welcome sign of Marina Bay Park

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Given its location, there are plenty of spots to sightsee active boats in Richmond, but few offer a better vantage than Marina Bay Park.

Unlike the other shorelines and parks mentioned, Marina Bay Park is right at Richmond’s Inner Harbor Basin.

Because of this, there are well over a hundred boats and yachts to see along its several docks.

Boats at Marina Bay Park

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Many sailing classes are also available in the area for you to check.

Very few places offer a photo opportunity where boats are crammed neatly in one place, so take lots of photos!

You can enter Marina Bay Park through Regatta Boulevard.

The waters of Marina Bay Park

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Shop at La Pulga Flea Market

La Pulga Flea Market is one of Richmond’s bustling bargain markets that offer a wide range of products.

There are dozens of stalls selling products such as fresh produce, ready-to-eat snacks, houseware, and clothing.

As the name suggests, this market operates under Richmond’s Mexican community.

You’ll also catch various Mexican cuisines for a filling lunch.

If you’re a budget traveler or like flea markets, you won’t want to miss La Pulga Flea Market.

The flea market is near Wildcat Canyon’s Creek Trail along McKosken Road.

Visit the Craneway Pavilion

Exterior of Craneway Pavilion

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Craneway Pavilion is a treat for people who love architecture and photography.

The massive structure spans 45,000 square meters, generally used to host several significant events.

Located beside Richmond Ferry Terminal, Craneway Pavilion offers a scenic waterfront view.

Facade of Craneway Pavilion

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If there are no events open to the public during your visit, seeing this massive building and its scenery is worth the trip.

You can find Craneway Pavilion at 1414 Harbor Way South.

Final Thoughts

If you love port cities, visit Richmond and its sprawling regional shorelines and easy-to-access parks.

Beyond that, you can see the remnants of Richmond’s shipbuilding history from WWII throughout the city.

Very few cities in the world can offer such a unique experience as Richmond.

Plan your trip today and discover the best things to do in Richmond, California!

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