15 Free Things to Do in Fremont, CA

Free Things to Do in Fremont, CA
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The fourth populous city in Alameda County, with inhabitants of 230,504 as of 2020, Fremont is a metropolitan city with many exciting things to see and do.

With Silicon Valley just minutes away, Fremont has successfully become one of the most desirable San Francisco Bay Area places because of its unique natural attractions and cultural landmarks.

The settlement which sprang up around Mission San José, established in 1797 by the Spanish led by Fr. Fermin Lasuén, is where the city was founded.

When the old municipalities of Irvington, Mission San José, Centerville, Niles, and Warm Springs merged into one city, Fremont was formed in 1956.

Senator John C. Frémont, a general who assisted in the American Invasion of California from Mexico, is the inspiration behind the name Fremont.

Today, Fremont is a vibrant city with many fascinating attractions.

Whether you're after family fun or outdoor activities, here are 15 free things to do in Fremont, California:

Explore Nature at the Coyote Hills Regional Park

Scenic view of Coyote Hills Regional Park
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It was in 1967 when the 1,266-acre Coyote Hills Regional Park was inaugurated.

The bustling city park is made up of rolling hills covered with meadows and wetlands and is located along the eastern side of San Francisco Bay.

The activities you can do in the park include hiking, biking, birdwatching, picnicking, and enjoying the natural scenery.

Although tourists flock to the Coyote Hills Regional Park during summer and fall, it is also as stunning during the winter.

Wooden boardwalk at Coyote Hills Regional Park
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The Coyote Hills Regional Park's trail markers were updated on November 2022 by the Park District to incorporate trail names in Chochenyo, the native tongue of the park's first inhabitants.

The Tribune Ohlone communities have long coexisted with the land, used the Chochenyo language, and have their ancestral home in Máyyan Šaatošikma.

You would have to pay a minimal amount for parking when you visit this park.

Wildflower meadow at Coyote Hills Regional Park
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Attend the Annual Fremont Art & Wine Festival

The Fremont Art & Wine Festival is one of California's largest free street festivals.

Commencing every first weekend of August, the event attracts at least 400,000 visitors yearly, starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 6 p.m. for the two-day festivities.

The Fremont Art & Wine Festival is held in Downtown Fremont; you can enjoy listening to music at the Walnut Stage or go to the Paseo Stage to listen to another band or guest musicians.

While strolling Downtown, you can watch artists at work and marvel at their unique creations.

Over 100 artisans, craftspeople, merchants, wineries, and breweries participate in this event which has been held annually since 1984.

There is something for everyone at the Fremont Art & Wine Festival, so come early if you want to take advantage of everything this incredible event offers!

Take Photos at the Shinn Historical Park & Arboretum

Exterior of Shinn Historical Park & Arboretum
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Shinn Historical Park & Arboretum is popular among nature photography enthusiasts.

The park's beautiful garden and towering trees make it a great place for brunch dates, family outings, engagement photo shoots, and even weddings.

In the 1850s, the Shinn family operated a greenhouse and brought trees from around the Pacific Rim.

Depending on the season, Shinn Historical Park & Arboretum offers different views, which makes it feel like you're revisiting it for the first time, especially during autumn when the Golden Gingko's leaves are falling.

The garden of Shinn Historical Park & Arboretum
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You can tour the expensive Victorian house, which still stands today, and see the family's modest Quaker beginnings.

The house's interior features lofty ceilings and Victorian-style decorations; however, it is scarcely extravagant, from the dining room's original brown decor to the study's bookshelves.

While walking around the garden, you'll see their lawn which served as an advertisement for the family's business.

Many trees in the arboretum today are between 130 and 150 years old, including an Australian Moreton Bay Fig and a Chilean Belota.

A tree at Shinn Historical Park & Arboretum
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Stroll along the Hayward Fault Exposed

On Saturdays and Sundays, you can visit the Hayward Fault Exposed to see the eight-mile-long trench resulting from an earthquake in Fremont in 2006.

As one of the most active faults in Northern California, the Hayward Fault is a must-see for those who want to learn more about geology and natural history.

The Hayward Fault Exposed is the first-ever open display of an active fault in the Bay Area.

The Hayward Fault Exposed, a part of the informative exhibit in Central Park, is open to visitors and features a vast hole excavated 15 feet into the ground.

You can see the treacherous fault line, which spans through nine localities for nearly 75 miles between Fremont and San Pablo Bay, when descending a stairway at that location.

Enjoy Birdwatching at Lake Elizabeth

Pelicans on Lake Elizabeth's shore
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Named after the city's sister in Australia, Lake Elizabeth is one of Fremont's most popular parks, with a 1.5-mile exercise area.

Located inside Central Park, the lake is a haven for birdwatchers and other wildlife enthusiasts, as the park's proximity to the bay, marshlands, and grasslands attracts diverse species of birds.

On any given day, you can see ducks, mallards, seagulls, and some unidentified birds living on Duck Island in the center of Lake Elizabeth.

Hundreds of people visit Central Park and the lake every day, with the latter frequently utilized for canoeing and other leisure activities.

Cormorant at Lake Elizabeth
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Many visitors ride bikes or jog around the lake's edge, and many families come to enjoy the park's playgrounds and the others it connects to by a boardwalk.

Since fishing is free at the lake, many people enjoy it.

You can also rent a canoe or paddleboat.

With abundant wildlife and lush greenery around Lake Elizabeth, it is no wonder visitors keep coming back to this place!

Geese on the waters of Lake Elizabeth
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Get to Know Fremont's Biodiversity at Vargas Plateau Regional Park

Vargas Plateau Regional Park, one of Fremont's entertaining locales, is a free attraction worth visiting.

Located in the Californian Fremont Hills on a hilltop 1,000 feet high, this park boasts a lush green environment.

Vargas Plateau Regional Park comprises vast meadows, beautiful ponds, and rugged forested gorges that serve as a refuge for various animals.

This area is rich in fauna, including rabbits, snakes, frogs, wildcats, and raptors.

There are also more than six miles of pathways for horseback riding, biking, and trekking in Vargas Plateau Regional Park.

The ridgetops provide expansive views of the western part of San Francisco Bay, making this an excellent spot for raptor spotting and birding.

Since there isn't access to drinking water, bring enough water for you and your animals.

Take note also that the park charges parking fees.

Enjoy a Relaxing Day at Don Edwards San Francisco National Wildlife Refuge

Boardwalk at Don Edwards San Francisco National Wildlife Refuge
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Visit the Don Edwards San Francisco National Wildlife Refuge for a day of relaxation, as this wetland sanctuary is one of California's most peaceful and relaxing places.

Located in the southern part of San Francisco Bay, the refuge boasts hiking trails and birdwatching and wildlife observation opportunities.

With marshlands, ponds, grasslands, and more all located within this massive wildlife refuge, it's no wonder many people come here to escape the stresses of everyday life.

Landscape of Don Edwards San Francisco National Wildlife Refuge
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The 30,000-acre Don Edwards San Francisco National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1974 to safeguard, conserve, and improve wildlife habitat.

The refuge also preserves vulnerable and endangered species by providing wildlife shelter.

The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge offers tremendous outdoor leisure and education opportunities, with its 38 miles of hiking trails and Visitor Center.

Short bridge over a creek at Don Edwards San Francisco National Wildlife Refuge
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Appreciate the Views at the Alameda Creek Regional Trail

Enjoy exploring the Alameda Creek Regional Trail and taking in the beautiful views of this scenic natural area.

With 12 miles of trails that wind along the banks of Alameda Creek, there are plenty of opportunities to experience nature in all its glory here.

You can hike, bike, or enjoy the views as you stroll along the creek.

This trail extends from the San Francisco Bay to the base of Niles Canyon and provides entertainment to cyclists and equestrians alike, with both banks of the creek featuring a trail available for their use.

The south side is asphalted and popular with cyclists, while the north side is unpaved and welcomes horseback riders.

A 3.5-mile circular path that connects to Coyote Regional Park and leads right into the Coyote Hills is also easily accessible from the Alameda Creek Regional Trail.

No matter what time of year, there is always something beautiful to see along the Alameda Creek Regional Trail.

Go Hiking at Mission Peak Regional Preserve

Trail at Mission Peak Regional Preserve
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The historical Mission Peak Regional Preserve is featured on the city seal and is a significant symbol of Fremont; it should be included on your list of enjoyable things to do in the city.

Folks from all over the Bay area frequent this park because it boasts one of the stunning views of Silicon Valley and is great for bicycling, hiking, and mountaineering.

The Mission Peeker, a marking pole at the park's summit and a prominent feature where most tourists stop for photos, is one of the park's most well-liked attractions.

Cow grazing at Mission Peak Regional Preserve
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In December 1990, sculptor Leonard Page and his team built the enduring "Mission Peeker" to raise people's awareness of the environment; the pole's sticks stand in for each element of environmental recycling.

The 3,023 acres of the Mission Peak Regional Preserve are accessed from the Ohlone College parking areas or a tiny staging area at the eastern end of Stanford Avenue.

However, those who want to hike are advised to bring water and other provisions to avoid dehydration.

Scenic views from Mission Peak Regional Preserve's summit
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Attend the Niles Festival of Lights Parade

Start your Christmas season with a bang as you attend the Niles Festival of Lights Parade in Fremont.

The Niles Festival of Lights Parade welcomes the start of the Christmas season with an illuminated parade that fosters fun, camaraderie, and enjoyment of this occasion for all.

The Niles Festival of Lights Parade has been an annual event in Fremont since 2001.

Each year, the parade features enormous balloons, artistic floats, marching bands, vintage cars, and dancing groups.

More than 10,000 spectators watch the procession in Niles as it travels around a ½-course.

Kids will have fun with the lively and colorful parade, especially with the appearance of Santa Claus.

A tree-lighting ceremony commences first, which kicks off the festival, and the parade starts just after darkness has fallen.

If you're looking for holiday fun this season, attend the Niles Festival of Lights Parade.

Discover the Charms of Central Park

Scenic view of Central Park
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Central Park is one of Fremont's most noteworthy tourist attractions, especially for active children.

In the center of the city, Central Park is perched on 450 acres of land and is home to Lake Elizabeth, an artificial lake, sports courts, playgrounds, and hundreds of trees.

Located on Paseo Padre Parkway, Central Park also boasts Mission Peak Hills, which surrounds Lake Elizabeth, making it a picturesque destination for hiking and other outdoor activities.

Musicians at Central Park
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The park is a beautiful location for family reunions and celebrations, and it is not unusual to see families and friends having a party.

The skate park, the south end, and picnic areas will ensure everyone enjoys exploring the park.

Central Park can accommodate your needs if you're looking for a great place to hike, cycle, or have fun with the family.

Playground at Central Park
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Enjoy the Serenity of Nature in Niles Community Park

Niles Community Park offers various amenities for visitors, including walking trails that loop around the lake and multi-use sports fields that can be used for sports such as soccer, football, and baseball.

Play tennis with your friends on one of the courts and bond over the friendly competition.

There are also several picnic shelters located throughout the park that are perfect for enjoying a meal with family and friends.

Let your kids delight in the sandbox and swing sets while you relax on the benches in one of the quiet, shaded areas of the park.

Whether looking for a quiet spot to read a book or an active area where you can enjoy some time outdoors with friends and family, Niles Community Park is the perfect destination.

Visit Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area -

Daytime view of Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area
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If you're a fan of the water, then you should take advantage of the Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area when you're in Fremont.

Right next to the Coyote Hills Regional Park, Quarry Lakes is in a formerly sand and gravel quarry site.

Today, it is home to at least four lakes, but only two, the Horseshoe and Rainbow lakes are open to the public for swimming.

There's also a rare fruit forest on the tip of Horseshoe Lake, which comprises both local and exotic vegetation.

Quarry Lakes is home to over 50 different species of wildflowers.

The waters of Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area
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Quarry Lakes also plays a significant role in housing migrating birds as one of the few riverbanks along Alameda Creek in a nearly pristine form.

The location has drawn ducks, herons, egrets, and other waterfowl due to restoration efforts in the park.

Additionally, breeding boxes and berries plantings have attracted smaller birds like swallows and yellowthroats.

The park also features expansive hiking trails, picnic areas, and visitor centers.

Take note that the park has parking fees.

Boats on the water of Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area
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Go for a Relaxing Hike at Sabercat Creek Trail

If you're looking for a place to escape the bustling city life, head to Sabercat Creek Trail, one of Fremont's best-kept secrets.

In the Mission San Jose neighborhood, Sabercat Creek Trail is a hidden treasure offering two miles of serene hiking trails along the banks of Sabercat Creek.

The concrete trail passes through an area that was the former location of a paleontological excavation, where countless fossil bones of saber-toothed cats, gigantic sloths, and bears were unearthed.

Even though this is a popular trail for biking, trekking, and birding, you can still find some peace and quiet during the slower periods of the day.

Dogs are welcome on the trail but must always be on a leash.

Sabercat Creek Trail is open all year round and is a lovely place to explore when the weather in Fremont is good.

Head over here today and discover its beauty!​

Marvel at the Stunning Gardens of California Nursery Historical Park

Flower at California Nursery Historical Park
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Another must-visit destination in Fremont is the California Nursery Historical Park, which features some of the most beautiful gardens, preserved buildings, and a park.

Located near the historic Niles district, the park was once home to California Nursery Company, one of the largest nurseries in the country.

At its height, the nursery, founded by John Rock in 1884, was the most extensive on this side of the Rockies and measured nearly one square mile.

California Nursery Historical Park also houses historic buildings, such as the Vallejo Adobe, which was built in the 1800s, and was utilized to store grain.

You will be in awe of the design and architecture utilized to build this house, which was also part of the Mission of San Jose.

Be advised that while you might not be permitted to enter the house, you can still admire the artistry displayed throughout the outer part of the structure.

Final Thoughts

There are many things to enjoy in Fremont, from nature and outdoor attractions to fun festivals and more.

These free things to do in Fremont,  California, are just a sample of this vibrant city's beautiful experiences and adventures.

Explore the city's attractions today and discover Fremont's beauty!

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