Looking for the perfect East Bay spot to take the family for a weekend of tasty eats and fun for all ages? Look no further than Concord! Whether you zip on up 680 from the South Bay, or head across the bridge from SF, Concord is worth the drive. Want to make a weekend of your visit? We’ve got the perfect staycation spot for you. Read on for all our recs!
Todos Santos Plaza is the epicenter for downtown Concord and offers a great big grassy area for kids to run around as well as a climbing structure. Tuesdays bring a mid-day farmer’s market (year round!) and in the summer you can find the Music and Market series on Thursday evenings. There’s plenty of free parking around the plaza as well as two free city garages.
If the weather has you looking for some indoor fun, just a short walk away is Q-Zar Laser Tag and arcade. Nine bucks will get you one session of laser tag and a nice break for the parents!
Downtown Concord has loads of spots to grab a bite to eat and Skipolini’s Pizza is particularly kid-friendly. They’ve got family-sized pizzas and outdoor seating for days when the sun is out. Pregnant mama alert: Skipolini’s is home to the birth-inducing Prego Pizza and you can read all of this pizza’s success stories here.
One of the cutest ice cream shops is right down the street—Loard’s of Concord. Grab a scoop of mint chip or buy a box of Bottle Caps for later. They sell all sorts of soda pop and nostalgic candies as well as ice cream pints to go. Or get your scoop between two cookies at CREAM, right across the street from Skipolini’s.
Visiting Concord sans kids? Check out the city’s craft brewery scene, many of which are located around Todos Santos Plaza.
Head to The Veranda
This brand-new shopping center is the prime location for tons of kid fun in Concord. Through Feb. 18 you can lace up your skates and take a spin on the ice rink. Tuesday visits save you six bucks on skate rental and if you head there on Sunday afternoon, you may even run into Santa himself! The rink is located right next to the LUXE Dine-in IMAX Theater.
Be warned, if you take the kids to the playground at The Veranda, they will never want to leave. This vertical maze resembles lily pads and encourages climbing, teamwork and decision-making skills. Bonus: there’s tons of parental seating surrounding it.
Puesto is the ideal destination for family dining at The Veranda. Specializing in tacos and other Mexican favorites, you’ll definitely want to start you meal off with the chicharrónes and guacamole. The kids menu items come with a choice of tacos with a side of rice and beans, and a glass of agua fresca (we recommend mango-limón). Choose outdoor seating by the always-entertaining water feature or inside by the kitchen where kids can watch the chefs hard at work.
If you still have room after your meal at Puesto, head to PopBar for gelato on a stick. Choose your flavor from dozens of options, dunk it in some chocolate and top it with sprinkles, nuts and waffle cone.
Explore the Outdoors
For a view like no other, head over to Mount Diablo, just a short drive from Concord. Head up the mountain to the tippy top to check out the visitors center and learn all about the area’s Native American history. The word on the street is that if you visit Mount Diablo the day after a winter rain storm you’ll be able to see for hundreds of miles. Typical days offer a still-remarkable bird’s-eye view above the clouds.
There are many hiking trails to choose from at Mount Diablo, many starting at the Summit Visitors Center. If you enter or exit the park at the South Entrance, be sure to stop and visit Rock City where you can climb through caves and check out Native American grinding rocks.
Worked up an appetite from all the hiking? The perfect spot to stop for a burger and milkshake is Mona’s Burgers. Opt for the truffle burger topped with truffle goat cheese, mushrooms and arugula or the Hawaiian with grilled teriyaki pineapple, smoked ham and jack cheese. A basket of sweet potato fries is enough for the whole family to share and massive milkshakes are still massive even when you split them with a friend. Parents will love the friendly waitstaff and the chalk wall that keeps the kiddos entertained.
Stay the Night
The Hilton Concord is definitely the spot to set up your home away from home in Concord. Massive rooms and suites means that you all have plenty of space to spread out. Bring you swimsuit to enjoy the heated pool and hot tub or spend your nights enjoying the fire pits in the courtyard.
Visit the in-hotel restaurant Plate and Vine for a meal or a glass of wine. Book your room to include breakfast and you can enjoy the buffet spread that has something for everyone.
The Hilton Concord offers free shuttle service across the street to The Veranda as well as to the BART station. In the summer you can take it to Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, which is right around the corner.
For more information on what to do and where to eat when you visit Concord, check out the Visit Concord website.
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—story and photos by Kate Loweth
Editor’s note: this visit was paid for by Visit Concord but all opinions belong to the writer.