You may have visited Contra Costa County on a quest to find pick-your-own fruit, but there’s tons more to offer in this area just east of Oakland. Wineries that welcome kids, a theater with an annual blues festival and parks where the kids can cool off are just a few of the family faves. Plan your day trip ASAP!
You’ll have to venture into the unincorporated Town of Knightsen to find this little gem just outside Brentwood. Park on the lawn and part a curtain of willow vines to enter the mom-n-pop shop of locally grown, pesticide-free produce. There’s sure to be a kitty nestled in between the gourds waiting for a loving hand. Just be sure your little ones don’t chase the many chickens wandering about underfoot. They’re hard at work making truly organic, free-range eggs!
3475 Knightsen Ave.
Recently featured in a Toyota commercial, The Farmer’s Daughter is iconic even to out-of-towners, as everyone who ventures to Brentwood for cherry season is greeted by the classic, all-American red barn. Grab a pie and sit beneath the towering trees that offer a break from the summer sun, or grab a blanket and picnic in the peaceful orchards. Owner Meredith Nunn’s family has been farming in Brentwood for over 100 years, and when she opened a farm of her own, she sought to offer the community a little patch of heaven to visit year after year.
23151 Marsh Creek Road
Tess’ Community Farm Kitchen
This little getaway, located at the end of Balfour Road and surrounded by country scenery is one of Brentwood’s best-kept secrets. The venue serves as a deli with locally-sourced ingredients; a farm market; and an event area for cooking classes, weddings, conferences, baby showers and more.
8091 Balfour Road
Smith Family Farms
Smith Farm is a staple for Brentwood residents and those in surrounding areas. While it boasts a stand for selling fruits and vegetables, the Smiths have also honed the art of entertaining. During the fall, kids and parents can take a hay ride and pick out a pumpkin or join the barn show. In the winter, families can sit around a fire pit while sipping hot cocoa and nibbling on popcorn before taking free pictures with Santa in the barn. Add animals and a hay tunnel to the mix and this little farm nestled in the heart of the ag core with spectacular views of Mount Diablo is a place kids will want to stay for hours.
4350 Sellers Ave.
First Generation Farmers
This farming co-op has taken a new approach to a long-standing tradition in East County. At the farmers market, the group can be seen surrounded by produce with a sign that reads, “Take what you want, pay what you can.” As newer generations moved away from the farming industry, this organization recognized the need to inspire, train and recruit individuals to foster a love of agriculture. Check out their calendar and get involved with kids’ camps and chances to dig in the dirt!
1230 Delta Road
Cinelux Delta Cinema
In a time when visiting the movie theater costs an arm and a leg, small-town locations provide economical options for viewing the latest shows. In downtown Brentwood, Cinelux Delta Cinema is an historic little two-screen theater that has found its niche. Unlike many small places, which only feature independent films that don’t cater to families with small children, this theater plays recent movies. Shows before 6 p.m. are $5 for all ages. Shows after 6 p.m. are $5 for children and seniors and $7.50 for general admission. Terrific Tuesdays feature all films all day long for only $4.
641 First St.
El Campanil Theatre
Located in Antioch’s downtown by the Delta, this historic theater was built in 1928 and stands as another vestige to East County’s rich history. It is still functioning as a place for the magic of theater and performing arts. Ballets, plays, musicals, operas, orchestras and more liven the venue on a regular basis. One popular yearly event is the Delta Blues Festival benefit concert, which will take place in March this year.
602 W. Second St.
photo: Mayalia B. via Yelp
On those hot summer days—and any time of year—downtown Brentwood’s City Park is the place to be for families. The park boasts water features and is set beside city hall and the open lawn where movies and concerts in the park take place. It’s also across the street from the library, which is currently under renovation and set to reopen this summer.
150 City Park Way
Delta First Five
Funded by state tobacco-tax dollars, Brentwood’s Delta First Five serves the entire community with free co-op preschool and parenting classes for families with children 5 years old and younger. Classes are offered in English and Spanish. This center, also located in downtown Brentwood, has become the hub for those in need of a daily activity for the itty bitty ones. Even if you’re not enrolled in one of the classes, kids and parents can swing by for free play in the play area, which has kitchens, trains, puzzles, blocks and more.
760 First St.
A true all-American diner with a California twist (just add avocados), breakfast is served all day in this locally owned hotspot. Portions are huge and the treats are freshly made in house. Just make sure to bring enough hungry friends or family members. It takes at least two to three people to polish off their enormous cinnamon rolls!
655 First St.
This restaurant was first opened in Livermore and has since made its debut in Brentwood. Find a gourmet rotating menu of delicious appetizers, entrees and desserts. The community recently voted it as one of the most romantic places to take a date. So find a babysitter and take your spouse out on the town for a much-needed adult night.
613 First St.
You don’t have to be a boater to love Orwood Resort, a little diner at the edge of the water, overlooking a boat launch. Find enormous shakes, burgers and fries, club sandwiches and more at this restaurant in the heart of the Delta. The scene transforms into a party during special events that feature everything from tacos to line dancing.
4451 Orwood Road
The Candy Shack
If you end up checking out the Delta Theater, pop your head into the shop next door. The always-friendly owner transformed her grandfather’s barbershop into a whimsical, vintage-style candy shop. Jars of colorful candy line the shelves—just grab a bag and fill it up! (Don’t forget to ask for a sample of fudge.)
645 First St.
photo: Ashley C. via Yelp
As more and more farmers in Brentwood’s agricultural core recognize the potential in ag tourism to maintain relevance with development cropping up around them, wineries like Hannah Nicole prove that East County has what it takes to become a little Napa. Schedule an event or peruse the calendar for one to attend, and try all the local flavors that home-grown wine grapes have to offer.
6700 Balfour Road
Campos Family Vineyards
Owned by a local family, the Campos Family Vineyards is a winery where you can sip for a cause. The business has hosted many events to benefit those in need. In addition to a beautiful country scene, the winery features a playground for children to explore during family-friendly events.
3501 Byer Road
Co. Co. Wine Company
This little wine bar is yet another place that pulls locals to downtown Brentwood. Sip local wines and craft beers and snag a live show on the weekends. And when First Street comes alive with parades, parties or farm markets, you’ll have a front-row seat to the fun.
633 First St.
What’s your favorite spot to visit in Contra Costa County? Share it below!
Photos by the author except where noted.