The Bay Area is home to some of the nation’s busiest airports, but you don’t have to head to SFO or Oakland to catch some high flying thrills. Bring your mini plane enthusiasts to Concord’s Buchanan Field Airport for one of the best vantage points for plane watching—all for free. Catch the action in a family-friendly observation zone that even includes a playground.

Planes Taking off and Landing at Buchanan Field Airport

What to Expect:
The observation area is located at the very end of the main road, leading into the airport, right next to the control tower. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see big, blue umbrellas shading the picnic area. Inside are several play structures, designed to take little imaginations to new heights.  A mini runway is painted right on the pavement- perfect for riding toys and bikes. Everything is contained by a chain link fence, so no worries about straying too close to the danger zone.

Buchanan Field Airport is a busy hub with small planes and jets taking off and landing every few minutes. Runways virtually surround the observation area, making you feel like you’ve been granted some sort of VIP access. You can even hear many of the transmissions from the control tower, loud and clear. Roger that.

Play Structures at Buchanan Field Airport

Good to Know:
The area can get windy, so it’s a good idea to pack a sweatshirt or light jacket. Also, the restrooms are in the terminal, which is a little bit of a hike from the observation area. There are plenty of shaded picnic tables within the observation area so we suggest bringing a lunch or a snack.

Prepare for takeoff!

Make a Day of It:
The airport is located right across from a Trader Joes, for those wanting to pick up some items for a picnic lunch. Downtown Concord is just a mile and a half down the road, as well. There you’ll find a variety of family-friendly restaurants (including favorites like Skipolini’s Pizza and Old Spaghetti Factory.) Park in one of the free garages near Todos Santos Plaza and explore the downtown on foot. The Plaza has a great play structure if the little pilots still have some energy to burn.

Picnic Area at Buchanan Field Airport

Buchanan Field Airport
550 Sally Ride Dr
Concord, Ca 94520 (Entrance is on Concord Avenue)
Online: ca-contracostacounty2.civicplus.com/3801/Buchanan-Field-Airport

“Like” this story if your kid loves airplanes (or went through an airplane stage). Then tell us below where you bring your littles for a day of high flying fun. 

— Melissa Bouse