When I meet someone new to the Tri-Valley, the question I’m asked most often is, “What’s there to do around here?” Things to do could be interpreted in many ways. Do you want to do something local? Would you prefer to explore the wider Bay Area? Are you aiming for something routine or a special event?
Generally speaking, there is SO much out there, you just have to know where to look. This list provides a month to month basic snapshot of special events (which my family has personally tried out and enjoyed) in the cities of Pleasanton, Dublin, Livermore, San Ramon, Sunol, and Danville.
JANUARY & FEBRUARY – see Rainy Day activities (coming soon).
In Dublin we have our largest, two-day celebration, to honor St. Patrick’s Day. It’s a weekend that includes a parade, 5k run, carnival rides, stage shows featuring Irish dancers and Celtic drummers, lots of vendors, food trucks, and, of course, Guinness Beer.
Around this time of year, is the Holi Celebration at Bishop Ranch, in San Ramon. Rain or shine! Just about everything is free (except the gourment food trucks): henna tattoos, face painting, colors to throw. You can watch Bollywood dance performers and listen to live music. (There’s also a Holi Celebration at the Alameda Fairgrounds. I haven’t attended this one yet, but my friends say it was a good event.)
In March thousands of runners zip over to our valley for the annual Livermore Half Marathon & 5k. It starts at 1st Street, winds through picturesque vineyards, olive groves, and sycamore trees, and then finishes back at 1st Street just as food, beer, and wine vendors open up for runners and the public. Join the celebration for a run, or to eat, drink, and dance to live music.
The annual Spring Eggstravaganza in Dublin draws big crowds as tons of toddlers run across Emerald Glen in search of eggs with tiny treasures. When is it? Usually in April ~ it all depends on when Easter falls. Also featured are the Easter Rabbit, bounce houses, face painting, and arts & crafts. For more information, and to register online, go to Dublin City’s website.
Usually this month is also the Sunol Regional Wilderness Wildflower Festival (I’d put a link here, but East Bay Parks doesn’t leave the details up once the festival is over). We’ve taken the kids twice, and they’ve really enjoyed the activities: painting flowers, pressing flowers, planting flowers, creating paper, listening to live music, dancing, picnicking, and lots of hikes. Our favorite hike so far has been the loop to Little Yosemite – walk along Camp Ohlone Road to the falls and then loop back with McCorkle Trail for stunning views of the canyon.
April is also when Dublin‘s Farmer’s Market typically starts again, in Emerald Glen Park. Every Thursday, from 4pm-8pm, right across from The Wave. Every 1st Thursday of the month enjoy a live band as well as wine and beer tastings. On the east side of the valley, Livermore’s Thursday evening Farmer’s Market runs April to October.
May is a busy month in our valley–it’s when many of the street fairs and markets start up again. Be sure to check the Livermore Wine Country events page for concerts and special events at our local vineyards (they also do outdoor movie nights for kids, but some vineyards are slack on posting these things).
In Pleasanton the Antiques & Collectibles Faire takes over Main Street for one night. So much to see–used, salvaged, refurbished, expensive, cheap, actual antiques!
Also, in Pleasanton—1st Wednesday Street Parties! These are, of course, every first Wednesday of the month, from May to August, from 6-9pm. It’s all up and down Main Street, and it’s FREE! You’ll find everything from arts, crafts, and food vendors, to gourmet trucks with mouth-watering menus. There’s also a beer & wine garden for adults only, live music, and a Kids’ Zone.
Livermore‘s Wine Country Downtown Festival is two days and takes place on their historic First Street, spanning across to Maple, 2nd, P, N, and K Streets. It’s a huge event with lots of carnival rides, arts & crafts booths, food trucks and vendors, and beer and wine tastings, and don’t forget all the local stores and restaurants located along the festival path.
San Ramon holds their annual, two-day Art & Wind Festival on the Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day Weekend, right by the Central Park playground. Arts & crafts, gourmet food trucks and vendors, carnival rides, dance performances, and lots of kites!
On the border of Pleasanton and Hayward (this pocket reaches so far east, it might as well be Pleasanton!) is the Rowell Ranch–every year in May they hold a 2 day rodeo. This is a historic rodeo, going back at least 90 years. These days it’s also a non-profit event (any additional income goes to local charities) and tickets are limited!
Pleasanton‘s Friday night Concert In the Park starts in June and runs through August. Every Friday evening, from 7-8:30pm, FREE concerts are held at Lions Wayside Park, just off of Main Street. Bring a picnic and a blanket, maybe some chairs, and get ready to sit back (or dance!) and enjoy the music, under the shade of the eucalyptus trees.
Family Campouts are held throughout summer in local parks in Dublin, Pleasanton, San Ramon, and Danville (check each city’s website for dates, details, and registration). Just pack your tent and overnight gear, and leave the rest to park staff who organize dinner and breakfast and activities for the kids. This is a great way to introduce camping to your little ones!
Monthly Outdoor Movie Nights! The first Picnic Flix starts this month at Emerald Glen in Dublin.
Free Movie Nights are also held each summer in Pleasanton at Amador Valley Park. Be sure to check their city’s website for more information.
The Alameda County Fair kicks off in Pleasanton, from end of June until early July. (It all starts with a Cattle Drive down Main Street on opening day!) Enjoy country music, rock, tribute, Latin, and blues bands, monster trucks, rodeos, the carnival, and every concert ends with fireworks.
Again, the Livermore Wine Country events page has additional concerts, sip & paint parties, lobster feeds, food trucks, speakeasies, evening yoga, and pairings with pizza! All at our local vineyards.
Thursday Farmer’s Markets continue in Dublin and Livermore, as do 1st Wednesday Street Parties and Friday evening Concerts in Pleasanton. Be sure to check each city’s website for the dates of Family Campouts and Outdoor Movie Nights.
Independence Day! Join in the Fourth of July celebration with fireworks in Livermore downtown.
Pleasanton holds a special Summer Wine Stroll in mid July. Rain or shine! This ticketed event is for ages 21 and over–sample wines and gourmet bites, and listen to live music, all along historic Main Street.
Don’t forget the Livermore Wine Country events page for concert series, BBQs, Wine Down Wednesdays, Corks and Canvas, wine strolls and more! All in our local wine country.
Thursday Farmer’s Markets continue in Dublin and Livermore, as do 1st Wednesday Street Parties and Friday evening Concerts in Pleasanton, and each city’s Family Campouts and Outdoor Movie Nights.
The Scottish Highland Games are held at the start of every September, in Pleasanton, at the Alameda County Fairgrounds. I can’t find my photos of this celebration, but just imagine lots of men in kilts, doing everything from the caber toss to archery and dancing and drumming. It’s an annual, two-day celebration, and it can be very hot! September is often a very hot, dry month in the Tri-Valley.
Also at the start of the month, in Livermore, enjoy The Downtown Culinary Stroll and taste the best of local wines, craft beers, live music, and arts & crafts vendors.
Splatter is Dublin‘s annual food festival, held in Emerald Glen Park. It’s a one day celebration that usually lasts from noon until night–wine and beer samplings, gourmet food trucks, lots of games and crafts for kids, carnival rides, and live music.
October is the ramp-up to another busy season. Two local establishments open their doors to the public (usually for the whole month of October), Joan’s Farm, in southern Livermore, and G&M Farms, near Airway Boulevard. Joan’s has the country charm of a real, working farm, while G&M boasts a complex Corn Maze, and a corn box that the kids love to jump around in (it feels great on the feet!). Both farms feature pumpkin patches, pony rides, hay rides, a snack stand with some refreshments.
Early in the month, Livermore offers Witches Night Out (find a babysitter, it’s an event for adults!). Buy a ticket and show off this year’s costume to everyone downtown, while sipping martinis and taking part in contests.
Later in the month, it’s Kidz Town Halloween Day in Livermore: trick-or-treating, costume contests, and Halloween activities.
Dublin features a Harvest Fair, mid-month, at the Heritage Park and Museums, on the west side of town. Admission is free, but there is a small fee for activities. Enjoy Bluegrass bands, face painting, museum tours, wagon rides, and fall fare.
Pleasanton also has two special events, on Main Street, a Halloween Scavenger Hunt! This daytime hunt gives kids a chance to solve clues in order to earn their treats.
For adults only, Pleasanton‘s Halloween Beer Crawl is near the end of the month. You’re encouraged to wear your costume while treating yourself to local beers and bite size starters.
Pleasanton and Dublin offer a Ghost Walk. One is an eerie introduction to the Ghosts of Pleasanton Main Street, and the other peers into the history of Dublin Cemetery and pioneer days. We’ve taken our elementary school kids on both, and they loved them!
In Pleasanton we’ve got the 5k Turkey Trot by the Sport Park, for kids and adults. A FREE event the last time we attended, and the kids brought scooters and bikes to zip past their parents.
In Livermore it’s Earlier Than the Bird! Pajama day downtown ~ get an early (7am!) start on your holiday purchasing with a visit to all the shops along 1st Street and at Village Square Shopping Center.
And, finally, the biggest holiday celebrations of the year!
Sunol‘s Train of Lights is a huge attraction, so get your tickets early! This night-time train winds its way through Niles Canyon, from the little village of Sunol, all the way south to Freemont, and then back again (all month long). Bring hats, scarves, jackets, blankets, and also pack some hot chocolate ~ seats are first come, first served, and often you have to wait in the chilly night air before you can find somewhere to sit. Santa is a frequent visitor, but be sure to call ahead and ask.
The Bankhead Theater in Livermore put on a wonderful Christmas Concert, enjoyed by adults and kids in our group, which was followed by the city’s annual Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony (links below). I was delighted with the flow of events ~ starting our afternoon at the theater, and then dinner on 1st Street, then the parade, and finishing up with the tree lighting. (pack layers because it does get cold!)
Both Livermore and Pleasanton offer holiday parades and tree lighting ceremonies (usually on the same day ~ maybe to divide up the crowds?). Livermore’s Holiday Sights & Sounds Parade is on 1st Street, and Pleasanton’s Hometown Holiday Parade is on Main. Santa promises to make appearances at both 😉
If you can think of an event I missed, let me know in the comments section below.
Copyright © 2010 by Rita Szollos. All rights reserved. Be wise. Don’t steal. For permissions to use any of the above images or written material, please contact me.