Bring the whole family to two of the most fun and scenic spots in the East Bay: Mt. Diablo State Park and Tilden Regional Park, wrapping up with a delicious (yet kid-friendly) local favorite restaurant for dinner.

Highlights

  • Let the kids climb around the rock formations of Mt. Diablo's Rock City
  • Get views without the crowds on the Mary Bowerman Interpretive Trail
  • Take a beach break at Lake Anza
  • Dig into deep dish at local favorite Zachary's Chicago Pizza

Starting from San Francisco, head across the Bay Bridge and through the Caldecott Tunnel toward Mt. Diablo. This peak is one of the highest in the Bay Area, measuring 3,849' above sea level at the summit. The state park has two entrances: one near Danville in the south, and the other near Walnut Creek in the north. While you could enter and exit through the same gate, we recommend that you head first to the south entrance of the park and begin to wind your way up the mountain. Along the way to the summit, don't miss a stop at Rock City (40 miles, approximately 1 hour). This area of sandstone rock formations, including Elephant Rock and the Wind Caves, is a fun place to let the kids climb around and get some energy out after the drive.

Upon reaching the peak, while most visitors head straight to the observation deck on top of the visitor's center for sweeping panoramic views that on a clear day stretch from the Golden Gate Bridge in the west to the peaks of the Sierra Nevada to the east, we recommend the Mary Bowerman Interpretive Trail that circles just below the summit. This short trail (0.8 miles) offers the same amazing views with less of the crowds. We also recommend the visitor's center itself, which contains a number of fascinating exhibits on the mountain and the area's history.

Looking for more day trip ideas? Check out kimkim's top 10 day trips in the Bay Area

Mount Diablo Visitor's Center
Mount Diablo Visitor's Center

As you start to head back downhill, there are a number of picnic areas along Summit Road, many with great views over the landscape.  After taking a break for lunch, turn right on North Gate Road at the junction, and head down to Walnut Creek and back in the direction of San Francisco. 

Views from Mount Diablo
Views from Mount Diablo

The next destination is Tilden Park in the Berkeley Hills (28 miles, approximately 1 hour from the Mount Diablo summit). Entering the park from the direction of Orinda, we suggest a quick stop at Inspiration Point to admire the views of the surrounding landscape. From there, we recommend heading for Lake Anza. This popular lake is a great destination for families, with a sandy beach and swimming area available to help the kids cool off on a hot day.

Views from the Berkeley Hills
Looking toward the bay from the Berkeley Hills

After getting your fill of the lake and Tilden's numerous trails for those inclined to take another quick hike, head toward Grizzly Peak Boulevard for epic views over San Francisco Bay and its namesake city beyond as the sun sinks into the Pacific.

Golden Gate Bridge from Grizzly Peak Blvd
Golden Gate Bridge from Grizzly Peak Blvd

By now, the whole family is likely getting hungry. Head down to local favorite Zachary's Chicago Pizza in Oakland's Rockridge neighborhood. Their famous spinach pizza may be one of the rare occasions you can convince the kids to eat their vegetables.

From here, it is a quick 20-minute drive back to San Francisco.

Map