This town between Walnut Creek and Danville, with about 12,000 residents, still maintains its country atmosphere with bicycle, jogging and horseback trails, quaint restaurants and excellent schools. Home prices are among the highest in Contra Costa County. Roundhill Country Club, with its 18-hole golf course, is located at the foothills of Mt. Diablo. Alamo is unincorporated, which means that the County Board of Supervisors governs it in the county seat of Martinez. Schools are part of the excellent San Ramon Valley Unified School District.
Clayton is a small, upscale and quaint town located just east of Concord. Set at the base of Mt. Diablo, the mountain dominates in a pleasurable way. Clayton started out as a stagecoach stop and mining center, and still has a rural feeling. Clayton schools are part of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District.
Formerly a bedroom community, Concord has experienced phenomenal growth with a mix of industrial, commercial and residential properties. It is Contra Costa’s most populous city and is an easy commute on BART to San Francisco. Sun Valley Shopping Center in Concord is the largest, air-conditioned enclosed mall in Contra Costa County. The SleepTrain Pavilion in Concord attracts top-notch musical acts. California State University-East Bay is located in the hills of south-east Concord. Schools are part of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District.
Danville has a quaint, warm downtown with a Western flavor, offering a wide range of shopping services and professional offices. Although Danville is a city, it retains its small community atmosphere. Built for the most part over flat land and gentle hills, it is close to two large regional parks– Mt. Diablo and Las Trampas — combined, the two offer thousands of acres of undeveloped land for hiking, biking, horseback riding and more. The city offers a wide range of cultural offerings. Schools are part of the excellent San Ramon Valley Unified School District.
Lafayette is small, prestigious residential community composed primarily of established homes with a sprinkling of newer and remodeled homes. It has a full range of shopping facilities and excellent restaurants. Lafayette has a BART station and easy access to Highway 24 for commutes to San Francisco and neighboring communities. The Lafayette School District (K-8) ranks very high and its high school is part of the excellent Acalanes High School District which serves Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga and central Walnut Creek.
Martinez is the County seat of Contra Costa, rich in California history. Its natural harbor has made it a good location for oil refineries, which with government offices are the largest employers. Despite what you might conclude, all but a small part of Martinez is suburban residential. Situated on the Sacramento River Delta, Martinez has 70 miles of waterfront available for boating and fishing. Martinez is served by two school districts. Martinez Unified educates children on the west side, and Mt. Diablo Unified educates those on the east side, with middle schoolers and high school students attending its schools in neighboring Pleasant Hill.
Moraga is a secluded, affluent suburb nestled behind the Berkeley-Oakland hills. It has one of the lowest crime rates in the Bay Area. Home of St. Mary’s College and Moraga Country Club, it attracts professionals who commute to work in San Francisco, Oakland, Walnut Creek and elsewhere. Single family, ranch style homes predominate, with a few attractive townhouse/condo communities as well. The Moraga School District (K-8) ranks among the highest in the state, and its high school is part of the top-ranking Acalanes High School District.
Orinda is Contra Costa’s closest community to San Francisco. Located off Highway 24 just over the hills from Berkeley, Orinda is primarily composed of older homes set in wooded, hilly terrain. Many homes have large lots of one-half acre of more, and the home prices are among the highest in Contra Costa County. It’s small, charming downtown has a theatre-office complex with a potpourri of small shops and restaurants. North of Highway 24 is Orinda Village, the second center of the town, with town offices, the library and major grocery store, among other amenities. Orinda is the location for the Shakespeare Theatre – an outdoor pavilion, and also backs up to Tilden Regional Park, one of the biggest and best equipped in the Bay Area (trails, merry-go-round, playing fields, lake, golf course, botanical garden). The Orinda School District (K-8) is among the top districts in the state, and its high school is part of the top-ranking Acalanes High School District.
Pleasant Hill is a residential town that has done a great job of combining shops, restaurants and multi-plex theatre into a vibrant town center. School scores are in the top 20% of the state, crime is low, and activities are many. The town is host to Diablo Valley College, one of the most successful community colleges in the state in transferring students to top universities. It also hosts the main county library; between this library and the DVC library, open to the community, the resources are wonderful. Sun Valley Mall, officially in Concord, borders Pleasant Hill, and a few blocks north are additional big box stores. The PH Parks and Recreation District offers many sports, dancing, adult classes and programs for seniors. Pleasant Hill schools are part of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District.
San Ramon, located in the heart of the San Ramon Valley, along highway 680, is a newly developed residential area with a strong base in white-collar and high-tech jobs. The area is rapidly becoming a regional center for national corporations. Typical homes are 4 bedrooms, three baths, two stories on smaller lots. Thanks to community planning, there will always be pockets of undeveloped recreational space providing hillside escapes and beautiful views. The City Council has hooked parks to schools and funded school projects that can be used by residents. Fourteen town parks, two regional parks. Schools are part of the excellent San Ramon Valley Unified School District.
Walnut Creek has been called the financial Mecca of the county. It has earned a reputation as the poshest retail shopping district, with stores ranging from Nordstrom, Tiffany and Pottery Barn, (with Neiman Marcus now being built), to tiny exclusive boutiques and a truly staggering variety of ethnic and other restaurants. This in a city of less than 70,000! Housing is varied and suits a broad variety of tastes and pocket books, from small apartments to luxurious villas in the million dollar range and up. Walnut Creek has BART, Highway 24, and Interstate 680 for easy commuting in the Bay Area. Walnut Creek’s children attend schools in 4 different school districts – Walnut Creek, Mt. Diablo, Lafayette and San Ramon Valley – so it’s important to know the various District boundaries. The Walnut Creek School District (K-8) ranks very high in the state and its high school is part of the excellent Acalanes High School District which serves Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga and central Walnut Creek. Additionally, the Walnut Creek schools which are part of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District are among the top in their district and also rank among the top schools in the state.