The Tri-Valley is a collection of cities located about 35 miles east of San Francisco that is home to renowned museums, fantastic hiking trails, historical points of interest, and many highly reviewed restaurants. I spent a weekend exploring the towns of Danville, Pleasanton, Dublin, and Livermore and was greeted by much more than I expected, thoroughly enjoying my time in this special part of the state. Did you know they even have the longest-running lightbulb in the world?? I collected many of my favorite spots in this list to make the most of your time in the Tri-Valley. Check it out, and let me know what I left off in the comments that you enjoy in the area.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Visit Tri-Valley, but all of my opinions are my own.
Livermore is the largest city in the Tri-Valley, and because of that, it has lots of restaurants, a great downtown to explore, and many hiking trails. Livermore is where I stayed while I was in the Tri-Valley area, so I got to know the city pretty well. Here are some of my favorite spots in Livermore.
I spent many mornings and nights in the downtown area as it has shops, restaurants, a movie theater, and more. Parking is easy around downtown with street parking and many parking lots. Just grab a spot and explore Downtown Livermore.
Downtown Livermore has a large collection of murals covering many buildings. There are more than 15 of them today all around the downtown and surrounding areas. I love seeing murals when I visit new cities, and they had some great ones here. If you want to see them all, you can find each location on this site.
The Centennial Lightbulb is the Guinness Book of World Record’s longest burning lightbulb. It has been burning for 120 years and is still going strong in the Livermore Fire Station. It is inside the fire station, so you can only visit when someone is there to show you the lightbulb. You can see the lightbulbs webcam here, if you want to make sure it is still burning from the comfort of your home.
Sutherland Distillery has been in Livermore for almost a decade, and it sources many of its ingredients from local farmers. You can set up an appointment if you would like to try their many different spirits. My favorite was the rye.
Del Valle Regional Park
This park encompasses over 4,000 acres and features dozens of miles of hiking and biking trails and a large lake with fishing and boating opportunities. It is especially charming during the spring when the wildflowers are in bloom.
I always try to find new donut shops when I visit a city, and Donut Wheel was my find in the Tri-Valley. It is a typical mom-and-pop donut shop with a continuous line and classic donuts. It you like donuts like me, then check it out.
The Press was the biggest surprise during my visit to Livermore. I had gotten coffee there before, which was great, but I got a chance to try the food on a recent trip. They have “toastinis” which are slices of toast with different toppings, and you can mix and match two flavors. I had the avocado toast and egg with the strawberry caprese, and both were magical.
Posada specializes in contemporary southwestern cuisine that includes influences from many different cultures. It is an excellent spot for lunch with friends or a nice dinner out. Get the sangrita, a mix of Sangria and Margarita, and you cannot go wrong with the mahi-mahi tacos and watermelon salad. It is the most ordered item here, and it is easy to see why.
Uncle Yu’s at the Vineyard
Uncle Yu’s at the Vineyard serves up “innovative Asian cuisine” and is a fantastic upscale restaurant in Downtown Livermore. It is an excellent place for a date, and I loved the “Aged Orange Peel Beef” dish. It was flash fried and had a sweet and spicy flavor. One of my favorite things I ate in the Tri-Valley.
Story Coffee is your spot if you are looking for a traditional coffee shop with fantastic drinks. Plus, it is right next to the Livermore Mural, which is fun to see as well.
Pleasanton is a great spot to spend the night while in Tri-Valley. It is the closest town to the San Jose Airport (if you are flying in), and the downtown area is just as walkable as Livermore and Danville. Plus, it has the Meadowlark Dairy, one of my favorite places in the Tri-Valley area.
Downtown Pleasanton comprises six blocks of shops, coffee, restaurants, and museums. It is centered around the Pleasanton arch, an often photographed spot in the city. Parking is easy with lots of street parking and a few lots, so it is another excellent downtown to explore.
No trip to Pleasanton is complete without a visit, or two, to Meadowlark Dairy. They have been selling dairy products here for the better part of a century, and you can stop by to try one of their famous ice cream cones daily. It is always busy, but the line moves fast, and there are multiple flavors, with new ones being switched out often. It is awesome, and a great way to spend a warm day in the city!
Museum on Main
While in Downtown Pleasanton, be sure to stop by Museum on Main. It is free and pretty small, but it has a great exhibit on the city’s history worth checking out.
Sabio on Main
Sabio on Main is an upscale restaurant located right off the main street. It is an excellent spot for a date with al la carte options and multiple course meals. I tried a three-course meal, and everything was fantastic that I tried. I especially liked the mussel soup, which I would never usually order. It’s a great spot for a relaxing dinner in Pleasanton.
Danville is the furthest north of the Tri-Valley towns, making it the access point for Mt Diablo, one of California’s best state parks. Not to be overshadowed by the mountain, the town also has a great downtown you can explore, the Blackhawk Museum, and the Eugene O’Neill historic site, among other things.
The Blackhawk Museum is one of the best museums I have ever been to and easily one of the state’s best. The museum has only five exhibits, but the exhibits are immersive and stunning, with days worth of information to take in if you are interested. You should not leave the Tri-Valley area without visiting this museum, and it is worth the visit to the Tri-Valley by itself. Here is more information on my time at the Blackhawk Museum.
Eugene O’Neill Historic Site
Eugene O’Neill is one of the USA’s most prolific playwrights. He wrote some of the best plays of the 20th century and even won a Nobel Prize during his life. He lived for a period in Danville, and the NPS has preserved his house. You can still tour if you get a ticket in advance, and it is worth it to see this beautiful property and learn more about Eugene O’Neill himself.
Mt Diablo is the crown jewel of the Tri-Valley and can be seen from all over the Bay Area. The mountain is a commanding presence, and on a clear day, you can see hundreds of miles away from the summit. The state park that encompasses the mountain has hiking and biking trails and a scenic drive to the summit. Read more about my time there in this post.
Danville Harvest is a delicious brunch spot in Downtown Danville. Here, the food is farm-to-table with traditional breakfast items and sandwiches. I especially enjoyed the burrata appetizer, and this is a place where you will see lots of tourists and locals congregate on a nice spring day.
Danville Brewing Company
Danville Brewing Company is my go-to spot after a day of hiking in Mt Diablo State Park. The restaurant has plenty of seating inside and out, great beers, and many fun food options. I am partial to the fuji apple melt with bacon added on. It is hard for me to order anything else since it is so good.
Lottie’s Creamery is a hand-crafted ice cream parlor right in Downtown Danville. The flavors change often and include everything from key lime pie to brown sugar & apple.
Dublin is the town I spent the least amount of time in, so hopefully, I can go back and spend more time there in the future. I did visit one of the museums though, and really enjoyed it.
Dublin Heritage Park & Museums
This park preserves many buildings from the 1800s, allowing visitors to dive into the area’s history and see how people lived during that time. If you visit outside of regular hours, you can still walk the grounds, but I recommend visiting when it is open to go into a few of the buildings.
Tri-Vally Trails (Beer Trail – Ice Cream Trail – Caffeine Trail)
The Tri-Valley does something fun that I have not seen before to encourage stops at many of the area’s best breweries, ice cream parlors, and coffee shops. They have three distinct trails (beer, ice cream, and caffeine) where you can visit a set number of participating locations and then upload your photos to a website to win a prize. You can learn more about the trails here, and you can see the mug I got from the caffeine trail above.
Courtyard by Marriot Livermore
I have only stayed at one hotel in the area, the Courtyard by Marriott Livermore. It was a great spot that was centrally located, had a spacious room, and had a lovely bistro with breakfast and lunch options. I enjoyed having it as my jumping-off point for a weekend in Tri-Valley.
There you have it, my favorite spots in California’s Tri-Valley area. What did I leave off that you love exploring? Let me know in the comments.