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Why Walnut Creek Is One of the Best Places to Live

Find out what makes Walnut Creek one of the most desirable cities in the U.S.

By Jessica Walker Boehm on April 2, 2016

Mount Diablo Foothills near Walnut Creek California
Walnut Creek / Courtesy of John Morgan under a CC 4.0 license.

Known as the Jewel of the East Bay, Walnut Creek draws visitors and retains residents with its many amenities and advantages, including its cultural attractions, outdoor destinations, thriving economy, and diverse dining scene that includes more than 100 restaurants. It’s easy to see why the city scored a spot on our 10 Best Foodie Cities list in 2015, right?

Plus, Walnut Creek ranked No. 11 on our Top 100 Best Places to Live list in 2016, which came as no surprise to Jay Hoyer, president and CEO of the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re right in the middle of everything,” Hoyer says. “We have about six international airports within reach, and we have all kinds of shopping and dining options. Plus, we have the greatest schools in California. We’ve really got the best of all the worlds.”

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Those living in Walnut Creek enjoy opportunities typically only found in larger cities, such as nearby San Francisco, without the high cost of living and frustrating traffic. As a result, the city has attracted major corporations like the California State Automobile Association, which moved its corporate headquarters from San Francisco to Walnut Creek in 2011. Small businesses also thrive in Walnut Creek, thanks to strong support from the tight-knit community.

“We’re significantly less expensive than San Francisco, and that’s why so many businesses have come out here,” Hoyer says. “It’s the same from a livability standpoint; Walnut Creek is far more desirable than San Francisco.”

A haven for artists and outdoor enthusiasts

Hoyer also notes that Walnut Creek is a haven for the arts as it is home to one of the largest community arts programs in California: the City of Walnut Creek’s Civic Arts Education program. The program is open to adults, teens, and children, and classes are offered in ceramics and sculpture, dance, digital media and photography, music, drama, and other areas.

In addition, Walnut Creek lays claim to the Lesher Center for the Arts, where visitors can enjoy live performances throughout the year. The center also includes Bedford Gallery that exhibits works created by historic, modern and contemporary artists in five to six new exhibitions annually, as well as lectures, workshops, and panel discussions.

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When it comes to getting active, Walnut Creek offers Mount Diablo, part of California’s world-famous state park system. Visitors can hike along the mountain’s extensive trail system, bike to its 3,849-foot summit, or explore the more remote trails on horseback. Those who reach the summit can take in views of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, Farallon Islands, and Mount Lassen.

Not feeling adventurous? A more low-key outdoor destination is the Gardens at Heather Farm, which covers six acres and includes 20 sustainable gardens that are open to the public.

Finally, Walnut Creek is a family-friendly city with plenty of activities for the community to take part in no matter the season. For example, the Walnut Festival takes place in the fall, and the city offers Walnut Creek on Ice during the winter months. The Walnut Creek Aquanuts – a world-renowned synchronized swimming club – perform three times each year, and in the summertime, the two-day Art and Wine Festival draws more than 100,000 attendees.

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