Like many coastal towns in California, San Leandro was originally explored by Spanish missionaries who arrived in the mid-18th century to spread Catholicism.
Located in Alameda County, San Leandro had approximately 90,000 residents at the last census.
The city has a mild year-round climate, with mountains to the east and large wetlands and coastline to the west.
While there are more than enough things to do within the city limits, day trips to nearby San Francisco and Oakland are popular ways for tourists to spend time in the area.
Here are 15 things to do in and around San Leandro, California.
1. Peralta House
Casa Peralta is one of the most important historical sites in San Leandro. It is conveniently located on West Estudillo Avenue near the city center.
The home was built nearly 200 years ago and was originally home to many descendants of the area’s original settlers of Hispanic origin.
Casa Peralta is known for its traditional mission-style architecture and imported tiles depicting the adventures of the mythological and literary legend Don Quixote.
Homes are not open every day, so check their schedules before making a special trip.
When it’s open, docents offer home and venue tours that usually last an hour or two.
2. Kings Bay Golf Club
While the weather in the Bay Area can get pretty chilly in the winter, it’s pretty much the perfect place for outdoor activities like golf most of the year.
Located on East 14th Street in San Leandro, Monarch Cove Golf Club features two different courses, making it a popular destination for both beginners and experienced golfers.
Both courses have stunning bay views from almost every hole. The larger 18-hole Tony Lema course is designed to mimic the European links-style courses.
At over 7,000 yards, it’s a bit on the long side, making it a challenge even for big hitters.
For seniors, novices and those playing with children, the par 3 9-hole Marina Course is a great option and usually takes about 90 minutes to play.
3. San Leandro Farmers Market
The San Leandro Farmers Market is a popular family fun event that is open seasonally from spring through fall.
It features the best locally and regionally grown produce, as well as other items such as flowers and baked goods, prepared meals, and crafts.
The market takes place in downtown Parrott Street. It often offers additional entertainment, including live music, wine and food tastings, cooking classes, and fun kids’ activities such as art classes and face painting booths.
Seasons vary slightly from year to year, so check online or ask a local before heading out.
4. Take a Self-Guided Walking History Tour
Downtown San Leandro is full of historic buildings. For those who don’t mind hitting the pavement, many can easily be seen in just a few hours.
Many of the city’s original buildings were destroyed in a major earthquake in 1868, but their original sites and memories were largely preserved by the local government and historical society.
The original county court served as the county seat for more than two decades in the mid-19th century. Its former site is on the southwest corner of Davis Street and Clark Street.
For a complete list of other nearby historic attractions, check out the city’s website.
5. Daniel Best House
Daniel Best House, also on Clark Street, is one of the city’s most underrated historic attractions.
Built more than 150 years ago, the house was the childhood home of Daniel Best, a prolific tinker and inventor who was responsible for several innovations in the tractor and farm equipment industries.
Best’s son went on to merge his father’s company with another local equipment maker, and the resulting company went on to become Caterpillar.
CAT is now the world’s largest producer of mining, agricultural and industrial machinery, making this home a particularly unique place in local history and worth checking out.
6. Marina Park
For those looking to experience the great outdoors without wasting time driving to remote coastlines, San Leandro’s Marina Park is a great option.
Set on nearly 30 acres off Fairway Boulevard, the park features panoramic water features, built-in grills, covered seating areas, playgrounds and open green spaces, perfect for energetic kids who need to stretch their legs.
Due to its convenient location, abundance of amenities, and idyllic scenery, the park can get crowded on weekends. If you want to avoid the crowds, consider visiting early in the morning or during a weekday when it’s usually less busy.
7. Cherry Festival
San Leandro’s Cherry Festival is a highly anticipated annual event that takes place on West Estudillo Avenue in downtown near Pelton Square.
While it’s mostly a celebration of cherries in all their flashy forms, over the past few years the event has included a car show, food trucks, live music, a beer garden and a few organized kids’ events.
According to locals, the event has been going on for more than 100 years. It is popular with city dwellers and out-of-state visitors.
Parking can be tricky, so if you live within city limits, consider taking public transportation.
8. Oyster Bay Area Coastline
Although it’s located just outside the downtown area, adjacent to a major landfill that was full and officially closed in the 80’s, the Oyster Bay area coastline is now one of the most beautiful natural areas in San Leandro.
The coast and wetlands of the area are home to a variety of animal species. They attract a variety of outdoor recreation enthusiasts, including amateur photographers, bird watchers, artists, walkers, cyclists and runners.
The coastline has several paths and animals and birds can often be seen, especially during the dimly lit mornings and evenings, when they are usually most active.
9. Zscape Games
Room escape has become a popular holiday activity in recent years. They are usually the most experienced as part of a family, friend or co-worker.
Zscape Games is located on Omega Road in San Ramon, just 15 kilometers east of San Leandro. It offers many themed rooms where participants can use their teamwork and problem-solving skills in a surprisingly uplifting environment.
Escape rooms are also ideal for birthday parties, family gatherings, and unique date nights, and they’re an excellent choice when the weather isn’t conducive to the outdoors.
Rooms usually book quickly, so book early to avoid overcrowding.
10. Coffee time
While its name might confuse you, Coffee Time on Doolittle Drive in San Leandro is as famous for its delicious sandwiches as it is for its java.
Former diners say they have the best sandwiches anywhere in the East Bay.
Almost everything is freshly made on site every day using local ingredients. For moderate eaters, the portion size is large enough for two meals.
Perennial favorites include turkey and sun-dried tomatoes, and bagel breakfast sandwiches with bacon, eggs, and cheese.
In case you’re wondering, they have great coffee, but due to its small dining area, it’s more of a takeaway spot than dine-in.
11. Kendeja Restaurant
While San Leandro and Liberia couldn’t be more different if they existed in another universe, the city is home to one of the most authentic Liberian restaurants in the Golden State.
Established in 2017, Kendejah Restaurant offers a full range of authentic West African dishes such as roast meat, roast chicken, peas and gravy, and whole grilled fish.
Liberian cuisine is known for its vibrant flavors, healthy ingredients and exotic spices that you won’t find in most other regional restaurants.
The restaurant is located on Pelton Road. It is popular for its reasonable prices, efficient staff and ample portions.
12. Anthony Chabert Regional Park
Although it’s technically located in Oakland, just 15 minutes north of San Leandro, Anthony Chabot Regional Park is a popular escape destination for visitors interested in engaging in many outdoor activities.
The park includes kilometers of multi-use trails open to walkers, runners, cyclists and horse riders. They meander through a variety of different environments, including grasslands, wooded areas, foothills, and lakes.
Regional parks are great places to take a leisurely stroll in the morning or afternoon. It’s also popular with picnickers, as well as those who just want to spend a quiet afternoon in the shade with old friends or finish a good book.
13. Hayward Japanese Garden
Located on North 3rd Street in Hayward, about 10 kilometers south of San Leandro, the Hayward Japanese Garden is the oldest growing area of its kind in California.
The garden incorporates traditional Japanese design elements such as koi ponds, carefully manicured trees, stone paths, boulders and babbling streams, and is open year-round.
Although they are located near one of the largest urban areas in the state, the idyllic setting and natural beauty of the gardens make visitors feel like they are further from civilization than they really are.
The gardens usually attract tourists looking for temporary solace, but are also suitable for those travelling with children.
14. Sulphur Creek Nature Center
Also located in Hayward, just minutes off I-580 from San Leandro, the Sulphur Creek Nature Center is a wildlife rehabilitation center focused on returning injured animals to the wild.
Staff at the center are involved in several educational programs designed to educate visitors about the region’s unique animal species and the importance of habitat conservation.
As part of a guided tour, guests will witness the center’s many animal inhabitants firsthand. For those willing to do their part to help, there are a variety of volunteer options available.
15. Chabot Space and Science Center
Founded in the 1880s, Chabot Space & Science Center was one of the first observatories on the West Coast.
While it’s now a popular attraction catering primarily to local school families and field trips, its exhibits still focus primarily on astronomy, science, and technology.
In addition to interactive exhibits, the center offers a variety of regularly scheduled staff-led activities, including science experiments, hands-on workshops and stargazing, allowing visitors to see distant planets, stars and galaxies light-years away.
The facility is located on Oakland’s Skyline Boulevard, approximately a 25-minute drive northwest of downtown San Leandro.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in San Leandro, CA, CA
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