To explore Pleasant Hill itself, start by walking around City Hall Lawn: The downtown headquarters were designed by famed postmodern architect Charles Moore, and its adjacent lake is occupied by about 40 turtles. On many Wednesday evenings, food trucks park by the lake, while summer typically brings a concert series.
For more dining options, head to the Poet’s Corner neighborhood, where many streets are named for bards (Shelley, Byron, etc.). Get breakfast goodies at Latte Da, California cuisine and paired wines at Wence’s, or Italian cuisine, cocktails, and live music at speakeasy-style WiseGirl.
Pleasant Hill dubs itself as “the Bay Area’s backyard,” and it has several parks to prove it. Rodgers Ranch Heritage Center, for instance, is home to an 1867 farmhouse and hosts demos on sustainable gardening, while Dinosaur Hill Park has views of Mount Diablo, 17 miles away. Rodgers-Smith Park has a lighted bocce court—a reminder that this area has the largest bocce ball league in the U.S., so you can play or boost your game just by observing locals.