Walnut Creek is a city located in Contra Costa County, California, United States, in the San Francisco Bay Area’s East Bay area, about 16 miles (26 km) east of Oakland. With an estimated total population of 69,122, Walnut Creek serves as a center for its neighboring cities due to its position at the intersection of the Sacramento and San Jose(I-680) and San Francisco / Oakland (SR-24) highways and its BART accessibility. The vibrant downtown area includes hundred-year-old buildings and comprehensive high-end shopping, restaurant, and entertainment venues.
Its warm summer Mediterranean climate is typical of the inland valleys of California. In summer, the area is dominated by high pressure, resulting in almost unbroken sunshine, and virtually no precipitation. Days start cool but warm up quickly, with usually high temperatures in the 80s Fahrenheit (27-32 ° C). Nevertheless, temperatures of 100 ° F (38 ° C) or higher occur several times during heatwaves. Over the winter, the jet stream travels far enough south so that Pacific storms can hit Walnut Creek, bringing much-needed rain–an average annual rainfall of about 20 inches (510 mm), with minor differences occurring in elevation and topography dependent microclimates. Snow falls on nearby Mount Diablo during very cold storms but snow in the valley floor is very rare. In winter there are also plenty of dry, mild days, sometimes with frost in the morning. The climate allows many plants and crops to be successfully grown, being warm enough for citrus and yet sufficiently cold for apples. The Ruth Bancroft Garden is a popular botanical garden, highlighting the plant variety that can be successfully grown.
Diablo Foothills Regional Park and Castle Rock Regional Recreation Area run in the East Bay Regional Park District, all in Walnut Creek. The town operates two BART stations, Walnut Creek station and Pleasant Hill station (in the unincorporated area known as the Transit Village Contra Costa Centre). BART offers direct service to San Francisco, heading west from Walnut Creek, and to Antioch, heading east. Transfers may be rendered to other cities such as Berkeley and Fremont.
Walnut Creek is passed through its downtown by the Iron Horse Trail (running north-south) as well as the Contra Costa Canal Trail (running east / west) at the north end of the city. These two trails, in addition to city bike lanes, make both recreational and alternative transportation possible.
Walnut Creek-based businesses include Central Garden & Pet (makers including AvoDerm, Amdro, Kaytee), American Reprographics Company, CSE Insurance Agency, Maximum Sports, and the PMI Agency. In 2012, CBS Money Watch and U.S. News Updates ranked the city among the 10 best places to retire in the U.S.
Walnut Creek owns more open space in the state of California than any other city. In 1974, a $6.7 million bond measure was approved by Walnut Creek voters that allowed the city to purchase 1,800 acres (730 ha) of undeveloped hillsides, ridge lines, and park sites. The City of Walnut Creek has 16 parks spread throughout the city and more than 3,000 hectares of open space. Walnut Creek owns portions of the open space Lime Ridge, the open space Shell Ridge, the open space Acalanes Ridge, and the open space Sugarloaf. Picnic Rentals are available at Heather Farm Park and Larkey Park while other parks have first-come, first-serve picnic areas.