Walnut Creek is close enough to San Francisco to make quick city visits a breeze while the town is far enough to have a unique California small-town feel. Visiting Walnut Creek is a good choice for many who want to see the area. If you are in town and you are looking for some local attractions then you sure are in the right place. Let’s see what are some of the best museums to visit in Walnut Creek, CA.
Walnut Creek has everything from fun to history when it comes to the local museums. Whether you are a family traveler or an art fan in town you’ll get something to see. So let’s see what this beautiful town has in store.
As always we’ll also provide you with a link to Google maps so you can find each museum with ease.
1. Shadelands Ranch Museum
Open: Mon, Tue, Thu 9 AM – 3 PM, Wed 10 AM – 4 PM, Sun 1 PM – 4 PM
The Shadelands Ranch Museum is the most important historical museum in Walnut Creek. It offers a glimpse into the past of California. The ranch was completed in 1903 by Hiram Penniman who was one of the first pioneers to settle in Walnut Creek.
As such the house is an important landmark to the local historical society and it has been preserved in an excellent state. When you step through the door you’ll be taken back in time to the early 20th century with appropriate furniture.
The museum is an ideal destination for history enthusiasts; however, it also provides an array of entertaining and educational experiences for general visitors.
2. Walnut Creek Model Railroad Society
The Walnut Creek Model Railroad Society operates one of the biggest and most mountainous HO scale model railroads in the US. They operate the Diablo Valley Lines which consist of many interesting sections and mountain crossings.
You can visit the Walnut Creek Model Railroad Society via their public shows. It’s great family fun and the knowledgeable society members will make sure that kids will both enjoy the show and learn something new along the way.
If you are in town when one of the shows is taking place then we highly recommend a visit.
3. Lindsay Wildlife Experience
Open: Wed-Sun 10 AM-5 PM
Right next to the Model Railroad Society you’ll find another great family attraction: the Lindsay Wildlife Experience. From live animals to learning opportunities this is a great place for kids.
Founded in 1955, the Lindsay Wildlife Experience is a unique combination of a zoo, natural history museum, and wildlife hospital devoted to native California wildlife. Children and adults alike can observe animal feeding, explore the habitats of the creatures, and even interact with certain species.
To top it all off the staff is extremely friendly, helpful, and knowledgable. There’s also a great gift shop at the property so be prepared to take something home.
4. Bedford Gallery at Lesher Center for the Arts
Price: Depends on the current exhibition (from $5)
Open: Wed-Sun 12-5 PM
The Bedford Gallery at Leshner Center for the Arts is the definitive art destination in Walnut Creek. It’s the best museum in town for art lovers. They have a rotating exhibit which means there is always something new to explore at different times of the year.
Make sure to check out their website for the current and upcoming exhibitions. This destination is not only ideal for art enthusiasts, but also for couples seeking a unique experience. Explore the meticulously arranged exhibitions as a couple and create a memorable afternoon.
5. The Ruth Bancroft Garden & Nursery
Open: Tue-Sun 9 AM – 4 PM
Although gardens are not technically museums we feel like they do deserve a spot on lists like this. After all a well-maintained garden that displays local or foreign flowers and plants operates very similarly to a real museum.
This botanic garden showcases an impressive array of succulents, along with a diverse selection of plants. It has been carefully designed to provide visitors with places to rest and observe the surrounding foliage and tranquil koi pond.
It’s the perfect place for a nice morning walk or a relaxing afternoon stroll. Don’t miss out on this gem!
6. Old Borges Ranch
Open: 7 AM to Sunset
Old Borges Ranch is an open space ‘museum’ area. This picturesque location, formerly a ranch, has been transformed into a park. You can visit for free and take a look around the farmland including some small animals to pet.
It’s a good place to do some small hiking and enjoy the scenery. The ranch itself is sitting at the feet of Mount Diablo making it a truly inspiring location. Take a peek into the last century and learn how the first of the pioneers fared as they traveled far from their homes in search of a better future.
7. Mount Diablo Summit Museum
Price: $10 (Park Entrance Fee)
Open: 10 AM – 4 PM
A museum that requires some hiking to get to. Visiting the Mount Diablo Summit Museum is a full-day activity as you explore Mount Diablo State Park along with the museum itself. Travelers who love hiking will absolutely fall in love with the scenery here and will enjoy the State Park.
The Summit Visitor Center is situated on the summit of Mount Diablo’s highest peak, in a stone building of great historical significance. Constructed in the late 1930s, the tower is composed of fossil-rich sandstone blocks sourced from within the park.
The building was renovated in 2010 to be the home of the current museum. It highlights the cultural, historical, and natural significance of Mount Diablo to the surrounding area.
+1. The Cobra Experience – Museum & Event Space
Open: 3rd Sunday of EVERY Month – 10:00-3:00 pm
Finally, we have an extra museum for you. If you are in the area then ‘The Cobra Experience’ is easily within driving distance and it’s a must-see for car lovers. Especially for lovers of the Ford and Shelby collaboration.
There are numerous cars on display with the Shelby Cobra leading the way. Apart from the cars, there are also collectibles, original documents, and other small pieces of history that you can check out. It’s a wonderful place and it’s easy to spend a couple of hours in this museum.
Oh, and ladies, don’t let your husbands into the gift store or you will be leaving with memorabilia.
Museums in Walnut Creek – FAQ
Yes, the Shadelands Ranch Museum is the museum to learn about local history.
The best family museum in town is the Lindsay Wildlife Experience.
The Lindsay Wildlife Experience and Walnut Creek Model Railroad Society are both fun museums to visit.