On the eastern edge of the Bay Area, about 20 miles north of San Jose, sits Livermore, an art-loving, cowboy-turned-wine-country town with a Mediterranean climate, rolling hills, and lush vineyards throughout. With an eclectic array of restaurants and small businesses, a thriving arts community, and a picturesque downtown, Livermore is an ideal place to spend the day.
To start the day out right in this gorgeous neck of the woods, visitors will no doubt want to begin at Espresso Rosetta, a locally owned artisanal coffee company. Every porcelain cup these knowledgeable baristas hand customers are filled with the freshest, most naturally rich espresso possible. For non-coffee drinkers, the cozy loose leaf tea service will be just what they’re looking for.
With Livermore’s typically warm days and cool nights, almost every day is a great day for a jaunt in the great outdoors. FOr anyone up for some boating, fishing, horseback riding, swimming, or hiking after morning coffee, Lake Del Valle, just a few miles south, would make for the perfect destination. Adventurers can enjoy the water with the activity of their choice or wander among the ancient oak-covered hills.
A day in the backcountry isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, so some visitors may prefer to rejuvenate themselves with a spa treatment, instead. Relax Ave Day Spa offers everything from a 15-minute chair massage to a luxurious 90-minute Ashiatsu DeepFeet Bar Therapy treatment. Guests should be sure to call ahead to make a reservation.
After either a blood-pumping excursion in the hills or a restorative massage, visitors will certainly be ready to explore the town a bit. Downtown Livermore has a surplus of unique, locally owned and managed shops, boutiques, and services to offer. One local favorite is Van’s Health Foods, a 45-year-old family-owned store that offers products to help everyone live a healthy lifestyle. Another option is to browse Baughman’s Western Outfitters and get in touch with Livermore’s ranching roots.
Now, onto considering meal choices. As far as downtown is concerned, one restaurant that’s always packed to the brim with people enjoying a good meal is the First Street Alehouse. With its easygoing ambiance, 28 rotating beers on tap, and the largest publicly displayed beer can collection in the country, the Alehouse is a great spot to grab a burger and sit a spell.
For something a little more wine country-specific, visitors can pack a picnic lunch and head over to Retzlaff Vineyards and Estate Winery. Whether inside the tasting room with a bottle of award-winning wine or outside on the shaded picnic area listening to live music on a Sunday afternoon, guests can’t help but enjoy themselves when surrounded by such breathtaking grounds.
To top off an evening in Livermore, there are several great choices. Visitors in an artsy mood may want to grab a friend or two and create their own masterpieces over at Pinot’s Palette. Here, it is possible to enjoy both the arts and the wine culture of Livermore at the same time. With fun, friendly instructors, guided or self-guided art projects, and access to delicious local wine and craft beer, this art studio is a great place to come paint and sip with a friend or two.
Visitors up for a live performance might want to see what’s on at the Bankhead Theater. With live music, theater, dance, lectures, and other special events, they’ve a full schedule Thursday through Sunday nights. Other visitors might prefer to settle in at Wente Vineyards. As the oldest continuously operated, family-owned winery in America, Wente is home to a spectacular outdoor amphitheater, golf course, tasting room, and an elegant restaurant. So whether people want to grab a meal, enjoy a summer concert, musical, or theater show, or participate in a cooking or winemaking workshop, Wente has what they’re looking for.
With all the beauty and enjoyable activities Livermore has to offer, chances are good visitors will be back soon for another adventure.
Throughout the mid-1800s, when gold seekers traveled through the Livermore Valley towards the famed Mother Lode area in the Sierras, the abundant longhorn cattle grazing on Livermore’s rolling hills became the perfect resource for local ranchers to feed all the hungry passersby. After Gold Fever subsided, Livermore’s early inhabitants turned their attention to capitalizing on the climate and topography of the area—and a rich winemaking culture was born.
Places to Visit in Livermore
Written by Kristi Clubb
Photography by Daniel Garcia
This article originally appeared in Issue 9.5 “Profiles”