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Best of the East Bay: Play

Here are the East Bay’s places to have a good time, all the time.



Night On The Town / Art Visionary / Classic Games / Sports Bar / Reader Picks

Night On The Town

Hit these spots for a superfun time with friends.

Norma Cordova

Get Crafty

Editor pick: Beer Tasting Room
Sip a flight at the Sierra Nevada Torpedo Room, featuring 16 small-batch beers on tap you won’t find elsewhere in the Bay Area. 2031 Fourth St., Berkeley, (510) 647-3439, sierranevada.com.

Keep it Contemporary

Editor Pick: Carbs and Cocktails
Grab a bite at Build Pizzeria while sipping a cocktail made with handcrafted bitters. 2286 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, (510) 898-1839, buildpizzeria.com.

Go Out on the Prowl

Editor Pick: Singles Scene
Modern China Cafe’s fire pits and unhurried happy hour make mingling easy. 1525 N. Main St., Walnut Creek, (925) 988-8008, modernchinacafe.com.

Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

Reader Pick: DIY Workshop
You may not be the next Picasso, but the wine might make you think you are, at Canvas and Cabernet. 1421 Locust St., Walnut Creek, (925) 287-1614, canvascabernet.com.

Rock Out

Reader Pick: Live Music Venue
Play pool or hit up the jukebox at Dan’s, which transforms into a live music venue on weekends. 1524 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek, (925) 932-1331, dansbar.com.

Battle at Bocce

Editor pick: Food and Fun
Whether you’re with a group of friends or just your sweetheart, Campo di Bocce is the place to eat, drink, and play. 175 E. Vineyard Ave., Livermore, (925) 249-9800, campodibocce.com.

Shake Your Groove Thing

Reader Pick: Place to dance  
Go to ShBoom Nightclub, a club for grown-ups, to boogie. 2410 San Ramon Valley Blvd., Ste. 130, San Ramon, (925) 837-9777, shboomnightclub.com.

End the Evening Right

Editor Pick: Late-Night Spot
Top the night off with fish tacos and a key lime pie martini at The Rellik Tavern. 726 First St., Benicia, (707) 746-1137, therelliktavern.com

—Caitlin McCulloch


Shannon McIntyre

The Curator

The Bedford Gallery’s curator brings sophisticated exhibits to Walnut Creek.

Editor Pick: Art Visionary

In her office in the Lesher Center for the Arts, Carrie Lederer is beaming.

“We just secured a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts!” says Lederer, curator of the Lesher Center’s Bedford Gallery. “It’s a first for the Bedford and possibly for the center.”

The grant will help fund an upcoming exhibition called Blow Up, featuring inflatable contemporary pieces from Andy Warhol and others. It’s yet another example of Lederer’s moxie as a curator over the past 20 years and hardly the first exhibit to receive national buzz.

“We had great success with our skate deck show,” says Lederer, excitedly describing how a 2012 show featuring skateboard art from local contributors went on a coast-to-coast tour of galleries in eight different states. Another show, Nature’s Beloved Son, featuring photographs by Pleasant Hill artist Stephen Joseph of John Muir’s environmental research, continues to tour the United States and Canada. And Post Secret, artist Frank Warren’s project in which anonymous people from around the world wrote their secrets on postcards, was a smash when Lederer brought it to Walnut Creek in 2009.

While art lovers across the country can appreciate Lederer’s creative presentations, East Bay patrons reap the real benefits. This summer, Lederer has put together a show about skulls as icons. After that, WC100 will feature a multimedia presentation of Walnut Creek artists, in recognition of the city’s centennial.

“We want to ask, ‘What are the amazing and wonderful pieces and people who make this such a special place?’ ” says Lederer, who is also an acclaimed sculptor. “I hope it will shine a light on who we were and who we are now.” 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek, (925) 295-1417, bedfordgallery.org


My East Bay

Unique places in Walnut Creek, including ØL BeerCafe and Bottle Shop.

Oakland’s Temescal Alley—beginning at Doughnut Dolly.

Oakland’s Art Murmur Saturday Stroll in the afternoon.

—Peter Crooks


Courtesy of High Scores Arcade

Retro Fun

There is no shortage of throwback enjoyment to be had in the East Bay.

Editor Picks: Classic Games

Arcade Games

Remember Donkey Kong? Paperboy? Or Galaga? You can play all these and more at High Scores Arcade in Alameda, where the classic machines are in tip-top shape. It costs $5 for a half hour or $10 to play all day. (All games are set to Free Play, so leave your quarters at home.) 1414 Park St., Alameda, (609) 468-3083, highscoresarcade.com.


Sip a cold brew or cocktail while challenging friends to a game of pool at Bay Area Crown Billiards in San Ramon. Looking to play on a regular basis? Join one of the hall’s leagues. 2416 San Ramon Valley Blvd., San Ramon, (925) 725-3900, bayareacrownbilliards.com.


Bumper boats, mini golf, arcade games—oh my! Whether you’re hosting a birthday party or just looking to blow off steam, a day playing games and racing around the go-kart track at Boomers is sure to take you back. 2400 Kitty Hawk Rd., Livermore, (925) 447-7275, boomersparks.com.

Laser Tag

Battle your pals in an arena retrofitted with dizzying pulsing lights and high-energy music at Q-Zar Laser Tag. Weeknight discounts are great for groups or anyone looking for a deal. 2295 Willow Pass Rd., Concord, (925) 521-9663, q-zar.com.

Mini Golf

Sink a putt at Subpar Miniature Golf, where the handcrafted holes resemble monuments in the East Bay. Or challenge your friends to a slot car race to see whose automated miniature vehicle earns the checkered flag. 1511 Park St., Alameda, (925) 521-4653, subparminigolf.com

—Stacey Kennelly


Illustration by Adam Nickel

Watch the Game

This place is heaven for fans of every team.

Reader Pick: Sports Bar

It’s no accident that the Stadium Pub’s logo looks like the sign over the bar in Cheers. Just like Sam Malone’s beloved watering hole, the pub has that “where everybody knows your name” vibe, which keeps regulars coming back. (More incentives: There are 23 brews on tap, plenty of top-shelf spirits, and a menu of sports bar classics—try the Fire Dog.)

Stadium Pub also has a pleasant sense of diplomacy to its hometown feel, and to the game distribution on the 47 TVs. Giants fans sit with A’s fans; Niners faithful clink pints with Black Hole veterans. Sharks, Warriors, Bears, and international soccer fans are all welcome, too. 1420 Lincoln Ave., Walnut Creek, (925) 256-7302, thestadiumpub.com.  

—Peter Crooks


Reader Picks


Greg Palomo at Walnut Creek Yacht Club
1555 Bonanza St., Walnut Creek, (925) 944-3474, wcyc.net.

Date Night

Va de Vi
1511 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Walnut Creek, (925) 979-0100, vadevi.com.

East Bay museum

Lindsay Wildlife Museum
1931 1st. Ave., Walnut Creek, (925) 935-1978, wildlife-museum.org.

East Bay Winery

Wente Vineyards
5565 Tesla Rd., Livermore, (925) 456-2305, wentevineyards.com.

Happy Hour Menu

44 Church St., Danville, (925) 820-7200, bridgesdanville.com.

Late-Night Dining

1548 Bonanza St., Walnut Creek, (925) 945-6960, hubcapsdiner.com.

Local Brewery/Distillery

Linden Street
95 Linden St., Oakland, (510) 251-8898, lindenbeer.com.

Place to See Art

Bedford Gallery
1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek, (925) 295-1417, bedfordgallery.org.

Ski Resort

100 Northstar Dr., Truckee, (530) 562-1010, northstarcalifornia.com.

Wine Bar

Residual Sugar
1684 Locust St., Walnut Creek, residualsugarwine.com.

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