The Cheapskate’s Guide to Summer
Get out and enjoy the best of the East Bay without dropping a dime. Diablo rounds up some of the area’s finest freebies.
At the beginning of the month, enjoy a free activity four days a week:
First Sundays: Free admission to the Oakland Museum of California. museumca.org.
First Wednesdays: There’s no entry fee for the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley. botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu.
First Thursdays: Get your physics on at Astro Night, UC Berkeley’s free stargazing and lecture event. astro.berkeley.edu/i/astro-night.
Second Thursdays: Diablo hosts a free movie night at the Orinda Theatre. lamorindatheatres.com.
Every Friday: To celebrate its 85th anniversary, the East Bay Regional Park District is offering free admission, no parking fees, and other complimentary perks at its 73 parks. ebparks.org.
Some museums never charge an admission fee:
African American Museum and Library at Oakland: Delve into the history and culture of African Americans in California and the West via exhibitions and special presentations. Oakland, oaklandlibrary.org.
Dublin Heritage Park and Museums: Several 19th-century buildings and two history museums sit on this bucolic, 10-acre property. Dublin, ci.dublin.ca.us.
Museum on Main: Art exhibitions, a history gallery, kids’ activities, and discussions are just a few of the offerings at this community museum. Pleasanton, museumonmain.org.
Takara Sake Museum: Learn about the history and distilling process of the Japanese fermented-rice drink at the only sake museum in the United States. Berkeley, takarasake.com.
Groove the night away at free concerts in these communities:
Alamo: Most Fridays in July (except July 19), 6:30–8:30 p.m., at Livorna Park. co.contra-costa.ca.us/2298.
Clayton: Every other Saturday (including July 6), 6–8:30 p.m., at the Grove Park. ci.clayton.ca.us.
Concord: Tuesday Night Blues (every Tuesday) and the Music and Market series (every Thursday), 6:30–8 p.m., at Todos Santos Plaza. cityofconcord.org.
Danville: Most Saturdays in July (except July 13), 6–8 p.m., at Oak Hill Park. ci.danville.ca.us.
Dublin: Every Thursday, July 11 through August 8, 5:30–7:30 p.m., at Emerald Glen Park Amphitheater. ci.dublin.ca.us.
Pleasant Hill: Every other Sunday (including July 7), 6–8 p.m., by the lake at City Hall. ci.pleasant-hill.ca.us.
Pleasanton: Every Friday, 7–8:30 p.m., at Lions Wayside Park. pleasantondowntown.net.
Walnut Creek: Every Thursday in August, 6:30–8:30 p.m., at Broadway Plaza. broadwayplaza.com.
Fun on (or in) the water:
Lake Merritt Boating Center in Oakland is offering free boat rentals on July 20, from 1 to 3 p.m. For more information, call (510) 238-2196.
City Center Bishop Ranch in San Ramon has a splash zone in its plaza where kids can spray and play. citycenterbishopranch.com.
The Port of Oakland hosts complimentary, twice-monthly harbor tours, which launch from the ferry dock at Jack London Terminal. portofoakland.com/harbor-tours.
Got a local library card?
The Contra Costa and Alameda county library systems—as well as some local city libraries—provide a host of benefits via the Discover and Go program. Sign up online to get free access to Berkeley’s Habitot Children’s Museum, Alameda’s U.S.S. Hornet Sea, Air and Space Museum, and more vaunted Northern California institutions. discoverandgo.org.