Visiting Pleasanton, California

Welcome to Downtown Pleasanton. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

70 Days Across America

There is more to see in Pleasanton than the Alameda County Fair! Check out what to in the city’s downtown district in this guide to Visiting Pleasanton, California – a quick guide to history, architecture, and what not to miss, 

Welcome to Pleasanton, California!

Having grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I always assumed the founders of Pleasanton thought it would be a pleasant town to live in.

Why else would they name a town Pleasanton?

While Pleasanton does live up to that assumption, don’t let the name fool you, In fact, the town was named after Alfred Pleasonton. He was a general in the Union Army during the Civil War.

Apparently, Pleasonton was a friend of the town’s founder. When the founder wrote Washington, DC., to register the town’s name, a typist made an auspicious mistake.

In fact, the typist got the spelling wrong! Rather than spelling it with two A’s, it was spelled with two O’s.

So PleasOnton became PleasAnton. And it was been spelled Pleasanton ever since.

Pleasanton is located 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Oakland. And it is six miles (9.7 kilometers) west of Livermore.

While it has a population of 70,285 people, it is the wealthiest middle-sized city in the United States.

More than 1,200 acres of parks, open space, and trails surround the city. And it retains its small-town feel.

Regarding the weather, Pleasanton has a Mediterranean climate. That is to say, the summers are hot and dry. And the winters are mild and wet.

Alameda County Fair

Most importantly, Pleasanton is home to the Alameda County Fair. The fair is held each year in early summer.

In addition to the annual county fair, the 270-acre Alameda County Fairgrounds host trade shows and community events throughout the year.

Facilities include the oldest one-mile horse racing track in the United States. Moreover, there is a 3,000-seat amphitheater.

Furthermore, there is a nine-hole golf course. And a model train exhibit is among other attractions.

Why I’m Here …

So what am I doing in Pleasanton?

Pleasanton is a stop on the Northern California leg of my epic trip, 70 Days Across America.

My stay was arranged by Visit Tri-Valley, which represents the three valleys surrounding Mount Diablo.

In addition to Pleasanton, featured cities include Danville, Dublin, and Livermore.

My previous stops included San FranciscoLos AltosNapa ValleyConcord, and Oakland.

So where will I be headed next?

Main Street, U.S.A.

Museum on Main Street viewed from across the street. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

Pleasanton has a charming downtown district.  There are numerous buildings from the early 20th Century.

In fact, some of the buildings date back to the late 1800s.

Most importantly, the streets are lined with ancient trees. And they provide shade in the torrid summer months.

In my view, Main Street, Pleasanton, is a bit like the legendary Main Street, U.S.A.!

Pleasanton Hotel. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

Remnants from a bygone era line many of the streets. For example, the historic Pleasanton Hotel still stands. Has it been given a new lease on life?

Many of the original commercial buildings have been re-purposed into new uses. And new buildings have been designed to fit in with their historic neighbors.

Kolln Hardware Building

Kolln Hardware Building. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

Perhaps most noteworthy is a wooden structure at  600 Main Street.

Originally housing a hardware store, the Kolln Hardware building was completed in 1890. It was renovated and re-purposed into a bank in 2004.

The wooden structure features Commercial Italianate, Colonial Revival, and Queen Anne influences.

Some of the original residences have been turned into professional offices.

But the district still has pockets with a residential feeling.

Historic Pleasanton Train Station. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

While the city is now served by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), the old railroad station still stands.

Has it been turned into professional office space?

Meadowlark Dairy

Meadowlark Dairy exterior. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
Meadowlark Dairy drive-through. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

The Meadowlark Dairy is a Pleasanton landmark! And it has a history of close to 100 years.

Most importantly, it was the first certified dairy in California. And it moved to its current location in 1969.

Firstly, the dairy sells a wide variety of premium milk and milk by-products. Secondly, there are all kinds of ice cream.

Finally, there are lunch meats, bacon, hot dogs, potato chips, condiments, and various other snacks. 

What to Do in Pleasanton, California

Downtown Pleasanton offers more than a walk down Memory Lane.

Firehouse Arts Center

Firehouse Arts Center exterior. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.

The Firehouse Arts Center has a 221-seat theater. And the schedule includes music, poetry, theater, comedy, and film.

In addition, there is an art gallery. Finally, there are classrooms for art and drama.

  • Firehouse Arts Center – 4444 Railroad Avenue, Pleasanton, California. Telephone: (925) 931-3456.,

Museum on Main Street

Museum on Main has permanent and temporary exhibitions on the history of the Tri-Valley region,

My tour of downtown Pleasanton was organized by the museum. And I take my hat off to my very knowledgeable docent.

Certainly, she brought the Tri-Valley area’s fascinating history to life!

  • Museum on Main – 603 Main Street, Pleasanton, California. Telephone: (925) 462=2766.

Summer in Pleasanton, California

Pleasanton is pleasant enough all year round. But it really comes alive during the long, hot summers!

In fact, there are outdoor concerts, festivals,  and parades.

First, a street fair takes place on the first Wednesday of every month from May through September.

Second, there are free outdoor concerts every Friday evening from June through September.

Finally, there are weekly farmer’s markets throughout the year.

How to Get to Pleasanton, California

If you are traveling by car, Pleasanton sits at the crossroads of Interstate Highway I-580 and  Interstate Highway I-680,

However, if you are traveling by public transport, Pleasanton has two stations on Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)‘s Dublin/Pleasanton–Daly City line:

  • West Dublin/Pleasanton station, is located just west of the I-680 interchange.
  • Dublin/Pleasanton (BART station), is the eastern terminus of the line.

The Altamont Corridor Express rail service stops near Pleasanton’s downtown at Pleasanton Station.

For traveling within the Tri-Valley, WHEELS serves all three stations. Actually,  it serves and the entire Livermore/Amador Valley region.

Where to Eat in the Tri-Valley Area

What to See and Do in the Tri-Valley Area

Where to Stay in the Tri-Valley Area

Pleasanton is a part of the Tri-Valley Area in Southern Alameda County. It is roughly 39 miles east of San Francisco. The drive takes about 50 minutes. And it is roughly 31 miles from Oakland. The drive takes about 40 minutes.

If You’re Visiting San Francisco …

This guide to Visiting Pleasanton, California,  is part of a series chronicling my epic journey, 70 Days Across America. 

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