Weekend Getaways: Livermore Valley, California

The California landscape sparkles after a month of rain. When city dwellers see the opulent shades of green, they head for the hills. The change of scenery is close by, only 45 minutes east of San Francisco.
A prestigious wine-growing region, Livermore Valley competes with Napa and Sonoma for visitors but its tasting rooms are closer and more welcoming. When you hit the wine trail, you’ll find good values and unique varietals with wineries clustered within a ten-mile radius. The food and wine are excellent and so are the outdoor activities.
San Francisco
Plan Your Trip. This day-by-day guide lists details on lodging, restaurants, sports & recreation and sights described in Livermore Valley: Green Again. Use the websites, phone numbers and maps to plan your trip.
Learn More. The listings at the Tri-Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau cover recreation, sites and lodging. Pleasanton, Livermore, Danville. Check the events calendar for winemaker dinners at the historic Elliston mansion. Pick up a copy of Tom Wilmer’s Wine Seeker’s Guide to Livermore Valley, a vacation guide packed with information on the region’s world-class producers, available online at Amazon.
DAY 1 San Francisco, Livermore, Danville
Pick up a rental car.
Need wheels? Call the rental car agencies and ask about special rates. Check online for car-rental coupons. Or stop by the rental agencies that cluster around Union Square.
To get to Livermore Valley, cross the Oakland Bay Bridge and take 580 East toward Downtown Oakland/Hayward-Stockton. Stay on 580. You’ll reach Livermore Valley in about 25 miles, about a 45-minute drive.
Getting There
222 Mason Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Check into your B&B.
Savvy travelers pull into the Purple Orchid Inn & Spa around 3 p.m. after a traffic-free drive from San Francisco. The inn has everything you need; down pillows, plush bathrobes and a spa for a relaxing massage. The Inn is a  9,000 square foot log cabin with ten guest rooms, a pool and a small spa area with a couples massage room. The concierge schedules tee times at the nearby Poppy Ridge & Wente courses.
4549 Cross Road
Livermore, CA 94550
Play a game of bocce ball.
Some of the best bocce players in the U.S. play the traditional, centuries-old Italian game on these courts. All the courts and balls are regulation size, and everyone with a bocce reservation gets a bocce lesson before they play. Great spot for food and fun. Call ahead to reserve a court for late afternoon.
Sports & Recreation
175 E. Vineyard Avenue
Livermore, CA 94550
Enjoy dinner at the Grille.
Sit outside on the patio beside the lagoon and share platters of Moroccan tiger shrimp, angus beef burgers and asparagus salad. As the sky turns pink, clink glasses of Wente Vineyards Merlot. Livermore Valley’s chefs and winemakers are perfectionists. Blackhawk Grille chef Ryan Jackson and winemaker Karl Wente—both in their early 30s—are local celebrities. They excel in the two arts upon which a wine-growing region establishes itself: food and wine.
3540 Blackhawk Plaza Circle
Danville, CA 94506
DAY 2 Livermore
Learn the history. Taste the varietals.
The Concannon tasting room menu groups wines in tiers: selected vineyards, limited release, reserve wines and heritage. These wines show the characteristics of Livermore Valley’s unique terroir. Sip Chardonnay as you stroll the grounds or tour the wine barn.
4590 Tesla Road
Livermore, CA 94550
800.258.9866 or 925.456.2505
Visit La Rochelle for the Pinot Noir tasting.
The Pinot Noir flight is paired with Saint André cheese, Manchego cheese, fig and olive tapenade, and truffle mousse. The pairings make music on your taste buds, like a saxophone riff taking you somewhere you’ve never been before.
5443 Tesla Road
Livermore, CA 94550
Tour the caves. Have dinner on the patio.
The country road to Wente Vineyards winds past olive groves and vineyards planted by C. H. Wente in the 1880s. Call ahead to reserve your spot at the aroma seminar in the caves. Wine glasses are arrayed on tables with slices of cantaloupe, lime, lemon and lemon grass for you to sniff between sips of Sauvignon Blanc. At the visitors center taste Wente Vineyards Merlot Nth Degree, a delicious Livermore Valley red blended with Barbera and Petit Syrah. Karl Wente reserves the best vineyard blocks of his family’s 3,000 acres of vineyards for his Nth Degree label.
Sight, Restaurant
5050 Arroyo Road
Livermore, CA 94550
DAY 3 Sunol
Explore the peaks around Livermore Valley.
A 25-mile multi-purpose trail system gives you access to oak woodlands, ridge top vistas, and remote canyon streams. If you bring mountain bikes, ride the single track along Sinbad Creek. Picnic under the canopy of a coast live oak or blue oak.
Sports & Recreation
Foothill Rd.
Sunol, CA 94586
Hike through canyons and meadows in Sunol Regional Park.
Stop at the Old Green Barn Visitor Center to hook up with a naturalist-led hike. Otherwise, head out on Indian Joe Nature trail. Look for the spotted towhee with black and white wings and red breast. Wildflowers bloom from late winter to spring.
Sports & Recreation
1895 Geary Rd.
Sunol, CA 94539

About Celebration Traveler Guide: Americas

Use the day-by-day guides in Celebration Traveler Guide: Americas to plan your trip.

Tell us about your travel experiences