Spend a day by the reservoir in Northern California's East Bay
With a scarcity of sidewalks and a welcoming spirit, Lafayette is a little bit country. Walk around the quiet reservoir for a calming retreat, or bring the kids, the bikes, and the dog, and have a picnic. But Lafayette isn't all rustic charm: Downtown has some city-style shopping and dining. Plus, during summer's dog days, Lafayette Circle and La Fiesta Square are shielded from the rays by ancient, arching oaks.
On a sultry evening, a restaurant table outdoors is just the spot to cap the day.
From eastbound State 24, exit Oak Hill Rd. and turn right to get to Mount Diablo Blvd.
Lafayette Reservoir Recreation Area A 2.7-mile paved trail dips and crests around this reservoir; the large lawn and playground east of the main parking lot offer pretty lake views. Bikes and skates are welcome Sundays before 11 a.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays after noon. INFO: $6 per vehicle; 925/284-9669.