Richmond, Calif., might not be on everyone’s summertime bucket list, but that’s one of the reasons it’s such a cool locale to explore in the hot season. You definitely won’t be dealing with San Francisco-level traffic or parking, and you’ll likely also discover some uncharted territory. Here are six family-friendly lures to uncover in Rich City.
Who would have thought that the Bay Area’s largest Tibetan Buddhist Monastery (pictured above) would await at a remote location in the Richmond Hills? This serene oasis is a great little getaway for a walk in the woods—down their designated ‘path to enlightenment’—some blissful meditation, or just some fun photo-ops by their gorgeous alfresco murals and quiet courtyard complete with fountain. An offbeat little gift shop, run on an ‘honor system’ of payment, is a must-stop for a charming memento. Don’t forget to turn the massive Dharma wheel (clockwise!) to spread joy and good energy before departing.
This Point Richmond icon underwent some major upgrades in recent years, and offers indoor swimming in a historic building adorned with some impressive murals. The Plunge teams with the Richmond Swim Center (behind Kennedy High on Cutting Boulevard) as the City of Richmond’s Aquatic Division venues. For family fun, consider the Tot Splash at the Plunge from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, or the Family Recreation Swim at the Swim Center from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. every day except Friday.
This overlooked oasis is a favorite picnicking spot for those that have discovered it, and offers plenty of shady trails and places for kids to safely splash around in the creek that cuts through Alvarado. There’s also a playground, public restrooms, and large fields for Frisbee tossing and other fun. Groups can also contact the Parks Department and reserve one of the superb picnicking spots for a memorable party or reunion. A handsome gazebo offers yet another gathering spot.
Located by the Craneway Pavilion along Richmond’s waterfront, this vital venue is officially part of the state parks system but is really a blend of industrial museum, gift shop and free movie theater showing historical documentaries. The theme here is local Richmond home-front history during WWII, when countless women—epitomized by the legendary icon Rosie the Riveter—took on key roles with shipbuilding and other traditionally male roles. It’s airy interior and location along the windswept bay makes it a good place to beat the heat as well.
Another showcase of Richmond’s WWII heritage, the massive Red Oak Victory warship is hidden away down Canal Boulevard by the charmingly industrial Riggers Loft wine cooperative. The Red Oak is a worthwhile visit just for a low-key tour (self-guided or volunteer-led), but is also home to frequent events like community pancake breakfasts right on deck and even classic film showings in the ship theater. The kitschy gift shop is a must-see and on-board volunteers are knowledgeable and filled with quirky facts.
This is a truly offbeat venue that will only take about half-an-hour to explore fully, but anyone even halfway intrigued by scale-model railroads will have a blast. Located in a cavernous edifice at 900A Dornan Drive (near the bay in Point Richmond), the Golden State Model Railroad Museum offers visitors the chance to view some exceptional model landscapes offering historical takes on various California locales, plus an array of model trains scooting along the tracks. Currently, Sundays are the best time to come visit as that’s the only day trains are officially slated to be operating. Bring a picnic lunch and make a day of it by exploring the sprawling and popular park across the street.