BAY AREA RAIL TRAILS -- A network of trails converted from unused railway corridors and developed by the Rails to Trails Conservancy.
BLACK DIAMOND MINES REGIONAL PRESERVE RAILROAD BED TRAIL -- This easy one mile long rail trail on Mount Diablo leads to many historic sites within the preserve. Suitable for walking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. Accessible year round but may be muddy during the rainy season. Enter from the Park Entrance Station parking lot on the East side of Somersville Road, Antioch.
IRON HORSE REGIONAL TRAIL -- The paved trail has grown into a 23 mile path between Concord and San Ramon with a link into Dublin. The trail runs from the north end of Monument Boulevard at Mohr Lane, east to Interstate 680, in Concord through Walnut Creek to just south of Village Green Park in San Ramon. It will eventually extend from Suisun Bay to Pleasanton and has been nominated as a Community Millennium Trail under the U.S. Millennium Trails program. A smooth shaded trail suitable for walkers, cyclists, skaters and strollers. It is also wheelchair accessible. Difficulty: easy to moderate in small chunks; hard if taken as a whole.
LAFAYETTE/MORAGA REGIONAL TRAIL -- A 7.65 mile paved trail converted from the Sacramento Northern Rail line. This 20-year old trail goes along Las Trampas Creek and parallels St. Mary's Road. Suitable for walkers, equestrians, and cyclists. Runs from Olympic Boulevard and Pleasant Hill Road in Lafayette to Moraga. The trail can be used year round.
OHLONE GREENWAY -- A 3.75-mile paved trail converted from the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railway. Suitable for walkers, strollers and skaters. It is also wheelchair accessible. The trail runs under elevated BART tracks from Conlon and Key Streets in El Cerrito to Virginia and Acton Streets in Berkeley.
SHEPHERD CANYON TRAIL -- An easy 3-mile paved trail converted from the Sacramento Northern Rail Line. The tree-lined trail is gently sloping and generally follows Shepherd Canyon Road. Suitable for walkers and cyclists. It is also wheelchair accessible. Begins in Montclair Village behind McCaulou's Department Store on Medau Place and ends at Paso Robles Drive, Oakland. Useable year round.
Free. (415) 397-2220, www.traillink.com.<
BAY AREA RIDGE TRAIL -- The Bay Area Ridge Trail, when completed, will be a 400-mile regional trail system that will form a loop around the entire San Francisco Bay region, linking 75 public parks and open spaces to thousands of people and hundreds of communities. Hikes on portions of the trail are available through the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council. Call for meeting sites.
ALAMEDA COUNTY -- "Lake Chabot Bike Rides." These rides are for strong beginners and intermediates to build skill, strength and endurance at a non hammerhead pace. No one will be dropped. Reservations required. Distance: 14 miles. Elevation gain: 1,000 feet. Difficulty: beginner to intermediate. Pace: moderate. Meeting place: Lake Chabot Road at the main entrance to the park. Thursday, 6:15 a.m. (510) 468-3582.
ALAMEDA-CONTRA COSTA COUNTY -- "Tilden and Wildcat Bike Rides." A vigorous ride through Tilden and Wildcat Canyon regional parks. Reservations required. Distance: 15 miles. Elevation gain: 2,000 feet. Difficulty: intermediate. Pace: fast. Meeting place: in front of the North Berkeley BART Station. Wednesday, 5:30 p.m. (510) 849-9650.
Free. (415) 561-2595, www.ridgetrail.org.<
BERKELEY CITY CLUB TOURS -- Guided tours through Berkeley's City Club, a landmark building designed by architect Julia Morgan, designer of Hearst Castle.
Free. The last Sunday of the month on the hour between 11 a.m.-1 p.m. 2315 Durant Ave., Berkeley. (510) 848-7800, www.berkeleycityclub.com.<
BLACK PANTHER LEGACY TOUR -- A bus tour of 18 sites significant in the history of the Black Panther Party, conducted by the Huey P. Newton Foundation. By reservation only.
$25. West Oakland Branch Library, 1801 Adeline St., Oakland. (510) 884-4860, www.blackpanthertours.com.<
CAMRON-STANFORD HOUSE -- The Camron-Stanford House, an 1876 Italianate-style home that was at one time the Oakland Public Museum, has been restored and furnished with appropriate period furnishings by the Camron-Stanford House Preservation Association. It is the last Victorian house on Lake Merritt's shore. Call ahead to confirm tours and hours.
$3-$5; free children ages 11 and under when accompanied by a paying adult; free the first Sunday of the month. Third Wednesday of the month, 1-5 p.m. 1418 Lakeside Drive at 14th Street, Oakland. (510) 444-1876, www.cshouse.org.<
CASA PERALTA -- Once the home of descendants of the 19th-century Spanish soldier and Alameda County landowner Don Luis Maria Peralta, the 1821 adobe was remodeled in 1926 as a grand Spanish villa, using some of the original bricks. The casa features a beautiful Moorish exterior design and hand painted tiles imported from Spain, some of which tell the story of Don Quixote. The interior is furnished in 1920s decor. The house will be decorated for the holidays during the month of December. Call ahead to confirm hours.
Free but donations accepted. Friday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. 384 Estudillo Ave., San Leandro. (510) 577-3474, (510) 577-3491, www.ci.sanleandro. ca.us/sllibrarycasaperalta.html.<
CHABOT SPACE AND SCIENCE CENTER -- State-of-the-art facility unifying science education activities around astronomy. Enjoy interactive exhibits, hands-on activities, indoor stargazing, outdoor telescope viewing and films.
CLOSE TO HOME: EXPLORING NATURE'S TREASURES IN THE EAST BAY -- A yearlong program of monthly talks and Saturday outings about the natural history of the East Bay. In this hands-on program learn about the plants, wildlife and watershed of the East Bay's incredibly rich and dynamic bioregion. The 11 Saturday outings will take place in either Alameda or Contra Costa counties. The 10 talks at the Montclair Presbyterian Church will be on the Monday prior to the Saturday outing. A notebook of relevant readings and resources for each outing is available to all participants for an additional $30 per person. The program is cosponsored by the Oakland Museum of California, BayNature Magazine and Earthlight Magazine. Fee for the year covers all outings, talks, site fees, orientation and a party.
"Wildlife Corridors," May 3. Join Jim Hale, wildlife biologist who is currently tracking cougars, badgers and river otters in the East Bay.
"Creek Seekers Express," May 8, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Climb aboard Amtrak at Jack London Square and ride to Martinez with Christopher Richard, curator of Aquatic Biology at the Oakland Museum of California. The 14 creeks that the trip will pass over all connect to the bay and each one has its own story. Check Web site for more field trip details.
$375 per person for yearlong participation; $30 additional for binder with written materials. Montclair Presbyterian Church, 5701 Thornhill Drive, Oakland. (510) 655-6658, (510) 601-5715, www.close-to-home.org.<
EUGENE O'NEILL NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE -- Closed on New Year's Day. Visit Eugene O'Neill's famous Tao House and its tranquil grounds. Phone reservations required for a ranger-led, twoand-a-half-hour tour. Tours are given Wednesday through Sunday at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Please note: The National Park Service provides a free shuttle van for transportation to Tao House. Access via private vehicle is not available.
Free but reservations required. Wednesday-Sunday. 1000 Kuss Road, Danville. (925) 838-0249, www.nps.gov/euon.<
FIFTY-PLUS ADVENTURE WALKS AND RUNS -- The walks and runs are 3-mile round-trips, lasting about one hour on the trail. All levels of ability are welcome. The walks are brisk, however, and may include some uphill terrain. Events are held rain or shine and on all holidays except Christmas and the Fifty-Plus Annual Fitness Weekend. Call for dates, times and details.
Free. (650) 323-6160, www.50plus.org.<
FOREST HOME FARMS -- The 16-acre former farm of the Boone family is now a municipal historic park in San Ramon. It is located at the base of the East Bay Hills and is divided into two parts by Oak Creek. The Boone House is a 22-room Dutch colonial that has been remodeled several times since it was built in 1900. Also on the property are a barn built in the period from 1850 to 1860; the Victorian-style David Glass House, dating from the late 1860s to early 1870s; a storage structure for farm equipment and automobiles; and a walnut processing plant.
Free unless otherwise noted. Public tours available by appointment. 19953 San Ramon Valley Blvd., San Ramon. (925) 973-3281, www.ci.sanramon. ca.us/parks/boone.htm.<
GOLDEN GATE LIVE STEAMERS -- Small locomotives, meticulously scaled to size, run along a half mile of track in Tilden Regional Park. The small trains are owned and maintained by a non-profit group of railroad buffs that offer rides. Come out for the monthly family run and barbeque at the track, offered on the fourth Sunday of the month.
Free. Trains run Sunday, noon-5 p.m.; Rides: Sunday, noon-3 p.m., weather permitting. Grizzly Peak Boulevard and Lomas Cantadas Drive at the south end of Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley. (510) 486-0623, www.ggls.org.<
GOLDEN STATE MODEL RAILROAD MUSEUM -- 2010 season opens April 4. The museum, which is handicapped accessible, features extensive displays of operating model railroads constructed and operated by the East Bay Model Engineers Society. Covering some 10,000 square feet, steam and modern diesel-powered freight and passenger trains operate in O, HO and N scales on separate layouts as well as narrow gauge and trolley lines. Of special interest is the Tehachapi Pass and Loop on the N-scale layout showing how the multiple engine trains traverse the gorges and tunnels, passing over themselves to gain altitude to cross Tehachapi Summit just east of Bakersfield. The layouts include such famous railroad landmarks as Niles Canyon, Donner Pass and the Oakland Mole where transcontinental passengers were ferried across San Francisco Bay from their arriving trains. VIEW THE LAYOUTS ONLY ON WEDNESDAYS AND SATURDAYS; WATCH TRAINS RUN ON THE LAYOUTS ON SUNDAYS.
$2-$4 Sunday, $9 family ticket; free on Wednesday and Saturday. April-November: Saturday-Sunday, noon-5 p.m.; Wednesday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. December: layouts are operational on weekends. Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline, 900-A Dornan Dr., Point Richmond. (510) 234-4884, www.gsmrm.org.<
GONDOLA SERVIZIO -- "Gondola Servizio." Weather permitting. Take a ride around Lake Merritt in a real Venetian gondola rowed by a Venetian-style gondolier. The boats of Gondola Servizio were built by hand in Venice. Each gondola seats up to six people and reservations are required.
September-May: Wednesday-Sunday, 5 p.m.-midnight; June-August: Daily, by appointment. Lake Merritt Sailboat House, 568 Bellevue Ave., Oakland. (866) 737-8494, (866) 737-8494, www.gondolaservizio.com.<
JOHN MUIR NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE -- The site preserves the 1882 Muir House, a 17-room Victorian mansion where naturalist John Muir lived from 1890 to his death in 1914. It was here that Muir wrote about preserving America's wilderness and helped create the national parks idea for the United States. The house is situated on a hill overlooking the City of Martinez and surrounded by nine acres of vineyards and orchards. Take a self-guided tour of this well-known Scottish naturalist's home. Also part of the site is the historic Martinez Adobe and Mount Wanda.
Public Tours of the John Muir House, Begin with an eight-minute park film and then take the tour. The film runs every 15 minutes throughout the day. Wednesday through Friday, 2 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.
MOUNT WANDA -- The mountain consists of 325 acres of grass and oak woodland historically owned by the Muir family. It offers a nature trail and several fire trails for hiking. Open daily, sunrise to sunset.
JOHN MUIR HOUSE, Tours of this well-known Scottish naturalist's home are available. The house, built in 1882, is a 14-room Victorian home situated on a hill overlooking the city of Martinez and surrounded by nine acres of vineyards and orchards. It was here that Muir wrote about preserving America's wilderness and helped create the national parks idea for the United States. The park also includes the historic Vicente Martinez Adobe, built in 1849. An eight-minute film about Muir and the site is shown every 15 minutes throughout the day at the Visitor Center. Self guided tours of the Muir home, the surrounding orchards, and the Martinez Adobe: Wednesday-Sunday, 1 a.m.-5 p.m. Public tours or the first floor of the Muir home: Wednesday-Friday, 2 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Reservations not required except for large groups.
$3 general; free children ages 16 and under. Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 4202 Alhambra Ave., Martinez. (925) 228-8860, www.nps.gov/jomu.<
LAWRENCE BERKELEY NATIONAL LABORATORY -- Scientists and engineers guide visitors through the research areas of the laboratory, demonstrating emerging technology and discussing the research's current and potential applications. A Berkeley lab tour usually lasts two and a half hours and includes visits to several research areas. Popular tour sites include the Advanced Light Source, The National Center for Electron Microscopy, the 88-Inch Cyclotron, The Advanced Lighting Laboratory and The Human Genome Laboratory. Reservations required at least two weeks in advance of tour. Wear comfortable walking shoes. Photography is permitted. Due to heightened security after Sept. 11, 2001, tour participants will be asked for photo identification and citizenship information. Tours are periodically available by special request. Contact the Community Relations Office, (510) 486-7292, for additional information. To add your name to a list of potential public tour participants, email email@example.com.
Free. 10 a.m. University of California, 1 Cyclotron Road, Berkeley. (510) 486-7292, www.lbl.gov.<
MOUNT DIABLO SUMMIT MUSEUM -- The museum is located in a historic stone building atop Mt. Diablo's highest peak and features ongoing exhibits that chronicle the history of the mountain. An instructional video examines the geological forces that created the mountain and panel displays describe the Native American history of the region. A diorama provides an overview of the mountain's ecosystems. Telescopes are mounted on the Observation Deck so visitors can enjoy one of the finest views in the world.
Museum: free; Park entrance fee: $5-$6 per vehicle. Daily, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Park hours: daily, 8 a.m.-sunset. Oak Grove Road or North Gate Road, Walnut Creek. (925) 837-6119, (925) 837-6119, www.mdia.org/museum.htm.<
MOUNTAIN VIEW CEMETERY WALKING TOURS -- Take a three-hour, docent-led walking tour of this cemetery, designed by renowned architect Fredrich Law Olmsted, where many historical figures, both local and national, are buried.
Special Events, "Memorial Day Commemoration,'' May 25, 10 a.m. The Mountain View Cemetery honors all veterans with a traditional placing of the wreath and a 21 gun salute, followed by a dove release. The event also features keynote speaker Capt. Keith J. Terro, Commanding Officer of Integrated Support Command in Alameda.
Free. Second Saturday of the month, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. 5000 Piedmont Ave., Oakland. (510) 658-2588, www.mountainviewcemetery.org.<
NIMITZ WALK -- A level, paved walk originally constructed when the army was considering putting a missile site in the hills above Berkeley. Near Inspiration Point; from San Pablo Dam Road turn west onto Wildcat Canyon Road in Orinda. The entrance to the walk, and a parking lot, is at the top of the ridge. This is an easy hike for people of all ages and especially ideal for the very old, the very young, and the disabled. Bicycles and roller blades are allowed.
Free. Daily, sunrise-sunset. Tilden Park, near Inspiration Point, Berkeley Hills. (510) 525-2233, www.ebparks.org.<
PARDEE HOME MUSEUM -- The historic Pardee Mansion, a three-story Italianate villa built in 1868, was home to three generations of the Pardee family who were instrumental in the civic and cultural development of California and Oakland. The home includes the house, grounds, water tower and barn. Reservations recommended.
$5; free children ages 12 and under. House Tours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sundays by appointment. 672 11th St., Oakland. (510) 444-2187, www.pardeehome.org.<
RUTH BANCROFT GARDEN -- One of America's finest private gardens, the Ruth Bancroft Garden displays 2,000 specimens from around the world that thrive in an arid climate. Included are African and Mexican succulents, New World cacti, Australian and Chilean trees, and shrubs from California.
DOCENT TOUR SCHEDULE -- Saturdays, 10 a.m. Docent-led tours last approximately an hour and a half. Plant sales follow the tour. By reservation only. $7; free children under age 12.
SELF-GUIDED TOURS -- Monday-Thursday, 9:30 a.m.-noon; Friday, 9:30 a.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.; Sunday, 5 p.m. Self-guided tours last two hours. No reservations required for weekday tours; reservations required for Friday and Saturday tours. Plant sales follow the tours. $7; free children under age 12.
Gardens open only for tours and special events listed on the garden's telephone information line. 1500 Bancroft Road, Walnut Creek. (925) 210-9663, www.ruthbancroftgarden.org.<
SCHARFFEN BERGER CHOCOLATE FACTORY -- This hour-long tour covers the history of chocolate making, from the cultivation of cacao beans to the finished product. After a chocolate tasting, visitors take a walking tour of the factory floor. Open to children 10 and up. Reservations required.
Free with reservation. Every hour on the half-hour, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 914 Heinz Ave., Berkeley. (510) 981-4066, www.scharffenbergertour.com.<
SHADELANDS RANCH HISTORICAL MUSEUM -- Built by Walnut Creek pioneer Hiram Penniman, this 1903 redwoodframed house is a showcase for numerous historical artifacts, many of which belonged to the Pennimans. It also houses a rich archive of Contra Costa and Walnut Creek history in its collections of old newspapers, photographs and government records.
$1-$3; free-children under age 6. Wednesday and Sunday, 1 p.m.-4 p.m.; Closed in January. 2660 Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek. (925) 935-7871, www.ci.walnut-creek.ca.us.<
SULPHUR CREEK NATURE CENTER -- A wildlife rehabilitation and education facility where injured and orphaned local wild creatures are rehabilitated and released when possible. There is also a lending library of animals such as guinea pigs, rats, mice and more. The lending fee is $8 per week.
Free. Park: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Discovery Center: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Animal Lending Library: Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Wildlife Rehabilitation Center: daily, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 1801 D St., Hayward. (510) 881-6747, www.haywardrec.org/sulphur_creek.html.<
USS HORNET MUSEUM -- Come aboard this World War II aircraft carrier that has been converted into a floating museum. The Hornet, launched in 1943, is 899 feet long and 27 stories high. During World War II she was never hit by an enemy strike or plane and holds the Navy record for number of enemy planes shot down in a week. In 1969 the Hornet recovered the Apollo 11 space capsule containing the first men to walk on the moon, and later recovered Apollo 12. In 1991 the Hornet was designated a National Historic Landmark and is now docked at the same pier she sailed from in 1944. Today, visitors can tour the massive ship, view World War II-era warplanes and experience a simulated aircraft launch from the carrier's deck. Exhibits are being added on an ongoing basis. Allow two to three hours for a visit. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to climb steep stairs or ladders. Dress in layers as the ship can be cold. Arrive no later than 2 p.m. to sign up for the engine room and other docent-led tours. Children under age 12 are not allowed in the Engine Room or the Combat Information Center.
$6-$14; free children age 4 and under with a paying adult. Daily, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Pier 3 (enter on Atlantic Avenue), Alameda Point, Alameda. (510) 521-8448, www.uss-hornet.org.<