Walnut Creek is a city in Contra Costa County, California, United States, located 16 miles (26 km) east of the city of Oakland in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. Although not as large as neighboring Concord, Walnut Creek serves as a hub for the neighboring cities within central Contra Costa County, due in part to its location at the junction of the highways from Sacramento and San Jose (I-680) and San Francisco/Oakland (SR-24), as well as its accessibility by BART. The city’s total estimated population, as of 2011, is 65,211.
Walnut Creek’s warm summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csb) is typical of California’s interior valleys. In summer, high pressure is in control of the region, leading to almost unbroken sunshine and virtually no precipitation. Days start out cool but quickly warm up, with high temperatures normally in the 80s Fahrenheit (27 to 32 °C). Temperatures of 100 °F (38 °C) or hotter occur numerous times during heatwaves, however. In the winter, the jet stream moves far enough south so that Pacific storms can reach Walnut Creek, bringing much-needed rain—average annual rainfall approximates 20 inches (510 mm), with slight variations occurring in microclimates based on elevation and topography. During particularly cold storms, snow falls on the peak of nearby Mount Diablo, but snow in the valley floor is very rare. There are also plenty of clear, mild days in winter, often with morning frost. The climate allows for the successful cultivation of many plants and crops, being warm enough for citrus yet cold enough for apples. The Ruth Bancroft Garden is a renowned botanical garden that showcases the diversity of plants that can be successfully grown.
The Broadway Plaza shopping center has anchor tenants Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Neiman Marcus, and is part of the downtown retail and restaurant district. Roads are bicycle and pedestrian friendly, so local residents can travel from places to place by foot. The pedestrian walkways are filled with trees growing every five to ten feet apart. A County Connection bus dressed up like a trolley-car is a free shuttle provided by the city to bring BART travelers to the downtown area.
In late 2013, the Walnut Creek City Council approved plans to renovate the eastern portion of Broadway Plaza. The four-year $250 million project will include the demolition of 40 stores between Nordstrom and Macy’s as well as the parking garages adjacent to those department stores. The plan would add as much as 300,000 square feet of retail space to the 25-acre shopping center, raising the total square footage to 1.1 million.
In early 2014 the Nordstrom parking garage and the strip of adjacent stores have been demolished. The expansion of Macy’s is scheduled to start in 2014. A new Nordstrom garage would open by the end of 2014. In 2015, the Macy’s garage at the corner of Broadway and Newell would be demolished. A new garage would be built by the end of 2015. In 2016, the Macy’s expansion would open. The demolition of the Macy’s men’s store on the west side of Broadway Plaza Street would begin. In 2017, the last of the new buildings are scheduled to be opened.
Walnut Creek residents attend schools in 5 public school districts. The Walnut Creek School District (K-8) has 5 elementary schools and one middle school in the city. Some residents are served by schools from the Mount Diablo Unified School District (K-12), the Acalanes Union High School District (9–12), the San Ramon Valley Unified School District (K-12), and the Lafayette School District (K-8). The following public schools are within the city limits of Walnut Creek:
Walnut Creek School District
- Buena Vista Elementary
- Indian Valley Elementary
- Murwood Elementary
- Parkmead Elementary
- Walnut Heights Elementary
- Walnut Creek Intermediate
Acalanes Union High School District
- Las Lomas High School
- Acalanes Center for Independent Study (alternative program with a flexible schedule)
- Del Oro High (continuation school)
Mount Diablo Unified School District
- Eagle Peak Montessori (charter elementary)
- Bancroft Elementary
- Valle Verde Elementary
- Walnut Acres Elementary
- Foothill Middle
- Ygnacio Valley High School (Concord, CA)
- Northgate High School
Walnut Creek is home to several private K-12 schools, including
- Berean Christian High School(Grades: 9 – 12)
- Contra Costa Christian Schools (Grades: PK – 12)
- The Dorris-Eaton School (Grades: PK – 8)
- Garden Gate Montessori School (Grades: PK – K)
- North Creek Academy & Preschool (Grades: PK – 8)
- Palmer School (Grades: K – 8)
- Mary of the Immaculate Conception School (Grades: PK – 8)
- Seven Hills School (Grades: PK – 8)
- Springfield Montessori School (Grades: PK – K)
- Walnut Creek Christian Academy (Grades: K – 8)